ericaamber

Posts Tagged ‘Carnival Cruise Lines’

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!!!

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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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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!!

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.

Arts and Crafts

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 7:48 pm

This post has been long in the making, sorry for the delay!! During the crossing we did a multitude of different activities from what we would usually do. One of those was arts and crafts. I know not everyone loves this kind of thing but I’ve always been a crafty type of person, it runs in my family. My mom is an artist, my dad builds everything, my sister is a do-it-yourself guru and I’m not really good at anything like that but I’ve been trying my whole life….(don’t worry, I do have skills, I’m the sporty one). So when the word came down from on high that we could do arts and crafts, I jumped at the chance to orchestrate it. Myself and a colleague of mine became the queens of arts and crafts and although at times it was stressful (imagine being mobbed by 200 ladies looking for a cross-stitch pattern) we really had a blast. Every day we did something new including cross stitching, balloon flip flop making, satin flowers, scrap booking and a couple other fun things. We really got to know the guests and made some fun things. One day we decorated straw hats and then had a parade down the promenade deck. Some of our lovely guests volunteered to have their photos taken for this blog so I can show you exactly how much fun we had!! My job is so awesome!!

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Panama Canal Adventures

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 5:43 am

I remember being on the Legend and looking at the locks on the way into Amsterdam and thinking that after seeing those, I desperately wanted to see the Panama Canal locks.

BAM

Here I am! Panama Canal! Just like I dreamt. What an amazing experience!! The locks are even cooler than I imagined! They are all massive, and the canal itself is beautiful, lush forests on either side. We have a lecturer on board who made announcements all day long as we sailed through teaching us all kinds of exciting things about the Canal and South America. Just as it is with any very exciting event on board a ship, the crew all gathered at our open deck and joyously shared this fantastic event with each other. This trip is something that only the smaller ships can do as the large ships do not fit through the canal. We had members of our photography staff up in a helicopter taking long distance photos and video for our voyage video. I’m so thrilled to check this off my bucket list.

We had such an amazing time and I’m so happy I got to experience this adventure first hand and I’m so happy I can share it with all of you!!

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Jamaican Me Crazy!

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’ve been so excited and busy settling into my new role and preparing for the repositioning cruise that I forgot to tell you all about it!! We have left Miami for the final time, and embarked on a fantastic 16 day voyage after which we shall remain in LA!

We have been working hard to make sure we have enough activities to keep our guests all occupied for 8 sea days, plus Panama Canal transit day, which is kind of special, we are at sea technically but it’s such a cool experience that most of the guests spend half the day outside watching the locks. Writing new trivias, brainstorming new activities, orienting lecturers, comedians and fly-on magicians to our ship; all part of a days work for the entertainment team.

Now that we’ve set sail on the much awaited crossing cruise, everything is running pretty smoothly (knock on wood!!)! Our first port was Grand Cayman, and then we got to Montego Bay, Jamaica!! We had a chance to get out in Jamaica with most of the fabulous entertainment team and we had an amazing day on the beach. We’ve been working so hard and we all really needed a relaxing beach day. It was a wonderful team building day, we had so much fun and we all got a bit of a tan!

Coming up on the cruise we have Cartagena, Colombia; transit through the Panama Canal; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! Those ports plus a whole whack of sea days make up our fabulous repositioning cruise. Stay tuned!!

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Settling In

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Well I’ve been here almost two weeks and it feels like I’ve been here my whole life. My roommate is amazing and my new best friend. My team is fun, supportive, and hard working. Working on a small ship is cool because the crew is smaller than the big ships and it makes you grow closer, more like a family. Of course you always become like family within your department, but somehow here it seems as though all the departments are like a big family. Each class of ship has it’s pros and cons and it’s really cool to experience each class! As far as my job goes, it’s amazing and I love it. I’ve always had too much energy and entertainment makes good use of it. All day long I’m running around, on stage, jumping, playing yelling and laughing. It’s hectic and busy and wonderful. It’s really interesting to experience a different aspect of the operation of a cruise ship. In guest services, you have contact with almost all the other departments to help solve the guest concerns, but most of your work is done from inside the office. In entertainment, it’s very hands on, you are constantly out with the guests, all over the ship dealing with electronics and musicians and dancers and microphones and technical difficulties. All with a smile on your face. I really love seeing the guests in a different light, where they are happy and having a good time. This cruise I encountered a few guests that cruised with me on the Legend and it was really lovely to see them again and have a chance to chat and catch up after the last few months. Needless to say they were surprised to see me in a host uniform but they told me I’m wonderful and they love me in the new position, which I can’t hear enough, lol. At any rate, enough chatting, check out a picture of my new team and I!!

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