It hadn’t initially been my intention to take any photos of IJmuiden because I didn’t really expect there to be anything worth photographing and from our balcony on the starboard side of the ship as we approached the gateway to the North Sea Canal that would lead the P&O cruise ship Azura towards Amsterdam there wasn’t a great deal to see which backed this up. I did intend to take some pictures once we were in the canal lock but on this first full day aboard the ship I simply suggested to my wife as we neared midday that we take a promenade walk, something we’re fond of doing when we’re on the Grand-class ships.
There are two big problems with the promenade deck on board the P&O cruise ship Azura:
- It’s not a full promenade deck. Unlike promenade decks on Grand-class ships operated by Princess the front of the promenade walk is closed off for some reason. We weren’t the only people to step out, walk along, then suddenly stop dead and look puzzled at the white, metal barrier in our way.
- Smoking is permitted along the promenade deck. At least, it was along the starboard side; I’m not sure if it’s permitted all the way around. Regardless, what this does is transform what is a pleasant place to stroll and get fresh air on other ships into something truly awful. Not helped by the high, cold wind, I’m sure, the sight of thirty of so people in multiple layers, huddling close to doorways, puffing on their cigarettes resembled how I imagine the outside of dole centres looked in the 1970s and 1980s. If this is the classy image that P&O are going for then well done for a resounding success but personally it looks dreadful to me and ducking and coughing my way through the crowd of nicotine addicts was not particularly enjoyable at all.
But back to IJmuiden…
On the port side of the ship there was no sign of any smokers, thankfully, and we got to watch the pilot board Azura before getting a decent look at IJmuiden approaching and other vessels departing its canal locks.
As you can tell from the pictures there was quite a bit of swell to accompany the gusting wind making for some lovely, rocking conditions on the approach to the Dutch port. I was particularly keen to get some pictures of the waves breaking over the bow of a container vessel that passed by.
IJmuiden probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for me the place had a fabulous look and feel to it; there were elements of Blade Runner or numerous other near-future, dystopic movies in its industrial beauty. The heavy grey skies worked well to add to the mood of the brutal, functional monsters on the coastline as we neared the Netherlands and I was struck by the contrast between the dirty-feeling, belching steam and fire from the main buildings in the background against the modern, clean wind turbines dotted here and there.
IJmuiden was a nice surprise for me from a photographic perspective and I hadn’t expected that I would see it again as we were due to make the return transit through the North Sea Canal in the early hours of the morning a few days later. Fate had other plans, though, and it turned out that I would get another chance to photograph this imposing view, to appear in a later update.