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Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category

The Vacation Story

In adventure, friends, fun, Uncategorized on March 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

Well, I’ve been promising a more detailed vacation blog post for almost a month now. And I figured now is the time to do it, as I head back to work!!  I love writing while traveling! Currently I am in gypsy heaven, the two seats next to me on the plane are empty, and being a human of the long-legged variety, I am taking very great pleasure in stretching out over ALL the seats.

Vacation has been amazing. For the first two weeks I actually went to cruise with a friend on another Carnival ship, the Carnival Inspiration, for two weeks. I had the best time being a guest. It’s a very different experience than being a crew member. I really learned a lot about what it’s like to cruise from the guest perspective. I went to all the shows, ate on lido deck, and lounged! I also got to see what it’s like to board the ship as a guest, which is something we never experience as crew. The Carnival Inspiration does 3 and 4 day cruises to Ensenada, Mexico and Santa Catalina out of Long Beach, California. So since I spent two weeks on board, I got to do a lot of embarking and debarking. As technically I was a guest, even though I was crew traveling, I still had to debark the ship with the guests and embark again a few hours later with the next group of guests. It’s in my nature to make friends with strangers and every time I got off the ship, there were usually the same staff working, so by the time I debarked after my last voyage I got hugs and high fives from the security, the shoreside crew, and even some CPB officers. I think that having the experience of cruising from the guest’s perspective will really help me be a better Guest Services Associate. The ports were fun too! Santa Catalina is gorgeous!! A tiny little marina town with beautiful yachts, colorful Spanish style villas and palm trees! There were seals and dolphins leaping around the small tender boats used to take us ashore and some cheeky seals even hopped up on the marina buoys as if they were circus performers!

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Ensenada, Mexico is also a cool place. We found lots of delicious little restaurants and one day there was even a really fun street fair celebrating something fantastically Mexican. It’s a very different Mexican experience than Cozumel. Cozumel is quite commercialized, with a very well developed cruise center. Ensenada is beautiful, with the LARGEST flag I have ever seen, Mexican or otherwise, but less developed than Cozumel. There are many families on the streets trying to sell you beaded bracelets and scorpions shaped out of wire. It’s very interesting to see the differences after being in Cozumel every two weeks for the last 6 months.

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Once I came back from cruising, I went to visit a friend who lives on Gabriola Island, one of the gorgeous Gulf Islands! We went for forest runs, beach walks and even kayaking in the ocean. I actually had a small incident where I fell in the ocean and it was almost a catastrophe, but it all ended up just fine. There was a pair of sea lions playing about 10 feet away from me and I was on the fence as to whether they might eat me or assist me back into my kayak, neither of which happened. Gabriola is beautiful and quiet and I really enjoyed the time to relax.

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After a few more days back in Victoria, my sister and I went to Vancouver for the weekend, as she was invited to attend Vancouver fashion week, and I was her plus one!! It was so much fun. My sister is my very best friend in the whole world and getting to spend a whole weekend with her was just the best ever. Plus we got to see some really awesome new fashion, and hang out in downtown Vancouver!

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In the time I got to spend at home in Victoria, I visited some wonderful friends, my amazing family, and even some of my favorite animal friends! Ship work, although it is wonderful, it is certainly tiring and after a contract, it’s really necessary to take downtime to find yourself again. I’m so happy and refreshed and ready to go back to work!! I have so many thoughts to share about my new ship, but we’ll save those for tomorrow!!

Ziplining

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, friends, fun on March 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

The one and only time I went on an excursion in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I went ziplining in the rain forest and it was brilliant!! I had so much fun!! The guides were so much fun, and the views were breathtaking! Of course I felt the need to zipline upside down like a crazy person, prompting the guides to exclaim that they’d never seen a guest do that, only they usually do it.

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The course had multiple rope bridges just like this one!! Very fun!!

 

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I’m all ready to zip!!!!

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One of the many towers we climbed to start zipping!!!

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Beautiful views like this!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Danger!!

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I’m upside down!! 🙂

Coast to Coast

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line on February 19, 2013 at 10:53 am

My lovely co-worker Susanne and I went on a few excursions recently!! The first of them being the Coast to Coast tour of Grand Turk! Grand Turk is a very small island, but it was really cool to get to see it all. We drove around in an open-air bus while the driver told us all about the island. We got to stop and go for a swim (of course I jumped right off the dock…I was actually the only one who went swimming, but I’m a sucker for an ocean swim, just can’t resist it!!) and explore the Grand Turk lighthouse, which was also beautiful!

