Moving On…The End Of MY Ship Life!!!!!!

Hello Everyone! Well once again it has been a really long time since I wrote my blog…and I think I have come to realize the I’m just not one of those people who is a good regular blogger. Maybe it’s that I try to put too much detail into my posts…then they become too long, and then I can never finish…or even start them!

However I did not want to leave this blog incomplete….and unfinished so I decided to do one last post….

So here is the short version of whats going on with me now….as I wrote in my backlogged entry I started my third contract on the Norwegian Sky(one of the smallest ships in the fleet) …but then got transferred to the Norwegian Epic (the LARGEST ship in the fleet!) Even better than being on the newest and largest ship (and getting my own cabin…albeit it small) was that I got to sail the Mediterranean….with cruises starting out from Barcelona…and ports in Livorno(Pisa and florence), Rome, and Naples (Sorrento, Amalfi, Capri)…also Palma Spain (which is one of the most beautiful islands that I have EVER seen). Also I got a chance to stop in Marseilles France and Arroz Portugal as we were doing the Atlantic crossing!

Also, my social life on the Epic was much more exciting than on any other ship. I actually kind of had a little thing with a guy there….and though it did not work…it was somewhat nice at the time.

I visited sooooo many AMAZING places….in Pisa Italy of course the leaning tower of Pisa…in Florence, Michelangelo’s David, well in Rome ROME!…I mean everything in Rome is beautiful…old…elaborate, and historical! Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii, Naples Italy, Sorrento, Capri (the Isle of Romance…to bad I did not have any at the time) The Amalfi Cost, Barcelona Spain, Tuscany…with all of the gorgeous sunflowers and rolling hills, and the amazingly beautiful Palma Spain! I could not believe that after waiting all that time…and working on five ships…I had finally made it to Europe to see some of the most charming places I have ever had the privilege of beholding!

However, as exciting and beautiful as my time in Europe was….I was not really enjoying the job on the ship anymore. Honestly I don’t know if I ever REALLY loved being a youth counselor…not that the job is bad…it’s just as a person with an education background…and being a teacher at heart…I really wanted to do more with the kids…and the programs that we offered…were basically lots of games for the older kids, and coloring, and hunts, ect for the younger kids….after a while it gets redundant.

Plus on a ship the size of the Epic…with lots of YC’s (I think in high season we had over 20)…there was always drama and conflict …so I was tired of being in that too. Then there was ship life itself…though I loved being out in ports…I was always sad when it was time to head back to the ship and to work after a busy and sometimes exhausting day of roaming the streets of Europe. I just wanted to have time to decompress…reflect…relax…and I did not have that.

Given all these reasons and probably more….I decided in March …before I began my third contract to do something that I had been dreaming about for years. I went on an interview to teach overseas, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates! The interview was in Chicago …and I heard back within a few days that I had the job if I wanted it. I was so excited…because for over 7 years…I had been wanting to actually MOVE to a totally different continent, and experience what it would be like to teach children who were actually residents of that country (so no American School in a foreign country or anything like that).

Therefore…I knew that my time on the Epic…would be my last time on a ship( at least full time)…because I would need to come back home and prepare for my teaching job in the UAE. So on July 3rd I flew back from Barcelona Spain to Nashville (on my own dime at that because I ended up shortening my contract)…and started my preparation for the biggest move of my life!

I am grateful for the experiences and the relationships my time on the ship brought, I wished that I was able to chronicle it in a better, and more detailed way…but I hope this blog has been helpful to someone. I will keep it open for anyone who still finds my posts useful…and I may (I’m not 100% sure) start a blog about my time here in the UAE. If I do…I will certainly post the webpage here…so those of you who are interest can follow my journey half way across the world to the intriguing world of the United Arab Emirates.

Thanks to every reader for coming along on the journey…it has certainly been an interesting on to say the least…and I have been happy to share it with you!

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I’m In Europe!!!!!!- Backlogged Entry- Written May 2011

****This is an entry that I wrote on back in May…just found it and wanted to post…tomorrow an updated(present day) entry will follow:)****

Well hello to all of my long lost readers. I know that I have been a really bad bloger but I have a reason for that. I am actually in Europe right now..cruising the Mediterranean. I am sure you are wondering how I got from the sky the sailed out of Miami to the Bahamas all the way to Barcelona sailing the Mediterranean. So here is the story…

As you know if you were reading my blog a few months ago I ended up in an unexpected relationship and decided to go to the Norwegian Sky to see if the relationship had any hope of continuing or not. When I got there even though I never confirmed this for sure..in saw that my romantic interest had an interest in someone else. The worst part is that I had to watch the two of them together and it was pretty difficult for me.

