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Posts Tagged ‘training’

Priorities

In Bahamas, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, travel, traveling on September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It’s a really good thing that my computer knows what day it is because I had completely forgotten! We just finished our final test and await grading!! I feel very confident about the results, and hopefully it went as well as I think it did because otherwise I’m coming home sooner than expected!! I won’t get the grade until tomorrow and that’s also when I will get my ship assignment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So excited!!!

An interesting thing happened yesterday. We were in one of our hospitality training sessions and it was about diversity. We all went around the room and said a few things about each of our countries and then did an exercise where we talked about our favorite movies and music etc. We all had VERY different taste in everything, different reasons for coming to work for Carnival, and very different backgrounds. Finally, we came to the question, “What is the most important thing to you?” Without hesitation we all said “FAMILY.” That was the first and only thing we all agreed upon! It was amazing that through all our different beliefs, upbringings, languages, likes and dislikes, we were all unanimous in this matter. I think one of my favorite things about getting older is that I have developed such a clearly defined idea of the values that I want to see in the people I surround myself with.  Obviously I cant expect everyone I come in contact with to have all the values I like the most, however, I do have control over the people I let into my inner circle, and as I think about all my closest friends, they all have a very strong dedication to their family, be it blood relatives, or a family you make out of friends. I think it shows a certain amount of selflessness to put your family before money, or fun, or career, and I respect that in others. So here I am, thousands of miles away from home, and still surrounded by people who have that same core value. And guess what, now we’re family, and it really feels like that.

SHIP ASSIGNMENT SOON!!!!!!!!!!!! Eek! I’m posting this a day after I wrote it, yesterday we went onshore to Half Moon Cay after our test and frolicked in the ocean! Half Moon is a private island owned by Holland American which is under the Carnival Corporation umbrella so therefore it’s ours too! It’s so so stunning! As per usual I took pictures, which I will post eventually!! Tonight I get my new ship assignment!! Very exciting! Tomorrow will be a whirlwind of activity, signing off my ship and onto a new one, I may have some layover time in a hotel depending on when and where my new ship docks, but I will know more about that later!! Either way, it’s adventure time!!

e

In Suspense

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, friends, training, travel, traveling, work on September 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I am in the middle of my last training cruise. It feels like I’ve been here forever and my college friends are my family. But we have to say goodbye in just a few short days! Usually the training colleges are a month long, ours is only two weeks so there’s a lot of information condensed into half the time they usually take. But we’re managing!! We have a big test tomorrow and then the next day we find out what ships we will be assigned to. It’s very suspenseful because our trainers know what ships we are going to already but can’t tell us yet. So we don’t know where we are going until the final day of college right before we leave. This cruise is stressful but also a lot of fun. Last night was our formal night! We got to get dressed up in our own formal clothes and go for dinner in the guest dining room and then out to watch the new show in the Blue Sapphire Lounge (a big stage/theatre that takes up two levels), which is a treat because we will never get to wear our own clothes there ever again. When we get on our new ship and we have our formal night uniforms (‘blues’) we will be allowed to see the shows and use the guest dining room, but we have to be wearing our blues. It was a lovely night for us and I took pictures which I will post another time. When we get to Port Canaveral this time, the coastguard is going to board and check the ship’s safety procedures and the crew knowledge. They’ve been briefing us all week about what questions they will ask and what we need to know, however we will be disembarking and heading to our new ships by then so we won’t have to worry about that this time. Next ship I imagine we will though because there always seems to be someone on board grilling us about lifeboats and safety drills. Today we don’t have any observations or desk work, just our final classes and then study time!! Tomorrow we will have our test first thing in the morning and then I don’t work until 4pm so a few of the others and I will get off the ship and enjoy Half Moon Cay (an island owned by the Carnival Corporation). Then graduation and new ships!! Depending on what ship I get assigned to, I may have a few days in Miami, or Cocoa Beach or even get flown to a different port of call. We have home ports everywhere, so I will not necessarily be embarking from Port Canaveral. So many questions, and no answers for two more days. I’m focusing on the test right now and not thinking about saying goodbye to my new family. Although it won’t be goodbye, it will be see you later, because the whole company is very much a family and I will stay in touch with my college friends. AND there’s a whole new ship of people waiting to be my new friends!! Study time! More soon!

E

Photo Bomb

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, training, travel, traveling, work on September 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Remember how I promised to post photos?? Well I’m currently in Nassau, with several hours to kill before we leave port and I don’t work until 6, so my Russian friends and I are in the only bar in Nassau that has blazingly fast internet. So without further ado, here are some photos to help illustrate all the things I’ve been telling you about!!

My home for the time being!! The Carnival Ecstasy!

The Disney Dream, we were docked next to it in Nassau

My lovely roommate, Alfiya

That’s me!! In Nassau

Our teeny tiny bathroom!!

