Monthly Archives: March 2016

DAY 168 ~ Thursday 31st March

Belize City, Belize – So having not slept for more than 1 hour total (and with the fact that that hour was the one that we went back, I technically I feel asleep at 2am and woke up again at 2am, meaning it was basically like I’d been awake all night), I got up, took a shower, had breakfast and made my way to the onboard Mandara Spa for my 8am hair cut.

I knew it was going to be a bit more expensive than my usual Pogi the engine motor repair man 3am $10 cut in the stairwell do, but with Pogi having signed off a few weeks ago, I was limited in my options and at least my stylist would hopefully have actual proper hair cutting scissors, not a pair of kids paper scissors, with which to perform the task.

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Pogi come back, I've found an upgraded pair of hedge cutters for you.

I’d tried to convince Keith, the deck and engine guy, who’s swiftly filled Pogi’s non slip safety shoes, to give me a trim, but he insisted that he could only do boy hair. I reasoned that Pogi couldn’t even cut boys hair, and that that never let it stop him, but Keith declined, maybe fearful that I’d have a hissy fit if I didn’t leave looking like Marilyn Monroe, or maybe he just couldn’t get his hands on any rounded end kids play scissors.

This left the fate of my long locks in the hands of Seth, the South African guy who’s been onboard less than three weeks. I was a bit skeptical that this might be the sum total of his trimming experience and that this dude too was also an amateur, but he reassured me when he told me that this was his second contact, meaning that he had at least 9 months cutting practice. Unless he’d previously worked onboard as a sushi chef or a pizzarolo…

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Is that you Seth???

The view from the panoramic windows on deck 11 were spectacular and I watched as we anchored and sent the first little ships to shore. The day was beautiful and I soon looked back in the mirror to find most of my hair in my lap and on the floor, and that my long locks had shrunk considerably, to a sassy shoulder length style.

It instantly looked better, but then again you pay for what you get and I was alarmed when it set me back $50, I guess I was paying for the view and the sharp scissors too!

I couldn’t get more than about 30 minutes sleep before training, which ended up lasting the best part of 3 hours!! It was about personal protective equipment. Having spent too many years riding and falling off racehorses, I know all about PPE, but working in a casino, a sweater and an electric blanket when sent to BJ14, plus a life jacket for boat drill, are all that are really required. Unless you count condoms as PPE that is…

There was no time to sleep before work and I was surprised how untired I was when I finished many hours later. I wish the same could be said about me this morning, as it’s boat drill, Captain’s meeting and casino meeting. Sometimes the fun never stops around here!

DAY 167 ~ Wednesday 30th March

Roatan, Honduras – For some reason last night I could not sleep at all. On the plus side I’ve an 8am haircut booked, so won’t need use of my alarm and have plenty of time to have a shower and take breakfast before I head to the onboard spa. On the minus side, I have training at 1pm and work tonight so am likely to be dozing off on the tables again tonight as I’ve no chance of sleep during the day!

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A nice wash and blow dry please!

At least my sporadic insomnia affords me a chance to catch up on some reading and interneting whilst my cabin mates are peacefully sleeping. Last night as well as watching episodes of Air Crash Investigation, I also caught up on lots of reading about the recent racing, including the All Weather Championships and the Dubai World Cup.

My great friend Gill, who is Travelling Head Girl to Newmarket trainer Michael Bell, and accompanies all of his horses to major race meetings all around the world, was in Dubai with Big Orange, a horse who was running in the Dubai Gold Cup. Big Orange was last seen running a huge race on the Melbourne Cup in Australia last November. You could not get a better, more hard working, loyal and dedicated employee than Gill, so I was therefore delighted to see that Big Orange ran another stormer to be placed a close second in the big race. Well done my little friend, let’s hope he can lift the Ascot Gold Cup later this summer!!

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Gill posing at Meydan racecourse, Dubai.

One of my other awesome friends, Sally Ann, us moving back to her native Ireland, having spent many many years living and working in France as a TV racing journalist. Sorry I’m not there to help you with the big move, but you can put me to work when I get back from the boat in July to make up for it! Good luck friends and see you soonish!!

DAY 166 ~ Tuesday 29th March

Cozumel, Mexico – We had a joint Goodbye Party for Saul and Georgi last night after work, as Saul transfers this morning and Georgi leaves next Tuesday. They’re two such great guys, the real life and souls of the casino and it’s such a shame that they’re going in opposite directions for the next few months.

