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Posts Tagged ‘traveling’

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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Go Confidently

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 2:05 am

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No words necessary……….

When Breeze Met Liberty

In friends, traveling on February 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm

So most of you will probably remember my lovely friend Valeria who worked with me on the Liberty and then went on vacation a few months ago. Well she and her boyfriend are back and working on the Breeze right now, soon to be transferred to the Legend (which they really want me to join them on, but that’s another story). Luckily for us, the Breeze and the Liberty meet up at least once a week right now, so we get a chance to meet up. I got to hear about their vacation, and I got to tell them all of the fun tings that have been happening on the Liberty. It’s so amazing to get to meet up with friends in random places like St. Thomas or Miami. This time is was St. Thomas.

erica:colin:valeria

Footprints

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I went on a fabulous excursion with my friend Davorka yesterday. Back to the Kon Tiki tour actually!! We had the best time. We took a cool picture of our feet!! Check it out!

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Thoughts on Things

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 at 7:25 am

Night shift has left me in a very pensive mood these days. I’m very much enjoying the large chunks of time off. As we all know, I function on much less sleep than the average human, so night shift hasn’t really affected my sleep patterns too much (other than the times I sleep, I nap at odd times of day now). However the big difference is that when I’m awake, I don’t need to be in the office, so my time is mine. Normally you always feel tied to the desk, like if you aren’t there something might explode and maybe it’s your fault it exploded because you weren’t there. On nights if I sleep for 3 hours and then wake up at 11am, I have the whole day to do whatever I want!! I’ve been on excursions, haunted my favorite restaurants, watched my favorite movies, and stayed in bed just because I could. There is something deliciously decadent about not getting out of bed in the middle of the day just because you don’t have to. I’m enjoying it. I’ve read 3 books in the last two days and enjoyed them all thoroughly. Being at work when no one else is here also gives me lots of reflecting time. Isn’t that always the way?? Left to ourselves, we tend to turn inward and analyze our lives. I have 10 weeks left here on the Carnival Liberty. Sometimes that sounds like eons, but most of the time it sounds so so short. On ships you tend to tell time via ports. For example, I have 10 Miamis left, or 5 Cozumels. It’s a very different way of telling time and counting down, but when I say I only have 5 Cozumels left it really makes me feel like I’m almost done. I must just say that I’m not counting down because I want to leave, I do very much enjoy this ship and the crew. Mostly I’m counting down because being done means I get to see some very important people. Also, my GSM is finished two weeks before me, except he is retiring so you’d better believe he is REALLY counting down. So every time he gives me his countdown, I can’t help but add two and countdown also. I already know exactly what I’m going to do the first few days that I’m home. I do very much miss home, my family, and my friends, I can’t wait to see them all. It will be a quick visit, however, as I think I’ll be off traveling not long after I get home. That’s the gypsy life! Always on the move.

Night Shift

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Something interesting is about to happen to my work schedule. I’m going on NIGHT SHIFT!!! Guest Services is open 24 hours, so obviously someone has to be working late at night. On Carnival ships, we GSAs rotate the night shift. So every two weeks, we switch, and someone new is on night shift for two weeks. This coming Saturday, it’s my turn! I’m super excited about it. There’s a few things that change drastically when you are on night shift. For one, you don’t have any side duties other than the night shift reports. Currently during each cruise, I am responsible for Guest Access (we have a list of people that have special needs, things like needing wheelchair assistance, food allergies, learning disabilities, cancer, guide dogs, and guests who need to bring oxygen onboard. As you can imagine, it’s very important to know these things before a guest boards the ship.), international assistance (daily FunTimes newsletter translation, and special embarkation letters to French guests), and lost and found reports (lost and found is serious business, if each item that’s found or returned isn’t properly logged and tagged, people can lose their jobs). Each of these side duties can take anywhere from 1-4 hours in a day depending on the cruise. So even if I’m only scheduled 4-6 hours of desk time a day, I could have another 4 hours of side duties to complete, as well as follow up from anything that occurred while I was working the desk or phones (which is often a lot). While on night shift, I will work from Midnight-7am and do night shift reports, but not have to come into the office at all during the day with the exception of a few meetings during the week. ALSO you are excused from port manning while on night shift so you can go out in the ports every day if you wish. I am planning on doing some of the tours that I’ve never been able to do because they are too long to fit into a regular work day. I am excited for night shift. I’m ready to be a vampire for a while. Maybe I’ll change my mind after I’ve started it, but for now, I’m excited about it!!

