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Posts Tagged ‘crew life’

Deviation

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Although the Baltic seas have thus far been kind to us, the winds of change are upon us. The Norway cruise got rougher close to the end and as we reached the final day, we learned that there was a very good chance we would need to change our itinerary because of it. We waited on the edge of our seats as the powers that be decided our next course of action and when the email hit our inbox we opened it with mixed feelings. Generally, a deviation of itinerary mostly just means more work and upset guests. Understandably so, people book cruises with the ports in mind, often if we miss one we add a day at sea, we don’t get a replacement port, resulting in sadness and long lines at Guest Services.

Deviations can occur for all kinds of reasons, but mostly it comes down to weather. At the end of the day, we are but sailors, we can not control the wind or the waves, we can only do our best with what comes our way (methinks there’s a metaphor for life somewhere in there, you decide). In this case, the decision makers were able to reconfigure our cruise so that despite missing one port (Belfast) we gain a replacement port (Liverpool) and the other ones move around a bit. As soon as we got the official word, all departments sprang into action. We in the Guest Services department scrambled to set up a help desk with outside lines and internet access available for guests who had booked shore excursions with outside (non-Carnival) companies to try to change them. We emailed/faxed/called multiple countries in multiple languages for multiple hours. Damage control at it’s finest. Our cruise director and cruise staff immediately put together port presentations and discussions to inform the guests as soon as they got on board of exactly what was happening. Shore excursions put together new excursion booklets with tours for the new port and refunded the tours that had to be cancelled due to missing Belfast. By the time the dust settled, we still had some upset guests, but mostly we had ones that were impressed and grateful. We worked so hard that I barely had time to consider that we were about to go somewhere unexpected. LIVERPOOL!!!!! For me, super exciting…maybe not for everyone, but I was really excited to see another British port. At any rate, more thoughts on the upcoming deviation in the near future. I’m off to see what I can see outside, it’s time for an adventure!!

Firth of Forth and the Forth Bridge

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

First of all, yes, that’s quite the mouthful, it took me approximately 4 tries to say ‘Firth of Forth’ in a sentence without sounding completely foolish (I’m still not certain I’ve mastered it). We sailed into the Firth of Forth this morning and it was a very beautiful sight. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry, I didn’t either. The Firth of Forth is a fijord that was formed by the Forth Glacier in the last glacial period. Specifically, it is the estuary (‘firth’) of Scotland’s River Forth, where said river flows into the North Sea. It flows between Fife (north) and West Lothian, Edinburgh, and East Lothian (south). The firth is very important for the conservation of nature. The Isle of May hosts a bird observatory, and the Firth of Forth Islands SPA (Special Protection Area) is a home for over 90,000 breeding seabirds each year!! This is one of the reasons that in 2008, the Firth Ports refused a bid by SPT Marine Services to allow oil transfer between ships. It’s really beautiful here!! Houses and beaches line the shores and the Forth Bridge stands tall and majestic in front of you as you sail in. The bridge itself, of course, has a history all on its own. It is a cantilever railway bridge just to the east of the Forth Road Bridge, about 14 km west from the city of Edinburgh. It was opened in March of 1890 and is 2,528.7 metres long. It connects Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh with Fife, and took 7 years to complete. It used 10 times as much metal as the Eiffel Tower and 98 men lost their lives during its construction. The bridge was designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker. 4 years prior to the beginning of the bridge’s construction, (on Dec 28th 1879) in a violent storm, the first Tay Rail Bridge collapsed as a train passed over it, killing all passengers. It was an unmitigated disaster and because of it, the Forth Bridge was specifically designed to look strong. And strong it does look. What an amazing sight to sail into today, I will never forget it!
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Bergen and Bryggen, Norway

In adventure on September 21, 2013 at 7:28 am

Stop number 2 on the Norway cruise was Bergen. It’s another beautiful town with a lovely fish market and a cool tram-type thing called a Funicular that goes up Mt. Floyen (similar to the skyride in St. Thomas). I didn’t have much time outside so I wandered around taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and architecture. One thing that’s very interesting about Bergen is the Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage site. Feel free to check it out here at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/59
Bryggen is Bergen’s old wharf area and is a reminder of the town’s importance as part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century. There are currently 62 buildings left from that era, as it has had parts of it destroyed by multiple fires over the years. King Olav the Peaceful (Olav Kyrre) founded the port of Bergen somewhere around 1070 and it was initially a possession of the old Norwegian aristocracy that had acquired a monopoly on fish trading. Today much of it remains protected and a lovely well inside a courtyard advises that any Norwegian coins that are dropped into it will be used to continue to preserve the site.
The fish market itself is lovely and had so many different things to peruse and explore. I wandered up a small hill for a better view of the city. The buildings are beautiful and are built fitting inside the nooks and crannies of each other like so many puzzle pieces. Beautiful gardens abound and sharp turns lead to small alleys with steep stairs. I very much enjoyed Bergen and one day hope to come back again!
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First Impressions of Ireland