I kept myself occupied by going to the gym (which was a plus b/c I lost like 20 pounds:)..and trying to make new friends…but it was still really difficult. Then I got a message from the recruiter saying that I wouldbe needed on then EPIC three weeks early, and I had a day to get my things packed…would be in a hotel one night and then would join the EPIC– Norwegian’s newest and largest ship that following Sunday. At first I was sad and did not want to transfer because I was still holding out hope that the relationship could be rekindled…however.. I realized that it just was not going to happen and that it would actually be better on the Epic where I could start fresh.

I was still really sad..and worried because I heard there was an insane amount of work for the yc’s in the kids center..and that people were quitting left and right. However…because I knew the Epic was heading to Europe….which really wanted to get a chance to see (but thought it would never happen because mostly only yc’s with a second language get to go on the european ships) ..I figured I would give it a try and see what happens.

Well what I found was actually much better than I expected. I was with the 2-5 age group and we did not really have that many kids…no more than I had experienced on other ships. Now the other age groups actually did have a ton of kids…more than I have seen on any other ships… but luckly for me I was with my favorite age group with much less stressful situations.

Also my social life on the Epic was so much better than that of any of the other ships I had been on. First there are actually little clubs on the ship…not just people performing in the Main Theater..or in a ballroom…but actually little buildings built inside the ship with venues such as comedy and jazz and rock(there is even a Howl At The Moon)…and they are open every night until 1 or 1:30.

I also knew already a lot of the yc’s on the ship so I felt like I was already a part of the team even though I had just arrived. Then there were two the guy yc’s that were also flirting with me(which was nice)…and one who I actually liked a lot…but he would never take the lead so that did not happen…and he is now dating someone else. Anyhow…the ports were nice that we were going to…especially Costa Maya Mexico…with amazing beaches and I finally got to go over to Playa de Carmen which you can get to by ferry from Cozumel…which is so beautiful…with the water is one of Most amazing blue that I have ever seen.

So the Caribbean and Mexican run was not so bad with the exception of the three sea days that we had. So I decided to go ahead and stay on the Epic…my other choice would have been to go home extra early because I knew that I would have to leave early and pay for my own ticket….more about the reason for that in another post.

So after three weeks in the Caribbean the Epic did the long transatlantic cruise from Miami to Barcelona with only one stop in Azores Portugal (a tiny island in the Atlantic) and 9..yes I did say 9 sea days. However it was not that bad..and the time went by pretty fast because we did not have a lot of kids and oddly it was somewhat relaxing.

So finally after 9 sea days and one port we arrived in Barcelona Spain. I was so excited…but I forgot to mention that as we were doing the transatlantic crossing we passed through the Gibraltar Strait where you can see the coast of Africa on one side of the ship and the coast of Europe on the other! It happened at night so pretty much all I could see were the lights off the coast…but it was really cool.

Like I said before…we did have one port day on day seven the only one during the entire cruise where we stopped in Azores Portugal which is off the coast of Portugal. I had to work that afternoon, but I did manage to go out for a few hours in the morning. It was really a cute town, with lovely cobble stone streets, and beautiful quaint and old architecture… and I ran into a couple of then musicians from the ship and we walked around for a bit and we went to this really high point at the top of a hill with an amazing view of the island. Then in had to rush back to the ship….and ended up being a few minutes late for work! All in all it was a great morning!

****I will be posting another updated current day entry tomorrow…to give any readers out there a idea of what’s going on present day in my “curse ship life adventure.”****

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Back On Ships!!!

April 10 2011

Back To Ships

Well…guess what everybody…I decided to go back to ships for a while.  That decision was based on a couple of things but primarily on the relationship I had on the Star that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts.  The thing about this relationship is that I was not really sure where we stood after our last time together…even though I was being told that they wanted to be just friends.  However it was really hard for me to grasp the concept of the just friends thing because we had never really been friends before the relationship started. And then bam! we were in a relationship and together all the time. And for me the last time we were together …like the last movements that we saw each other..there were still romantic feelings there…at least for me.  