Kon Tiki: St. Thomas

In adventure, beach, Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Uncategorized on November 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I went on an adventure in St. Thomas last week!! It’s kind of a funny story because I got delayed in the ship and was supposed to meet my co-workers outside on the pier to go on a Kon Tiki Tour! So I was rushing and running around and made it outside finally (2 minutes before the Kon Tiki boat was supposed to leave)!! I found the Shore Excursion manager and he ushered me off with the tour operator, and I made it on the boat. Once I got on the boat, the captain introduced himself to me, and I met all the crew and I began to look for my friends. The Kon Tiki boats have two levels so I assumed they must be up on the top deck enjoying some sun. So up I went. No friends. Back downstairs I went. Still no friends. The ship left……and I was by myself with a boat full of strangers. I allowed myself a sulky moment and then decided to make friends with the tour operators, and random strangers. All of the tour guides were wonderful and I got to hear all of their life stories. St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island so it’s governed by all the same laws as the US, therefore, the tour operators were all American. It’s a very interesting dynamic over there, because it’s a Caribbean island, you expect things to move slowly, and be more relaxed, like a typical Caribbean island. Which they do; however there’s still the twist of it being an American island. It’s a very dynamic mix. The first mate was also the bartender, and limbo champion. He had a really interesting story, he’s an American who grew up on a sailboat with his family and they ended up settling in Tortuga, a British island. He was allowed to stay there as a dependant on his parent’s work visas and then when he was 18, he and his dad went on another sailing trip around the Caribbean. When they got back, because he was too old to be under their visas anymore, he couldn’t stay. He tried to get another visa, but as we all know, visas are a tricky business, and he ended up sailing over to St. Thomas, and living there. He even lives on his sailboat!! I love hearing other people’s stories, everyone has at least one and the more you travel, the more interesting ones you hear! Kon Tiki was great, they sail around with you in this little boat, with a Caribbean steel drum band playing the whole time. First you stop at a coral reef where they lower these neat glass bottomed viewing areas so you can see right into the ocean. They tell you all about the fish and coral that you can see, and then you head off to Honeymoon Bay and have an hour or so on the beach. One of the tour guides is dating the girl who works at the beach shack where you can get food and drinks and they have the sweetest dog that he brought out to play with us. They rescued her from Puerto Rico and she was so well trained and just gorgeous! After your hour at the beach, you head back to your ship and they do a big group dance and a limbo contest!! It was a lot of fun, and I made some new friends! Maybe next week I’ll go say hello again!!

The view of downtown St. Thomas from the Kon Tiki boat!

And of course, there’s my home!!

Breathtaking

The lovely beach we hung out at

My new best friends!

The Con Tiki boat!!

Symbiosis

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, travel, traveling, work on November 13, 2012 at 1:58 am

First of all, let me apologize for being such an absentee lately, with the bad weather and a lot of extra work, I haven’t been able to get much posting done. However, I do have a lot to say, I’m just trying to get it out there!! Here’s something I’ve been working on for a while, I’ve had it sitting in my ‘blog’ document file for a while and just haven’t been able to finish and post it. Oh, I also jsut wanted to say to the other amazing bloggers out there who have followed me lately, I’m very very sorry that I haven’t had a chance to check out your blogs as well, my internet on board is very very limited and most of the time I just get on long enough to post what I’ve written beforehand. As soon as I’m in a port for a few hours I promise to pay more attention to the rest of the world!! Thanks for your patience and for following my adventures!!!

Guest Services is such an interesting place to work. We are, in essence, the hub of activity on the ship, like the nerve center of the brain. We are where everyone goes for problems/questions/complaints/compliments/lost items/found items/crying fits and pretty much anything else you can think of. 

