Completely blown away

No, not blown off the ship. I’m still alive. And well. REALLY well. Really Really Really well. Really.

I promised in the previous entry that my next would be short and sweet. I lied. I lied badly. This post’s going to be pretty lengthy – because there’s so much to say about what it’s like:
a) joining a cruise ship as staff
b) settling into a job at sea
c) making new friends from around the world
d) starting an entirely new chapter on the road of life

Also, I won’t provide updates quite as often as I thought I would originally. The internet is very slow. Think about it (I find it pretty fascinating)…my words to you are being sent from the rocky seas up 90,000km to space and back down to you. 

I’m also going to forget obsessing about perfect spelling in the blog, because that’s what I do every day in the job.

So…how rocky are the seas? Insane. My water bottle’s toppled over on my desk. It’s not gentle rocking…more like a kiddie roller coaster. How am I? Very first day working I felt a tiny bit queasy but not ill (walking around’s a piece of cake. Try focusing your eyes as you drag text layouts around a computer screen while on a roller coaster! That’ll make you sick). The secret is to have enough food in me. I rather like the motion actually.  Like it lots in fact. We’ll see when we get to the Pacific, though…my office neighbor showed me a picture from last world cruise of the waves actually spraying up to the bridge. And you thought the windshield wipers were for rain! The waves in the photo I saw were 8m!

Speaking of food…yes I’m eating well. We actually do eat the leftovers from the guest cooking. It’s an insanely efficient operation on a ship, and from what I can see very little gets wasted here (though I have to get used to throwing paper in the garbage…especially when I’m literally the person generating 95% of the printed materials!! Sending used paper up the smokestack is more environmentally friendly at sea than somehow finding a way to recycle it). The meals are delish…not fancily prepared and accompanied like the guests get, but they’re mmmmm. A few times I’ll get to eat at the two specialty restaurants. I look forward to that. 

Anyways, it’s better than I expected. Which, I’m afraid is going to be a constant theme throughout the rest of this blog. You may, in fact, get a little tired of learning how much better than expected it actually is.

My fellow staff have been asking me what my first few days have been like…and the only way I’ve been able to summarize it is: “I’m totally blown away.”

Most of all by a complete and utter feeling that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. It’s one hundred million and one times better than I ever imagined…YES, ALREADY! I’m nearly overwhelmed with how happy I am.

The ship’s completely gorgeous. Check out my pics.

My room….wait for it.

I have a room to myself. 

Yes, really. No bunkbed setup here like I had prepared myself mentally for. 

Now let’s explain a little further how much I lucked out. There are LOTS of crew members who have shared cabins unless they have a higher-up position. So, although there are plenty of officers more senior than me, I actually have a little bit of seniority. Which I find pretty nuts!

I have 100% confirmed that Crystal really actually is the best cruise line to work for. By far. Confirmed by the people who’ve worked for other lines and say this ship is completely in a league of its own as a workplace. Everyone’s super nice. And to each other. And they’re respected right back from the top down.

I’m also really enjoying the efficiency of the entire operation. You really have no idea how much goes on behind the scenes, and how well it all works. Even from an office-job standpoint. First off it’s neat that no one NEEDS blackberries because we’re all literally right here [like my office is down the hall from my room, though it feels worlds away as soon as I step into the sunlight]. And there’s a lot of motivation to not dilly-dally with work when the sun is beckoning on your break. Plus, when you’re part of the best operation in the industry… it trickles right down. The staff really do consider themselves to be the very best workers in the cruise industry and work so hard to impress the guests. The standard is so high, and therefore there’s a huge sense of pride. They’re the best and know it, and are working ultra-hard to stay the best. Talk about a case study of workplace organization and internal employee buy-in. I don’t know if I can really explain it…just sort of that pride fuels pride and that fuels efficiency. I’ve mentioned it to my boss, and she said “really???” I suppose after doing it for years you take it for granted when you’re not comparing it to life on land.

But also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word Family not just from corporate/human resources official materials, but in casual conversation with other staff.

Oh…more “I’m supposed to be here” stuff: the guy they use as the ‘new guy joining ship’ in the Welcome To The Crystal Familyvideo looks vaguely like me. He gets to the ship to start his new job and the security officer checking his passport actually says, “Welcome to the Crystal Family, Andrew.” I nearly fell out of my chair.