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Kon Tiki Part 2

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line on November 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Silly me, I totally forgot to put a few more photos in the first Kon Tiki post, so here’s a few extra for your enjoyment!

 

The Kon Tiki Boat!

Alex, the bartender/first mate/limbo champ who lives on a sailboat

Honeymoon Bay, Water Island. Apparently sometimes the locals put up a big screen in between those trees and project movies at night and enjoy drinks and food!!

Just another day in paradise!

 

I liked this tree

Matt and his dog Shady!!

 

“What kind of dog is she?” I asked…..
“She’s a coconut retriever” He said…

 

 

Hurricane Sandy

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line on November 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I’ve been meaning to write about Hurricane Sandy forever now, and since it’s another rocky night on board, now seems like an appropriate time to do it. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering how we’re doing out here. I actually think the safest place to be is the ship. Judging from the damage I’ve seen in the US due to Hurricane Sandy, I’d say I’d rather be out here. We sailed right through the tail end of sandy, and it was VERY rough!! There were literally points in the night when the ship rocked so hard that my whole body was in the air over my bed. Drawers and cupboards kept opening and shutting in our cabin, items flew off shelves, and we weren’t able to sleep for several nights. The waves on the hull were so loud it actually sounded like pieces were being ripped off the ship. There were hundreds of seasick people, including some of my coworkers. I never felt sick, but I did get a bit of a headache. They closed all the open decks for the safety of crew and guests, but I was in the engine room at one point, and on the surveillance cameras you could see waves coming up and over the lower open decks. We had guests sleeping in the lobby with their life jackets on. Working at the desk was difficult, there were times you had to hang on to avoid falling down. Walking around the ship you would take a step and feel the ship drop out from under your feet, or toss you side to side. I tried to workout at one point and decided it was too dangerous because I was getting tossed side to side on the treadmill!! I spoke to friends on other ships who didn’t get to dock in their home ports. The Ecstasy (my training ship!!) missed docking in Port Canaveral and had to spend an extra day at sea. You can imagine the massive logistical nightmare with all the guest’s flights and transport home having to be cancelled and re-booked. Several other ships missed docking as well, we were very fortunate, our arrival into Miami was merely delayed, but we made it in only a few hours later than expected. It was unreal! I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. In the end, we made it, and although there were a few people bruised from falling down, no one was seriously injured. All in all, it was quite the adventure!!

Kon Tiki: St. Thomas

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Uncategorized on November 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I went on an adventure in St. Thomas last week!! It’s kind of a funny story because I got delayed in the ship and was supposed to meet my co-workers outside on the pier to go on a Kon Tiki Tour! So I was rushing and running around and made it outside finally (2 minutes before the Kon Tiki boat was supposed to leave)!! I found the Shore Excursion manager and he ushered me off with the tour operator, and I made it on the boat. Once I got on the boat, the captain introduced himself to me, and I met all the crew and I began to look for my friends. The Kon Tiki boats have two levels so I assumed they must be up on the top deck enjoying some sun. So up I went. No friends. Back downstairs I went. Still no friends. The ship left……and I was by myself with a boat full of strangers. I allowed myself a sulky moment and then decided to make friends with the tour operators, and random strangers. All of the tour guides were wonderful and I got to hear all of their life stories. St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island so it’s governed by all the same laws as the US, therefore, the tour operators were all American. It’s a very interesting dynamic over there, because it’s a Caribbean island, you expect things to move slowly, and be more relaxed, like a typical Caribbean island. Which they do; however there’s still the twist of it being an American island. It’s a very dynamic mix. The first mate was also the bartender, and limbo champion. He had a really interesting story, he’s an American who grew up on a sailboat with his family and they ended up settling in Tortuga, a British island. He was allowed to stay there as a dependant on his parent’s work visas and then when he was 18, he and his dad went on another sailing trip around the Caribbean. When they got back, because he was too old to be under their visas anymore, he couldn’t stay. He tried to get another visa, but as we all know, visas are a tricky business, and he ended up sailing over to St. Thomas, and living there. He even lives on his sailboat!! I love hearing other people’s stories, everyone has at least one and the more you travel, the more interesting ones you hear! Kon Tiki was great, they sail around with you in this little boat, with a Caribbean steel drum band playing the whole time. First you stop at a coral reef where they lower these neat glass bottomed viewing areas so you can see right into the ocean. They tell you all about the fish and coral that you can see, and then you head off to Honeymoon Bay and have an hour or so on the beach. One of the tour guides is dating the girl who works at the beach shack where you can get food and drinks and they have the sweetest dog that he brought out to play with us. They rescued her from Puerto Rico and she was so well trained and just gorgeous! After your hour at the beach, you head back to your ship and they do a big group dance and a limbo contest!! It was a lot of fun, and I made some new friends! Maybe next week I’ll go say hello again!!