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Today we arrived in Dublin, Ireland. I had planned to get up early and head into the city, catch a HoHo and tour around. However I accidentally ate some wheat the other day and have been sick for almost 5 days now. So I slept in until I felt human then ventured ashore. From the pier it’s 4km to the city center, but there is a lovely little tram that takes you there for a few euros. So I tried to purchase a ticket. Now if you could see my change purse, you would be most confused. I have pounds, euros, kroner (both Danish and Finnish) and even a few American coins in there. Such a mishmash!! So I scrambled for some euros, and found myself 20 cents short. A fellow behind me (seeming irritated) pushed me aside and put the last 20p in for me, instructing me to put my next 20p coin in the first charity box I came across, and then we would both have done a good deed for the day. Thanking him profusely, I took a seat on the tram. The generous fellow took a seat across from me and struck up a conversation. He turned out to be an eccentric history professor who was quite happy to tell me all kinds of things about Dublin, the upcoming election, and his life, all while quoting Karl Marx and Oscar Wilde. A most entertaining start to my day!! Every Irish person I have encountered today has been friendly and kind. Plus I just love their accents!!! Ireland, I like you.

How Alesund Says Goodbye

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

Well Norway is brilliant! I can’t get enough!! I will do a photo post soon with photos from Alesund, as I have so many to share, but this one just has to be shared right now! I have learned over the last few weeks that it is crucial to just always have a camera on hand because amazing things are everywhere all the time and I am often sent scurrying into my safe to get my camera to capture a magical moment of some kind. Particularly now as many of the ports we are visiting in the few weeks to come we will not come back to, nor has Carnival As we set sail out of Alseund yesterday, this darling boat appeared out of nowhere with streaming jets of water coming out of it and world flags decorating it’s sides to say goodbye to us!! I managed to snap a few quick pictures out of the office window. I love a good old fashioned water show send off!

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Castles Of Old Zealand

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2013 at 8:52 am

When last I was in Denmark, I decided that I really needed to see some serious castles. What better place to do that than Denmark!! I was fortunate enough to be able to get on a guest tour called ‘Castles of Old Zealand’. This tour was SO much fun!!! It was also nice that our pro DJ from the ship (DJ Bad Beats, or Artie to us) was also on the tour so we went adventuring together!

Some summarizing bullet points for those of you who might not want to read all the way to the end (one of my shore excursion managers says my tour reviews are too long to read, so I always give him bullet points)
– Tour guide pretty much invented Denmark, she knew EVERYTHING about everyone that ever took a breath in or around or near to the country
– I love castles…
– We wandered away from the tour group and found the crazy dungeons under the Macbeth castle…very cool.
– Danish castles are better than Russian palaces because you get to touch things
– Lunch had lots of options!
Our tour guide (Pia) was an absolute gem, she told so many interesting stories that I stayed awake for most of them! Our first stop was at a lovely castle that was next to a darling marina. It was in fact the castle that Shakespeare set Macbeth in, which is super cool. We strayed from the group and went for a wander down in the dungeons and tunnels that used to house soldiers. Tip: If a sign tells you to grab a flashlight (aka a torch) before entering a dark tunnel, you might want to listen….we managed with our cell phones and camera flashes like a sketchy horror movie.
After that we stopped at the Danish Queen’s summer palace, not really very castle-y, but beautiful nonetheless. We didn’t get to go in or anything, but we could see the stables and the palace and we heard all about the Danish royal family. I like the Danish royals, they sound more down to earth than some of the other monarchs you hear about. Our tour guide was telling us that when they are in Denmark, they ride their horses through the fields and the towns and whatnot. Just as I imagine Kings and Queens doing. Just like a fairy tale.
Lunch was at an inn about 10 minutes away from the summer palace. They had a lovely buffet set out for us with a complementary beverage, as well as teas and coffees. The food was good, some of it was difficult to distinguish exactly what it was, but I was brave and tried everything (except the things covered in gluteny death). Next to the inn was a lovely cemetery that we took pictures in before returning to the bus.
After lunch we went to Fredrickbourg castle which was AMAZING!!!! So many rooms full of so many shiny things!! I loved that the castle wasn’t very crowded, unlike some of the Russian palaces, so it felt like we could really move at our own pace and explore the castle. Also unlike the Russian palaces, there weren’t big plexiglass coverings over all the walls. Russian palaces don’t let you touch ANYTHING…so paranoid. So I touched some artifacts, mostly just because I could. Our tour wasn’t scheduled to go out into the gardens, so Artie and I hustled out of the castle (got a little lost but made it in the end) and took ourselves out to the gardens before meeting the tour back at the bus. The gardens were brilliant, I’m so happy we checked them out.
On our way home we slowed down in front of a few other castles, I was kind of bus napping to be honest so I’m not sure which ones, but I know one has the crown jewels in it. What a wonderful day!!
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The Cruise to Come

