About Me

Follow my travels and get insight from behind the scenes as I work my 6 month contract as a Guest Service representative onboard a cruise ship.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Days 114 - 140 Excursions, Mom and Dad, and my Birthday

February 25, 2012 @ 2:21am

Soooo it's been over a month since I last wrote. That thing about time going fast? Greatly underestimated. Also all this free time I though I was going to have at night? Overestimated.  I've been keeping very busy at nights but still loving it.

In the past month I've had Mom and Dad onboard for a cruise, seen my birthday come and go, and gone on a few excursions.  In short that past month has provided me with some of my best days onboard.

Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad came onboard on Feb 11th for our Key West, Cozumel, Isla de Roatan, and Montego Bay cruise.  On the first day I went out and met them at the terminal just after they arrived. After being away from any semblance of home for such a long time it was almost surreal to have them walking around Fort Lauderdale and then on my ship and in the ports that have come to be my home for the past few months.

Our best days were in Cozumel and Isla de Roatan.  In Cozumel we went on a reef snorkelling excursion then to a beach club that lasted most of the day.  The scenery for the snorkelling was beautiful and we were in the water for a little over an hour as we swam along with the reef until the point it hit a drop off.  The sea life wasn't overly spectacular but I think that's also in part because I've become spoiled with all the snorkelling I've done since coming down here.  The highlights were a good sized sting ray and then a 2-3 foot long parrot fish. 

The real hero of the cruise tho was Isla de Roatan.  Firstly it was nice for me because since we've been tendering there for most of the season I've hardly been able to get ashore.  But because I had my parents onboard I was able to take the tender off early with them instead of having to wait around until all the passengers had cleared.  We  hadn't booked a excursion and just planned on finding something fun to do locally.  After talking to one of the tour operators we found out about a private island will full services that was 30mins away.  We paired up with a couple from England and taxied out to "French Key".  Once we arrived we had to take a short ferry over to the island where we were welcomed by the owner and brought on a tour of his private zoo.

The zoo included a few varieties of monkeys and all different kinds of parrots and birds.  We actually got to go into one of the monkey cages and one of them ended up taking a real liking to dad before he climbed up me and took a seat on the back of my neck.  This was the closet I've ever been to our banana eating relatives and I was blown away.  His hands were so soft and he even had little fingernails just like us.  When he walked over to me I put my hand down and he grabbed onto my pointer finger.  I lifted his incredibly lightweight body up with ease and then he climbed up to his perch on the back of my neck.  He was so light I hardly would have known he was there if it wasn't from his surprisingly strong body heat.

After this we simply spent the day laying out in the sun, snorkelling, and jumping into the crystal clear water off of their 2nd story bar.  The most incredible thing in all this was that there was hardly a soul there.  Here we had a paradise to ourselves for $25 a head while the rest of the 4 ships that were there that day all crammed into the tourist central that is West Bay.  It was a killer find and I'm hoping to be able to get back when we return again on my last cruise before heading home.

Having mom and dad onboard was great but it was also nice to see them go.  By spending so much time with them I lost a lot of sleep that cruise and as a result was pretty groggy for most of it and am still feeling the effects.  That said it was great to see them and  even better to get to share my experience with them.

In addition to the excision in Cozumel I did with my parents I've been on two excursions in the US Virgin Islands.

The first took me to Megan's Bay on the north side of St Thomas.  Megan's Bay is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it was easy to see why.  Before heading down to the beach we stopped off at a look off above it and got to take it all in.  I put a picture up on my Facebook already but I'll try to add one here as well because words just don't do it justice. 

The water was warm and sandy all the way out.  There wasn't much in the way of snorkelling however the water was loaded with thousands of small fish which brought in the birds.  As people were swimming there were pelicans and other birds circling above before diving full speed into the water after the fish.  It was a regular occurrence to have the birds some within a few feet of you.  After a light lunch I spent the rest of the day laying on the beach reading until it was time to return to the ship.

The real star of the my time onboard however was the 2nd excursion I took in the USVI.  We boarded a catamaran and headed for the island of St John.  It's just a short distance from St Thomas and has a population of only 5,000 people.  The trip over was beautiful as the sun was out in full force.  The guides were great and oddly enough one of them even lived in Halifax for a few months; small world.

While we were getting our safety talk after we arrived at St John a sea turtle popped up right next to the boat.  I was pretty pumped about this because a sea turtle is one of the things I really wanted to see but hadn't been fortunate enough to do so yet.

When the talk was over I hopped in and headed to the area where we had seen the turtle.  I didn't see the turtle but what I did see was nothing to scoff at.  I came across what's called a spotted eagle ray.  This thing looks like a manta ray and moves through the water so gracefully.  When I found it, it was moving along the bottom looking for food but after it realized I was there it moved up and swam off.  It was so graceful the way it flew through the water. I've seen a lot animals in the wild but this one was one of the most beautiful.