The door to our cabin, and our dresser, as seen from my top bunk perch!

The view of our room from the cabin door!

My floating home!!

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Sunset through a storm cloud

My Carnival College trainers!! Jennifer on the left and Linda on the right

My fellow college trainees!!

Of Immigration and Shooting Stars

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, friends, fun, travel, traveling, work on September 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I am seriously getting very used to having my lovely cabin steward friend. I leave my dirty uniforms on my rumpled bed, come back after work, my bed is made, garbages are gone and my clothes have been taken, the next day they return, cleaned and pressed! He’s so lovely. We see him daily and he makes sure we’re happy and we chat. I met a Canadian today! First one I’ve seen since I left home!! I know there’s a few on board, but I haven’t run into any until today. It’s very multicultural here. A few places that are represented are Russia, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, England, Scotland, Mexico, India, Wales, US, Indonesia, Croatia, Chile, Australia, Romania, Bulgaria, South Africa, Phillipines, Haiti, Italy, and Greece, and those are just the ones I happened to talk to today. It’s so interesting, while we were waiting to do our medical texts the other day, 10 of us all said good morning in a different language and tried to learn all the other ways. I’ve encountered an entirely new experience here that’s never happened before, but has happened several times since I got on board. Someone (always European, usually Russian or Ukrainian) asks where I’m from and I say Canada and then they reply, “No, where are you REALLY from?” and then they’ve all asked if I’m Ukrainian. I never realized it was that obvious.

Yesterday was a very long day! In order to work on the ships, we all (except US citizens) need I-95 work visas. These only last for 90 days before they must be re-stamped by a boarder protection agent. So every 90 days, a group of agents get of board and check ALL crew visas. It starts at 5:15am so as to get all 920 crew members through in a timely manner before the guests begin to disembark. Guest Services typically helps with this process. As the new GSA’s, guess who got delegated to help?? That’s right!! Myself and my new best friends. So we were issued our I-95’s and then we stayed to help sort out all the passports after (on the ship we don’t keep our own passports, they are held in security), and then went to class at 8:30am! But they did get us coffee, so that helped. Then after that we had more classwork, learning some systems that we will use on the desk, then I had two hours of desk observation and one hour of phone work. Phone work entails sitting in the GS office and answering all the calls so that the people on the desk can focus on the guests up front. For the most part we are still just watching and learning as much as possible. I did get to answer a few phone calls though and it was delightful. I didn’t get any tough questions, thank goodness!! By the time we were all finished, two of the GSAs were finishing up and cashing out for the day so they showed me how to cash out and we all went for a nightcap at the crew lounge. The crew lounge has an outdoor smoking/lounging area that is almost right below the bridge, at the very front of the ship. It’s literally at the front, and is such an amazing deck that guests up top on their decks often call down asking how they can get out onto it. We sat out on the deck, counted stars, saw some shooting ones, and I learned some Russian words. It was so incredibly beautiful, tranquil, and peaceful. No land as far as the eyes could see, warm night breeze, and all the stars. It made me so happy. I love it out here. I’m on a break right now and curled up in my cabin. My cabin is the closest one to the hull of the ship so I can hear the waves on the side of the ship. I feel like it’s what clothes in a washing machine on the gentle cycle must feel like. I’ve never slept better!!

Observations

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, traveling, work on September 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Yesterday I had my first observation hour on the guest services desk, today I have another two hours. It’s very interesting, the issues that you address are similar to what I’ve dealt with as a concierge at Disney, but very unique to Carnival and cruise ships. There are many things that are very similar and then other things that are totally different. So far, one of the biggest differences in the training that I’m noticing is that with Carnival there is a MASSIVE safety component in the training. Don’t get me wrong, Disney also makes safety a number one priority, but the urgency is different. In a resort, safety is very important, now imagine the resort is not only floating, but moving quite quickly and traveling long distances. It takes safety to a whole new level. Here, because we are officers, we are responsible for many safety precautions. At the beginning of every cruise, one all the guests have embarked, there are safety drills that we must do so that the guests know where to come in the event of an emergency. Once I get on my next vessel, I will be responsible for a section of those drills, a certain gathering point called a Muster Station. The guests all have different muster stations to report to, and from there, we escort them to their specific debarkation station, where they would be evacuated if an actual emergency happened. Guest Service Associates (GSA), that’s me, are also responsible for announcing some of the emergency codes in case of an emergency. Some situations are announced by the bridge, but we do some of them as well. So we have quite a bit of responsibility. Therefore, right now, we are all scrambling to learn the names of every deck, the locations of every guest muster station, (there’s also 4 for crew members), all the emergency codes, and even stairwells and their numbers. That being said, I’ve got to head back to Carnival College!! Check out me in my Carnival uniform!! I haven’t earned my wings yet, which will be little blue and gold things with stars and stripes on them that go on the tops of my shoulders! Loving the white uniforms, although I should probably invest in several hundred tide-to-go pens!!

