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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

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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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. 

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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Gone Caving

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

When I first made plans to go to Bulgaria, my friend asked me what I wanted to see while I was there. I wasn’t really sure, so I did some googling and talking to friends and one thing that really became clear was that I needed to go see some caves!

Bulgaria is well known for it’s caves and rock formations. All over the country there are caves to visit, bats to meet and creepy corners to explore. Being an outdoorsy type person I was very excited to explore them all!! So off we went. Bulgaria is an incredible country, sprawling landscapes, from mountains and vineyards to caves and the Black Sea, there is no shortage of beautiful things to see. One of the caves we visited is called the Yagodinska cave and it has an incredible history. Some of the caves you’re allowed to take pictures, this was not one of them however you can see it here on their website:

http://bulgariatravel.org/en/object/370/Yagodinska_peshtera

Bulgaria is somewhere I never really thought to visit until I knew that I had friends who would be there to show me around and I’m so very glad I went. It’s an incredible country full of lovely people and I can’t wait to go back one day!

I have so many more tales from Bulgaria to share, but this one will have to do for now! Check out the Yagodinska cave!! I’ve also included a few pictures from the ‘Wonderful Bridge’ caves. So beautiful!

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The Day of Three Cities

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2014 at 3:49 am

One of the most memorable days on this trip has to be a day that we shall call ‘The Day of Three Cities’. When we booked the trip, we knew we wanted to see Florence, but we also knew it was very expensive to stay there, so we decided to leave Venice early in the morning, catch the train to Florence, spend the day there, and take a night train to Caserta where we would meet my lovely friend Marco who I hadn’t seen since my first shipboard contract. Whilst I was booking the trains, I realized that we would have 2 hours in the Pisa Centrale train station before the long train ride to Caserta. I recalled from my time on the Legend that the leaning tower of Pisa was not too far from the train station, so we could see the tower at night then catch our train. I ran this by the girls, they agreed, trains were booked, we were happy. To be honest I might not have ran it by them and just booked it, but…well…details.

Our last morning in Venice arrived; we got up and onto the train and off we went. Arriving in Florence, we found a place to check our bags (platform 16!!!! A stoic Italian gentleman informed us) and away we went to explore. Florence is truly a beautiful city, and having the whole day to explore it, we wandered up and down streets, into gelato shops and across bridges. We wandered up to the highest vantage points, introduced ourselves to the statue of David, and spent some time in the church at the top. Finding a fabulous restaurant at the bottom of the hill, we had some lunch with wine and enjoyed each others company.

While up at the top wandering around, we noticed a plethora of photographers and videographers and wondered what it could be. It was only later on after we had connected to wifi that we discovered it was in fact the paparazzi getting ready for the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, festivities which we could see from a distance later on in the evening.

Returning to the train station, we caught our train to Pisa, which was…let’s just say….not the fanciest of trains that we caught during our trip. However we called it our midnight train and randomly broke into verses of Journey’s ‘Midnight Train’ and that made everything better. As we arrived into Pisa, my heart sank as it had been almost a year since I’d been to Pisa and at that time we had arrived on a different side of the city and walked towards the central station. AKA….I wasn’t sure what we were doing. We all had massive backpacks on and it was 1am…but our spirits of adventure persevered and off we went into the night. I won’t bore you with the arduous journey of three girls in the night searching for a leaning tower….let’s just cut to the chase. We found the leaning tower and it is just as brilliant at night as it is in the daytime!! We had the entire place to ourselves other than some mischievous Italian youths and we had a great time taking the traditional tourist pictures holding the tower….or pushing it over!

Success put a swing in our steps on the way back. Except for Saffie who had recently broken her foot and also packed quite heavily. But what couldn’t lift her feet still lifted her spirits and we made the short trek back to the train station, stopping only to get Emma a Nutella crepe…which was entirely necessary.

Our train from Pisa to Caserta looked as though it were one of those cool sleeper trains that you see in movies.

It was not.