With a very strict alcohol policy in place, it’s never likely to get too wild, but cram 27 people into a narrow 6 berth cabin at 4am in the morning and it looks and sounds like an Ibizan night club, despite the very limited amount of beers available. Cue Security swinging by to check in on us as it was getting a little loud. We promised to keep it down and as all the surrounding cabins were casino cabins attending the do, we were let go with a stern warning.

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Keep it down party people!

It’s so funny to see all the combinations of countries coming together and all the different senses of humour merging to provide a massive comedy fest. The excellent hard working crew onboard the ship really make me love the life here.

The dynamics and diversity of countries, cultures, religions, races, ages, genders and orientations mixed together in such confined quarters makes you think about all the senseless violence and fear and hatred in the world today. If 65 nationalities can come together to live harmoniously on just 3 levels, under 1 roof, then how can people not get on when they are whole countries apart?

Maybe it’s because we work so hard here, that we don’t have the time and energy for pettiness and contempt, or maybe it’s the fact that everyone is so far away from home that we all have a strong and common bond. Whatever it is, it’s lovely to see everybody respecting each other and getting along so well despite all being different.

On a personal level, it is not like people stick together and only date their own countrymen or women. There are continental and country to country relationships that might never exist if we didn’t live on the ship. I’ve seen happy unions including, but not limited too, South Africa and the Philippines, St. Lucia and India, Costa Rica and Zimbabwe, Macedonia and the Philippines, plus Serbia and South Africa. It restores your faith in humanity and gives hope that all the nonsense and ignorance that seems to be blighting the outside world right now, can soon stop when people realise how ridiculous and unrewarding fighting with each other is. So love and let live my friends, that’s how we do it on the Dawn!

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Variety is the spice of life!

DAY 165 ~ Monday 28th March

At Sea – So, having seen a few drops of rain on the TV screen showing the outside world in New Orleans, I dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans and an outdoor jacket, as my handy Freestyle Daily informed me that the temperature outside was due to be around a balmy 26°C, despite the overcast day.

By the time I reached the gangway, a little after 9am, it was absolutely chucking it down. I swiped out, but then hesitated and nearly swiped straight back in, so immense was the hoards of water bucketing out of the sky. But I just couldn’t bare to stay oboard the ship for another 4 days, as my next chance of exiting to the real world won’t arrive until Honduras on Wednesday. So I zipped my jacket up tight under my neck, stiffened my British top lip, bowed my head and made for terra firma.

By the time I’d reached the end of the short gangplank guiding us to the ground, I was already decidedly wet. Upon reaching the Riverside Mall some 100 metres away, I was resembling a drowned rat, thanking my lucky starts that I hadn’t bothered to dry my freshly washed hair after my early morning shower and getting flashbacks from my previous life riding racehorses in the rain everyday, from the drops of water working their way inside my jacket collar and down my neck.

Putting the inclement weather plan into action, it was decided to go to the Mall first, hoping that the monsoon would’ve moved on elsewhere by the time we were ready to leave to find Internet and food. God though (probably because of all the Good Friday drinking and gambling I’d been involved in) wasn’t smiling fondly down on us, as being Easter Sunday, the Mall was totally closed and the only place to go was back out into the now torrential rain.

Plan A was soon resurrected though, the rain was ignored, and it was off to the coolest little coffee shop in New Orleans, which also happens to have the best and fastest Internet in the Southern US. After walking for 5 minutes in the still pouring rain, paddling through puddles and avoiding getting completely drowned by passing cars spraying up spume like over excited sperm whales, we finally reached our destination and I sent up a little thank you to the Lord, and also the proprietor, for the place being open on Easter Sunday.

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Whale or car? You decide!

Entering through the door, there was soon a very unsubtle trail of oversized water drops on the beautiful hardwood flooring, leading to the counter. With our hot beverages ordered, we were most grateful that the kind server managed to produce two tea towels so that we could attempt to dry our faces at least. The other early morning drinkers politely tried to ignore the pitter pattering of the large water drops that kept trickling off my coat, that I’d removed in an optimistic bid to wear later, once it had dried off. A bit…

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A perfect wet playtime Sunday.

Sat in a pair of absolutely saturated jeans, I surfed the net like a pro boarder in a tight clammy wetsuit, thankful that at least I didn’t have to put my wet backside on an already wet saddle for three more lots, as would’ve been the case back in Blightly, where the outside weather closely resembled, with only the warm mercury reading belying the continental difference.

Thankfully the cats and dogs tumbling from the sky finally abated and it was time to explore the famous French Quarter and Canal Street to find out which shops were open and what hot tasty offerings we could uncover to fill our hungry stomachs.

