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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Stop and Look Around

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm

This is going to sound wierd, but sometimes I have to force myself to get off the ship. It’s REALLY important to go outside once in a while. As human beings I think we get fixated on what’s immediately surrounding us and sometimes forget to stop, take a look around and truly enjoy your surroundings. I am nearing the end of my contract and it’s been an intense one. I’ve learnt a lot and experienced a lot and met amazing people. But sometimes I forget the outside world exists. One of the amazing perks of this industry is waking up in a different country every day and I have been remiss in enjoying that perk. So today I went parasailing in Grand Cayman. And that most certainly sorted me out. The moral of today’s story is don’t ever take your surroundings for granted. Life is to be lived. Don’t waste a moment.

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The Final Days

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Well, dry dock is coming to a close. I really had the best of intentions and wanted to post all kinds of things during the process, however the dry dock experience kind of sucked me into a non-writing kind of place. The complete overhaul of a massive cruise ship is a very intense process and it’s been an incredible experience to be a part of. I’m SO happy that I got to be a part of this amazing adventure.

The Carnival Pride has undergone an incredible transformation. Throughout the dry dock process we could see that work was being done, however we couldn’t really see the actual progress as everything was under wraps or restricted to specific construction personnel. So for the last three weeks we’ve been sticking to our specific work areas and staying away from everywhere else. Now that we are approaching the end of the dry dock, the restricted signs are coming down, the plastic curtains are being lifted, and we are starting to see the results of all the hard work. Our new spaces are incredible!!! Bonsai Sushi, the sushi restaurant, is absolutely stunning, as are the Red Frog Pub and EA Sports bar. The lido deck is still shrouded in mystery, however I hear tell that it’s had a total makeover as well. We have 4 new Playlist Productions shows opening on our ship and the cast just got onboard last week. They are all insanely talented, and beautiful, but are also just lovely human beings. I can’t reveal too much about the shows, however I can tell you that they are spectacular! All of these new shows are built to be not just a show, but an experience, and indeed they are.
Teams of contractors were hired to re-vamp specific areas of the ship and as each area is perfected, each team leaves the ship. At this point, we are left with around 500 contractor type people still onboard, ready to leave in Tampa! We are so excited to welcome our first cruise of guests and show the Carnival Pride 2.0 to the world!!!

Dry Dock is Coming

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

Well, life is pretty brilliant here on the Carnival Pride! I love the comedy club here, and managing it is my favorite thing ever. The Pride sails out of Baltimore currently and the guests that we get here are so lovely. It’s so interesting to me how the feel of a ship can be totally different depending on the home port. Of course, every crowd is wonderful in different ways. The Pride is a bit of a fixture in Baltimore. It’s like a part of the inner harbour city scape except that unlike a skyscraper, it leaves during the week and comes back every Sunday. We have some guests who cruise every year and have been doing so for a long time. They really love this ship. When Carnival announced that the Pride would be going to Tampa for the winter, it was actually on the news in Baltimore. I’ve had guests come up to me, distraught, thinking we were going away for good! Don’t worry, Baltimore, we will be back in the spring, promise!!!

We are headed into dry dock on October 19th. Let me back up and explain dry dock. So after we debark all our guests on the 19th, we bring on a bunch of technicians and equipment and whatnot and we head to Freeport, Bahamas, for a MASSIVE renovation that will take several weeks and a whole lot of manpower. They will actually lift the ship up out of the water so that technicians can access all areas of the ship. They will keep onboard only enough regular team members to take care of each department, everyone else will either be transferred or go on vacation. It’s a massive undertaking and every week as we get closer, more and more things start to happen. More technicians start to sign on every week, and things are starting to get worked on. As we get closer I’ll keep you updated and will also talk about the new spaces we’re getting. Generally, all ships go into a standard dry dock every 3 years or so just for regular maintenance. The dry dock that we are getting is a lot more extensive than that, we are getting a whole lot of new spaces, new shows and I’m super excited to see the transformation.

As we prepare for dry dock, it’s almost like winter in Game of Thrones. People keep saying ‘dry dock is coming’, and stocking up on their favorite snacks, or beverages. Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are the crew members who will be transferred to other ships or go on vacation for the dry dock. Those crew members are buying new suitcases, packing, and saying farewell to friends. It will be strange indeed next Sunday when a bulk of my colleagues sign off and no guests get onboard. Sign offs are usually staggered, a few people here, a few people there. Not so in this case!!

Because there will be so much electrical and plumbing work being done, during dry dock, the air conditioning and water get shut off for most of the day. I’m kind of imagining it will be like camping on a cruise ship.

