About the author

Capt. Albert J. Schoonderbeek BSc, MNI, was born in the eastern part of the Netherlands in a town called Ede. In 1976 he entered the oldest Maritime Academy in the world, “De Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart,” in Amsterdam and did his seagoing apprenticeship in 1979. Upon graduation he found employment with Holland America Line, the only Dutch company that operated cruise ships. He joined the old ss Statendam in 1981 and has never looked back.

Apart from being employed onboard cruise ships, cruise ships are also the Captain’s hobby. The result of this “hobby” was that he co-authored the official company history, published to mark 125 years of Holland America Line in 1998. His latest venture was the publication of a limited edition of the Memoirs of Capt. C Haagmans, who sailed for 54 years, of which 44 were with Holland America Line, in a career that spanned two world wars and the heyday of North Atlantic Travel. When time allows he writes articles for cruise magazines and gives lectures about Holland America Line history. Several other books are in the pipe line and with the help of the company they will someday appear on the ships for all to enjoy.

During the Grand World Voyage of 1987, on the old ss Rotterdam V, he met his bride to be, Lesley. They were married in 1991 and currently live in England. As both are devoted cruise fans, they like to take “busmans holidays” on cruise ships of other companies”™s. As the captain says,”it is always interesting to see what the grass looks like on the other side of the fence.”. Although he might have a biased view, he is still convinced after several cruises with “the others” that Holland America is the best there is.

And that is the way it remained until 2014. Then the opportunity arose to be appointed to, and to create, a completely new function within Holland America but also in the cruise industry. The function of Travelling Master.

Holland America had been looking for awhile for a captain who knew the company inside out and who would be able to create a program which would support the Deck Teams on board the ships. From my side I saw it and an opportunity to start handing over  the experience I had gained with the HAL since 1981. Although I have no plans to retire for a long time yet.

Thus the OBTSO  (On board Team Support Officer) Program was born.  It provides training for captains, staff captains and deck officers. It has an induction program for new navigators (Nautical Excellence Program), it organizes large emergency drills on board, to further hone the skills of all the crew . It provides catch up training for any group on board in relation to safety and it provides the option for pre audits to help to prepare the ship for any audit that might come its way. And……………….. whatever else the Master of the Vessel deems useful for his ship.

As a result I hop from ship to ship on a three week rotation and see the whole fleet in the course of two years. It is really great fun to do and who would not enjoy the idea that while you serve the company you love , you are handing over your knowledge and expertise to the future generations at the same time ?







  1. Dank voor het interessante Webblog Alaska met de Statendam wat U op internet hebt aangemaakt.
    We hebben een fantastische reis met U gemaakt en nu kunnen we met het uitprinten van uw informatie de foto’s completeren.
    Hopen U op onze volgende reis weer te hebben als onze Captain.

  2. I have been trying to purchase a copy of
    The memories of Capt. C Haagmans Holland America Line 1914-1958
    by Scot van Valen & A.J. Schoonderbeek

    Please can you help me by telling me where I could purchase a copy from?

    Thank you,


  3. Hi, Julie. Do you know if the good Captain will return to the MS Statendam for the April 15 cruise. Thanks! Hope all is well with you!


  4. My wife and I are taking our 2nd, her 3rd, cruise on the ms Staatendam Nov. 2nd, Incan Empires and wonder if Captain Albert will be the captain. We certainly enjoyed him on our first cruise to the So. Pacific, Nov. 2012. Also would like to get his book but cannot find it anywhere. Could you give me the correct title? Thanks in advance.

  5. Good morning,

    thank you for reading my blog.

    Unfortunatelly I will not be your captain as I will still be on the circuit training new captains. Sorry to disappoint you.

    The title of the book is 125 years of Holland America Line. On http://www.abebooks.com and http://www.bookfinder.com there are always a few copyes for sale.
    A good copy costs about $ 35—, the ones signed go up to $ 125,– but that is only because they think that an author’s signature increases the value.
    On the websites, just type in my last name and holland america and several copy’s should pop up.

    Best regards and I hope that you will enjoy your cruise,

    Capt. Albert

  6. I recently came across a key merged SS Veendam at an antique mall. I was wondering how to tell which SS Veendam it was from.

  7. Hi Capt!

    My great-great-grandfather’s family is from Ede–left for America in 1892.



  8. Good morning,

    that is nice know. The “Van Roekels” are wellknown in Ede as they are a very extensive family. Do you know what ship he travelled on ??

    thank you for reading my blog

    Capt. Albert

  9. Hello:

    Don’t know from the Netherlands. Second leg of trip from Liverpool to Philadelphia arrived June 14, 1892 on Lord Gough.