The view of downtown St. Thomas from the Kon Tiki boat!

And of course, there’s my home!!

Breathtaking

The lovely beach we hung out at

My new best friends!

The Con Tiki boat!!

Tulum

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line on November 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

A while back, I got the chance to go on a lovely excursion with my dear friend Valeria. We had such a wonderful time, we went to the Mayan ruins at Tulum!! It’s so amazing to have the chance to get off the ship and see these amazing sights!! Take a look at the photos!!

 

 

As you can see we had an amazing time!!!

San Juan

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line on October 23, 2012 at 1:59 am

Last week I got a chance to go out in San Juan, Puerto Rico! It was so much fun!! One of my lovely co-workers and I took bicycles out from the crew center and took ourselves on a wee tour of San Juan! It was so lovely. We went to a park, and to a beach, and it was very freeing. San Juan is quite beautiful, but there are quite a few run down areas as well. It’s nice to get away from the cruise ship areas and see the rest of the city. There’s a weird shiny bubble of consumerism that surrounds most of the ports, which I love, and cruise ships are so good for the economies of the ports, however once you get further away from the port, you get more of an idea of what the city itself feels like. We found a really fabulous little café to have some coffee at and some traditional Puerto Rican fare. I would love to have more time in San Juan to see even more!!

I’m not really sure what this is, but I loved it. I kind of think maybe it’s a Chupacabra….but at this point that is total speculation

Downtown San Juan, where we ended our bike trip. I love a lot of the architecture and how small the streets are!

 

Just another day in paradise!!

Goofing off in the park with Vesna!

Just stunning!!

Isla Roatan

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise on October 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

First of all, Roatan is absolutely stunning. It’s such a neat port. I only had a few hours this week, so I explored a little, used the free crew wifi (AMAZING) and caught a few rays (not too many tho, I’m avoiding wrinkles.) There’s a really neat chair lift that takes you from the cruise center down to the beach or you can walk. The cruise center is pretty much exactly what you would expect, and what seems to be fairly standard from cruise ship ports. A shopping area with jewelry stores, duty free shops, and several restaurants (usually a Fat Tuesday’s), one or more of which will be playing loud dance music and have a crowd of merrymakers dancing and enjoying some beverages. Down by the beach there are several beach bars, lounge chairs, gorgeous white sand and clear blue ocean as far as the eye can see! It’s simply surreal. I can’t wait to try an excursion here!!