For those of us from entertainment who are staying onboard during dry dock (four of us) we will all have different jobs to do. We have a lot of preparation for the new run out of Tampa, trainings and assembly work for the new shows and the new 2.0 spaces. We also get to roam the ship with no guests onboard, which I think will be strange and exciting. I kind of know what to expect but at the same time have no idea. It will certainly be an adventure!!!

After our dry dock in Freeport, we will head to Tampa, Florida and do 7 day Caribbean cruises out of Tampa until March 2015, at which point we shall return to Baltimore, all new and shiny!

VT

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

So I must preface this post by saying that I wrote it 6 weeks ago before I joined the Carnival Pride and just found it today, so if the timeline seems a little bit off to you, don’t worry, it’s ok.

First of all, in case you didn’t know, VT stands for Vessel Transfer, which is something I’m currently in the middle of. After 2 lovely weeks working onboard the Carnival Dream, i signed off in Jamaica, and flew to Baltimore to meet the Carnival Pride!! I found myself with 2 full days in Baltimore and no clue what to do. So I took a poll of all the Americans I could find. The consensus was, when in Baltimore, you’ve got to see an Orioles game!! (Baseball, in case you weren’t sure). So last week from my favorite Thai food restaurant in Mexico, I secured myself a ticket to the upcoming game. I haven’t seen a live baseball game since my seventh grade class went to Seattle and saw a Mariners game. Coincidentally, the game I attended in Baltimore happened to be the Orioles vs the Mariners! And it all comes full circle!!

First of all, just getting to the game was exciting. Props to Baltimore for having a delightful light rail train that heads directly to the stadium. I boarded the train very close to my hotel and the closer we got to the stadium, more and more baseball fans joined me. All decked out in the bright orange of the Orioles, I was grateful to them being there as I no longer had to wonder if I would get off at the right stop. Follow the hoard of orange jerseys and you can’t go wrong!! Oriole Park at Camden Yard is a really cool place. Beautiful stadium with an overwhelming amount of places to buy food and souvenirs. The game itself was a really wonderful experience! The fans were enthusiastic and clearly passionate. I loved all the fun things they put up on the big screen and how much fun everyone was having. I got myself some ball park popcorn and cheered along like a local. That was definitely something I’m really glad I did!! The light rail ride home was an experience. Here had to have been at least 100 people too many on the train and I have no idea how we made it back alive. All in all it was quite the evening and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baltimore.

Now off to the next adventure on board the Carnival Pride!!

Gone Caving

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

When I first made plans to go to Bulgaria, my friend asked me what I wanted to see while I was there. I wasn’t really sure, so I did some googling and talking to friends and one thing that really became clear was that I needed to go see some caves!

Bulgaria is well known for it’s caves and rock formations. All over the country there are caves to visit, bats to meet and creepy corners to explore. Being an outdoorsy type person I was very excited to explore them all!! So off we went. Bulgaria is an incredible country, sprawling landscapes, from mountains and vineyards to caves and the Black Sea, there is no shortage of beautiful things to see. One of the caves we visited is called the Yagodinska cave and it has an incredible history. Some of the caves you’re allowed to take pictures, this was not one of them however you can see it here on their website:

http://bulgariatravel.org/en/object/370/Yagodinska_peshtera

Bulgaria is somewhere I never really thought to visit until I knew that I had friends who would be there to show me around and I’m so very glad I went. It’s an incredible country full of lovely people and I can’t wait to go back one day!

I have so many more tales from Bulgaria to share, but this one will have to do for now! Check out the Yagodinska cave!! I’ve also included a few pictures from the ‘Wonderful Bridge’ caves. So beautiful!

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The World According to Margit

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2014 at 1:34 am

Called ‘Margaret Island’ by the English speaking word, Margit Island, in Budapest, Hungary, is a magical island of pure awesomeness.

From the ruins of a church and Dominican convent, in use from the 13th to 16th centuries where St. Margaret of Hungary lived, and children now frolic, to a 5.5km running track around the outside, Margit island is spectacular. The island even has its own hotel, zoo, and a recreation area that includes pools, mini golf, workout machines, water slides, trampolines and food service areas. Add to that an athletics complex with diving, soccer and who knows what other facilities.

On a night walk we even discovered a casino! I spent a good chunk of my time in Hungary exploring this amazing island and each time I found something new. On one visit, we marveled at the musical water fountain which features jets of water shooting in the air to the time of the music being played, while various spotlights change color.

My morning runs were ever so much more entertaining here, although they had to be early, as temperatures soared up to the high 30s, even hitting 40 one day (degrees celsius!!) The edges of the island are peppered with sun worshippers working on their tans while small passenger boats and river cruise ships motor slowly alongside.

