a live at sea again?


Dear Bloggers,

I am just looking around for a job again and on my job hunt my mind is drifting off to a job on a cruiseship, something that I did before. The big difference with the time then is that there were no kids involved. That would make the story a bit different. This is what my mind came up with a mix of memories and dreams.

After my flight to the Bahamas and a night at a hotel my day started like this. Got up this morning early, ate a quick breakfast and got a Senseo, made sure everything was in my duffels, checked my email one last time, and got in a cab with the details of the ship. I felt very excited and ready to get going as we drove through the morning island traffic to the port. Upon arrival I got in a line and was given a nametag and paperwork to start filling out. I started to feel a little nervous and anxious as I was overwhelmed with the feeling that there was a lot to do. It hit me that this was actually happening and I could see all the others hugging their parents as their parents cried, and then they would step through a door with officials.



I got to that point already two days ago and said my goodbyes with my wife and she was crying and hugging me so tight I thought she might never let go and then I stepped through the gate towards the guys from customs with my bags and into a line of security, waving goodbyes behind me to my loved ones.

And nowI waited my turn and chatted with a guy from Canada as we shuffled our bags slowly forward in a strange wharf warehouse that had all sorts of giant colorful Chinese decorations being stored in the corners, maybe for Chinese New Year. Finally it was my turn. My bags were scanned, my backpack searched, I walked through the metal detector and was wanded and searched. They loaded my bags on a truck with the rest and I was instructed to continue through a cement hallway. I entered a room where I was to hand over my passport, yellow fever vaccine information and my Bahamas immigration form. Well crap, I just had the Bahama immigration card. I panicked for a second as I realized where it was: back at the hotel. I explained what happened and they said it was not necessary, so I took a breath and moved on.

I walked out of the dim room and out into the hot sunny day on the dock. There it was…!! What a great looking ship! The logo printed huge up on the smoke stacks, blue and white with all the little windows lined up on the outside; my home for the next 185 days…WOW!


I walked all the way down the dock to the gangway (ship entrance) I entered the dim lit gangway struggling to see after squinting in the bright Bahamian sun. I walked through a metal detector again and was instructed to go up the stairs. There are several decks (levels) on the ship and I had entered on level three. As I started up the grand looking stairs I took notice to the wood walls, nice carpet, perfectly shined metal handrails and glass engraved with quotes hanging on the walls. I felt like I was about to enter a fancy ballroom in a five star hotel or something.
 

I passed deck after deck of beautiful looking hallways and rooms to check out later until I reached deck six. I suppose I had a confused look on my face, because a guy introduced himself and pointed to a table I was supposed to go to. I was in a very large room with many nice cushioned swivel chairs all lined in rows in a half circle around a dance floor with a piano. The ceiling had fancy woodwork as well and the drapes looked like something from a mansion. It looked like a performance room. It was currently being used to check in everyone who boarded the ship. I was given my Ships ID at one table, a sheet with all of my personal info and what I still needed to do on another, and then came up on a table that gave me a sheet of what semester at sea trips I was already signed up for. I felt anxious again as I had no idea this was going to happen and was not sure if I wanted more trips. So, panicked and a little worried I signed up for an Amazon explorer trip and an African drumming and dance workshop. I then helped my new Canadian friend look over trips.


Proceeding around the room I talked to the ship doctor about any medical conditions and then was told my room number and that I was free to go. I think I must have looked like a deer in headlights because I just stood there for a minute not knowing what to do or where I should go first, so much to take in! OK room first, maybe my roommate would be there. So I headed back to the stairs and headed down to the third deck. I was so lost. I walked the hallway again and then felt like an idiot, haha this is only half of the ship and there are no even numbers in this hallway, I’m on the other side. So I went to the correct never ending hallway of wooden walls and doors and found my new bedroom door.
My name was posted next to it. Above mine was my roommate’s: Andrew Thompson, Texas. My heart sank. Great, I have a high maintenance Texan for a roommate. I immediately stopped myself, “Jake don’t stereotype, he is probably very nice and you will become good friends and it will work out great!” So with that I opened the door with my new ID, which did not look like me and confused everyone because I still had long hair in the ID picture, and dragged my duffels that had been conveniently placed in front of my door into my new cabin.