As you can imagine, it gets pretty hectic. There are some other departments that we rely very heavily on to get our job done quickly and efficiently. Issues come to us and we call other departments to get the work done. Specifically, housekeeping. In any hotel the front desk and housekeeping work very closely, but it’s even more so on a ship. The way ship housekeeping works is that we have cabin stewards who do the cleaning of the cabins, turndown service, etc. Then there are the floor supervisors who have sections of decks that they are responsible for, they each supervise a certain number of cabin stewards/cabins. Then there are the housekeeping manager and assistant manager who are in charge of everybody! So in any given day, many different things can go wrong or be perceived to have gone wrong on a ship. Guests call us at Guest Services, we call the appropriate department. Nine times out of ten, we call housekeeping. We have a neat excel document where we can input the cabin number that’s having an issue and the spreadsheet gives us the cabin steward’s phone number and the floor supervisor’s phone number (they all carry cell phones) and we call whomever is on duty at the time. Sometimes we have to call what feels like a million times in a shift, sometimes not at all. Either way, the moral of the story is that housekeeping and guest services are best friends. There’s a certain time of evening when only one floor supervisor is on duty, so ALL the other cell phones get forwarded to that person. Often I’ll end up calling that supervisor a dozen times in one shift to assist me with various tasks such as checking temperatures in rooms, opening safes, pulling out trundle beds, changing remote control batteries or any one of a hundred different requests. The floor supervisors and housekeeping crew work SO hard everyday and I couldn’t do my job without them! Obviously this kind of symbiosis is present in all kinds of other work places. Somehow we feel more connected here than I ever have in any other hotel or resort. Partially I think it’s because we not only work together, but live, sleep, eat, and play together. Although this is also true for resorts where the staff live on property, when you are on land, you can go places, you can get off property. On board, the longest you can leave the ship is for a few hours at a time. It creates a very different dynamic, and I’m pretty sure I adore it!

Now you’re Speaking My Language!!

In Carnival, Carnival Cruise Line, Cruise, traveling on October 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

As you know, I recently moved in with my paisana, Natalie. It’s so lovely to be living with another Canadian. Carnival really tries to let you live with friends, or people from your country and I’m very grateful. Everyone here is wonderful and I love diversity and I love learning about new cultures and languages. However, when you’re far away from home and there’s barely anyone for your country around (there’s 7 Canadians out of 1,160 crew members, I checked yesterday), it’s the most amazing thing when you can reference a Shoppers Drug Mart and not have people look at you as though you’re insane. Natalie said something about Future Shop the other day and I almost cried. Also, being able to speak English really quickly is something I’ve missed. English is such a complicated language (especially when you factor in all the slang) that there are certain nuances that are very difficult to teach. Even people who have been speaking English as a second language for years, while their English is lovely, it’s just not the same as someone who speaks English as their first language. I imagine it’s the same with any language, your second or third or dozenth is never going to be as completely comfortable as your first. I find that as much as I want to learn more languages, there are so many people who want to speak English more fluently, and while I’m very happy to help them, it’s amazing to get to come home at the end of the day and be totally understood. Another thing I’ve had to get used to in the language department, is making my emails very simple and concise. As GSAs, we send emails all over the ship, to all different departments. Sometimes, for the people reading them, English might even be their third or fourth language. Sentences or words that I or some of my colleagues might consider easy to read, may be difficult for others to read, so I have to really concentrate when I send emails to make sure that I’m conveying precisely the message that I want to be conveying, and not confusing the whole ship (sometimes I’m confusing, I’m aware. I’m a work in progress).

While we’re on the language topic, I feel as though I should just write something about ship language. Obviously there’s the typical ship language that is pretty standard; port, starboard, forward, aft. The usual terms. Then there’s the funny ways that the crew speak to each other on a daily basis. In any given day I will use words from at least 5 different languages, only two of which I actually speak fluently. What you end up with is people speaking mostly in English with a medley of accents and a plethora of random words thrown in the mix. Such as:

 

Paisana/paisano = Italian word meaning a person from your country. (I actually used it at the beginning of this post)

Ciao = also Italian, meaning hello or goodbye, we use it constantly, when entering a room, leaving a room, passing in the hallway or starting/finishing a conversation.

Buenos Dias/noches = good day/night in Spanish (spelling might be off, my spell check is in English, sorry!)

Hola = hello in Spanish

Banana = not actually the fruit. We use it when we’ve gotten in trouble or scolded for something. For example; “I got banana yesterday from my GSM because I forgot to follow up with a guest.” Or “I can’t believe you did that, when the HD hears about it, you’re going to get banana for sure.”

 

That’s just a few that everyone knows and uses! I also use a few Russian words (which I won’t even bother trying to spell) with my Russian friends, and more Spanish/French words when I’m with someone who speaks those languages. That’s really just a very small sample of the languages around here. There are SO MANY!! It’s such an amazing environment, I love hearing all the languages everyday and I’m dying to learn more! I was working on learning a little Croatian at breakfast this morning!!