Also, working every single day doesn’t seem too bad when there’s such an amazing environment and so much to do during break. I also find it weird that meals are built into work time.

So anyways, I’m an officer…and I cannot believe the perks that comes with. As I said, officers get private quarters. We’re also allowed to go nearly anywhere we want (in uniform, of course). Honestly, I find it insane… I just graduated, I’m super-young compared to almost all the other officers…and all I’m doing is editing menus and flyers, and they welcome me like this and call me an officer!

We also have our own officer’s cafeteria and officer’s bar. I can go to the crew cafeteria but probably won’t because the people I work with directly don’t. The crew bar is nice, though and a lot more fun because that’s where the younger people are. Again, though, I’m on the extreme low end of age on board [there are crew my age and we hang out together at the bar, but we’re all in the youngest group]. And let’s not start with the guests…I haven’t met many (those I’ve chatted up are very nice). But others definitely carry on airs and therefore I’m generally avoiding them for now until I can at least tell them where the bathroom is.

Now, as if all the perks aren’t good enough already…get this. For these two weeks of my job training, the crew is extra-large because of people who are training to join the world cruise like me. So there’s the people who haven’t left yet before the world cruise, and the new trainees. 

And well, they ran out of crew cabins.

So, because I’m an officer and can’t have a shared room due to my privilege level…I got bumped into a STATEROOM. 

Ya, I know.

It’s the cheapest stateroom on board, but still – it even has a porthole that’s not underwater. Now, to put things into perspective – this is the cruise line where the two DECKS of penthouses are sold out and they have the cheap staterooms left over. I’ll probably have to give up the stateroom when the World Cruise starts, but still I won’t share a cabin.

So, going back to feeling like I’m supposed to be here: I honestly thought that I would be a little shy at first or that I’d have to work hard at finding my own identity on board. But I’ll give an example: I went by myself into Grand Cayman Islands during my afternoon break from work. When walking around, I ran into two of my new friends who invited me to go for lunch with them.

I have started working already. I’m not sure or not whether that’s because my boss realized I know how to use the computer software and therefore didn’t need to be taught…or whether they expected that I’d already be fully proficient. Who knows. 

Now, I realize that I won’t actually be doing much fresh writing or story development. Probably not at all. There’s just so much work that needs to be done each day updating all the signs and menus and show programs [and so on] that it’s already pre-written and formatted. I just update the pre-written stuff with new updates and make sure everything’s as error-free as can be. I fix the typesetting to accommodate the updates, and send to the printer (we have our own print shop with our own print shop operator). I’m learning lots more about typesetting and the printing process, though…and definitely refining my editing and proofing skills because the standard on this ship is so unbelievably high.

My boss is really great. Super friendly, easy-going, helpful, etc. We share a little office, and she’s just great to work with. I feel well taken care of. And my boss-boss (the Manager from the head office in LA) will be joining the ship for a week or two the day before my birthday…so I look forward to finally meeting the woman who hedged her bets on the young guy from Canada without even having met him in person.

Anyways, it’s amazing. What in God’s name did I do to deserve this? [yes, I went to mass. Mostly attended by my Filipino crewmates, which was nice and sure helped win me over with them. The waves knocked over the chalice, though, and the priest this week gave away his vacation mode when halfway through the Gospel he stopped and said, “wait, that’s not the one for Epiphany.”] But seriously, what could ANYONE possibly do to deserve this? Blown away is an understatement to say the VERY least.

I can’t really say I miss you. I do of course, but, I mean…with this sort of a start to it all, can you blame me for not wishing to be back home right now?

Oh, one last tidbit that I’m finding weird and am trying prevent: with all these accents that I’m getting used to, I find myself actually talking a little differently! I know I’ve always had a somewhat distinctive voice, but we’ll see what I end up sounding like when I get home – maybe some mish-mash of several accents mixed with overdone politeness to guests.

Hugs and kisses,

Andrew

P.S. I PROMISE that the next blog post will just be a travel destination update. Short and sweet. I’m through the Panama Canal tomorrow!

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