After this I moved over to the area where the reef was which was loaded with fish urchins and coral as far as you could see.  Some of the colours in the fish were so bright they seemed almost fake.  I had seen a lot of these fish before but while swimming along I looked over to my left and saw a barracuda floating a bit below the surface just watching me.  I took a picture and moved on.  The last thing I wanted to do is upset anything that has teeth.

Time was almost up so I figured I'd go check the deep area again and see if the turtle had returned.  When I got there the turtle was still nowhere to be found but I did come across a good sized sting ray and managed to get some great pictures.  I was able to swing along side of it for a while too which was pretty cool. 

Having resigned to the fact that I had missed out on the turtles I started to swim back to the ship.  I was about 50' from the ship when I saw them. Sitting on the bottom about 25' down were 4 sea turtles.  I swam down to see them and as I did on of them left the bottom and headed for the surface.  I saw with it and as it went up for a breath so did I.  I swam with it a little longer before having to return to the ship.

I got out of the water all smiles and knowing that I could safely return home feeling officially fulfilled with my time down south.

Birthday / Disembark
My birthday onboard was pretty lame. We weren't in port and I work nights so there wasn't much to do.  I slept for most of the day then went out today in Nassau for beers and beach with Nombuso and the girls.  I'll make up for the lake of celebration when I get home. ;)

Speaking of which I will be officially disembarking on March 17.  It's been updated in the system and they've asked where I want my plane ticket to.  

Getting home is going to be amazing.  As I'm sure you're aware March 17th is St Patrick's day so I'll come home to a big party.  After a few days rest Hey Rosetta! is playing on the 22nd and then on the 27th I leave for Cuba for a week with Squinty, Anthony and Dolan.  Simply put, March is going to be an awesome month.

All I have left onboard are two short rock charters then we do Eastern and Western Caribbean one more time each.  I'm going to try to get on as many excursions as possible and really just enjoy the time I have left here. 

I can't believe I'll be home in 20 days…. Look out Halifax, here I come. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Days 104-113: Jamaica, Sea, Florida, Sea, Sea, St Thomas, San Juan, Sea, Florida, Key West

January 31, 2012 at 02:13

I've managed to survive the last two weeks of working regular shifts and since Saturday I've been working the nights and will be for the remainder of my contract.  I've been looking forward to this ever since I got my first taste two weeks ago. Excursions, getting to go out in every port, sleeping for 8 hours at a time… It's going to be amazing.

Working nights now is a godsend because it gives me time to be at work yet in a quiet place at the same time.  When I started this job I was overwhelmed at the tediousness of everything that we do with little to no training and the unrealistic expectations that went with it. All the extensive record keeping, messaging, meetings, everything!  But as I've come around and learned what's necessary to excel in this position I've realized that it's no different than any other desk job. Be approachable, confident, kind, decisive, concise, diplomatic, efficient, flexible and adaptable.  That's the essence of what I do. 

Before Christmas I wrote a out how quickly time was going to go by with all these little mile stones and I was right on the money.  It feels like it was only yesterday that it was Christmas eve and now I'm only two cruises away from mom and dad coming on board and less than two months from being home.

For the rest of my contract we continually two an Eastern and a Western cruise of the Caribbean so there isn't going to be much more variety aside from any excursions I go on.  With the excitement of the locations out of the way it's really starting to set in that real life is creeping back up on me and the big questing looms; What's next?

Since getting into hospitality I've had more life direction than I've ever felt before but now there's so many options in front of me and I really have no idea which route to take.  A few things that I know for sure after doing my stint onboard are that I want to work in North America or the Caribbean, I can't settle for working a line job any more, I have to get back into a position where I can make a difference, and I have to work with people who are as passionate about what they do as I am.  Where am I going to find all of that? Who knows, but the hunt is on.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Days 93-103: Florida, Sea, Labadee, Falmouth, Sea, Florida, Key West, Cozumel, Roatan, Sea

January 18, 2012 at 19:37

Jeeze another 10 days gone, and an interesting 10 days at that.

As you all know at this point we had a little incident off the coast of the Bahamas. Well because of this I now know what it feels like when the ship hits something.  While sleeping after going out in Falmouth I was sleeping when I felt the same feeling.  I was half asleep at the time and just thought to myself that there was no way, right? I mean there's no way we could hit something again right? Wrong.  

I fell back to sleep and thought nothing of it until I woke up and went to work at 11 that night.  It was then that I found out that while leaving the port we hit the pier and then proceeded to take out a channel marker. Who's driving this thing anyway?!

Our ship has been cleared to still be seaworthy but supposedly has 8-9 holes in the outer layer of the hull. So because our hull is like swiss cheese we haven't been able to go top speed so things like medical emergency air lifts and such put us WAY back time wise.