Around 50% of the stores remained open, but the tempting looking sushi place didn’t throw its doors back until midday and the combination of a ferocious appetite and wet socks and trainers made the decision to plump for an underpopulated and slightly shady looking Chinese restaurant seem like the right one. The chicken teriyaki accurately resembled fried chicken on a wooden skewer covered in thick clotting blood, but whatever ingredients it contained, it certainly tasted good enough to my empty stomach.

All too soon it was time to be back onboard and after a delightful hot shower, it was off to a soggy pax drill followed by twenty minutes of blasting my sodden hair with the hair dryer before work as my now over familiar dice table beckoned.

The wet soaking that I’d been subjected to earlier in the day started to take its toll and I could feel my tired eyes wishing they could shut and and get some sleep, but a 30 minute stint selling Lotto tickets on the floor between dice rotations certainly woke me up, and I set a new record, making $93 worth of sales, plus two $1 tips!

The day might not’ve looked perfect from the outside, but it was such a refreshing change to be out in real rain, that I enjoyed every minute and although I’m looking forward to the heat and the sunshine of the islands this week, I wouldn’t swap my moist day for anything.

I slept like a Queen last night and woke up totally refreshed and in time for breakfast, setting me up nicely for today’s long sea day before a lovely relaxing port day in Cozumel beckons once more tomorrow. It’s back into the breech time again my friends, enjoy your Monday y’all.

DAY 164 ~ Sunday 27th March

New Orleans, Louisiana – HAPPY EASTER Y’ALL! I’m not sure that Easter is that big here in N’Orlans, as they call it, but I’ll let you know as I’m just about to go out and hit the streets.

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May your Easter be as fluffy as a marshmallow!

Yesterday was kind of an exhausting day and I’m really considering asking for a cabin reassignment, despite having turned down a transfer offer only recently. My roommates are becoming a real problem and something has got to change.

I almost wish I were writing about hating them, or them hating me (they possibly do, but I just choose to ignore it). The problem I have with them is that they’re just too nice and too funny, which means we never stop messing around and talking and so never get any bloody sleep.

I’ll take the blame for a good portion myself, but only because they encourage me to keep making them laugh. The other night, or should I say morning, I was parading up and down the cabin in a variety of Gaynor’s wigs, depending on which character I was being, giving impersonations and renditions of everyone on the ship. It was like a one woman edition of late night at the London Palladium. Each act got more raucous and ridiculous as they all egged me on and encouraged me to do more take offs.

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I don't even need amusing props to put on a show in cabin 3218.

Two nights later, we lay on our bunks laughing and telling stories until 8am in the morning. We could’ve got up and had breakfast but were having too good a time to even bother to leave our respective beds, and as I’ve n mentioned before breakfast is the BEST meal of the day.

At one point we feared an unexpected sea day, as the waves buffeted the boat in all directions, but that still wasn’t enough to shut us up and make us shut or eyes. Gaynor came up with a bright idea to try and ignore the possible 8:30am impromptu sea day get to work phone call by taking the telephone receiver off the hook. “NO!” I shouted, “The body thing still rings. How many times have I told you this?” “But what about like this?” she added.

I looked over to see Gaynor with the receiver in one hand and the cord that used to attach it to the wall mounted unit in the other. “What the FREESTYLE?” We all fell about laughing at her ingenuity before realising that she’d perhaps cracked the stop the phone ringing conundrum. Eventually we managed to persuade her to venture out onto the I95 and find another phone to try and call the cabin from. Of course the was much hilarity amid the huge disappointment when the indestructible telephone still chimed out, despite being off the hook and disconnected from it’s base.

Thankfully we got away with a port day and managed to catch an hour’s sleep as the merriment eventually died down well after sun up. Natasha is planning to make a movie of our confined time together and Gaynor, the little Zimbabwean diva, is booked to star in it, with Alou directing and my blog being the basis for the script.

Right time to rise and shine and select an outfit appropriate for the weather outside judged on the bow cam pictures. Another day, another dollar!

DAY 163 ~ Saturday 26th March

At Sea – Seemingly the Easter transfer window is alive and well, with all sorts of people coming and going in the next seven days, mostly due to the upcoming dry dock, into which we are about to head.

Cipi, one of the cashiers, switched to the Jade in Honduras on Wednesday, and as well as one supervisor signing off for vacation tomorrow, we also lose another suit, the wonderful Saul from Costa Rica, to the Norwegian Jewel, and the life and soul of the party, dealer Georgi, to Europe, where he joins the Norwegian Epic for the remainder of his contract.

