Monthly Archives: April 2016

DAY 198 ~ Saturday 30th April

At Sea – I’m not sure what happened yesterday, but lovely manager Len got delayed and now isn’t arriving back at the Dawn until next Cozumel on Tuesday. Still lucky him getting a few more days vacation.

image

Row faster and get back to the Dawn soon please Len.

The water is a little tempestuous again at the moment and the ship is rocking around like an over excited OAP on the dance floor, that’s had one sherry too many at a 50th wedding anniversary disco. Sometimes it makes it hard to deal and concentrate when the boat is jiving about so much. Roll on 10pm tonight when we’re back in the calm brown waters of the Mississippi River.

We’ve only 2 New Orleans left now, but unfortunately I’m assigned to work all day tomorrow before my casino night shift starts. That only leaves me one chance, next week, to head into town and do some shopping. I don’t have that much to buy, but we’ve been told there are no shops nearby where we dry dock, so we need to stock up essentials. That’ll be chocolate for me then!

image

Sweet treats are the order of the day.

I see it’s the first two Classics of the year back in jolly old England. The weather looks like it has been more winter than the start of summer, and seems likely to play a factor in deciding some of the winners. I don’t really miss the racing all that much, but I do like to keep up to date on proceedings via the very helpful twitter feed that makes it feel like you’re almost there.

Not much else exciting happening here at present, just lots of work work work, followed by some more work, plus a busy cruise full of casino players scheduled for next week. Still, it’s keeping me out of any mischief.

DAY 197 ~ Friday 29th April

Costa Maya, Mexico – Everybody is very excited in the casino, as today is the day our lovely manager Leonard comes back from vacation. He’s a great boss and we all voted for him to be crowned manager of the month just before he left. I hope that he’s had a nice holiday and is feeling refreshed and ready for the rigours of dry dock!

image

Len will soon be back in the house!

Today we have boat drill and Captain’s meeting and then I’m going to head out for a swim in the ocean before a late lunch, and then work again. It was an hour forward last night, which means that boat drill is even earlier for us night shift workers. I’d like to say that there will be no more drills in dry dock, but we’ve already been told that not only will they continue, but that there are going to be some night time ones too .Oh joy!

Yesterday I was IPM, so I had to suffice with laying out on deck 8 and messing around in the pool. The weather was nice and I really enjoyed relaxing with my headphones on, watching the guests looking down on me all the way up on deck 13. It was a shame when I had to leave to go and start work, but the sun was starting to set by then anyway.

image

Last rays of the day.

I’m looking forward to visiting some new places the week after next, as nice as these places that we visit are, a chance to explore somewhere new will be greatly appreciated. Enjoy your weekend everybody.

DAY 196 ~ Thursday 28th April

Belize City, Belize – Today we are in Belize once again. Belize is a relatively small country, covering just 9’087 square miles. It is bordered by Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South and the Caribbean Sea to the East. The population is estimated at over 358’000 (the lowest density in Central America), with the majority being Roman Catholic. However due to heavy British influences since the 1800s, Belize has a larger protestant population than any other Central American country. It is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, though Belizean Creole and Spanish are also commonly spoken.

During the 1840s Great Britain declared Belize to be the colony of British Honduras. In 1973, the colony’s name was changed to Belize and on September 21st 1981 (when I was exactly 7 days old incidently), Belize’s independence was declared.

Belize is famed for its diving and marine life. It has the longest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere, and is home to the Great Blue Hole, hundreds of islands, snorkel and dive locations. The reef is so shallow that all the ships dock some two miles from the shore and passengers wishing to go ashore have to take a ride in a small tender boat to reach the mainland, which takes approximately 20 minutes.

image

Belize is a magnet for scuba divers.

From this autumn, NCL ships will be docking at the fleet’s new private island,  Harvest Caye. The pictures that I’ve seen look quite spectacular, including zip lines, private cabanas and of course white sandy beaches…

image

Zip line the day away!

DAY 195 ~ Wednesday 27th April

Roatan, Honduras – Finally some nice easy port days and a bit of respite! I only had to work 9 hours last night, which was a blessed relief. I’ve training this afternoon before work, but it’s only an hour and it’s learning all about fire watch in preparation for dry dock. So far it looks as if I’ll be staying for the month long renovation work, but that could all change with a transfer or early bath still on the cards.

We’ve only one cruise left after this one, doing the current itinerary, and then it’s a ten day cruise comprising of our four current ports, plus the Cayman Islands and Guatemala. I’m not able to get off in the Cayman Islands, as I’m IPM, but as I’ve been there before, I’m not so fussed. I’m looking forward to visiting Guatemala though.

Then it’ll be a month in the Bahamas, which having heard many reports and seen the location on Google Earth, isn’t as inspiring as it first sounds. However a change is as good as a rest and it will be nice to be permanently on land for a bit, as we’ve been at sea every night since October.

image

I'm looking forward to a bit of dry land at least!

Plus the whole no guests will be a nice change of pace. I have met some fantastic people whilst doing this job, but you always feel on show and it will be nice to be able to relax a bit and not have to answer umpteen repetitive questions daily.

I saw some pictures of the snowfall that occurred in jolly old England yesterday. At the end of April! It seems hotter than ever here most days, so I won’t complain about a bit of milder weather when I return to Europe in a couple of months time. I’m certainly not missing the rain though!

image

Snow? What snow?

DAY 194 ~ Tuesday 26th April

Cozumel, Mexico – OH MY GOODNESS, I NEED TO GET OFF THIS SHIP!!! Today a customer thought that I was from Alabama. Yes, Alabama, in the deep south of the US of A.