Oh yea, on top of the whole, grounding, pier hitting thing we had a guy at the end of Jam Cruise who thought it would be a good idea to climb the big screen we have on the top deck and then fall off.  For his efforts he was rewarded with a broken pelvis. Way to go bud.  Because he was in such rough shape though he had to be air lifted off the ship and to US authorities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hidden in all of this was a very successful and fun Jam Cruise.  Jam Cruise is similar to Holy Ship! except instead of DJs it's loads of jam musicians and bands onboard for a 5 day cruise.  The music was great and the passengers very was to get along with.  Because of this nights were much more chill.  I'd say this was primarily because on Holy Ship! everyone was taking uppers, young, and constantly loosing their keys.  On Jam everyone was bit older, taking downers, and more responsible when it came to things like their keys.  On top of all that they were smoking so much weed that the whole ship smelled like it.  Overall Jam was a great experience but still I was ready for it to end and to go back to normal passengers and issues.  No one climbs the screen on a normal cruise. :)

Just as Jam was ending we found out about the disaster with the Costa Concordia.  I can safely say that this story would have interested me regardless but part of the industry and on top of that on a ship that had "technical difficulties" only days before the Costa incident really made it hit home.  Everyone on board has been talking about it and glued to the TV or newspapers whenever new news comes out.

I got to spend the day at the Royal Caribbean owned Labadee in Haiti.  Visually the landscape was incredible however where we were wasn't exactly an authentic experience but it was a great day regardless.  Spent the whole day on the beach sipping beer, and soaking up the sun.  I also went for a few nice long snorkels to check out the local reefs.  Nothing really extraordinary but the usual abundance of small colourful fish and sea urchins.  I've also officially decided that it's time to get a proper camera and the order has been placed. My new waterproof camera should be showing up in time for our next trip to Fort Lauderdale. Bring on the good photos!

I was about to start this last paragraph by saying that "not much else happened" until I thought about it again and realized just how much has happened. I guess that's why it's so easy to miss writing for so many days.  I go back to nights on the 28th and it can't come soon enough.  Being able to go out in every port was something that I very quickly got used to and can't wait to have again.

That's all for now. Maybe it'll be less than 10 days before my next post. Only time will tell.. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Holy Ship! Days 88-92: Montego Bay, Sea, Florida, Bahamas, Halfmoon Cay

January 7, 2011 at 19:48

Wow, it's been a very interesting few days so let's get right into in. In this post I need to cover three loose ends from my last post, my first night shift, and a VERY interesting incident in the Bahamas.

Ok, so first that odd make a phrase out of these letters thing I found out wasn't requested for me specifically so that makes it less bizarre. Still weird but at least it wasn't something they wanted me specifically to do for some reason.

Second, I left a little bit of a cliff hanger and the end of the last post regarding news I found out that would change the remanded of my contract.  That news is that my Guest Relations Manager, Hotel Manager, and Cruise Director are all disembarking on the 28th and new people are coming on. That means all the rules and regulations we've gotten used to and the people we're used to working with are about to be thrown into the blender. None of us really know what to expect but loosing our GRM sucks.  When she told us she was on the verge of tears because this wasn't something she wanted but something head office decided needed to be done so she could have her time off before they want to put her on a different ship in the near future. It blows.

Third, I went on my first excursion in Montego Bay!  We went to Dunn's River falls after a two hour bus ride across Jamaica passing through the home towns of Bob Marley and Housain (sp?) Bolt along the way.  The falls were incredible. Coming in at the bottom of the falls the water was pretty well freezing and it was overcast on top of that so it wasn't the warmest experience but the rush of climbing up the falls kept us going.  I did the climb with one of the officers who works in our office and his girlfriend which turned out to be a great time especially seeing as before I bumped into them I was going to be doing it by myself.  Most amazing I think was the fact of just not slippery the rocks were. I did it in my sneakers and never once felt like I was loosing grip.  We got to the top, met up with our group then headed to the beach.  The beach we went to was a private beach we had to drive through the woods to get to where we had access to drinks and food for an hour before we had to head back to the ship.  All in all a great day. :)

OK, no onto Holy Ship!.  Holy Ship! was a full charter that brought on 30ish of some of the best dub step DJs for a 3 day music festival on the water.  The passengers paid roughly $2,500 for the 3 days each and were pretty well drunk or high for all of it.  

Working nights for a cruise like this was never dull and in fact the only down time we were got was between 4-6am but then only for 20-30mins at a time.  Highlights included a full grown man in the lobby wearing only batman underwear, two topless girls making out under the waterfall, and a large man that fell down the stairs. I've also never had to replace so many keys in such a short period of time.  My favourite was when someone would come to see us for something and then come back later having no memory of having been to see us earlier. Kids and their drugs.