Empty; he wasn’t on the ship yet. My cabin was very nice, placed in the direct center of the ship where there is the least rocking. There are two small twin beds on either side. We each have a small three-drawer bedside table and share a little glass table and chair, a built in vanity/desk and chair, a built into the wall mini TV and fridge with three drawers underneath. The closet is maybe four feet long with shoe racks at the bottom and a side shelving area with six shelves. I thought it was incredibly nice looking and spacious given the small area and my expectations. Opposite the closet is a tiny bathroom, just big enough for a small toilet, sink and a shower. Well I wasn’t expecting that at all, so YAY for personal bathrooms! I like it! The window is bigger then I expected too! I was too excited to learn more about this fancy ship, so I left unpacking to be done later and went exploring.
I decided I wanted to wander on every deck from front to back of the ship and see where everything was. Deck two through four I discovered are only rooms, besides the restricted areas. Just long forever-going narrow hallways of doors with name tags and fancy wood doors. On deck five I started at the front of the ship and walked towards the back discovering that there were still some rooms with bigger hallways and bigger doors that were spread further apart, probably nicer bigger rooms for some guys and girls with a higher rank. Also on this floor was a circular open area, where there are bulletin boards of information and several desks and the main info/pursers desk. Some of the bulletin boards have pictures of everyone on the ship with their name. (something we called the muppet show on the ferries.) In the center was a big open circle where you could look up to the next level. Continuing there were more rooms and the hallway eventually turned a corner and opened up into the entrance to the main dining hall. The dining hall was very nice.

 


It looked like a ballroom fancy dinner restaurant with mirrors on the ceilings encircling big glass chandelier. Windows around the entire room with a view of the ocean made for the perfect dinning experience around the big oval tables with soft blue chairs. Near the entrance was an island table that looked like a bar. Just outside the dining hall were also doors to outside decks, which I explored and found lifeboats and beautiful views off the ships side of the city of Nassau.

Continuing up to deck six I was at the back and I discovered a place called the garden lounge. Not quite as nice of a dining area, more like a cute diner also lined with windows. The coolest part about this room was the colorful columns of bubbles going up the walls on either side of the buffet line. The room also led out to the first real nice outside deck I had seen. There were tables and chairs all sitting on the large deck that overlooked the ocean. Half covered by the deck above and half not it was the perfect place to dine outside. I am so excited to work out here and watch sunsets! This also had a nice granite topped bar.
Going back inside I noticed two conferencerooms on the side of the garden lounge. I continued out and walked down a hallway past the stairs and into an amazing place called the piano bar. This ship was way too nice to have been built for only a few passengers! No wonder this ships cruise were so expensive. Filled with tables, comfy chairs, couches, a piano and a nice sized snack bar with all the candies, coffee, chips and cup noodles you could ever want.




The messroom, wow. The perfect place to sit on your computer, read and do some work in the evenings, maybe even play some games with friends. Down the hallway a little further was the diningroom for us. The room was fairly small so I knew my breaks wouldn’t be all that big; hurray for small breaks and more coffee and tea moments it makes the days shorter in a way.

Then I stumbled across something I had heard was on the ship but wasn’t sure would be as nice as they were. There are three little shops all in a circle in the hallway. One is a merchandise store, one a tiny bookstore and the other a supply store of pens, notebooks, lanyards and small tubes of shampoo and sunscreen, basically tons of miniature things that people may run out of or have forgotten. I immediately promised myself not to spend too much money on anything in these stores because the prices of all extra food and merchandise is twice that of stores on land.




