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Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Shark Diving in Fiji

In adventure, fun, Uncategorized on July 2, 2016 at 8:03 am

In yet another daring scuba diving expedition, my friend Mike and I set out one fine day in Port Denarau, Fiji with our primary goal being to get up close and personal with some sharks! Now I know what you’re thinking…. That we’re crazy people. That is a debatable point but entirely separate from this particular story. There are many different breeds of sharks, the ones we were most likely to encounter are reef sharks. Reef sharks are neither as big nor as dangerous as the great white sharks that most people picture when you say the word shark. I also think that sharks get a bad rap. In general, sharks aren’t actively looking to eat people, they’re just hungry and every so often a human roams into their hunting ground. Now I’m not trying to trivialize the dangers of sharks and the injuries humans have sustained after getting too close to them, however I’m just saying they’re misunderstood. That being said, I certainly do have a healthy respect for any creature large enough to eat me and with sharp enough teeth to remove one of my limbs.

Anyway, back to the story. Mike and I made our way to a resort that offered such an adventure. It was quite a ways away from the port but the drive itself was incredible. The Fijian scenery is stunning and I think I used an entire GoPro battery taking pictures before we even got to the resort. The Shangri La Resort on Yanuca Island is awe-inspiring. Every detail of the property is precise and the ocean views are unparalleled.

After enjoying the sights, we headed to the dive shop to suit up. As we were fitted with our gear, we exchanged nervous but excited grins, we were about to swim with sharks!! Into our dive boat we went. The dive staff were so lovely, and the dive masters who were leading our dive assured us that the sharks we were going to see would not be dangerous to us, especially when they’re being fed fish chunks (as they would be). We arrived at the dive site and prepared to jump in. I went first, leaping without a care in the world, so excited to dive with sharks. As my legs entered the water, I could feel tendrils wrap around my left leg and begin to sting. Without a second thought I reached down with my left arm and pulled at whatever was encircling my leg. As I freed myself and began to descend, I felt the familiar sting of a jellyfish all over my arm and leg. I wasn’t about to abort the dive so I continued to descend, assuming the salt water would ease the sting and loosen the microscopic barbed stingers that were lodged in my extremities.

The dive itself was incredible! Once the dive masters began to feed the group of sharks that had already gathered, more and more sharks began to appear. A plethora of other sea dwelling creatures came to feed as well. The sharks swam surprisingly close to us, several times they bumped into us or circled our legs. However our dive master was right. They had no interest in the human intruders as food. We were merely decorations in their kitchen as they ate a tasty fish lunch. Rising to the surface 45 minutes later we were ecstatic about our shark experience. Drying off and feeling some pain in my left arm, I suddenly remembered my jellyfish encounter and looked down at my arm. My entire left arm and leg were covered in tentacle patterned poison-filled (probably) blisters. This particular species of jellyfish was far more poisonous than any I have previously encountered. It soon became clear that this particular species wasn’t lethal and that I would live to blog the story, however the blisters were painful and took a long time to heal. As I understand it, the stinger barbs (officially called nematocysts) of some jellyfish species can remain lodged in the skin for extended periods of time and continue to cause pain. Although I tried my best to get them all out, for months my arm continued to blister randomly. It’s been three months now and I haven’t had a new blister in a few weeks so I think I’m finally in the clear. I definitely looked scary for a while there.

Now don’t let my unfortunate incident scare you out of the water, I had the misfortune to get literally tangled up in the tentacles of a jellyfish, extreme reactions like mine aren’t common. Generally people get mildly stung by jellyfish, while walking on the beach or swimming leisurely near to one. However considering I started that day off by seeking out sharks, I’m still calling it an overall win. Also if you’re in North America, the kind of jellyfish you are likely to encounter are not nearly as dangerous as the ones found in the South Pacific. So the moral of the story is stay adventurous, but stay safe!!

For the sake of your mental well-being, I won’t post the pictures of my stings, but instead some sharks and resort views. You’re welcome!

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Beyond the Mouse

In adventure, Disney, fitness, friends, fun, holiday, orlando on February 13, 2015 at 4:03 am

In my personal experience, the more you visit a place, the more new things you tend to discover. At least if you possess an adventurous soul you do. Of course there are lots of people who go places and do the same thing every time, and that’s just fine, but it’s not my style. I like to explore. As I am currently on vacation and spending time with some friends in Orlando, we have been making the usual theme park rounds, but we’ve also been on a few random adventures. Today we drove to Winter Garden and rented bicycles, determined to discover places we’d never been.

First of all, Winter Garden itself is delightful and I want to live there. Its a beautiful sleepy town with ambiance music and fountains and benches!! Something about it feels charming and welcoming. If a town could embrace you, Winter Garden is like a warm hug from an old friend. i did not want to leave.

Winter Garden is a haven for triathletes, cyclists, and athletes of all kinds and the bike shop we went to was staffed by some very lovely people who made us feel right at home. Our bicycle adventure took us around the West Orange Trail which runs partially alongside Lake Apopka and reminded me of the Galloping Goose Trail at home in Victoria B.C. I got to see the lake, gazebos, country fields, trees, and random animals. As much as I adore all of Florida’s many theme parks and attractions, I am very excited to have explored a whole different slice of what the sunshine state has to offer. The moral of today’s story is: STAY ADVENTUROUS my friends!!