The music wasn't exactly my scene but I did get to see Fatboy Slim play a set up on the pool deck which was more than enough to keep me happy.  Brought back lots of great memories from high school. Right about now, the fuck soul brother…

OK, so here's the real excitement not only of the cruise but of the contract.  Early Saturday morning at around 7am there was a loud thud and the whole ship shook.  After you've been onboard for a while you start to recognize certain sounds and movements as being normal. This was not.  We didn't' really think anything of it and just looked at it as if it's important we'll find out soon enough.  Well it wasn't  long before we found out.

Mandy came out and while I was halfway through recoding a guest's keys she said "we hit something and we're stuck". Pardon me, what?! She said it again except this time clarifying it to that it was the bottom we had hit and we were firmly lodged into the sea floor.  Now I'm sure you can understand that hearing news like that is pretty well the last thing I expected to hear when I went to work but still I couldn't help but enjoy the excitement.  While eating breakfast the ship was trying so hard to dislodge itself that everything was shaking. Even the help of 3 tug boats couldn't get us free.  It wasn't long before they gave up trying and decided to tender the guests ashore and wait for high tide to give it another shot.

6:30 rolled around and next thing we knew there were 5 tug's attached to our back while the ship gave all she had while they tried to pull us free.  For a while nothing moved. The tugs tugged and the ship shook but we didn't budge. Eventually the tugs were able to wiggle us side to side and we started to move loose. After much wiggling we finally got free and were able to keep sailing.  Everyone has been pretty tight lipped over exactly what kind of damage has been done but it can't be that bad because we're still sailing.  Still I can't believe that there wasn't some time of significant damage done.. I mean we bottomed out, it's bad when that happens in a little boat, I can only imagine what it does to a large ship like this one.

If you want to see a bit more of what actually happened check out these two YouTube videos a local already put up online… Pretty crazy.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Day 87: Sea Day (Strange day)

January 3, 2011 at 21:42

Look at me go, two days in a row and on a sea day on top of that.  Mind you today was a slightly odd sea day…

As far as the guests go it was business as usual mind you whenever we go from Roatan to Jamaica the seas are typically pretty rough as we're cutting straight across the Caribbean Sea.  Today it was even rougher still and even down here on deck 4 standing in one place some times was an issue.  Because of this we were giving out dramamine non stop at the desk as the queazy passengers lined up for salvation.  As usual I had a blast. :)

This morning just as my shift was ending was when things got a little strange.  First I got a call from Mandy saying I needed to go to the Staff Captain's office.  First of all Staff Captain is only one down from the Captain as far as ranking goes. Second, I've never spoken to the guy. Third you typically on see him when you're in some type of trouble.  Understandably I was confused and slightly concerned.  I asked Mandy about it but she didn't have any more info about it other than that I was supposed to head up then and there.  

I found my way to deck 12 (where it was REALLY rocking) and into his office where he was waiting and welcomed me with a smile and by name.  He then presented me with a page that had random letters on it and told me that the Captain had asked him to make a short English sentence containing the 8 or 9 letters.  The letters didn't have to be in any particular order or even the first letter of the words, they jus had to be included. Odd…  At this point it almost felt like a psych evaluation of some sort. Even more so when I saw the phrase I came up with "I went sailing far from you".  OK, now it really felt like a psych evaluation.

Staff Captain thanked me for my help and I formally introduced myself and shook his hand before leaving and that was it.  I told Mandy about it when I got back down and she was still just as confused as I was.  Mandy said that he had called Teresa and then Teresa asked Mandy to get me. I'm still fairly curious about the whole thing and plan to ask Teresa tomorrow if he asked for me specifically or if she volunteered me. Either way it was all very strange.  

On top of this I found out some news that I can't yet discuss incase anyone onboard reads this but it will impact all of us in the next month or so…

It was an odd Tuesday to say the least...

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year! Days 78-86: Sea, Charlotte Amalie, San Jan, Sea, Nassau, Florida, Key West, Cozumel, Roatan

January 2, 2012 22:27

Christmas and New Year's Eve have come and gone and if it wasn't for the stocking still hanging in my cabin you'd never know it happened at all.  I've had holidays come and go quickly in the past but this took it to a whole new level.  

Christmas eve was a blast.  I had a great FaceTime with all my family in Indiana before meeting up with all my friends for fun and drinks up in our disco before eventually calling it a night.  Everyone was in a great mood and most of us overdid it as was demonstrated by the massive hangover my colleagues and I had.  I've had plenty of hangovers but typically avoid going out on nights when I work the next day.  Not only did I have to work at 11 on Christmas day but we were at sea and the ship was rocking just enough to make everything that much worse.  What really worked out in our favour though was that for the whole of our shift there were hardly any calls or guests at the desk. It was a Christmas miracle!

