One Month Left! BLOG #14
Ahoy! Hello once again from Queen Victoria, now floating to various itineraries all around Europe once more. After successfully ending the Exotic Voyage, it’s time to return to business as usual with shorter cruises and more frequent passenger turnover. I expect the production shows to become a bit more repetitive as well as expect to see some familiar faces in the future guest entertainers. This contract has flown by, believe it or not I only have one month left in my contract! I feel I have a lot to look forward to (once I’m back home and after) but in the meantime I thought I’d try to catch everyone up on some recent events.
I’ve noticed if there’s one thing that rings more true than anything else here, it’s that sea days are viewed very differently depending on what you do on the ship. For example, the musician schedule I can plan on to be the same day to day, port day or sea day: rehearsal + two shows or some sets out around the ship (in pubs or on decks), occasionally we’ll do a matinee in the afternoon on a sea day, but that’s not always a guarantee. Now jump to the other jobs around the ship, the trainers, the shopkeepers, the spa employees, I’ve discovered their day-to-day schedules vary from port day to sea day. Since their target as an employee is to sell and make additional revenue from the passengers on the ship, plus the company trying to have the lowest amount of employees they hire in total, their sea day schedules can be 7am-9pm! Ouch. Now picture that with 6-7 sea days in a row and it gets brutal. You definitely see all sides of the people you work with when you live with them too, you see them in dining areas and around the crew areas, things can get pretty dark when there’s a bunch of sea days strung together, or when sales quotas aren’t met. There have been a couple moments of jealousy aimed my way, I think a lot of workers see the musicians doing less hours and think of it in comparison to manual labor. Our defense is that we’ve all put our thousands of hours into our work beforehand!
Some “eh” news, my hand/wrist pain has returned slightly, it’s not as bad as it was in February, but it’s there and I’m very cautious about it. Maybe it’s always been there I just was never aware of it, who knows? To be honest, the more I think about it, it could easily go beyond just the clarinet for what caused it: I look at how much I was using my hands in general (computer, cell phone, and practice) and it may be more the combined strain of everything that caused it with too much repetitive movement. If nothing else, it’s opened my eyes to how much I don’t want to stop playing and performing music, I believe this is one of many obstacles that I’ll need to overcome on my path with performing professionally. I also think getting away from my phone and computer would be a benefit beyond just the health of my hands, it’s too big of a distraction, especially the games, and somewhat of a lifelong modern addiction! But for now, I’m definitely planning to coast work-wise from here on out, I don’t want to push it with practicing and overusing my electronics, I feel all I need is a good amount of rest to give myself a chance to fully heal. I mean, come on, I’ve grown plenty as a musician this contract, I’ll focus on meditation, listening, reading and socializing this last month instead 😉. All that plus growing my hair out has made be into the “hippie” of the band!
As we made our way back to the Canary Islands, I was hoping to do some tours but emergency crew drills, IPM (in port manning), tender duties and training got in the way. It’s the one time I wish we would do similar itineraries because the drills and training are usually 10am, which makes me unable to the tours ☹. When you only get one day in each port, things can go by pretty quick and I know I’ve missed out on a lot in some past ports, I can only hope to return some day in the future. But alas, it’s a small complaint- even with the drills there’s usually enough time to get out and do something fun with friends or find a good place to eat. In Madeira I ended up hiking up a nearby mountain and then eating at the exact same “steak on a stone” place with some of my musician colleagues! Madeira is such a beautiful place, with pleasant weather and a calm vibe, I would definitely be happy to stay there for a while.
The next day my friend (a violinist from Hungary) invited me to check out a Botanical Garden in the next Canary Island, Las Palmas or Gran Canaria. We were able to find an extremely cheap bus that dropped us off nearby the location, which helped to save money. I generally always enjoy the nature stuff, but this one I thought was unique cause it’s built right into the side a cliff! The views offered were incredible as we made our way down the various trails and staircases, it ended being more like a maze with different things to look at with every turn, including an impressive cactus garden.
Now that it’s toward the end of the contract, all of these cities (guest ents too!) feel like they’re starting to blend together. In a lot of ways, every city ends up being the same to me: restaurants, bars, church here, cathedral there, some sort of important architecture with historical importance, maybe a beach a mile that way, it all becomes a blur! I tend to never do the city tours, as I’d prefer to explore it on my own, as compared to the nature stuff. There’s a nice website called whatsinport that always writes about the top stuff to do in every port around the world, so I always do a little research before coming to a new port to explore. For Guernsey, I thought it’d be cool to explore this castle that overlooked the waters that used to provide defense in older times. I jokingly posted I was “house shopping” on social media, but it is cool to try and imagine people actually living in the fortress years ago.
One month left to go! It’s crazy my first contract is almost over already and it’s also crazy to think about how much happened this contract! Now that it’s towards the end I definitely feel a bit exhausted, even with the coveted Norway cruise coming up, I’m looking forward to getting home and taking some rest. I can see why a lot of people prefer to do 4-5 month contracts (my next two will be 5-months) cause half a year can feel like a long time. I’m sure it’ll feel weird to go back to having a non-rocking bed, but I’m very excited to stay in one location for a while! What else am I looking forward to? Having my good old comfort fast food again, stuff like nachos, burritos, Chinese food, etc. trust me, it still sounds nice even after you’ve had all the fancy Europe stuff. But I’m mostly looking forward to seeing my friends, family (I need my mom’s cooking!), old colleagues and giving my hands and wrist a well-deserved rest (not touching my doubles for a good two weeks!).
I say I’m tired, but truthfully, I can not wait for the next contract, especially now that I know what to expect. A lot can happen in six months on a personal and mental level, and a lot can happen in this little bubble of #shiplife, now that I’ve gotten over the initial shock I can’t wait to return and be a little more comfortable! I’ve grown to love the musicians I’m working with and I’m glad they’ll be coming back the same time I do. In the meantime I’m going to try and make plans to go camping as well as maybe go to Vegas in my time off, it should be a great break!
That’ll be all for this blog, looking forward to heading home soon! I'll be posting my final blog post of the contract on 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.