The Caribbean Voyage- BLOG #6
After a short maiden voyage (mine, at least) in Europe, it was time to head to warmer waters! I couldn’t wait for a nice change from the Utah Decembers, sun bathing in the winter and hanging out on some beaches. For whatever reason, I had the hardest time finding a decent swimsuit (my old one broke) and towel to buy, which I found funny considering the location. It’s been a long voyage, I write this in the middle of a 24 day trip from Southampton to the Caribbean and back. That’s a long time for a vacation! Considering the average age of the guests, maybe it’s more like a retirement home alternative. 😉
Things have settled down work-wise more or less, and I feel like the shows and performances have become more routine in my daily life. The guys in the band are very versatile, when we don’t perform in the theater (comedian act, or music group) we play a rock and roll night or a soul night in one of the guest pubs, much more relaxed playing in there since we just jam! For this voyage, in the first ten days of travel, we had nine sea days, which I tried to put to great use, practicing and going to the gym nearly every day! If I can stay disciplined, this can be a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve, the job’s a dream come true in my eyes! And to be honest, the food’s not that bad now that I’ve gotten used to it, as long as I’m able to season it with a little salt and pepper, and maybe some hot sauce I can find in the Caribbean.
Our first stop after the long days of sailing was a little island known as Azores, it’s one of those places I do not think I’d ever have gone otherwise if I didn’t work here, as there’s no airport, and too far east for American cruise lines in route to the Caribbean. Walking back to the boat, it was cool to see two cruises docked next to each other, it was almost like walking between big office buildings in the city.
I was a little nervous the night we sailed out of there, something along the lines of going from a cold climate to a warm climate meant we had to sail through a storm to get to summer weather. Now, I’ve cruised as a passenger before, but I was still surprised at how much the boat was moving that night! I took a video, and you can see what it was like on stage when we hit a couple waves. Definitely a new environment to perform in! On one hand, I’m stressing and praying that nothing will fall on my instruments, on the other I’m getting nervous watching people dance and sing on stage (a lot of the female guest entertainers are in high heels!). Feels like an accident can happen at any moment, so I try to stay constantly alert to my surroundings.
I haven’t gotten sea sick yet, I was a bit light headed that same night, but after lying down on my bed during our break I was fine. It gets tiring to just walk around the boat when it’s moving so much, keeps you on your toes as you try to keep your balance and not run into others. There seems to be less movement in my cabin since it’s located low on the ship, but once I'm in my bed I can’t tell at all if the boat moves around anyways. If anything I sleep much better sometimes since I’m essentially being cradled back and forth- also adds a funny new dimension to my workouts, with the gravity changing constantly, one moment I can do 40lb bicep curls and the next I’m struggling with a 15lb dumbbell! It does force me to slow down and make sure I’m in control, which long term I think is a good thing as I’d like to avoid any injury.
Following the Azores we had five days at sea before we arrived in the Caribbean, and I started to understand why people get bored of working on ships. It’s very easy to just sit in your cabin and wait for work or the next meal on sea days, and wind up milling around in the crew areas day after day (no windows, natural lighting), which can take a toll when it’s months on end. Again, I’m grateful for the habits I brought on board with me, thank you past Kenny! I find it’s a million times easier to continue doing what I’ve been doing habitually as opposed to trying to start something new (it takes a lifestyle change, which is no easy task), we’ll see if I can keep it going the entire contract. I’m personally trying my best to stay busy with practicing, going to the gym, or getting out and finding fresh air on the metal beach or open decks, and hopefully keep my sanity too! Being able to get off the ship helps a lot, and I plan to go out and find stuff to do at every opportunity.
It’s quite a shock to go from winter weather to summer weather, I remember walking off the ship in a t-shirt and shorts and thinking I was overdressed after getting hit with a wave of heat (90 degrees)! We stopped at a beautiful port called Martinique, Port-le-France, where during a dark, cloudy morning, my roommate and I decided to take a chance and see if we could get out and find some sun. Glad we did too!
After a brief ferry ride across the bay, we discovered a remote public beach area near a resort hotel that wasn’t too crowded, and bummed around for a few hours in the calm waters. Although the beach may have been free, this place was a tourist trap for sure, all I wanted was to find some sunscreen, but at a local pharmacy it was EXTREMELY overpriced- get this, a tiny bottle of sunscreen (spf 30) would’ve cost me 30 EUROS! No thank you! I assume people just don’t use it as much in Europe, or, it was just one of those areas targeting tourists like me who came a bit unprepared. In the end I decided one day of sun wouldn’t hurt, sorry mom ☹. After finding some much needed port food (pizza and a banana/chocolate crepe), I headed back to the ship and groggily toughed out a guest entertainer performance in the evening.
The next day in St. Lucia I planned to find a taxi or an excursion out to what looked like a beautiful botanical/waterfall garden, but I got a timely friendly reminder that I was working, not on vacation. Sadly, we had a dress rehearsal at 1pm for a production show, something along the lines of the dance agency wanting to see all the shows before they departed the cruise. Seeing that the garden was about an hour away it ended up being a no-go, I'm not the one paying to there, so I truthfully didn't mind. Instead I found some coconut at a nearby market, shopped for a swimsuit (no luck there too), and found some small pouches to keep my currencies separated (USD, euros, pounds). Hopefully I can return in the future, as I have a good idea of what I’d like to do now.
After another nice day at the beach in Barbados, with beautiful blue waters, I began to feel a bit fatigued. Swimming and walking in the sun day after day plus having to perform a show in the night was getting exhausting (a small complaint, in hindsight! 😉). But even then I felt as though I needed to get off the boat in Antigua, as we were about to have 5 sea days again before seeing land again, and went and found another beach the next day in our last Caribbean port. You know, even after this one voyage I thought a lot of the ports and beaches started to look the same (all the merchandise is similar, only a different island name logo!). It’s hard to imagine working for a cruise line to the Caribbean for 6 months, even beach life could get old, which is a weird thing to say.
Thus began the long journey back to the home port of Southampton, where during the sea days, on Dec. 7th, we finally repeated a show! My contract started on Nov. 12th, it had been almost a full month of new material night after night, to be honest, I was grateful finally having something a bit familiar to play, instead of sight reading another new show. This is definitely a reading gig! I don’t see how anyone could survive otherwise! Regardless, pretty great way to start the holidays
That’ll be all for this blog, it was an overall enjoyable voyage to the Caribbean and am glad I was able to go out around my work schedule and get some sun in what used to be winter time! I’ll be talking about Christmas on Cunard in the next. Thanks to you who are reading! Please give it a thumbs up, or share with anyone you’d think would find it interesting! If you’d like to ask me anything feel free to do so in the “Contact Me” box that should be in the bottom right of the screen.