New Year's most of all didn't feel like New Year's eve.  I doubt there's anyone reading this who isn't aware that my friend Craig MacDonald and I have been putting on the biggest New Year's party in Halifax for the past 5 years or so but in case there was, now you know.  That being said not ringing in the New Year in that fashion just doesn't seem normal at this point.  I miss the challenge of pulling off the big event and all the perks that come with it. Just being someone in the crowd isn't nearly as fun as being on stage in front of 2000 people shooting confetti as everyone celebrates the New Year.  Add that to the fact that I had to work at 7am on January 1st and you've got a pretty lame NYE for ol' Drewski.  I went up to the pool deck for the festivities including performances by our artists, the big countdown (we did it better), then one of our bands took over.  I made my round of "Happy New Year's" then without so much of a sip I headed to bed around 12:30 to rest up for what I was really looking forward to; New Year's day in Cozumel. :D

In Cozumel we went to "No Name Bar" which is a great little spot right on the water actually next door to Margaritaville where we went last time we were here.  This place has a pool with a swim up bar, sand for a floor with tables and palm trees and then you can go straight into the ocean off the end of their pier.  Not unlike last time here I had a few things on my mind, all of which were answered by No Name Bar. Drinks? Check. Food? Check. Close to the ship? Check Swimming and snorkelling? Check. Internet? Check.  When you work on a cruise ship these are the 5 most important things when you go ashore and finding them all in one spot it's like winning the lottery.
I went out snorkelling again in pretty much the same location as before kept this time when I got to the underwater planes I was in for a real treat.  As the far side of the plane came into view I saw a fish I hadn't seen out here before.  At first it looked like a sphere before it was instantly recognizable.  When I realized what it was I actually swore through my snorkel.  It was a lion fish.  Now for those of you who don't know it by name I'm certain you know one to see one as any aquarium I've ever been too has them and you've likely seen pictures of them (I'll try to find a pic to include).  It was about a foot long and striped brown and white all the way down. What makes it truly impressive is that it has large fin like spines that come out like a lion's mane all around it's body near the head that then have pieces that look like flags blowing in the wind coming off of them.  At the end of each of these spines is poison so needless to say I kept my distance.   Still I couldn't resist swimming to the bottom over and over again to get a better look at this amazing fish in the wild.  To make it all the better, Tina had gotten me ear plugs for diving as my secret santa present so I was able to head the 20ft or so down necessary without feeling like my head was imploding. Def one of the highlights of the cruise so far for me.

Today it was back to business as usual with one tiny wrinkle.  Our next cruise is a 3 day DJ cruise and the cruise after that the 5 day Jam Cruise.  These are full charter's where we essentially have people that come on board to do nothing but party and check out the bands and DJs that have been brought along for the trip.  Because of this we're extra busy at the desk late at night so for the next two cruises I've been tasked with working the night shift with Roby from 11pm til 8am.  Oh and I'll also be the next person to work nights after her so it will act as my training at the same time.

At first read that seems like a shitty deal but when you understand a bit more it actually isn't so bad.  Firstly I'll be working 9 hours straight instead of two broken up shifts which will give me more time off in-between. Secondly I'll be able to go out longer and in more ports. Third and probably the most exciting is that I'll be able to go on a excursions on a fairly regular basis! Drew win's all around! Oh and the cherry on top is that I'll still be working nights when Mom and Dad come so I'll be able to spend even more time when time while they're here!  Who knew working nights could be such a good deal?

Tonight the artists onboard are putting on a show for the crew to showcase their talents and entertain us for an hour or so before I go to bed, set my clock ahead one hour and then work at 6:30 tomorrow. Party time.  

Oh, and working nights should give me a bit more time to blog so hopefully I'll go back to more regular posts and not be so tired and lame all the time. :)  I'll be in touch...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!! Days 69 - 77: Florida, Key West, Cozumel, Honduras, Sea, Jamaica, Sea, Florida, Sea

December 24, 2011 13:26

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve.

It really feels like it was just yesterday that I came onboard and I really can't believe all that I've done in the past two and a half months. It really just seems surreal.  I think the other thing that makes today that much more odd is that I'm now half way through my contract. Another couple months and I'll be home again.  At this point I haven't got anything set in place for what I'm doing next other than sitting at home and playing video games for about a week and then going down south with some buddies.  As for as my next job goes I'm still completely undecided at what I want to do and what the right move is.  I could do another contract, try for Disney, a resort somewhere down here or look at a move to a big US city.  So many options so little time… 

Christmas onboard is an odd experience.  I woke up this morning and it was just like any other day whereas any other year today would be very unique if not routine.  Wake up, shower, head to my parents, make spaghetti, have our Wedgwood family over for Christmas Eve, drink some beer, play some Monopoly, watch Muppet Family Christmas, and head to bed.  My day today however is work 7-12, off 12-5 which I'm spending writing and soon to be napping, work 5-9, do our secret santa gift exchange during work, then after that have some drinks with my ship family to celebrate the evening. Very different.  This is the second year in a row I'm not going to be home for Christmas and I can safely say I don't like it. I need to find a way to be home for the Holidays next year.

