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Posts Tagged ‘cruise’

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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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!!!

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!

Change is Good

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Ok I’ve been dying to talk about this for a little while now but I didn’t want to say anything until it was official! However, it’s done and dusted and now I can put it on the Internet. I am transferring departments to be an Entertainment Host! I will still be with Carnival, but I’ll be in a very different role. Calling trivias, bingos, running games and deck parties! Of course it’s not all just fun and games, there are lots of other duties involved which I won’t bore you with right now. I’m very excited for this new opportunity. It’s not that I have any problems with Guest Services, I love GS. However, I love the entertainment department. I love being on stage and I think I have a personality very well suited to this position. I really appreciate being in a company that allows me the latitude to try out another department. It’s a fairly long process but I’ve made it through and now I am pleased to announce that I will be joining the Carnival Imagination on November 29th as a host!! I’ve had so much amazing support from my team on the Legend and I’m thrilled to start this new adventure! Another amazing thing I’ll get to do with the Imagination is a repositioning cruise through the Panama Canal which I’m very excited about!! So if you’d like to cruise with me in my brand new position, check out http://www.carnival.com and search cruises on the Carnival Imagination!! I can’t wait to see you all there!!

Amazing Moments: Trevi Fountain

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm

As I enjoy my delightful vacation, I’ve been going through all my pictures and remembering all my magnificent adventures. I have been so many amazing places and as I sift through my memories, certain pictures and stories keep coming back again and again as highlights. So I wanted to share some. Today’s photo is from my last day in Rome. The whole day was an amazing experience and the following picture of me tossing a coin into the Trevi fountain just reminds me of it. I can’t not look at this picture without it making me super happy. From the ring I’m wearing that was a gift from my two favorite guests on a Venice sailing to Barcelona, to the smile on my face, to the fountain itself, to the story it reminds me of, everything about this picture will always make my day!

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Cruise Along the Lysefijord

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This post is a teeny bit delayed because I’ve been trying really hard to keep up with the UK isles stuff, and I somehow missed getting this one in! Norway is utterly sublime, and while we were in Stavanger we had the chance to go on a cruise down the lysefijord. We boarded our lovely boat and off we went. The fijords are amazing. It actually reminds me a bit of BC, it made me homesick! We went to an amazing waterfall right next to Pulpit Rock, and drank the waterfall water! They took us all around the fijords and then up to a little campsite/restaurant type place where they served freshly made waffles and homemade strawberry jam. Of course I couldn’t eat the waffles but I drank coffee and watched everyone else enjoy their waffles, all the while marveling at the beauty of the fijord and the mountain ranges surrounding it. As we passed Pulpit Rock we could see people up on the top of it, and later some guests even showed me some pictures they had taken from way up there. The next time I return to Norway I will most certainly be headed up to that brilliant vista.

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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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