E

Carnival College

In Bahamas, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise on September 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

We are very much in the middle of the ocean. We finished our day today at around 6:30pm. My bunkmate was very tired as she had been traveling for 30 hours before coming here, as were a few of the boys. We all ate dinner and then the boys went to the crew bar for a beer, my bunkmate went to our room, and I went to the gym. It’s harder to run on a treadmill on a cruise ship than one would think. Our orientation was great, they told us all the important things we need to know! Tomorrow we get our uniforms! Yay!! After the crazy Disney training I went through last year, the Carnival look will be easy. They even let you wear bracelets as long as they aren’t massive and dangly! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fairly strict, just not as strict as the land of The Mouse! The whole layout of the ship is pretty amazing. There’s a whole crew deck where most of us live (the really high up officers live on a higher deck) and have our own dining rooms (mess halls) and lounge etc. We even have our own cabin stewards!! So once a day someone cleans our cabin, takes any dirty uniforms to be cleaned, and replaces our towels, etc. We pay him $15 every pay period (every 2 weeks). Totally worth it in my opinion!!

Today we are docked in Nassau, Bahamas and we can find free wifi by the docks so my bunkmate and I are reveling in the free internet. Then we have more classes in the evening and a hospitality class. Carnival College is a lot of fun so far!! I’m going to try to do as much blogging as possible, but the internet is not great (and very expensive) on the ship, so I’m writing daily and then posting whenever I can!! Our uniforms are actually pretty cute, we look very sailor-y. I like them!! I won’t be able to post photos just yet, but I think that when we’re back in the US on saturday I’ll try to get some photos up of our cabin and the ship and our uniforms!!

Carnival Ecstasy!!

In adventure, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise on September 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm

It’s my first day on the boat!! My bus came at around 5:30am this morning and then made a few more stops until there was around 30 of us all headed to the Carnival Ecstasy. There were several other buses all headed for different ships. When we arrived at Port Canaveral I started getting really excited to see my temporary new home!! A little bit about my new home, it is 13 decks high (although the 13th deck is just called the sun deck because the number 13 is bad luck) it weighs 70.367 tonnes, is 855 feet long, 103 feet wide (“beam”), holds a maximum of 2634 guests, and 920 crew members! There are 6 of us that are new Guest Service Associates, and the rest of the new crew members were taken other places. As GSA, we are technically officers, whereas people in entertainment and spa and whatnot are staff. So once we have finished our training, we will be allowed certain privileges that the others are not, such as eating in the officers mess hall, and being on guest floors when we aren’t working. The group of GSA’s in training is comprised of a woman from Russia (who is my bunkmate and has been with Carnival for 2 years, and is switching departments from housekeeping to guest services), a man from India (who was a Carnival photographer for almost 3 years, and is switching departments also), two men from Mexico and one from Greece, the last three are on their first contract, like me. We are going to be the best of friends for the next two weeks until we get sent off to our assigned ships. We started off by getting all our paperwork in order, got our nametags, and keys to our cabins. The cabins are pretty much exactly what I expected. Small!! My bunkmate wanted the bottom bunk, which is totally fine by me because I like the top bunk better. There’s actually plenty of storage space, and even a mini fridge and a teeny tiny TV with a VCR!! There are little drawers under the bottom bunk where we can lock things up if we want. Internet is pricey, $20 for 200 minutes and apparently it’s very slow. So I’m going to keep writing things down and then I’ll post them when I can!! We are currently on a wee break after our first little orientation and ship tour. We can only tour the crew area because we don’t have uniforms until tomorrow. There’s several crew mess halls, a crew lounge with a bar, pool table, and foozeball table. There’s a crew gym also, which I will use tonight, but once we have uniforms and a whole ship tour, I’ll be allowed to use the guest gym, which I will do because the crew gym is pretty average. So far everyone is very nice and helpful and lovely. Our luggage should be arriving in about 20 mins and then we will do some unpacking and settling in. Then we have more orientation and safety training! Yay! More later!
E

Cruise Update

In adventure, Carnival, Cruise, friends, travel, traveling, Uncategorized, work on April 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Well I just got a chance to skype with Andrea from her Carnival training cruise ship! I’m so excited right now I need to calm down a little bit! She’s having a great time, sounds like life on a cruise ship is a big adjustment but she really likes the people she’s working with and she’s learning lots. She’ll be on the training ship for another few weeks and then she’ll get assigned to her actual work ship. It was nice to pick her brain with the questions I have, just silly little things like how big of a suitcase should I bring and what does she get to eat and things like that. Now I’m just extra excited for my turn on the cruises to come!! What a perfect time for her to call, I was just in the middle of some quiet reflection time, if I had left the house I would have missed her call!!