Despite the fact I haven't written in over a week (yikes, the time's going fast) anyone that reads this hasn't really missed much.  I've been extremely tired pretty well all the time lately and have even skipped going out in a port to catch up on some precious sleep.  That being said I had one of my best days onboard on our last cruise when were at Isla de Roatan, Honduras.

Isla de Roatan is a small island off the coast of Honduras and is primarily spanish speaking.  The last time we were here my shift had to stay onboard so I didn't get a chance to see more than I could see through the window.  This time however we had the whole day off so we hopped a cab and headed for the beach.  At the beach we were greeted by two things that right away told me it was going to be a good day. First the sand was pure white and as soft as icing sugar. Second I found a guy selling 3 beer for $5; jackpot.  We grabbed lunch at a restaurant on the beach where I had some coconut shrimp done with fresh coconut before heading out for a swim.  During the swim we decided we were going to fork over some cash to go for a ride on a big inflatable that gets drug behind a motorboat.  This thing looked like a big yellow banana and sat six.  We loaded up and headed straight out from the beach.  With 6 people and no real means of balance it was clear right away that we weren't likely to stay dry on this ride.  This was quickly realized when they took the first turn and we flipped off into the ocean all getting a healthy helping of sea water at the same time.  When we went over there were so many bodies flailing around that I just covered my head and waited for my life jacket to bring me to the surface; what a rush!  As we got the salt water out of our eyes we realized that we were floating in the clearest water I've ever seen.  It was a deep blue as you looked down but so clear that you could count the wrinkles on your toes.  We loaded back up and got a bit better at balancing but still ate it two more times with some of the girls loosing their bottoms along the way. Luckily they didn't completely lose them… They found them quickly around their knees and after a short yelling/laughing fit re-secured their swim wear.  When we returned to the beach I went to find my cheap beer man before logging on the beach until we had to return to the ship. It was one of those days that makes me grateful to be where I am right now.

Aside from that it was business as usual onboard.  I did however realize how quickly the remainder of my contract is going to go.  From here on out there's all dates I'll be looking forward to.  Jan 1: New Year's Day in Cozumel, Jan 6-9: "Holy Ship" DJ cruise with Fatboy Slim among others, Jan 9-14: "Jam Cruise" another rock type cruise, Feb 11-18: Mom and Dad come for a cruise, Feb 23: My birthday, and then I'm finished on March 17th.  If I thought the first half of my contract went by quickly I'm guessing I haven't seen anything yet.  

That being said, if you or someone you know wants to hire me come April let me know. I'm always looking for my next challenge.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Days 64 - 68: Grenada, Fort de France, Sint Maarten, Sea, Bahamas

December 15, 2011 22:33
To say I'm exhausted from this cruise would be an understatement.

I think I best summed it up when I was talking to a buddy on Monday night after Fort de France and told him that on Tuesday I was heading to the beach from 8 til 11 then working from 12 til 5 and 8 til 12 then heading straight to a crew party until 2 and then working from 8 - 1 Wednesday and that I was already looking forward to the nap I was going to have Wednesday afternoon…

That small sample of schedule is pretty much how the entire cruise went; work, shore, work, sleep and then repeat. It was a lot of fun and a great few days but it just kills you after a while. That being said I wouldn't change a thing.

Grenada was stunning and it's a shame we had such little time there and don't return again. I had done zero research and as a result was completely blown away when I walked off the gangway and was greeted by pure blue water fringed by rolling green hills speckled with light coloured houses with red roofs. Grenada is known as the spice island and it was instantly clean why. First of all every two steps you took someone was trying to sell you spices and secondly the whole place smelled like nutmeg. It definitely wins the prize for the best smelling island as well as most picturesque. We only had a couple hours so Stacey, Tina and I set out into town and headed for a fort on top of a hill in the middle of town. The walk up was killer, especially with the lack of exercise I get onboard but it was worth it. From the fort we had an incredible vantage point over the whole island. Unfortunately other than walking around town a bit after this was all we really had time for which is a shame because after we got back to the ship we found out there was a pretty amazing beach just a short water taxi ride away.

Fort de France was another port we didn't have a lot of time in but Anatollio, Viki and I found a way to make the most of it. We headed straight into town in search of breakfast and swimming. Conveniently we found both in their nearby downtown. We grabbed McDonald's for breakfast and some fast internet before heading across the street for a swim in the warm and clear water. I took the snorkel out and at first it didn't seem like there was going to be much to it until I came across 3 small crabs no bigger than a toonie fighting over a piece of meat. I stopped swimming and hung around to watch the show but almost as soon as I got there a little fish about 4" long swam up, stole the meat and swam away. The poor little crabs just stood there as if they had just found out there wasn't a Santa Clause. At this point I turned around and realized that there was a whole school of these little fish and they proceeded to follow me around. They were just as curious of me as I was of them because I would swim down they'd swim up to check me out and if I stood still for a while they'd come up and nibble at my feet. After this I swam over near a dock and found some wild urchins and something that looked like anemones that when you got too close to sucked back into it's little tube thing that anchored it to the rocks. Not too snabby for a place I didn't think I'd see anything.