So when I went home I was really sad…and even though we talked on the phone each time that the ship was in a US port it was still really hard because the connection was bad…and I felt that it was not really easy to talk and really get a feel for where things stood between us. Also I wanted more time with this person..when we left each other…I was not ready for our time together to be over…and even though I knew they might not feel the same way about me…I still wanted to do everything in my power to make sure if there was an opportunity for us to have more then I tried it.  

The other reason I joined this ship is because I am planning to finally take a leap and teach overseas like I have been saying that I want to do for sooooo long..and if I go I will have to leave in July…before my contract is over…which means I will have to pay for my own ticket home.  So paying for a ticket from Miami is not to bad vs paying for a ticket from Seattle …the place I was originally was scheduled to be at.  The other plus to being here is that I will be able to save a little more money…instead of spending …which is very easy to do when you are at home.

So currently I am here on the Sky.  This is one of the smallest ships in the fleet and cruises out of Miami to the Bahamas only.  We do three and four day runs..to Nassau two times a week, Freeport once a week, and NCL’s private island two times a week.  We have two embark days in Miami (days where old passengers get off and new ones come on) and we don’t have any sea days on this ship.  That part is not too bad… it’s just that we don’t get any early nights off either…so going out to dinner or to a show is usually never going to happen for a yc here.  Last year when I started working on ships I heard a lot of crazy things about the Sky and not that many were good…that plus the redundancy of the run made me say that I never wanted to come here.  But lo and behold here I am…and I even requested it…so it just goes to show you how far one will go when there is the possibility of being with someone who they really, really like.  

However since I have been here my relationship with that person has just been ok.  When we first saw each other we hugged for a while and it was really nice…but after that we have not had much physical contact.  I’m not sure if it’s because they are trying to keep their distance so nothing gets started between us…or if it’s just because there is no real desire there. Anyhow…so I just tried to focus on the friendship thing that they said they wanted….however…sometimes it feels that we are not really friends in the way that I am used to having a good friend.  Like we don’t hang out at night after work…we don’t really talk that much, we did go out in port a couple of times….but really I don’t know.  

The people that are my really close friends on ships…and honestly I have only had two…those relationships were so close.  We always hung out together…ate together…did things when we were off…and I was included in all of their social events. Maybe I am having too many expectations thinking that the new relationship that we would have would be like that.  Anyhow…I have been trying to establish friendships with some of the yc’s that I work with…like last night we went to my first crew party onboard which was in the engine room…me and a lot of the Latin yc’s. The party was kind of dead….no one dancing ..but lots of food and soda. We sort of stood around in little groups…but it was somewhat awkward. All crew parties I have gone to there have at least been people there dancing up a storm.  So after getting a bunch of free soda to take back to the room… we decided to leave.  After that we went to one of the yc’s rooms and played a couple rounds of Skip Bo (a card game ). By two clock I was heading back to my room for the night.  

Oh i forgot to mention there was this one guy who tried to follow me to my room after the party….and kept asking me my cabin number…but I told him I did not give out my number…so that was that.  

Oh just a side note…the person who I was with before was there at the party and I will have to say that at times it was sort of aquward because we have the same circle of friends so we were around each other….but not really talking to each other at all….so again it was kind of wierd for me…but I guess that will get better as we figure out how to manage a friendship….or more so how to even build a friendship after a relationship.  

Oh I forgot to mention that one of the good thongs about being on this ship is that because it is a small ship the cabins are spread out all throughout the ship…and many of the the crew cabins are above the water level…which is amazing! And most of the cabins are for two people…some for three…instead of the four and five births that you find on the larger ships.  

So my cabin is on deck 6 which is the open deck where people can walk or jog…so I get great phone reception from my hall….and I can take a few steps and I am outside where I can get some fresh air and check the wether really conveniently.  Also when I first got here I did not have a roommate so i had the room all to myself (I have a roommate now though)….and did I mention that the cabins are huge….at least 2 times bigger than any cabin I have been in before.  So that’s the cabin situation and its pretty nice.

