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Oh Hello There!

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Well! I must apologize for my long absence. When last we spoke, I was vacationing in Orlando, and headed to the Carnival Sunshine as an entertainment host. So in the last 6 months that you didn’t hear from me, some things have changed. Here’s a rough overview before we get into the details! 
– I changed positions at work 

– My sister made a tiny human, making me a very proud auntie. 

– I focused a lot of time on my extra curricular activities while on-board, scuba diving in particular. 

– I met some ridiculously amazing people (that’s not really a change, it’s just nice)

And now I’m back on vacation, getting ready to head back to the incredible Carnival Sunshine for another fantastic contract. 

Now, details. New job!! Without being too long winded or confusing, I transferred to the role of the on-board Media Manager. It’s a newer role for Carnival Cruise Line and we haven’t been rolled out on every ship yet, so if you haven’t come across one yet, never fear, we’re coming to a CCL ship near you soon! MMs are in charge of the daily documents that are sent to the guest cabins (called the Funtimes), the lido deck movie experience, as well as scheduling in-cabin movies for both guests and crew. We are also in charge of the TV screens you may have seen around the ship with pictures of the crew on them. It’s a very interesting position and I am really enjoying it. There is a lot more to it, that’s really just a brief overview, but you get the idea. The biggest difference for me is that I am now mostly working behind the scenes, I have very little guest interaction unless I decide to leave the office and be in a guest area. It’s been a strange adjustment, but I think I was ready for a change and a new challenge. More details about how I manage all the media will come in a later post, I’m sure. 

I won’t talk too much about my sister, as her life is hers to blog about, however I will just say that although in the past I’ve not been a fan of babies (they scare me quite a bit). This one is adorable and lovely and somehow he seems to already know who I am even though he can barely hold his own head up. Totally obsessed with the little guy and I’m in the middle of crocheting a baby blanket for him right this moment. 

Scuba diving is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve done a few beginners dives and whatnot but never actually had the time to get certified. So at the end of my contract on the Pride, I began the certification process and finished it when I got to the Sunshine. Since then I’ve been diving every chance I get. Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Belize, Cozumel, Grand Turk…the list goes on. If I can find a place to dive, I will do it!! I have so many pictures and stories to share, I could post forever. 

And it always comes back to my Carnival family, doesn’t it?? The Sunshine team is so incredibly caring, hard working, and fun. So much so that I asked to go back and I sign back on beginning September 6th. I even spent some time with my Carnival family while on vacation. A dear Sunshine friend, Jaime, invited me to join her in Texas, which I did and then we went to Vegas together for the weekend. Lots of fun was had and I’m sure I’ll make a post out of it somewhere down the line. 

Currently I’m on another mini trip with my parents. We’re headed back to my hometown, and in fact, the town they first met in. Masset, BC. Yes, I imagine you’ve never heard of it. Even many West Coast Canadians have never heard of it. The Queen Charlotte Islands, or Haida Gwaii, is north of Vancouver Island. Have a look on the map below. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been home and I’m very excited about going. It’s a small town so I should have plenty of quiet time to write over the next few days.

  
Again, apologies for being absent. I’m back again! All the huzzahs!

Sign off Time!

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2015 at 11:24 am

I think I may have covered this topic in the past, however I’m doing it again. I feel as though every contract I do, the sign off process affects me a little bit differently. It’s a very surreal process to begin with. Imagine your life, with a close group of friends and work colleagues, plus an outer lying group of acquaintances that you see daily. That core group you see everyday for 6-8 months (sometimes more), with a few random individual changes. The guests change, but your home and your support network is generally constant (ish…nothing is ever truly constant on a cruise ship). You have a roommate, bunk bed style. You share every aspect of your life. And then one day; a day arbitrarily chosen by the office and the sheer number of days you’ve been onboard, you leave. You go ‘home’. You suddenly and completely are cut off from your entire life as you’ve known it for the last however many months. And you watch your home sail away…well, sometimes you’re already on a plane by the time it sails. For the most part, and i think I can speak for crew members everywhere, we all spend the first few days in complete and utter shock. With a few rare exceptions, everyone on a cruise ship works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, non-stop. Adjusting to land and time off and not being constantly barraged by guest questions can take some time. For me personally, it takes about a week before I stop saying hi to every single person that passes me. Even then, I still smile at everyone, which I’m not sorry for. I think everyone can use a smile. I can only comment for myself, however when i return home, its as though I’ve been in some kind of time vortex, i feel as though I’ve lived for years, and returned to the exact moment I left, except when i see my friends they are REALLY excited to see me. Every time I sign off, it feels different. As I sit now in my bed (bottom bunk, thank you! Girl has put in her time, yo!!), feeling pensive and reflective, I have a very different outlook about signing off in the morning than I ever have before. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve done this quite a few times by now, or that it’s been a challenging contract (both of which are true), but I’m facing this sign off with a much more heightened sense of clarity than I ever have had. I am excited to go, but sad to leave my Pride family, as per all sign offs, but something is different. I can’t quite place it, but I’m different. Either that or I’m totally delirious and I seriously need a vacation. I also face weird concerns, like am I going to continue working at sea? Am I even capable of staying on land for more than a month? The concerns about my future have taken a whole new turn. But for now, my mail concern is resting, relaxing, having fun and enjoying my vacation! Goodbye Pride family, it’s been sweet!!! On to the next great adventure!!!

Inspiration

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

You may have noticed my lack of writing lately. That can be attributed to several factors:
– my mom and grandma came to cruise for a week
– we went through a massive dry dock that tested my sanity
– we rolled out 5 new shows and all of our 2.0 branded spaces
– tequila
– the holidays!
– I’m coming to the end of my contract and am growing weary
– lack of inspiration
Of all of those reason, lack of inspiration is by far the most deadly. I look for inspiration in all kinds of places, friends, family, work, my surroundings and random thoughts that meander through my head. But sometimes I struggle to write for no apparent reason. I recently began reading a book that my mom brought me when she visited and I think it may have re-inspired me. Karen Connelly’s ‘One Room in a Castle’, has been my latest source of inspiration. It’s a collection of her letters, postcards, and journal entries from when she lived in Spain, France and Greece. Something about the way she writes makes me want to scribe my experiences. The way she forms sentences and describes the world around her renews my own creative spirit. I’ve been so many places and seen so many things, I feel as though I haven’t accurately transcribed those adventures. With vacation upcoming, I feel like I’m ready to re-visit my creative side. Sometimes all you need to renew your own creative spirit is to experience someone else’s!!

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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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