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten is another port that it's a shame we don't return to. It's definitely the most cruise friendly port we've been too as within a 20min walk you pass every shop and restaurant you could imagine and then come to an endless white sand beach. It was another day where we worked in the afternoon so we tore off the ship at 8am to meet up with a regular passenger who had kindly offered to show us the way. This was especially nice because it's pretty normal to waste a good 30mins in a new port just trying to figure out where to go and how to get there. We spent the morning on the beach and lounging in the warm water. I literally spent 3 hours in the water before going back to the ship for a quick shower before starting work.

That night we had a crew party which actually wasn't that exciting but just getting every one together for a few drinks and some dancing isn't too bad. The only problem is they played the same drum and bass music all night that for all I know might as well of been the same song on repeat. Also during these parties it's a second hand smokers paradise as these people smoke cigarette after cigarette. Gross. I stunk when I left the party. Mind you I did finally make a lady friend so I guess it wasn't all for not. :)

On the sea day I finally got my 2 hour nap I talked about at the beginning of the post. Mind you 2 hours felt like 2 minutes before I was headed back to yet again.

Today we were back in Nassau where once again the weather didn't cooperate. So instead of lounging on the beach it turned into drinking at a bar by the beach. Not a bad compromise. :) Tonight at work was crazy. In my four hour shift I spent a grand total of 15 minutes out front because I had so much work to catch up on for the end of this cruise and the start of the next. The annoying part was for the last half hour when I was just trying to get finished up and get out of there I kept getting called out front because I was the only one in the office who spoke French. Luckily all the guests were relatively easy but I still ended up sticking around for an extra 30mins to get everything wrapped up.

Needless to say I'm more than ready for the next cruise.

View from the top of Grenada

One of the many roofless churches in Grenada

Up on the fort in Grenada


This was the first thing I saw when I walked off the gangway in Grenada

Where we went swimming in Fort de France

My view for the day in Fort de France

The beach in Sint Maarten

Looking back at the 4 ships that were docked in Sint Maarten

Our little crab buddy that welcomed us to Sint Maarten

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Days 61-63: Sea, Puerto Rico, Antigua

December 11, 2011 01:26 (2 months onboard!)

Hmm, normally the beginning of these posts come fairly easily as there's some overall theme or issue to cover. This time around however I stared at a blank screen for 5 minutes before writing this nonsense. I guess that's probably a good thing actually. Life onboard is still on the up and up and the past 3 days have been pretty good over all so I guess I'll get right into recapping the past few days.

The 2nd sea day of this cruise was actually pretty uneventful. I finally got a morning shift which was a nice change after working til 12 five nights in a row. The work day was pretty boring. Personally I haven't had any major complaints to deal with which has made some of my shifts really drag on but I'm certainly not too upset about that. The girls are all still crazy and wonderful each in their own unique way so that at least keeps me occupied.

What we did manage to accomplish on the 2nd sea day was the arrival of Christmas on the Poesia! We spent the night decorating and getting ready for Christmas onboard. It was nice to have everyone in good spirits as we prepped for the holidays.

Yesterday we were in San Juan, Puerto Rico which is now officially one of my favourite ports. First of all it's one of the first places we've been where there isn't a gauntlet of locals trying to sell you everything under the sun when you get off, secondly it's just a cool place. All the buildings are painted brilliant pastel colours and in the old part of town where we were the streets are all stone bricks and just a short walk away puts you onto of the city walls with an incredible view of the surrounding area.

We found a true hole in the wall for lunch. We just happened to stumble onto a little place recessed off the street and plenty of locals and next to no English inside. Perfect. A true sign of a good place to eat is no sign of tourists and lots of locals. I had caramelized plantains, rice and beans and this thing called mofongo. Mofongo is seasoned beef that's served in a bowl made of mashed plantains and garlic. Everything was amazing. I've quickly learned that Caribbean food is meant to me eaten all together. When you have one thing on it's own it's never really that good but when you mix it all together that's when the flavours really come out. So far it's been a culinary experience being down here and I'm loving every second of it.

Today we were in St John, Antigua and for a place we only go to once that I had high hopes for I have to say I was disappointed. The weather was crappy which didn't help so we didn't head to a beach which I'm sure would have made it much better so Tina and I just found a place for lunch and then wandered around town for a bit. On the plus side I found another good local meal. We went off the heated track a bit and I ended up getting a plate of chicken, spare ribs, and a mixed/fried rice. I wish I was better at explaining how things taste but all I can really say again was that there was a ton of flavour and I loved it.