Upon entering the cars, they looked quite like the Hogwart’s Express from the Harry Potter books, however once we got going, it was more like the train from the movie Eurotrip. Foreign strangers with less than pleasant odors and no English skills made for a very interesting train ride, one which only Emma managed to sleep on, and only because she covered her entire head and shoulders in her jacket. Saffie and I huddled away from our stinky bench companion and tried to sleep, however were often awakened and weren’t particularly comfortable. But it certainly was an adventure, one which I would never take back, as it is hilarious to think about now.

Finally, we arrived in Caserta, at 8:30am that morning, bedraggled and sleep deprived, however we had successful been in three cities that day!! From Venice to Florence to Pisa, and good times were had by all.

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So heavy!!!!

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Us ladies having a lovely time in Florence

Good Morning Italy

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2014 at 6:25 am

I must preface this post by saying that it’s not current even though it says ‘yesterday’ in there as if it’s current. It was current when I wrote it, and I did have every intention of posting it immediately so as to be the kind of blogger who is very up to date with everything. However, as it does, life got in the way and I am now one of those bloggers who is apologizing for the delay and getting around to posting it a week later. In my defense, life is a grand adventure and the first rule of adventures is that they can be very distracting.* That being said, I quite enjoy a cheeky blog post written in first person present so I’m not changing it….I hope you enjoy a small tale of Italy….

As our train gently whirrs through the Italian countryside, I’m overwhelmed with waves of nostalgia as memories from the Legend Europe season come flooding into my brain. Arriving into Milan yesterday was hectic, finding our hostel stressful, and we really just focused on getting ready for today. When we booked the trip, it was hundreds of euros cheaper to fly into Milan, which is why we did, it was really only a stopover point. Arriving to a taxi strike meant lots of wandering, trams, trains, me speaking pieces of broken Italian, and by the time we got to the hostel we didn’t have much interest in exploring the city itself. Sorry Milan, I’m sure you’re lovely, I’ll have to give you another chance next time. We did, however, see a crazy massive cemetery and the beautiful architecture of the train station, so there’s that.

Up this morning at the crack of dawn, still exhausted from the calamity of Amsterdam, we arrived at Milano Centrale and located our train after several delicious Italian coffees (and a tea for Emma, she’s jolly well British that one is). Snuggled in my cosy Trenitalia seat, gazing out the window, I’m feeling particularly thoughtful. I am so excited to experience Venice again and in a whole new way. I can’t wait to see the city anew through the eyes of my friends and to remember old adventures. I think that has been one of my favorite parts of this trip so far, not only seeing new things myself, but watching my friends discover parts of the world that I already love. Their excitement makes me excited all over again, as though I’m seeing things for the first time as well.

That brings us here, to the train, still whirring along. I almost feel as though someone hit the pause button, and I have a small window of time with my thoughts. The girls are sleeping like angels, and the rest of the people in our car are eerily quiet, as if they know I need this time to myself. Looks like I still have time to catch a wee nap before we arrive. Dearest Venice, I can’t wait to see you again!! Ciao!!!!

*The second rule of adventures is to wear layers, because you never know!

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Weekends in Amsterdam

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Amsterdam is a very dynamic city. It has so many different facets and personalities just waiting to be discovered.

Saturday morning I went for a lovely run down by where the cruise ships come in, it definitely made me a touch nostalgic, and it felt strange to be there without the majestic shadow of the Carnival Legend looming in the distance. I love to explore via my morning runs because it feels very unobtrusive. No one suspects early morning runners to be tourists so you really feel like a local. Saturday morning was fairly quiet, people going to work, house boaters enjoying a morning coffee on their open decks. Some dog walkers and other runners exchanged morning greetings with each other.

