On to Rotterdam and our first view of the ship.
Trip Start May 19, 2005
6Trip End May 25, 2005
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We're passing windmills on small canals, and farming areas. The train is comfortable and it's only about an hour ride to Rotterdam. We meet some of our group in the restaurant for breakfast. We're not going to the ship until noon. Some of the flights were delayed. Hmm. We ask if there is time for us to do some sightseeing.
Yep we have a few hours, so it's off to the Martiem Museum. This is a must see for anyone interested in boats and boating/shipping history. There is just so much to see including a large collection of Holland America memorabilia, beautiful stained glass doors from grandious ships, figureheads, and that is just IN the museum
Outside in the harbor is one of the most extensive collection of boats and ships that you can walk on or thru, along with a working engine/machinery exhibit. You really can't see this see everything in 4 hours, there is just too much. ** I cheated and copied this: A sea lover's delight, the Maritime Museum is Rotterdam's noted nautical collection. Appropriately perched at the head of the Leuvehaven harbor, it was founded by Prince Hendrik in 1874. Set against the background of modern and historical maritime objects, the seafaring ways of old Rotterdammers make more sense. The first floor is occupied with shipbuilding; on the second floor there are models, steam engines, cranes, and nautical instruments. Of note is the replica of the wooden figurehead of Erasmus from the ship De Liefde (Love), which was originally named Erasmus. De Liefde was part of a fleet of five merchant ships that attempted to find a new route to India and the Far East in 1598. The others were all lost, but De Liefde was the first European ship to reach Japan.
We did tour the 19 Century turrett ship, the Buffel. Then had to hustle back to the hotel for the bus to the at Keppel Verolme yard. On the ride we passed the unique modern buildings of Rotterdam. Some seem to defy gravity. Others you wonder how they were built. There is probably a tour that takes you past all these new builds.
After arriving at the shipyard, we're husteled into a warehouse. Seems there is a press conference, and we're invited. We are told to take our seats, but not before grabbing some wonderful cookies and drinks. An anouncement from the Mayor of Rotterdam, some words from the shipbuilders and an open floor question and answer period
It's an impressive line up: Aker Finnyards President Yrjo Julin opened the briefing with a few words. Charles Teige, the Enchantment's captain, and who also oversees all RCL's new ship builds, Keppel Verolme Managing Director Harold W.M. Linssen Harry Kulovaara, EVP for new building were there to answer questions. Bost most were directed to Charles Teige.
He compared the stretch to "a big Swiss watch, when everything has to come together. It has to strike 12 noon when your work is done, not five after or five of." More than 1,100 cables, 120 pipes and 60 air ducts must be cut and reattached during the lengthening process. Working round the clock, Three crews of 16 men on each eight hour shift, use gas/oxygen torches will cut thru more than 1,969 feet of steel on the outside hull. Diamond tipped circular saws were used to cut the top deck. Cutting will take 6 days to complete. Once the new mid section is in place, workers will take 15 days to weld the ship back together. Not a small undertaking. And we are here to see the process!
After the question and answer period, we get to bus over to the dry dock area.We get our first view of the Enchantment
Next, we head back up the stairs and around to the front of the ship. We're in another "holding pattern." Then into the "control room" This is a large trailer with TV screens. Everything and everyone working on the ship is monitored. We are politely told by Captain Charles Teige that no photos will be permitted in the interior areas of the ship. Darn, but I can live with that.
Soon we're walking thru the stripped down ship. Exposed wires, no walls, no ceilings. We're told Boleras - the new Latin bar will be here. Yep, looks like a nothing to me, except metal studs and an open area. Then up to the top deck, where the new childrens pool and bungie trampoline will be. This looks like it could be fun.
Captain Teige takes us to the "cut line" This is where, once the welders have cut the sides of the ship open, will cut across the top to complete the seperation. I could stay here for hours, just watching the employees do their work. But all too soon, it's decided that we have to go back to the bus and to our hotel. After dinner with the group at our hotel, we walk around town, past the modern buildings and old cut stone houses.