  10. We have sailed with HAL for many years and have enjoyed having you as our Captain on several occasions in years past. Since it has been a while since we last saw you, we were delighted to read that we will be with you, briefly, on the Niew Amsterdam, sailing from Venice October 7, 2015. We will stay on board for 39 days until Ft. Lauderdale. Unfortunately, it seems you will be leaving us after just a few days. You are a busy Captain! Hope we will have a chance to say hello.

    We very much enjoy your blog and history lessons. Keep them coming! Thank you…

    Wishing you smooth seas…

  11. Good Evening
    A link to your blog came up on our Cruise Critic Roll Call for the 27 July 2015 (Monday, a good day) sailing RT from Seattle on the Statendam. I find it fascinating and enjoyable reading! Thank you for sharing. We are having an informal Meet and Greet at the Crow’s Nest on Tues. 28 July at 10 a.m. if you have the time and would like to pop in.
    Thanks again

  12. Thank you for reading my blog

    and welcome on the good ship Statendam. I will certainly try to make it to the Crowsnest. I am giving fire fighting training that morning
    on the aft mooring deck at 0900, so it will depend on how wet I am from all the water, in how fast I might make it up there.

    Enjoy your cruise, I will still be on board until Anchorage 03 aug.

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  13. Who was the Captain of the Eurodam for the maiden voyage? Did he move to a different ship?

  14. Good morning,

    thank you for reading my blog.

    The first Master of the Eurodam was Capt. Jeroen van Donselaar. He went from there to the Noordam and is currently on the Zuiderdam.

    Best Regards

    Capt. Albert

  15. Any chance Capt. Albert will sail on the ms Koningsdam premiere voyage to conduct training on the new ship? We are booked and I would welcome the opportunity to meet the author of this blog!

  16. Thank you for reading my blog.

    The answer is yes, as of this moment. April is still far away, but I am scheduled to be on board. the company is going to pull out all the
    stop to make the Koningsdam the biggest success ever so the plan is for me to be there.

    Drop me a note via the Front office and we can meet up.

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  17. Captain Albert, one of your readers sent you an e-mail from Canada about his ancestors coming in 1891 on the Obdam. My grandparents, Jacob and Theresia Bettinger, came to New Jersey on the Obdam on 15 April 1893 along with my Aunt Maria then 11 months old. Could you tell me if the captain of that ship was Adriaan Roggeveen for that crossing and how many others came on that crossing from Rotterdam to Hoboken? Gratefully yours for your help. If you could also include a photo of the 1893 version of the Obdam I would appreciate this as well. Eugene

  18. Captain Albert, I tried to send this one before. My grandparents were passengers on the Obdam out of Rotterdam that docked in Hoboken 15 April 1893. They came with one child, Maria. Can you tell me if the captain for that crossing was Adriaan Roggeveen or another person? What day did it leave Rotterdam? and how many other passengers crossed with them? If possible can you post a photo of the captain and or the ship as it looked in 1893? Thank you. Eugene Bettinger

  19. Good morning,

    thank you for reading my blog.

    To answer your questions:

    Yes the ship arrived on 15 april in Hoboken as it had arrived in NY on 13 April and then spent time at Ellis Island for processing the Emigrants.
    The ship had left Rotterdam on 01 April and sailed via France (Boulogne Sur Mer) to New York. It stayed in New York until the 22nd of April and then returned to Rotterdam via BSM again.
    The captain was Willem Ponsen. There is a photo of him on my blog (captains from the past) see top right.
    The full story of the Obdam is also on the blog site under the History and ship section.

    I hope this answers your questions

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  20. Hello Appy, I wonder if you remember me as Ch.R/O on SS Rotterdam in the 1990′s.? Hope you and Lesley are both well. I have long since retired, divorced, and live on a boat on the Medway ! Chairman of the local Merchant Navy Association and in the R.N.A. So still have a lot to do with sea. Regards

  21. Yes I do,

    thank you for reading my blog

    Well that is a blast from the past. I hope you are doing well. It is amazing where everybody ends up and does after their retirement.
    Living on a boat is certainly staying close to the profession. It is one thing that I miss where I live in Norfolk, there is no MNA. Sailors seem to stay close to the water. I am surrounded by fishermen, shop keepers and farmers.
    All the best

  22. Hello Appy, yes, apart from arthritis,glaucoma and other age related aches and pains (now 70) alls well. Your nearest MNA would be Boston or Felixtowe. Contact addresses supplied if you wish. Rgds

  23. Dear Captain Albert,

    First of all, the website is very impressive, complete and informative! I am a member of an ex-seaman’s website who at the moment are struggling with the name Noordam. Four ships were named after the four compass directions Westerdam, Zuiderdam, Oosterdam and Noordam. Keeping up with the other three names and the Dutch language the vessel’s name should have been spelled Noorderdam and not Noordam. What could have been the reason for this peculiar out of line spelling? I donot think that it was a little accident that happened at the christening of the ship, although with all the champagne around at such an occasion…….