Saturday night, taking the advice of a bartender close to our hostel, we wandered into a live music bar in the clubbing area of Amsterdam. The band was fabulous and by the time we left the bar, it was packed and so were the streets. Saturday night in Amsterdam is electric. People everywhere all with different agendas but all enjoying themselves. Business people just finishing late dinners, families taking evening walks, club goers just getting started. The later it gets, the more the streets are populated by nightlife enthusiasts eating from boxes of ‘Wok to Walk’, looking for the next party, or just trying to find their hotel rooms. Our hostel, The Flying Pig, was ever entertaining, a haven for free spirits and fellow travelers. There was always someone to share a story and a beverage with, but everyone also did their best to keep the noise to a minimum in the dorms, for those of us who wanted some rest. Our particular dorm slept 32 people, which was definitely entertaining. The girls and I had our own little corner, and in the five nights we spent there we watched dozens of jovial strangers move in and out. We began to feel like old pros, chatting with each new group about their travel plans, or where they had come from. I had a tougher time than some, as I’m a light sleeper at the best of times, and an insomniac at the worst, but it was an adventure and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We met some of the most wonderful people in The Flying Pig, and I highly recommend it.

Sunday morning I went for the same run, but it felt as though I was running in a different city. In the same manner that Saturday night exploded with activity, Sunday morning in Amsterdam was boisterous and lively. Everywhere along the water, families laid out blankets and picnics and little children in bathing suits dipped their toes in the water. Dogs chased frisbees, and moms with strollers chatted to each other. People everywhere loaded up their boats with supplies for the day, preparing for a day on the water. The people of the Netherlands all seemed bound and determined to enjoy their Sunday in the glorious sunshine.

Tourists headed to the Anne Frank haus, or the Van Gogh Museum, took river cruises, and marveled at the beautiful architecture. I think that sometimes in a city with such a revered nightlife, there can be a tendency to forget about the rest of the hours in the day. Amsterdam has so much to offer everyone, no matter what time of day or what your interests are, there is something for you in Amsterdam.

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Paris and the Grevin Wax Museum

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2014 at 9:38 am

The second leg of our epic European adventure took us to glorious Paris!! Having not been to Paris in what feels like eons, I was very excited to return. One thing I’m very very glad we did was purchase the Paris Pass (www.parispass.com). If you haven’t heard of these handy cards, they have them for lots of major cities across the US and Europe and they are very clever. You can purchase them for varying numbers of days and they include your admission to multiple museums and tourist attractions all over the city, as well as metro passes and hop on and off buses. It can even get you discounts at restaurants! We purchased the Paris Pass for two days and really made the most of it. We went through our trusty little books and picked out all the things we really wanted to do. One of those things was the Grevin Wax Museum. I love wax museums but one of the things that always annoys me is that you can never seem to get really good pictures in them and I always want to get right in the action. The Grevin Wax Museum did something I’ve never seen before, it let guests dress up and pose with the wax people!! There were designated spots around the museum where you were provided with props or costumes and allowed to join the show!! My personal favorite was when we donned crowns and capes to join the kings and queens of years gone by. I absolutely loved this chance to ‘interact’ with the wax sculptures and if every wax museum did this, I would be a happy camper for sure!!

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2014!!

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2014 at 2:36 am

Well 2014 is upon us and celebration here on the Carnival Imagination is in full swing. One thing we are doing here is a massive balloon drop in the lobby. So any guest that wants to can write a note on a piece of paper and stick it in a balloon, blow it up, give it to us and we drop it from the very top of the ceiling down to the lobby, where everyone’s dreams come true! Lol. Not sure if the dreams really come true but it’s a nice thought, yes? So in addition to the guest balloons, we blow up a whole whack of balloons for the drop. I put a note for myself in a balloon and I feel like it’s a good omen. This year will be amazing. 2013 was such an incredible year that I don’t know what could possibly happen to make 2014 as good, but I have a good feeling. I’ve learned so much and grown so much in 2013 that I can’t wait to see what happens next!! I know you all want to know, but I am going to disappoint you. I don’t have a traditional New Years resolution, I just want to continue to live every day like its my last, and do what makes me and my family happy. So I guess my resolution is to keep on keeping on. I’m so happy, I’m working on being the most amazing person I can be and that’s all I can really expect from myself. I wish all of you and your loved ones the happiest of New Years and I know that 2014 will be everyone’s best year ever.

How are you celebrating tonight??

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