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Liberty Life

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, fun, travel, traveling on September 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…….updates from my new ship!!!! Lets start with the first day! My bus was the last to leave out of our group because my port was closest, so I said goodbye to the others and waited for my bus! I made friends with one of the deck officers and a girl from the photography department. Just as someone helped me out my first day, I got to help her out because it’s her first contract and she didn’t really know how things worked. So we stuck together, and her cabin is even two doors down from mine. There was a lot of boring paperwork and such for the first hour or so, then I had 20 minutes to try and unpack my uniform and get in my whites in time for an orientation meeting with all the other new sign-ons and vessel transfers. From there my senior guest services supervisor (SGSS) came to get me and took me on a tour of the muster stations. Of the 26 ships in the Carnival fleet, there are several different classes of ship (the exact number of classes escapes me right now, but I’ll find out). The Ecstasy was a Fantasy Class, the Liberty is a Conquest Class. What’s the difference, you ask?? A fair bit, there are several more decks on the Conquest class ships, and therefore the layout is different. The Liberty (LI) holds 3,900 passengers and 1,110 crew members, quite a few more than the Ecstasy (EC). So I’m trying to learn the different decks and their layouts as quickly as possible. For instance, on the EC, the lobby was on deck 7, on the LI, the lobby is on deck 3. The decks use standard names, however the corresponding deck numbers can vary depending on class. Also, the LI is the first of the fleet to roll out Carnival’s new @ 2.0 fun ship changes, which include new shows in the theatre, new restaurants, and new bars. So there are a multitude of fun things happening on board that I need to know all about!! Back to my first day, after the tour, we went back to the GS (guest services) offices. Remember the safety drills on embarkation day? Well now I have my own station and safety vest and whatnot. Fortunately, my duties right now are to stay in the purser’s office and make sure that I’m there to answer the phone in case of emergency. So I stayed put for the whole safety drill, which I was ok with. Then I went right onto the desk from 4-8. All by myself!! Since our college was only half the time of the regular college (it’s usually a month), we never got to be on the desk all by ourselves with our own floats. I think my background in cash handling and hotel systems really helped me out. By the end of the two weeks, most of the GSA’s (guest services associates) were letting me work for them by myself, and I made sure that I stayed after the shift and cashed out with them so that I learned what to do, but I know some of my classmates didn’t ever do that. I’m very glad that I did because I felt very prepared to be alone on the desk. Obviously I’m not completely alone, I have other people with me if I have any questions. They sandwich me on the middle station right in between the SGSS and an experienced GSA so if I have any questions I can just ask either of them. I personally learn much better if I’m just thrown into the fire so it’s working well for me! I’m interested to hear what my fellow trainees are doing!! I haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet, but I have called the Ecstasy and talked to my trainer and have been emailing with the GSAs from there as well. The GS team on the LI is absolutely amazing. I feel like I was really well placed, I am already getting on famously with everyone, they are all so friendly and fun. It’s a very fast-paced atmosphere, everyone moves very quickly, which I love. There’s also a plethora of languages spoken. There is another Canadian (my Paisana!!) who speaks French and as soon as she found out that I speak French she got very excited. I think they had some kind of a bet going as to whether or not I spoke French. The LI’s home port is Miami, so we have a lot of Spanish speaking guests, I think that I will learn Spanish by the end of my contract, just from working on the desk. Every GSA speaks at least two languages, and several of them speak up to 5. I love being surrounded by different languages, and plan on taking full advantage of it! The Crew Training Center also has Rosetta Stone available for crew to use in several languages, Spanish being one of them and I think I will use that as well. I have to be careful to keep up my French because it’s so easy to lose parts of it with lack of use. For now I will put Spanish on hold until I’m a little more settled in, it’s only day 2! Before I left home I downloaded many French books onto my Ipad so I can read in French, I find that really helps me. Currently I’m reading Alice in Wonderland! I am so very happy here already, and I’m only on day two. I expected to miss the EC gang, and be a little sad, but I have been so busy and having so much fun already that I haven’t had time to miss anyone. Tomorrow we are in Cozumel, I will most likely be able to get off the ship and use the free wifi somewhere. The next day is Belize and I’m working all day, however after that is Grand Cayman, and one of the other girls from the desk are going to try to go on an excursion!! We are going to do one where you walk on the bottom of the ocean while wearing a pressurized helmet so your whole head is dry while you walk around in the ocean!! I’m so excited. It will depend on how full it is, guests obviously come first so we have to wait until the last minute to fid out whether we can go or not. If we can’t, we are going out for a beach day!

Day two!! Turns out I won’t be able to get off the ship tomorrow in Cozumel, I work 8-12 then 2-4 and two hours isn’t really enough time. However, I should have time in Isla Roatan. Today we had a staff meeting and I had desk work from 12=4 and 8-10. I got my new ID made in the morning so now I can get off the ship and am totally trackable by the Carnival gods. The staff meeting was marvelous. Our GSM (guest services manager) is absolutely wonderful!! He is the kind of leader that I want to be. I think I can learn a lot from him. After the meeting a few of us went for dinner and he joined us and I gleaned a few pearls of wisdom from him. I really am so very fortunate to be working with such a fabulous crew. Everyone is SO wonderful, I can’t even believe it!! Everyone is very good at their job, I don’t think there’s a weak link amongst them.

Tonight we turn our clocks back one hour, as we sail into Cozumel, and then after the Caymans we turn them forward again. I’ve checked all my clocks about a billion times to make sure that I won’t be late.

It’s crazy to think about how often our GS team changes. In the next month there’s three people going on vacation. The extra crazy thing about that is that when they come back from vacation, they go to a new ship. That goes for everyone, when you sign off of one ship, your contract has ended and when you come back, you get a new contract with a new ship. I really like this system. I think it brings us closer as a company, we get to know so many people from all over the ships, and everytime we get a new crew member, that makes our team evolve and grow, nothing is static. I think that is especially true when it comes to management, because so many times in hotels or restaurants you see management become stagnant and ineffective. Rotating staff keeps everyone on their toes, and stops us from getting bored.

Well, here I am in Mexico, and I did manage to get off the ship for an hour, so here’s my post!!! I hope it made sense, I know my train of thought often seems to have no caboose or direction!!

E

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