the Christmas Craze – Cruise # 25

Explorer of the Seas Voyage # 639
Bayonne – Bahamas 7 nights cruise

New ports!! I was excited when I saw that I would be spending Christmas in the Bahamas. I mean, it sounds super cool right?

Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau, Bahamas

Our first port was Port Canaveral (Florida) on Christmas Eve. Yiling, Misha and I hopped aboard the shuttle to do some last minute Christmas shopping. The mall wasn’t as big as I was expecting, but there were some cool shops and we had fun looking around and picking out our Secret Santa gifts. For those of you who don’t know, Secret Santa is when each person buys a gift so that everyone in the group receives one present. Everybody’s name is written on a piece of paper, thrown into a hat (or any container) and then you take turns picking out a name. Voilà!! You are now someone’s Secret Santa. Since it’s SECRET Santa, I can’t tell you who I got!

The best part of the day was realising how close Yiling and I have grown. While looking around the shops we would pick out items that, if we were each other’s Secret Santa, we could have bought. It was so easy! Each item we picked up was something the other would enjoy. To be fair… Buy me anything with a penguin on it and I’ll love it! Haha. The point is that she knows that! I’ve got BIG sisterly love for my cabin mate!

After work on Christmas Eve we met in Ioana’s office, where she had put up a little Christmas tree (another tree on there ship!) complete with lights and decorations and candies surrounding the base. It was pretty magical considering that she and more than half the team don’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th December and 3 don’t celebrate the holiday at all! After exchanging gifts, we all went to the back deck for a couple drinks. In the early hours of Christmas morning I woke up my family in South Africa for some badly needed Christmas love and cheer! It was lovely to Skype with them and see them and made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Christmas day itself was actually a bit of a let down and I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I’m actually getting sick of Christmas trees… Well, just one! I Spent Christmas morning shooting that massive tree again and I was surprised when most of the guests didn’t really respond (and when they did, it was without any real enthusiasm) when I wished them a “Merry Christmas”. This was strange for me, as back home the 25th December is the day for big celebrations, but maybe these Americans celebrate on Christmas Eve? Or maybe they had hangovers? Haha. I’m inclined to believe it was the latter, as some were grumpy too!

After shooting for a couple hours, I was working in the Photo Gallery when a lady with a stormy face stomped purposely towards me. I very deliberately put on my most fake, cheerful, sweetest voice and wished her a MERRY CHRISTMAS! In response she grumbled, “It’s not a merry Christmas! I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find my photo!” After very sweetly (because I think it was pissing her off) asking her a few questions, I walked up to a panel and picked her photo out right away. Sigh. Yes, I’m sure she had looked EVERYWHERE! Definitely a reason to get your knickers into a knot over on Christmas Day…

The unenthusiastic and grumpy guests didn’t deter Santa (AKA Father Christmas) from making an appearance or three! I’m not sure if it was because we were in international waters, but the first time I saw him I would swear he was American, then the next time I passed him he was British… And then he was Filipino!

We were super busy this cruise, working between 9 and 12 hours a day. But, ‘Tis the Season and the guests want to have family photos (in their matching outfits) taken. I also shot my first wedding – it went quite well I think and the guests were pleased – so you can imagine that I’ve been quite tired. This may have contributed to my disappointment in the Bahamas. If I was a guest and had gone to the beach and that was all I wanted to do on my vacation, then yes, I may have really enjoyed my holiday. The beaches at Cococay (a private Royal Caribbean beach in the Bahamas) were pretty amazing!

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Funny guest story: For obvious health concerns, there are hand sanitiser stations outside all the ship restaurants. One night I was in my studio (set up outside one of the dining rooms) when a little girl came out. I was rather impressed to see her head straight to the hand sanitiser station and then I couldn’t help but giggle when she didn’t stop at washing her hands, but continued washing her arms, shoulders and neck! When she passed me I teased her, saying “That doesn’t mean you don’t need to take a shower” The poor thing went bright red, but her parents loved it!

Highlight of the cruise: It’s all about who you know and I know someone who has spoilt me with home-made marshmallows and glühwein! Not that these goodies are normally a part of my Christmas celebrations (especially when you consider that Christmas is during Summer in South Africa) But it made the ship feel homely and the days special. So thanks Chef!

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