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Ponta Delgada, Azores, Pourtugal

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, friends, fun on June 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I’m still trekking along in my quest to update all the blog posts I’ve been missing since the crossing, so this one come right from that particular cruise!! When we got to Ponta Delgada we were all very excited to see land again after four long sea days. Debbie and I were particularly excited because Debbie is Portugese and had never been able to visit Portugal before. For her it was almost a religious experience and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me as well. We had an amazing day. We considered going on an excursion but our schedules didn’t really allow for it and so we bartered with a taxi driver who gave us a very reasonable rate for a few hours of touring wherever we wanted to go. He ended up being a fabulous tour guide as well as an excellent photographer. It was an amazingly beautiful place, one I hope to visit again. We had an amazing tour and afterwards we had a magnificent lunch of freshly caught fish and local wine.

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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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Danger!!

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I’m upside down!! 🙂

Family Time

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, family, fun on December 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

I was SO SO happy to have my parents here for a week. I got to show them all my favorite places and where exactly I’m sitting when I skype them!! We went out for the day in Cozumel and took a few photos around Puerta Maya!! I had so much fun!!

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Three Amigos restaurant has the best photo ops EVER!!

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Papa Parsons and I in front of the Liberty!!

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Three Amigos again!

Bacab Eco Park Kayak

In Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, friends, fun, travel, traveling, travelling on December 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

Wow it’s been SO long!! I’m so sorry, I’ve been so distracted with my parents visiting and work and all that. No excuse, I know, but I knew I’d be back eventually. HERE I AM!!! So many things to talk about!! First of all, I’m so so happy to have been lucky enough to have my parents on board with me. It was truly amazing!! Not only did I get to see my wonderful parents, but I also got to experience life as a guest, and they got to see the world that I’m living in!! So we did all kinds of fun things while they were here. One of those things was a wonderful visit to the bridge. I love the bridge, it’s so peaceful (most of the time) and i love being able to see that much ocean at once. So I got permission from the captain to bring my parents up for a visit!! Another wonderful thing we did was go on a kayaking adventure through the Belizian rainforest at Bacab Eco Park. First of all, the tour guides were amazing!!! They were so knowledgeable and fun. They really took care of everyone on the tour. We had a blast!!

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Beautiful views!!

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Belize

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, friends, fun, travel, traveling on September 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

As you know, I’m determined to see everything possible during my contract! I just want to see the whole world! Well this week I managed to make it outside in every port! Even if just for a little while! I almost didn’t go out in Belize because I didn’t have too much time and everyone told me not to go because it’s dangerous, unless you’re on an excursion. I loved it out there! One of the other girls and I went to a little shopping, she wanted a new dress and I wanted a loofah sponge. I know, right, how did I forget to pack a loofah!? When our friend heard we were going into the wilds of downtown Belize by ourselves, he took it upon himself to be our bodyguard and come along, which, although unnecessary in my opinion, was very sweet of him. We just took a cab to a shopping center and wandered around. It was lovely. I don’t doubt that it can be dangerous, but if you’re a smart traveler, you can avoid most dangers. We didn’t feel scared at all. Obviously I wouldn’t go wandering through the rougher parts of town by myself wearing jewelry and fanning myself with money, but the downtown area is quite nice and there’s a lovely little open air craft area type of thing that’s right by the port and has the usual touristy fun stuff to buy. I never really feel scared in those kinds of towns, you just have to be aware, that’s all. It reminds me of Barbados a bit. Belize is a tendering port, which means that the ship has to put down anchor just outside the port, and to get there you have to get off our ship, and get on a boat (a tender boat) that takes you to the dock. On the western Caribbean cruise, we have 2 such ports, Belize and Grand Caymans. On the eastern Caribbean, just one port is tendering, Half Moon Cay. Anyhow, the moral of the story is that Belize is nice. Next week perhaps if I have time I will try to go on an excursion in Belize so that I get to see more of it!! I also don’t have any photos of it because I didn’t bring any electronics with me at all (just to be safe). Now that I have a better idea of what it’s like out there I will bring a camera next time!

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!!

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Half Moon Cay

In Bahamas, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, friends, fun, travel, traveling on September 24, 2012 at 3:38 am

I know you’re all waiting to hear about how wonderful my new ship is and how much I love it, but that’s going to be the next post! Right now, I just want to share the lovely photos I took of Half Moon Cay, the Bahamanian island owned by the Carnival Corporation!! It’s incredible!! There’s so many amazing excursions you can do, or endless beautiful ocean to play in! Enjoy!!

The view of the cay from the ship

Captain Morgan’s pirate ship. There’s a bar inside!!

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The Carnival Ecstasy!!!

 

I’m so excited to swim in the ocean!!!

Endless beach!! Summer is all year round!!

From left to right, Constantinos, Myself, and Mario enjoying our time off the ship!

One of the many excursions is horseback riding, first around the island and then into the ocean!!

Doesn’t it look like a postcard??? I’m living in a postcard!!

 

The back side of the island.

 

 

Canons!! Of course, on the top floor of the Captain Morgan shipwreck.

Fun signpost in the gift shop courtyard (of course there’s a gift shop!!)

I adored this island! I can’t wait to go back and do more fun excursions!!