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Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Feels Like Home

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2015 at 9:42 pm

One of the questions I get asked most often as a cruise ship worker is ‘how do you cope with being away from home for so long’. The answer is more complex than you might think. Over the years I’ve discovered that for me, the concept of ‘home’ is just that, a concept, and a very fluid one at that. Wherever you FEEL at home, to me, is home! More often than not, it’s people who make you feel at home. You hear it said all the time ‘home is where the heart is’…..that’s not just a cliche. Therefore, I’m quite often at home in the most unexpected places. 
Of course, let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I miss my family the most, wherever they are is home. And I have fabulous memories of my hometown and other cities I’ve lived in. That being said, I have two examples from my last vacation that illustrate precisely what I’m talking about. 
This past vacation I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with two women who are very near and dear to my heart: 
Jaime Dee is an amazing cruise director from my Carnival Sunshine family whom I worked with last contract. I’ve known her less than a year, but feel as though I’ve known her my whole life. We can run around the ship or in port having adventures, or doing work, and are somehow never bored. She is one of the most caring, funny and intelligent women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. We get along like a house on fire so when vacation time rolled around and we happened to be off work at the same time, we made plans to spend some time together. I flew to Texas to meet Jaime, and although we didn’t travel far and wide, it was one of my favourite vacations to date. Somehow it felt like coming home, I felt like I’d always belonged there even though it was my first visit. Jaime and her family made Texas feel like home, for that entire visit, there was nowhere else I’d rather have been. 
After Texas, Jaime and I flew to Las Vegas, and enjoyed some great shows, good food, and adventures. From there, Jaime continued her vacation elsewhere, and I met up with another incredible woman. 
Chelsea Webb and I have been friends for close to, if not longer than, a decade. We have seen each other through heart breaks, triumphs, and everything in between with no judgement. We’ve lived in the same house and we’ve lived thousands of miles away from each other. No matter what, she supports my achievements, picks me up after disappointments, and keeps my secrets. These days we don’t get to see as much of each other as I’d like, but whenever we can, it’s always an adventure. Chelsea and her beautiful dog Phish, met me in Vegas and we drove back to Victoria in her truck (Her Majesty). For those of you who aren’t sure how far that is….it’s about 2,100 kilometres to Vancouver and then an hour and a half ferry ride to Victoria. That’s a long time to be in a vehicle with a person. For every one of those 2,100+ kms, that truck was home. We laughed, had dance parties, took a thousand selfies, and talked about life. For that entire road trip there was no where else I would have rather been. 
At the end of the day, I never have to be away from home for as long as people think, because I have some amazing people in my life who make sure I’m never far from home. I am very fortunate to have a half dozen of these such people in my life. These wonderful ladies are two perfect examples of how I find a home in unexpected places. Wherever they are, the world is clearer, more centred, less chaotic. It’s home. 

  
Chelsea, Phish and I on a hike. 

  
Jaime and I in Vegas. 

Under The Sea

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2015 at 8:34 am

  Having grown up on an island, I’ve always been a water baby. I love swimming, floating, paddling around and all kinds of general water-based merrymaking. Since I began working on cruise ships, my love of the ocean has only intensified. I’ve always been fascinated by the mystifying undersea world and all the creatures that live there, so becoming a scuba diver was something I kept in the back of my mind for a long time. The timing was never quite right, or the locations I was cruising to did not lend themselves to learning to dive, or my work schedule didn’t allow for it. However I finally managed to get myself certified as an open ocean diver and have been eagerly exploring aquatic paradises ever since. 

Working on a cruise ship is great for divers, the ship brings you in, you dive, you go back to work. It’s incredible. I’ve been able to dive in world class dive locales while still working. Lots of my ship friends dive as well so I’m generally not hard pressed to find a dive buddy!
One of the most incredible dives I’ve been on so far was a two tank dive in Aruba around two different ship wreaks. The ocean life was so vibrant and varied, plus who hasn’t wanted to roam around a long submerged shipwreck?! If you’re a fan of the ocean, I highly recommend exploring it via scuba diving. But stay safe and keep your dive buddy close, it can be a dangerous sport!!
   
    
 

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!

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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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!!