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Posts Tagged ‘crew life’

Things a Cruise Ship Worker Looks Forward to On Their Vacation

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, Uncategorized on September 20, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Into the life of every cruise ship worker, a little (or a lot) of structure and even some sacrifice, must fall. As much as I LOVE what I do, just like everyone else around the world, I look forward to vacation. Something that makes my vacation different than the rest of the world is that I have not only worked every day since the beginning of time (as it feels sometimes), but I’m away from home roaming the globe on a giant, floating, self-contained resort. Needless to say I look forward to different things than the average vacationer.

Of course cruise ship workers look forward to spending quality time with friends and family, just like everyone else, however there’s some things you just can’t do on a ship that you miss while away. Here’s my list, in no particular order!

– doing laundry whenever you want without fear that someone will either hijack your dryer or go through your undies. (not that this actually happens, just that its something I worry about…well the dryer hijackings definitely happen)

– grocery shopping with abandon. On ships we don’t have a lot of storage space, refrigeration, or the ability to cook. Enough said.

– COOKING!!! I just want to cook dinner!! Preferably with a glass of red wine in one hand.

– Pets. I am notorious for making friends with random stray dogs/cats/goats/horses while on in ports. In fact I once tried to tame a wild pony in Jamaica. It wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. One of the greatest things in the world is having a pet around.

– Not worrying about back on board time. After an extended period of time paying close attention to when the ship leaves and when you have to work or be back onboard, being on land as the sun goes down is a decadent feeling.

– Not knowing people. As hard as it is to say ‘see you later’ to your ship family, sometimes it’s refreshing to walk down the hallway/street without knowing everyone. Anonymity can be absolutely delightful, in the same way that silence is golden.

– No name tags!! Imagine your morning, you walk out of the house and you check for your wallet and keys. Cruise ship workers check for our cabin keys and our name tags. It takes me several days if not a full week of checking the left side of my chest for my name tag before I subconsciously realize I’m on vacation. I can always tell that I’m ready for a vacation when I look at people in movies or on tv and wonder where their name tags are.

– drinking tap water. I know. This is a wierd one, but stay with me. As anyone who has cruised knows, you don’t drink the tap water. It won’t kill you or anything, it’s just not delicious and not filtered. There are some filtered taps around the ship that you can drink from, but most of our consumable water come from purchasing bottled water. Which is delicious (particularly in the South Pacific where we get Fiji water quite often), however drinking water straight out of the tap in the kitchen sink is something I REALLY miss!

– Fire! Fire is the most dangerous hazard at sea so we aren’t allowed to have anything onboard with a flame (other than lighters), no candles!! As soon as I get home I light candles and build fires in the fireplace, regardless of the season.

– Fast unrestricted internet!! We do have internet onboard but it’s not the fastest nor the most economical. We spend days in port hunting for WiFi. Getting back to land and having high speed internet 24 hours a day is a luxury, and gives you a chance to catch up on all the cat videos you missed while at sea.

These are really just the things that I REALLY look forward to when I’m at sea. What do you look forward to when your vacation time rolls around?!

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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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Good Morning Sydney

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2016 at 7:27 am

One of my favourite things about being a cruise ship worker is the chance to see some amazing places. This was my view this morning during my run. Sydney, Australia is an incredible home port!  
  

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!

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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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!!