So that is what is going on…..I will write more updates as more events take place.  I know this has been a pretty long entry …about my personal life…so those of you who made it to the end…thanks for bearing with me🙂

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Want A Job On A Cruise Ship???????

Then do what I did and head to one of the job fairs in your area!  I wrote extensively about what to expect at the job fair in my earlier posts (2009) so if you want to know what the experience will be like go back to the beginning of the blog and check it out!  Anyhow…here are the three upcoming Job Fairs and one is actually in my own home town!  So if you are really interested in getting your foot in the door….this is the best way to go (in my opinion).

****Disclaimer…unfourtunatly these job fairs are for those living in the US…if you are not a US citizen and want to work with Norwegian Cruise Lines you can apply to the international side.  Click on this website to find more information.  http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/cruiser/cmsPages.html?pageId=Careers . You can access both NCL and NCLA employment links from this address.*****

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Marriott New Orleans
555 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Sessions begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.

CHARLOTTE, NC

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Charlotte Marriott City Center
100 West Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Sessions begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.

NASHVILLE, TN

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Courtyard Nashville Goodlettsville
865 Conference Drive
Goodlettsville, TN 37072
Sessions begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.

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What To Do….What To Do??????

Continued from my last entry “Reflections On My Second Contract”

Hello all,

Wondering what I’m up to these dayse since finishing my contract on the Star and returning from my trip to Mexico?  Well ….aside from being somewhat depressed about my relationship  situation (please read the previous post to get all the details on that)….I have been trying to plan out what my next move should be.  I have a few options one is to go back to ships for a 3rd 6 month contract.  The ship I have been assigned to is the Pearl (a really beautiful ship BTW) but the problem is that it goes to the places that I have been before- nice places…but not new places.  Including Belize, Costa Maya, Rotan, Virgin Islands…before it does a 4 month run in Alaska /Victoria BC with Seattle being the home port(I like Alaska…and love Seattle) but not sure I want to be there 4 months. 

Also the idea of being on a different ship that than the person who I was with is a hard thing to imagine, and maybe the most significant point is that I am not sure if I really enjoy the job anymore or ship life.  My job…which was challenging when I was first starting has become pretty redundant….and the problem is that I don’t necessarily enjoy the activities that we do with the kids over and over again…but I can’t really think of new ones that would be better.  Maybe this is a sign that at heart I’m really a teacher….and not a kids entertainer (though nothing is wrong with that job either). 

Then ship life can be very limiting….you start to crave variety (at least I did ) that you get on land…and choices or the option to choose…choose to watch a sunset from the park, see the city lights at night, take an early morning drive, go visit a friend cross country, enjoy any one activity for more than a few hours….now I have to say that being in a relationship made ship life much more enjoyable and exciting…but you can’t count on having that.  ..

Anyhow my next option would be to go back to teaching here at home.  I actually just found out to day that a teaching position might be available at my old school that I used to teach at and had the best time of my professional career in the fall….so even more of an incentive to stay ….but I’m not sure if I want to settle back into to life here at home so quickly.

Which brings me to my third option…which is to teach oversees.  I was thinking about this years before…but now am taking an even closer look at this option.  There are some programs that I am really interested in finding out more about…

Then I am even considering going to Spain to study Spanish for a while…since I feel it would be good to be able to communicate in a second language…and Spanish is so widely spoken. 

So that’s where I am now….I know I need to make a decision really soon, or at least tell NCL if I’m coming back like by tomorrow! Yikes!

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Reflections On My Second Contract….

Hello to all of my readers in the blogosphere.  Just wanted to update you and let everyone know that I am back on land at home.  As crazy as it seems I was really REALLY happy to finish up.  Since I started working on ships I worked every day for 1 year and 1 month straight…with less than a 4 week vacation in between.  It was certainly time for a break.  And break I did.  My contract ended on Feb 5, I flew home from LA that day…and then 4 days later got right back on another plane to visit one of the YC’s I met on the Star in her home of Mexico City.  Even though I had traveled to Mexico with the ship, actually staying there for almost 20 days was a whole different experience. 

