the End is Now – Cruise # 28

Explorer of the Seas Voyage # 642
Bayonne – Eastern Caribbean 9 nights cruise

After a month and a half, my voice is finally coming back! I’ve had a rather husky voice caused by having to shout to be heard when in my Christmas tree studio and while smudging Labadee gangway – we don’t want our guests going to the other ship’s photographers, so we have to be rather vocal. Chef is sad… apparently he found it rather sexy. I’m happy though, no more “ball-dragging” and I can sing again!

My voice wasn’t the only thing to return this cruise. Maybe it’s because I have been getting a proper amount of sleep and working less hours, or perhaps it’s just the prospect of a vacation, but I started enjoying my job again. I hadn’t realized it, but lately I have just been going through the motions at work. I actually had fun with the guests this cruise, laughing and joking with them on formal night. When last did that happen? Probably not since the Bermuda cruises!! Except with the special guests who I really liked of course!

I’ve been feeling rather sentimental lately. I can’t believe my first contract is almost finished! I’ve seen and learnt so much! Can you believe that I’ve been to 22 countries in 8 months? Serious! I’ve had so much fun picking up random bits of information from all over the world. Do you know how Canada was named? I do! A French explorer was given directions to Kanata – the local word for “village”. Misunderstanding and mispronouncing, he ended up calling the whole region “Canada”! More importantly, I have been adding to my drinking vocabulary. When I was living in San Francisco, the wonderful Vanni taught me a German drinking rhyme: “Zur mitte, zur titte, um sack, zack zack!” and she will be very proud to hear that I have learned a new one, this time in Spanish: “Pa’ Arriba, pa’ abajo, para centro, para adentro!” It’s important to be a well rounded person… haha. I’ve also learned to say “Cheers” in 11 different languages.

Skål – Scandiavian

Priekā – Latvian

Terviseks – Estonian

Prost – German

Na zdravi – Czech

Budmo – Ukrainian

Ziveli – Serbian

Santé – French

Salud – Spanish

Noroc – Romanian

Gan bei – Chinese

The Cookie target: Yiling and I are cookie hoarders! We have taken to stealing cookies from the Cruise Terminal on Embarkation day and smuggling them onto the ship – taking fresh food aboard is a No-No! Since the cookies are made on the ship to begin with, we don’t feel too guilty about our illegal activity! SOME of our team (cough *Ian* cough-cough) have been abusing our cookie stash and so we have started setting ourselves Cookie Targets. So during our lunch break we bring a certain number and then at the end of our shift we bring some more. Thanks to our hard work, and the additional efforts of Misha and Ian, this Embarkation day saw our cookie containers overflowing! Of course this meant that we HAD to guzzle down a fair number of cookies… Otherwise they would have gone soft!

Highlight of the cruise: Receiving my flights to get me home! It’s vacation time!

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What next? I’m heading home for 2 months of sunny bliss before heading off to the Independence of the Seas for a second contract. I’ll be returning to the Caribbean, sailing from Fort Lauderdale this time and then will cross over to Southampton for the much anticipated Mediterranean cruises. If you’re interested, the itinerary is up!

So long Explorer, ’twas great!

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the Stormy Seas – Cruise # 27

Explorer of the Seas Voyage # 641
Bayonne – Bahamas 7 nights cruise

There have been a lot of arguments within our team lately. One possible reason for this is that everyone is tired from working so long and hard during the festive season. Being tired can make you lazy and for some this means being lazy on the job, while for others it means being lazy getting to the job. Unfortunately for the people slipping into the latter bad habit, it’s more noticeable. When you constantly arrive 5 minutes late for the beginning of your shift (and even later) it gets annoying for the Photogs on time as they have to cover you, as well as the for Photogs on the previous shift, because they cannot leave until you arrive. The result is that there is a lot of animosity within our team and I cannot help but wonder if this is partly due to Sasha leaving… It feels like we lost the heart and soul of our team and as a result, the love that this team was so full of, has gone. Sniff.

Despite our issues, a bunch of us went out and about exploring Nassau this cruise. This little outing didn’t do much to change my opinion of the place, but we did have a bit of fun. It was actually my day off, but I still had to go to the crew drill (no lie-in for me) and a late sail-in, combined with everyone else having to work meant that, unfortunately, I didn’t have much to do. I had been warned about not exploring Nassau by myself as there had been a gang rape incident not so long ago. So, when I was left on my lonesome, I only hung around near the terminal and when it started getting dark I headed back to the ship.

Keeping with this “stormy” theme, the winter weather in New York has meant that we experience some pretty rough seas on the first and last few days of recent cruises. On the comical side, walking down the passages on the ship can be rather entertaining… Especially when you’re behind a laundry attendant desperately trying to keep control of his wheelie laundry trolley u as he and the trolley make their way down the i95, rolling from side to side as the ship rocks too and fro. On the flip side, if you look out one of the crew cabin portholes it can be a little frightening. What surprises me more than seeing the waves crashing right next to us and swirling in the portholes, is the noise the bigger waves make as they bash against the ship. Chef likes to joke that we have just run over a whale, shark or even a dolphin, depending on how loud the “bang” is.

No more Christmas tree studio! Can you believe it? The tree was taken down last cruise so finally I can have a Christmas-Tree-Shooting free cruise! On Formal nights I’ve been shooting Stairs and I’m back shooting Resi, a definite negative. I’ve also found myself missing my shoppie friends. Being exiled to the other end of the ship meant I made friends with the nearby shop attendants. Now that I’m back with my peeps, I don’t get to see my Shoppies much at all, which is strange since we live in such a limited environment. But for now I am just so happy to be relieved of that stressful and, towards the end, boring studio.

The irony of my Christmas-free bliss didn’t escape me on the 7th January, when Christmas is celebrated in Orthodox countries such as the Ukraine, Belarus and Romania. It was a rather low key event, even though there were many crew members celebrating. It’s not as big a “holiday” for them, because it’s not as family-focused and they don’t exchange gifts like the Westernised countries do. They had an Orthodox-only (how rude!) party in the Crew smoking lounge, so I’m sure things got rowdy in the evening!

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Funny guest story: Quite often we have service dogs come cruising. Most of the time their owners are visually impaired, but sometimes they have a heart or other “hidden” health problem that require a service dogs assistance. We had one such man this cruise. The first time I saw a service dog on board, I was pretty surprised and I still have no idea where the dogs go to do their “business”. Is there a designated deck for this or are the dogs given “litter boxes” I wonder? Anyway, I’m getting off topic. I was working the table sale (trying to sell cameras and accessories) outside the Windjammer (the casual, buffet style restaurant) when I overheard a woman telling her friends how she had seen a dog on board, and she didn’t know that pets were allowed on the ships, and next time she comes to cruise she’ll bring her doggie along. Sigh.

Highlight of the cruise: It was snowing in New York on embarkation day! Yay! For the Eastern Europeans and the Chinese, the snow reminded them of home, but for myself it was such a treat. Funny enough, it doesn’t snow much in South Africa! So the highlight of this cruise has to be my FIRST EVER snow ball fight!

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