the Joys of “Going Out” – Cruise # 21 & 22

Explorer of the Seas Voyage # 635 & 636
Bayonne – Eastern Caribbean 9 Night Cruise

These 2 cruises had pretty much the same itinerary, the order in which we visited the ports was the only difference. These ports were San Juan (Puerto. Rico), Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas), Samana (Dominican Republic) and Labadee (Haiti).

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I love San Juan! Jymmi and I went for a wander around the city and when we failed to find the others (we were supposed to meet later on, but the Russians changed their plans) decided to go get some supper. What a treat – food NOT from the ship!

Not that the ship food is THAT bad. It’s a darn sight better than the food on Vision, that’s for sure! These people don’t appreciate the choice and diversity that we’re served daily in the Explorer Staff mess! But no… To the question that I get asked my guests every single cruise… We do NOT eat the same food they do! What are they thinking? The chefs are going to slave away to serve us Fillet Mignon and Lobster? Haha. The thought is even funnier when you know that the budget to feed and water (non-alcoholic of course) the crew, staff and officers is $1 per person per day.

Anyway, back to my lovely Mexican meal by the sea. Firstly, the food (even if it took what seemed like forever to be served) was delicious. Secondly, the local beer was mouth watering good. BUT, the best part of the evening was the Mariachi band that serenaded us! Since Jymmi is from Guatemala he could actually request some of his favorites.

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We were supposed to lose 2 of our team during these cruises, but because the girl who was supposed to replace Sasha had a problem with her medical, he was asked to stay for another 2 cruises – yay! We did lose Jymmi though, which was sad. Even though Karene (from Jamaica) seems to be fitting in well with the team, it’s always strange to lose a member of the team.

Cruise # 22 was also my very first Thanksgiving. We were given turkey and pumpkin pie in the mess and the mess staff really went to a lot of trouble to decorate – it looked great and very festive! Because it was thanksgiving, the huge (fake) Christmas tree was put up on the Royal Promenade. I have been given the role of Official Christmas Tree Photographer. Is this a blessing or a curse? Only time will tell…

There were a lot of families this cruise and my Christmas tree studio was rather chaotic at times. However, on the bright side (yes, I’m playing The Glad Game again) because my studio stayed open the whole night, I didn’t have to shoot formal resi! Normally on formal nights, our studios are open from 17:30 – 23:00, with 2 breaks that allow us to rush into the dining room to shoot there. As you can imagine, this running around isn’t pleasant. It can also get a little awkward, trying to take photos of guests in between mouthfuls…

Funny Guest Story: There were loads of Scottish guests this cruise – including one who even looked sexy in his kilt! On the second formal night I overheard an American guest (a middle aged man) pointing out a (not so sexy) Scotsman and telling his companion that he must be the captain, because of his outfit. He was wearing a kilt. The captain is American. This was on day 8 of the cruise. Even if they hadn’t seen the Captain yet, by now they must have by now heard the VERY American sounding voice of the Captain over the ship intercom. Can’t they tell the difference between a Scottish kilt and a Captains uniform?

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Highlight of the cruise: This Labadee I was shooting/smudging gangway. Although hot Hot HOT work, I’ve realized it’s the much better option! Although we start earlier than the “beaches” we get to finish before lunch and while the rest of the team go back to shooting, we get to actually enjoy our afternoon a bit! Jymmi and I joined a Wave Runner (Jet Ski) tour and had an awesome time racing and jumping along the choppy ocean. Thrilling and wonderful!

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