It’s a really strange time at present with all the changes going on and everyone is wondering if they’re going to be next. There are only 4 dealers who are due to leave ahead of me, and with my contract due to expire on the second Bermuda after dry dock, there’s a good chance that I’ll be posted elsewhere for the three months that I have left. Where that where is, is anybody’s guess though!

The Dawn is getting on a little bit now, having put in 14 years of good service, and as her last touch up was back in 2011, she’s going in for a big 4 week overhaul at the end of May. The location of dry dock is Freeport in the Bahamas, and although I’m psyched at the prospect of a month in the Bahamas, and with no guests to entertain, I’ve been told that it’s not half as glamorous as it sounds, with banging, drilling and often no water, electricity or air con at times due to the on going work. In fact I’ve heard tales of everyone sleeping out on the open decks as it’s so hot and during the day you’re signed up to things such as “Fire Watch”, which basically means that you stand around, waiting to pounce with a sorry squirty bottle of water, ready to damp down any sparks and stop any fires starting. It might not be a month in the Atlantis, but it still sounds like there’s some fun to be had to me. If I get to stay that is…

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This could be new nighttime sleeping area!

Lucky this cruise has been much quieter than the previous two, as although it’s still Spring Break, it seems that it’s the under 18s that are on vacation currently, and as they’re not allowed in the casino, we’ve been a lot less busy and the guests seem a lot less intoxicated than the other Match Madness cruises.

Although I love to be busy, the fact that it’s been quiet means that I’ve been allowed to strut my stuff in the dice table nearly every night. Ok so it’s more rabbit in the headlights stuff, but still the practice is good, even if it’s mostly after midnight when the high rollers are in bed!

Last night it was my muster station from 9pm until 2:30am, and after 3 back to back stints, I was chuffed that they let me have so much table time to practise my novice moves. That or I’m so bad they think I need to be chained to the table until I finally figure out what to do when.

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Say what?!

Today’s a sea day, and we’re very lucky that yesterday wasn’t one too, as the rough waves pounded the ship’s hull all day in Costa Maya, and despite being lashed to long concrete jetty, the ship bumped and jiggled about all day in the port. It was more like sailing through a storm, than being docked, but at least we were and thanks go out to the Captain and his team for saving us from back to back days at sea. Next stop New Orleans please driver!

DAY 162 ~ Friday 25th March

Costa Maya, Mexico – There’s been a tragedy onboard the Norwegian Dawn. Sadly my beautiful brown suede Coach loafers, that I bought in Puerto Rico near the start of my contact, have paid the ultimate price and are no more.

They were so beautiful, so comfortable, so easy to wear, and so inexpensive too! But the many hours of pacing back and forth up the I95, plus late night trips up and down stairs finally took their toll and the magnificent foot coverings finally gave way at about 14:30 this afternoon and we’re peacefully laid to rest after a very moving private ceremony, where I thanked them for their stoic and fashionable service.

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My beautiful companions in their prime.

I could’ve lived in those shoes forever. My feet sighed relief, like coming home to your own comfortable bed after a long absence, every time I slipped my feet inside, especially after having spent long hours trudging about in my work heels.

They pretty much went with everything in my limited, narrow, ship wardrobe too. My navy Tommy Hilfiger day dress, my Per Una jeans that I wear each week in New Orleans, my shocking pink Lacoste sleeveless t-shirt dress that I bought in Dubai last year, my salmon pink shorts that turn pillar box red when I put them on over my wet bikini and make it look like I’ve a serious incontinence problem, and even my Abercrombie and Fitch reindeer emblazoned pyjamas bottoms. And even when they didn’t go with my outfit, I still wore them anyway!

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My poor wounded babies injuries were too severe to save.

With 65 different national fashion styles going on, who was going to say anything right? That’s the beauty of living on the ship amongst such a diverse community, it doesn’t matter what you wear or what time of day or night it is, with all different shift patterns going on, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear your pjs in the middle of the day and full uniform in the middle of the night. It makes it very hard to tell who’s doing the walk of shame and who’s legitimately wearing an odd outfit at the wrong time of day, but at least it makes for good speculation and gossip!

If I don’t post anything tomorrow, it’s because I’m too devastated at the loss of my brown suede shoes and am in mourning. It’s too soon to even think about buying some new ones. I guess it’ll be bare foot for the time being. Goodbye my darling shoes, sleep tight my friends, I’ll never forget you.