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Well it’s that time again……
Can you guess?
Night shift is upon me!

I’m very excited, for several reasons.

1) I’m more than halfway through my contract and to be honest, I’m ready for a break from the hectic day shifts. Night shift gives you a chance to hide from the world a bit, rejuvenate, work quietly by yourself. Of course there are guests still and you can often get quite busy, but it’s just not like day shifts.

2) DAYS OFF IN PORT!!!!!! We have some amazing ports and I’ve been planning how to spend my days all week long.

One port I’m very excited about is Warnemunde. I’m trying to get on an excursion. One that goes to several concentration camps in Berlin. Now this is an excursion that everyone has an opinion about. Some people, like I, are fascinated by history, and have a desire to experience everything, even the not so pretty parts. Some people that I have talked to believe that it would be too overwhelming for them, and I can totally understand that point of view. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I will feel about it when I get there, but I know its something I feel the need to see.

I have many other things planned for this week, but this is the only one that has such somber overtones. I will keep you posted on all my adventures and how they change my perception of the world.

Recognition

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2013 at 2:28 am

Something lovely happened this week. I was nominated for Team Member of the month!! It was a pleasant surprise and made me feel like my hard work is being recognized. You have to be nominated by someone from another department and then there’s a party at the beginning of the month with all the senior officers and the other nominees. We just had the party last night and it was lovely.

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Cruise Dynamics

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Working at the Guest Services desk is always an adventure. We have some of the best stories in my opinion, because everyone brings us their challenges to solve. Any of you who are Carnival fans may know about John Heald, our senior cruise director and his blog. (www.johnhealdsblog.com). First of all, I have to say that as a Carnival employee I had obviously heard of John before and was very interested to meet him. Both he and his Assistant Cruise Director, Calvyn (my paisano, he even went to (UVic as well) are marvelous. They are funny, like REALLY funny. The Morning Show (a cruise director talk show, airs in the mornings on the cabin TVs) is absolutely hysterical. I like to watch it while running on the treadmill, and often I laugh so hard I’m in danger of falling off! Being a bit of a celebrity, John has lots of fans, some people even book their cruises around when he will be working! As a result, people tend to listen to his announcements and talks as reverently as the flying monkeys listened to the wicked witch in Oz. When we went to Messina (known for their cannoli) John made mention over the PA that the entertainment staff and guest services staff really like cannoli. As a result, our back office fridge was FULL of cannoli for us, John, Calvyn and even the captain. John also does some things I’ve never heard a cruise director do. For instance, if guests are late to the ship in ports, he announces their names over the PA, for the rest of the cruise, everyone knows exactly who we had to wait at the gangway for. The other day the late comers were hustling to get back on board and John announces, “Well, it looks like Mr and Mrs_____ are running down the gangway, welcome back, thank you for joining us!” It absolutely makes my day every single time. John also sometimes will write on his blog about the more difficult guests that we encounter here, which I also find extremely entertaining. Please do check out his blog, as he is blogging while cruising with us, and he has plenty of entertaining things to say!!

Spanish Hospitality

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2013 at 7:25 am

Everyone always talks about Southern Hospitality, but no one ever told me about Spanish Hospitality!! My dear friend Valeria is from Valencia, Spain, and we just happened to dock there the other day. Darling Valeria invited me into her home to meet her family and have paella (a traditional Spanish dish). Of course I jumped at the chance to see my friend’s home. What a fabulous day we had. Valeria is the only person in her family that speaks English so I got by with my very limited Spanish. Surrounded by food, Spanish wine, and her closest friends/family, I felt so very welcomed, and at home. I am capable of understanding far more Spanish than I actually speak so I was able to follow the conversation without having to tell all my new friends all about myself. It was actually so wonderful just to sit and listen and enjoy without the pressure that often accompanies new countries and new people. On the way back to the ship we stopped at the local sights so we

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