The city of St John itself was pretty run down and dirty. One of the first things we saw was a huge rat that had been run over and was squashed in the road and it didn't really get better from there. Down both sides of the street is their gutter and possibly their sewer system because I didn't see anything to imply they had anything else in place for drainage/sewage. The water that flowed down both sides was nasty looking and smelled like old garbage. When we walked back we found the "tourist area" loaded with shops that I'm sure most of the locals don't even come close to shopping at. I always find it so strange to find all the upscale stores and boutiques in these poor cities, it's kinda sad really. It's almost like we're just rubbing it in their faces that they can't afford these things.

Tonight was pretty chill. Had a couple beers in the crew bar before going up to the disco on 13 to get outside for a bit. It was so amazing out. The water was completely still and the moon was full. Just another one of those moments that reminds me that life aint so bad after all.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Days 54 - 60: Panama, Sea, Jamaica, Sea, Florida, Sea

December 7, 2011 at 19:22

Ok, ok so I've been slacking at the blog again.  I've been getting shit for a couple days to write more so I guess I had better do just that.  To be fair it's been a pretty uneventful few days. Come to think of it I think that's a good thing. Or maybe it's bad because the last cruise seemed like it dragged on FOREVER.  Def didn't help that we had an average age of 80ish onboard.  Yikes.

It was nice to go back to Panama, but this time instead of racing out at the crack of dawn to wander all over hoping to eventually wind up back at the ship, I slept in a bit then went out with my laptop to the same place for lunch we went when we were last here.  Where we dock in Cristobal it's pretty dirty and smelly but the area right at the dock is so heavily tourist driven that's it's fairly clean. Mind you on the other side of the street are empty lots filled with garbage.  I had a nice chill couple of hours while I caught up on the internet, chatted with Dad for a bit, and had a nice lunch of coffee, a sandwich, and of course a Panama beer before having to head back on board for a shower and work. Back to the grind.

A shining light on these days was the fact that there were a couple birthday's onboard so there was another party the night we left Panama.  Party's happen so rarely that people tend to go all out for them.  Officers and crew get dressed to the nines to party in a tiny room, this time down no deck 2 and no one blinks an eye as the drinks are passed around and the clock moves on.  The only real bummer for me was that I worked at 7 the next day and when the party ended at 2am we kept it going for another few hours.  I didn't make it to bed until around 4:30 which meant my 6:30 alarm came WAY too soon.  Either way I survived the morning and dove into bed on my break and managed to get more sleep in the afternoon that I had got the night before. Oh life on the ship.

We had another safety drill in Jamaica and instead of rushing out again for an hour or so this time I just took it easy afterwards while waiting for work so nothing to report there. And with another Sea day until we were back in Florida it was business as usual as we explained disembarkation about one million times before we got to say goodbye to our elderly friends yesterday.

There are certain things that just need to be done when we're state side and as a result I'm starting to develop a bit of a routine while in Fort Lauderdale.  This time around I finally got a bank account setup so I'm able to get some of this cash out of my possession and back up north so I can actually start using it to pay off some bills.  From there I went back to my new favourite diner for another normal breakfast of bacon and eggs and some reliable internet.  I had a nice FaceTime with mom and dad before power walking back to the ship to start another hellish 11 hour embarkation day.  

It's funny thinking back to when I worked at the Marriott Harbourfront and the Delta Beausejour when a busy day was 150-200 arrivals or when I was at the Courtyard and busy 60 arrivals.  Now we've had days where we've brought on as many as 3,000 people into 1,275 rooms so a normal day like yesterday where we bring in 2,500 people is a walk in the park.  Crazy how a little perspective and experience can change everything.

Today we were  back to a regular busy sea day but it's even more tiring for me this go around on account of the group of 400 from Quebec which means lots and lots of speaking French for yours truly.  On the plus side my French is getting better every day. On the down side I'm exhausted but I guess that's not really anything new.  Tonight on my break I went to see our "Extraordinaire" show in the theatre.  Before this I'd only seen a few small snippets of the other shows and was pleasantly surprised by the talents I've been living with for the past two months.  Dancers, singers, jugglers, a trapeze act and everything in between.  I'm thinking it's time to start checking out a few more of the shows we've got to offer on board.

Most importantly I think anyone reading this post and my past few can see that things have turned around for me lately. Ship life has been much better since Aruba and I'm doing everything in my power to keep it that way.  Right now, with the exception of Patrick who's on nights, I'm the only guy working directly with 10 other women.  What does this mean? It means from my boss, to the group coordinator, and all the girls on the line, there's always some form of drama to diffuse or someone who just wants some attention to help them get through the day.  I'm embracing the roll because the happier they all are the smoother things run and the happier I am as a result.  It's kinda like the old saying "happy wife, happy life". Mind you whoever came up with with probably didn't have 10 wives…