Back in the square, I was now on the top floor and could look down on the desks. Upstairs on either side of the circle was the ship library with a few rows of computers. I walked past another room with desks and looks like a card room. To get up to the final deck I had to go back to the garden lounge and up the stairs. Deck seven is apparently only accessible to our passengers on the back half of the ship, but what I found was really cool!! The outside deck was covered in sun lounge chairs and tables with chairs. In the direct middle was a small pool about 5 feet deep with the logo at the bottom. At the very back of the deck under the canvas canopy was an even bigger snack bar with a grill! They make smoothies, ice cream, cookies, pizza, hamburgers, grilled cheese and had all of the same delicious snacks the other bar did. Of course the snack bars all cost extra compared to our already paid for meals in the dining rooms, though I bet they will be a nice change to have now and then when the dining room food gets old.

To the side of all of this were weights and all of the common work out equipment. Continuing around the outside of the ship on this deck there were outside basketball courts and volleyball courts all netted in. There were places for all sorts of activities and exercise. Continuing inside I found something crazy!! There is a wellness center on this ship, which includes a salon to get your hair cut and your nails done, a spa to get massages, facials and waxes. And of course a workout room with treadmills, stair masters, bikes and ellipticals. I couldn’t believe this was here as this ship is not that big, but I guess it could come in handy. Lastly I learned that the health center was back on deck two and that deck one was off limits due to it containing storage and all of the ships workings. Deck eight (where the bridge is located) is also off limits, except for the one viewing deck where you can look out over the front of the ship.

Done exploring, I decided to go unpack so I didn’t have to think about it later. I went back to my room to find my new roommate sitting on the bed crying. We introduced ourselves and I asked her what was wrong. He was just in shock and was having a really hard time leaving the family behind. Turns out I can remember the feeling from many years ago. He is a very nice guy who does not fit the stereotype I had placed at all. We got to know each other for a short amount of time until he decided he wanted some air and left. While he was gone I unpacked. I realized that he had more full luggage then I did so I gave him a bit of extra space since I did not need it. I took half the closet, two shelves and one drawer so that he had plenty of room. I put my magnets and few photos up on the walls, along with my magnetic calendar, placed toiletries in a portion of the cabinet under the sink and determined what I would be using least and left it in my duffels which I flattened and rolled under the bed.



I jumped up as a loud voice boomed over the speakers that I had forgotten that they existed. “Good afternoon and welcome aboard. At this point all passengers have boarded. The ship was originally scheduled to depart within the hour, There will be an emergency lifeboat drill in ten minutes. Please look at the card on the back of your door to locate your muster station. Please wear warm clothing, close-toed shoes, a hat and your life vest from your cabin and convene at your muster station. This is a drill, but please take it seriously, wear the proper clothing and remain quiet at your station while attendance is taken. Thank you.” So I changed into the proper clothing and got the life vest out of my closet. When the signal was made everyone flooded out of their rooms like a herd of cattle down the hallways. Moving up the stairs was slow. Everyone flooded out onto the outside decks at their specified muster stations. It looked pretty strange and reminded me of the good old days on the ferry as the bright blue decks were covered with people organized in orange life vests. Once everyone was accounted for a hush went over the crowd as the captain of the ship walked all decks inspecting that everyone was properly prepared and everything set to go with other high status crewmembers following behind. All was clear and we were free to go.

Later in the evening we had a ship wide meeting to introduce and welcome everyone to the ship. I learned that this ship is 590ft long, is the fastest ship of its size in the world traveling a maximum of 28 knots or 32 miles an hour. The maximum capacity of the ship is 836 people but on this voyage there are 780. 570 of them are passengers, 70 are crew to sail the ship and 140 are staffmembers to serve the passengers, They also mentioned that the ship was very sustainable, but I have no idea how. But i will probably find this out during the journey. Now it is time to go to sleep on the light rocking waves. Maybe my dreams will become real one day.




The Old Sailor,

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