  24. Thank you for reading my blog.

    The way the company choose its names is still very much shrouded in mystery. I am still digging through minutes of the directors meetings to find some logic. Thusfar it seems (subject to further confirmation) that several informal rules were applied. After 1896 the decision DAM for pax. and Dijk (later Dyk) for cargo ships. For the Dam ships a. well known Dutch names (Volendam, Rotterdam, Amsterdam) b. after items related to the area. Maasdam (town and river) Rijndam (river). Then there was the Potsdam (well known name to emigrants, and a financial angle due to the ship being built in Germany) etc. etc.
    The Noordam falls under the same heading as the Maasdam. Noordam I from 1900 was/is a town near Rotterdam so it ties with with local names. By 1938 they came up with this compass idea but also wanted to keep the naming tradition going. Hence no noorDERdam. When HAL went for the compass names again, they simply remained with Noordam as it was the 4th. in a row now.

    That is the logic that I have until this moment. I am certain that HAL copied for the Vista Class directly over from the 1938 class. This was confirmed to me by Mr. Lanterman. I am still looking for conclusive information of how those names were picked in 1900.
    And in the same way, how was the A class freighter names decided upon, why choose those 11 towns and not other towns??

    I hope this helps a little bit. I am still adding to the files attached to the blog. Hopefully with a major upload around christmas

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  25. Let us all be thankful that seamanship remains one of the greatest traditions of our civilization.
    The shipping lanes we sail today are for the most part unchanged from the centuiries old courses our forefathers took in the explorations of the past.
    When you set foot on a ship you are stepping into a time machine.
    Next time you stand alone on deck look out at the vastness of the Ocean, forget the people around you for a moment, forget about the technology that surrounds you and just immerse yourself in the reality that you are witnessing the same scene that sailors aboard their tall masted ships saw hundreds of years ago.

  26. Enjoy your blog and glad to see you back. Sorry the weather is so so in Venice right now but it should get better soon. Looking forward to seeing the Koningsdam when she arrives for the first time in Civitavecchia. Perhaps you could give us a Captain Albert’s talk on the first sea day (April 9) for your “Premier fans.”

  27. We are appreciating your blog and are booked on the 20 day Christening cruise out of Civitavecchia. We look forward to the opportunity to meet you.

    Tim Bowman
    Burien, WA

  28. Captain, what a wonderful blog and place of memories. My Grandfather was Adriaan Petrus Leonard Roggeveen who spent his life with NASM and had been preceded by several Captains before him. My Father, Adriaan Roggeveen was the Asst. Freight Traffic Mgr. in N.Y. for many years. The closest I ever got was 30 years in the United States Marine Corps. However, I remember with much pride and admiration for the Captains and Crew members I was privileged to meet so many years ago. So I wish you continued Fair Winds, Safe Voyages, and God Speed to you, your passengers, and all the members of your crews.

    Dus ik wens u Fair Winds, Kluis Voyages, en Snelheid van de god voor u, uw passagiers en alle leden van uw bemanning.


    Adriaan N Roggeveen

  29. Thank you for reading my blog.

    and thank you for your kind words. I still have to publish your grand fathers biography under captains of the past. I will be a very interesting one as Capt. Roggeveen was quite a He-man.

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  30. Dear Captain,
    can you please contact me at my emailaddress noordam@thna.nl ? It concerns your possible cooperation to a book that the well known Dutch martime author Bram Oosterwijk and I intend to publish next year on the four HAL ships that sailed/still sail under the name “Noordam”. You will appreciate my interest in the namegiving of these ships.
    Many thanks in advance.

    Gijs Noordam

  31. Hello Captain Albert,
    My husband and I will be sailing on Eurodam this coming January. It is our 7th HAL cruise and 3rd time on the Eurodam.

    Was wondering if you will be on the Eurodam in January and also if you know who the captain is,

    Thank you for writing this blog and keeping us informed.

  32. Thank you for reading my blog.

    The Captain for your cruise should be Capt. Werner Timmers. I will be visiting the Eurodam but going on board on 02 feb.2017. Maybe you will still be there.

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

  33. Dear Captain Albert

    I have a ship’s model (6ft x 3ft x 2.5ft) in a glass case of MV Sloterdyk flying the colours of HAL. I wonder if this might be of interest to your company.

    Kind regards
    Arild Nerdrum

  34. Thank you for reading my blog.
    I do not think it will be of direct interest to HAL as it is a pure cruise company now, but it would be of interest to the association of old HAL employees in holland.

    What are your intentions to do with the model ? And who is the maker ?

    Very interested

    Capt. Albert

  35. Thank you for reading my blog and forwarding it.

    I saw the clip and I do not even know if the ship was too close. Ships coming from berths 24 and 26 have to come very deep so the bow comes to the southside of the channel before it can line up.

    Best regards

    Capt. Albert

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