Now I’ve gotten used to guests mistaking my accent as Australian, as it occurs on a daily basis. New Zealand, South Africa and even Ireland come up quite regularly too, but Alabama. Seriously? What the Freestyle man? I sound like the Queen goddamit, surely?

At first I thought the guy was joking, but he was deadly serious. He kept asking me which part of the State I was from. There was no convincing him otherwise, even when forced my chest and name tag, complete with the British flag denoted on it, into his face, he still remained transfixed that I was an Alabamanian, or whatever you call people who come from the Heart of Dixie.

He kept insisting that I say “Hey Y’ALL!” for him. I kept refusing until he actually got quite disappointed that I wouldn’t indulge him. I know that customer service is our number one priority but I have a limit and trying to pretend that I’m from Alabama is definitely it!

The other reason that I have to leave the ship soon is that people keep stopping me in the I95 and asking me in disbelief how come I’m still here and when I go home. 9 more weeks people, 9 more weeks. My friend Darwin from, the deck and engine, was convinced that I must’ve been on vacation and be back again. No I’ve simply here since last October. No wonder I’m going a little crazy!

Plus the last 2 nights I’ve been closer in the casino and I’ve finished at 6:40am and 6:10am. I’ve worked more than 26 hours already this week. I did boat drill then started in the casino at 7:30pm on Sunday night, worked straight through until 6:40am with only the occasional 20 minute break. I then stated again less than 7 hours 45 minutes later until 6:10 this morning, with a 2 hour gap in the middle of the 16 hour stretch. I’ll sleep for a week when I leave here, I swear. And that’s saying something as I have the worst insomnia going at the moment. I guess working all those hours gives me something to do, as despite counting sheep, pigs, goats and even horses, sleep seems like an impossible dream right now.

image

Maybe tonight I'll count mercer's meerkats for an interesting change.

Anyway, I’m off out into Cozumel for a bit before it’s back to work again. At least I do a job I enjoy!!

image

Faits vos jeux madame et monsieur.

DAY 193 ~ Monday 25th April

At Sea – The weather was scorching yesterday in New Orleans. We could’ve just as well been at one of the tropical islands that we stop at 4 times a week, so hot was it. I went off on my own to my favourite Internet haunt and busily updated, downloaded and checked off the various items on my to do list.

image

INTERNET!!!

It’s so nice and peaceful to get away from the ship and all the familiar faces, and just spend an hour or so basking in the blissful anonymity of not wearing a name tag. All too soon I was back in the Riverside Mall, bumping into crew members, all busily enjoying their short burst of freedom.

I stopped at a couple of stores and picked up a few cheap by one get one free t-shirts ready for either dry dock in the Bahamas, or summer in Europe (wishful thinking I know!!!).

America really is the land of the extra large, as when I got back home and tried them on, the ‘small’ size drowned me. Even the x-small is too big and by stupidity not judgement the xx-small that I picked up by accident is the only one that fits and it’s not even snug.

It’s possible that I was in an oversize store for the rounder figure by mistake, as I could find no European size converter on the label, but judging by the average figure of the natives that I encounter, I think that they’re just catering for their population and that small in the US, would be medium/large for the rest of the globe.

I’ll have to see if a few cycles in the dryer on extra hot do anything to improve the look, otherwise one of roommates will be offered free gift. I wonder actually how my two roommates skinny and skinnier ever find clothes to fit. I guess they must shop in the children’s department!

On my way back to the ship I saw every other crew member wheeling back a brand new shiny but empty suitcase. Dry dock is coming fast. Only three more cruises left now. Nothing has been confirmed for my destiny yet so I’ll have to wait and see what they have in store for me. As the song goes, anything could happen…

image

Maybe this is the next boat I'll be on??

DAY 192 ~ Sunday 24th April

New Orleans, Louisiana – So today I thought I’d give you a brief insight into New Orleans, our home port and embarkation point each week.

Founded in 1718, New Orleans is a Louisiana city on the banks of the Mississippi River, on the southern edge of the United States of America, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” it’s known for its round the clock nightlife, vibrant live music scene and spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures.

image

Music is the name of the game around here.

Covering an area of approximately 350 square miles, NOLA is home to a population of around 400’000 people.  The official language of the city is French, although this is mostly for historical reasons and English is by far the dominant language.

Streetcars still connect many parts of the city as they have done for many years and area useful transport link as well as pretty site photographed by the many tourists. The French Quarter, Jackson Square, Canal Street and the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium are all popular points of interest, but it is for two weeks a year in early Spring that New Orleans really comes alive, with its notorious Mardi Gras festivities and parades.

Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday”, is a colourful celebration that takes place on shrove Tuesday each year. Purple, gold and green are the associated colours that can be seen illuminating every corner of the town. For two weeks beforehand, the preparations start to begin, with smaller parades and festives, building up to the big day. Beads are worn by all the revellers and flung from all the floats and parading artists that make up Mardi Gras. There is even an extensive Mardi Gras museum in the city, detailing the historic annual event.

In 2005, New Orleans was all but completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The city was nearly entirely evacuated as a huge storm surge flooded the damaged city. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and the repairs ran into billions of dollars. Although the city is mostly rebuilt at this point, some subtle scars still remain.

For crew though, the most important thing about New Orleans is the famed chicken gumbo dish, along with blackened crawfish, the extensive Riverside shopping mall and of course FREE WIFI!!!

image

Sitting by the banks of the Mississippi catching up on life.