Why, you might ask well let me tell you.  Here is the thing about cruise ships or taking a cruise on a ship…..yes you get to travel to many beautiful places, and catch a glimpse of the people where you port….but there always is a time restraint and a limit to how much you get to experience before you have to make it back to the ship for all aboard.  Also the guests on cruise ships tend to be majority American, and when you are in port you only go so far (again due to time restraints) and most people end up in the same bars, restaurants, beaches, or walking the same paths.  Therefore even though you are in another country many times you are still surrounded by Americans.  Also the people who live in these countries sometimes cater to the American/western pallet (not food but just general desires) and so some of the places are westernized as well. 

What I’m trying to say is you don’t really get to truly be immersed in the way that the culture lives on a day to day basis with only being in port for a few hours.  But when I was visiting my friend in Mexico City I really felt like I got a chance to be a part of the culture and feel what it’s really like to be American, in a completely different environment.  Without the comforts of thousands of others who speak my language, look like me, or have a similar background as I do.  Anyway…needless to say the trip and the experience were good.  If someone is interested in the specifics of what I did, where I went, or how the experience was in detail…just leave a comment and I will do a post specifically about that trip.  I just don’t want to make this post longer than it already is. 

I also want to apologize for my lack of post in the past few months.  There a few key reasons for that which include 1. Still very little internet access on my past run. 2. High season started (Christmas and New Years….where we were working big time, and had 600-800 kids per cruise. And 3 the biggest thing of all, I unexpectedly found myself in a relationship. Now for those of you who read my blog from the beginning you know that I was really against being involved with anyone on the ship because I felt like it could really complicate life.  However, someone special came into my life so unexpectedly that they broke through all of my issues and concerns and reservations about having a relationship onboard.  Now I’m at home and they are still on ships it’s really hard (I don’t know that they would want to be involved still even if I was there) but honestly if there was a way I would like to keep the relationship going….and I have been pretty sad her at home since we parted. Well so much for trying to have an uncomplicated life…

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Moving on to Mexico and Beyond…(Backlogged entry from Oct. 2010)

Hello to all the readers out there!  I found this entry that I never posted.  It was from sometime in early October of 2010 I believe….Of course I am since off the ship and on vacation…but decided to post it anyway…just ‘cause.

Moving on to Mexico and Beyond…

Well I figured that I would go ahead and post an update…even though not too much has changed around here.  We do have a much lower kid count (like this week I think we have 14 kids total 2-12’s…and of course they don’t all come.  And we have a new YC guy who signed on two weeks ago.  Actually, believe it or not, he and I have become pretty good friends! Those of you that read my blog know that I have written about how it can be really hard sometimes for me to connect with people, and move onto deeper levels of friendship.  So of course this was a very pleasant surprise that here is someone who I really enjoy spending time with and talking to, and the feeling seems to be mutual. 

I’ll take this moment to say that one thing about ship life (more so than life on land) is that things can change at any moment here…or at least after each cruise.  This is because you always have people leaving (changing the dynamics of things) and there are always new people (crew) coming on at the beginning of each cruise.  So you social situations are (or have the potential) to be constantly changing.  The other thing that’s amazing is that you have the opportunity to meet and become friends with people who back at home/on land you probably would have never come in contact with.  This is the case with Rico (my new found friend).  He is from Brazil, travels all over the world, hysterically funny.  He has never been to Tennessee, and probably would not have any reason to come.  Our backgrounds are different, but I have such an appreciation for who he is as a person, and he always has me laughing!   However, if it had not been for this ship and our jobs as YC’s I’m not sure that our paths would have ever intersected.  And if by some random chance they had, I don’t know that we would have even stopped each other other to have a conversation, or have had a mutual circle of friends where we could have met there.  So probably no chance of us ever meeting…yet now that I know him I’m so glad that I do. 

The other thing with ship relationships is that sometimes you are in relationships with people because they are the only options that you have….so especially the guys here….they might go after a girl not because they really know her and like what they know…but because she is one of the few women onboard…and they are lonely and want some companionship.  Same for friendships…yes there are times where people genuinely connect…and maybe even in a different context…off the ship, if given the chance to connect and be friends… they would.  However, it’s my theory that people here are connected as friends not because they really have a ton of things in common or because they really have this strong, and amazing connection, but because they are there. However there are exceptions, and there are also times that you get to know someone on the ship…that you would not have if you were at home, and they remain your good friend even after your time working on the ship is over.  I’m hoping that this will be the case for me and my newfound friend…as over the past month and a half I have really grown to appreciate and value his friendship.

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