At night, we stood on Margit Bridge, one of the 9 bridges along the Danube in Budapest. From there you can see the beautiful Chain Bridge and the lights of the Parliament as well as those from the castle district. My dear friend Andi is a wealth of knowledge about Hungarian history and I was eager to learn, asking to hear the stories that went along with each monument, building, or statue.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that I fell in love with Budapest from my first visit to this wonderful island. I will most certainly be back!!

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You Might Be a Backpacker

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2014 at 11:41 pm

In all of our adventures both recently and in the past, some events stuck out in our minds as classic traveler situations. Mostly hilarious, sometimes annoying, backpacking is quite the way to travel. So we came up with a bit of a list….if any of these sounds like you, you might be a backpacker……

– you have been stuck at a truck stop in a foreign country with no idea when or if your transportation is coming

– you have chosen not to use the restroom rather than try to stuff both yourself and your backpack inside

– you have not known what time it is for an extended period of time, not because you don’t have a watch but because you actually have no idea what time zone you’re in

– you have had spirited debates with your travelling companions about what time it is and have to eventually ask google to find out what time zone you are in.

– you have accidentally knocked someone over on the subway/metro with your giant backpack. (Bonus points if you managed not to laugh…I laughed, it was horrible)

– you wake up in the morning and it takes you at least five minutes to remember what country you are in

– you have legitimately been unable to fit your entire traveling party plus backpacks into the elevator

– you have wet wipes in every single pocket of your backpack

– you have washed your clothes and worn them again the next day rather than unpack your perfect Tetris packing job

– you have lost a member of your traveling party in a train or bus and just have to hope they understood your frantic hand signals explaining where to meet you

– you have sat in a pile of your belongings and sadness trying to figure out how to get them all back in to a backpack that suddenly appears much smaller than it was

– you have taken up more than your fair share of public transportation seats rather than unbuckle yourself from your backpack

– you have thrown away clothing to make room for souvenirs/alcohol

– you have thrown away clothing because you’re just tired of carrying it

– you have two sets of tan lines, tank top lines and back pack lines

– you have set up camp in a coffee shop for more than two hours in between flights, shoes off, devices plugged in, using ALL the wifi, shamelessly nursing a coffee for as long as possible.

Do you have any to add???

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The Day of Three Cities

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2014 at 3:49 am

One of the most memorable days on this trip has to be a day that we shall call ‘The Day of Three Cities’. When we booked the trip, we knew we wanted to see Florence, but we also knew it was very expensive to stay there, so we decided to leave Venice early in the morning, catch the train to Florence, spend the day there, and take a night train to Caserta where we would meet my lovely friend Marco who I hadn’t seen since my first shipboard contract. Whilst I was booking the trains, I realized that we would have 2 hours in the Pisa Centrale train station before the long train ride to Caserta. I recalled from my time on the Legend that the leaning tower of Pisa was not too far from the train station, so we could see the tower at night then catch our train. I ran this by the girls, they agreed, trains were booked, we were happy. To be honest I might not have ran it by them and just booked it, but…well…details.

Our last morning in Venice arrived; we got up and onto the train and off we went. Arriving in Florence, we found a place to check our bags (platform 16!!!! A stoic Italian gentleman informed us) and away we went to explore. Florence is truly a beautiful city, and having the whole day to explore it, we wandered up and down streets, into gelato shops and across bridges. We wandered up to the highest vantage points, introduced ourselves to the statue of David, and spent some time in the church at the top. Finding a fabulous restaurant at the bottom of the hill, we had some lunch with wine and enjoyed each others company.

While up at the top wandering around, we noticed a plethora of photographers and videographers and wondered what it could be. It was only later on after we had connected to wifi that we discovered it was in fact the paparazzi getting ready for the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, festivities which we could see from a distance later on in the evening.

Returning to the train station, we caught our train to Pisa, which was…let’s just say….not the fanciest of trains that we caught during our trip. However we called it our midnight train and randomly broke into verses of Journey’s ‘Midnight Train’ and that made everything better. As we arrived into Pisa, my heart sank as it had been almost a year since I’d been to Pisa and at that time we had arrived on a different side of the city and walked towards the central station. AKA….I wasn’t sure what we were doing. We all had massive backpacks on and it was 1am…but our spirits of adventure persevered and off we went into the night. I won’t bore you with the arduous journey of three girls in the night searching for a leaning tower….let’s just cut to the chase. We found the leaning tower and it is just as brilliant at night as it is in the daytime!! We had the entire place to ourselves other than some mischievous Italian youths and we had a great time taking the traditional tourist pictures holding the tower….or pushing it over!

Success put a swing in our steps on the way back. Except for Saffie who had recently broken her foot and also packed quite heavily. But what couldn’t lift her feet still lifted her spirits and we made the short trek back to the train station, stopping only to get Emma a Nutella crepe…which was entirely necessary.

Our train from Pisa to Caserta looked as though it were one of those cool sleeper trains that you see in movies.

It was not.

Upon entering the cars, they looked quite like the Hogwart’s Express from the Harry Potter books, however once we got going, it was more like the train from the movie Eurotrip. Foreign strangers with less than pleasant odors and no English skills made for a very interesting train ride, one which only Emma managed to sleep on, and only because she covered her entire head and shoulders in her jacket. Saffie and I huddled away from our stinky bench companion and tried to sleep, however were often awakened and weren’t particularly comfortable. But it certainly was an adventure, one which I would never take back, as it is hilarious to think about now.

Finally, we arrived in Caserta, at 8:30am that morning, bedraggled and sleep deprived, however we had successful been in three cities that day!! From Venice to Florence to Pisa, and good times were had by all.

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So heavy!!!!

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Us ladies having a lovely time in Florence

Mean Girls Explain Ship Life

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2014 at 4:32 am

So in my vacationing state of enhanced internet availability (picture me with an iPad and a laptop and an iPhone all looking at different things at once….I’m ALL up in the internet right now…yay vacation!!) I have come across a lovely lady who also blogs about ships, life, thoughts and other such things and she has a blog post that I fell in love with. Mean Girls is one of my favorite movies of all time, I quote it at least once a day, more times if I’m on the ship. Miss Mackenzie has taken Mean Girls and applied it to ship life in a way that I find hilarious, and I hope you do too. She has very graciously given me permission to re blog this one for your entertainment!! See more of her work at http://www.mackenzieames.com…..she also has an excellent list of ways you know you work on cruise ships which made me laugh out loud several times. Enjoy!!

I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Mean Girls is easily one of the greatest movies ever made. I frequently quote this cinematic brilliance in my every day life – sometimes on purpose, and sometimes by beautiful accident.

Nothing cheers me up faster than memes about Glenn Coco or GIFS of Janice Ian.

So I compiled this list of our fetch mean girls in certain ship life situations. Keep reading, unless you’re some home-schooled jungle freak.

Crew Bar Map

Mean Girls explain:




Ship Feminism
feminism




Crew Welfare
Need Anything




Getting Ready for Overnights in Kusadasi
smell like a




When You Want Night Off From the Crew Bar and Your Friends are All
boo mean girls




When A Guest Wants to Have Drinks with the Crew
doesn't go here




Trying to Be Healthy on Ships
butter carb




When You Move to Land and Have a Bad Day
south side

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Maybe it’s because I’m a Gondolier

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm

The striped shirts of the gondoliers are possibly one of the most widely recognized symbols of Venice. One of my goals in life has always been to enjoy a good old fashioned gondola ride.

As children, my sister and I would listen to tapes at night, stories, with Tchaikovsky’s Four Seasons and other classical music as the soundtrack. One of these tapes spoke of Venice and the canals. I couldn’t even tell you exactly what they said in the story, but I vividly remember the soundtrack as well as being left with the distinct impression that life would never be totally complete without a gondola ride.

Unfortunately for past Erica, the Legend European season passed without a gondola ride, for various reasons which aren’t necessary for this story. Fortunately for present Erica, my traveling companions on this vacation also realized the crucial importance of gondola rides and we all agreed that it was a splendid plan.

Although it was a gloomy day that threatened to rain on us, we thoroughly enjoyed our 45 minute gondola ride. Seeing Venice from the canals is a completely different view than walking the side streets. Traversing under the skinny bridges and around the tightest corners was a grand adventure indeed. The gondoliers themselves were a show, yelling to eachother, jovially greeting the passengers of other gondolas; Our gondolier even cheekily kidnapped a piece of another gondola. Only for a moment, as it was returned after some quick words in Italian and a jolly splash of an oar. They use their arms and legs and feet as well as oars to navigate the tiny canals, pushing off of walls and ducking under bridges. Steering a gondola and navigating the narrow canals is a very tricky business, and they all really seemed to enjoy it.

We most certainly enjoyed it. It might even be one of the top 5 events of the trip. We even made up a song, in which we changed the lyrics from one of the Carnival show tunes to be about Venice instead of London. It is amusing how our work is never far from our minds. Not in a stressful way, but merely in an ever conscious way. Without Carnival, we never would have met, or had the same vacation time, or known the same songs….this incredible vacation would cease to exist in the sands of time. So it’s fitting that there’s a little sliver of Carnival Cruise Lines magic sprinkled into our vacation.

In conclusion, if you are going to Venice, get yee to a gondola, you won’t regret it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a gondolier….that I love Venice soooooo….

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Photo credit goes to the lovely Sarah (Saffie) Midgley, thanks for loaning me the photos babs.