Completed training, settling in, World Cruise begins!

Sound the trumpets – I’m done my training and the World Cruise begins! 

The whole crew aboard Crystal Serenity just survived the nightmarish day of Debarkation (guests leaving) and Embarkation (guests arriving). If you’ve ever been on a Cruise before (or, if you’ve ever had your plane delayed due to customs checks) you know that it’s a terribly painful process, especially when it’s delayed. Well, the next time you want to cause a stink about the ordeal you’re going through…trust me it’s just as bad for the staff who wants to send you on your way as smoothly as possible.

This morning Leslie (my boss/fellow Editor) and I assisted guests at 7am with the Immigration check queue…which all guests must go through before the ship is cleared for guests to head onto shore and go home. Well, the Immigration agents delayed us by 1 hour. That equals angry guests. Being the new guy, the rest of the staff jokingly suggested that I should go tell the guests waiting in queue that they would have to wait an extra hour. Being brave (and stupid) I agreed, and faced the masses. Not a good scene, but I’m alive to write about it. Leslie and I were responsible for checking off names as people entered the Immigration area. I.E. we were the first Crystal Officers they saw at the end of the queue…and the first they could express their frustration to. It was upsetting that there was nothing at all we could do at that point (besides offer suggestions to the team about improving the queue flow for next time), and difficult to hear endless complaints…that we agreed with! Oh well, another day…and who am I to complain, really? I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.

But…continuing on the down/complaining tone of the start of this blog (haha), I suppose I promised that I’d share the downs as well as the ups in this blog. In a nutshell, the last few days have been a little tough. I finally realized that all of the energy I devoted into leaping head first into my new adventure was both physically and emotionally exhausting (in a good way of course…the start of this whole thing has been amazing, and I’m happy to have found my place on board). But I’ve also quickly learned the importance of balance…of rest, of chill time just resting in my cabin or out on open deck. I’ve also been nursing the inevitable viral infection that EVERYONE working on board goes through. Both Leslie and I got sick at the same time. DayQuil/Nyquil is keeping me feeling pretty decent, and I think I’m nearly over it. But with all the people in an enclosed environment…viruses suck. We’re understandably anal about hygine.

Anyways…more cheery happy stuff!!

So, I’m done my two-week training cruise that took me from Miami to Los Angeles. Today the “World Cruise” began. For the next 108 days there will be lots of sights and experiences. I’m happy that these two weeks have allowed me to learn the job, the ship, the intricacies and balances of life and work being entirely intertwined. I’m feeling like I finally know what I’m doing and am more confident to take on what comes next (including seeing some very exotic destinations).

I’ve been asked a little about what the whole “World Cruise” thing means, and about who exactly the guests on Crystal are. The answer to these two questions overlaps somewhat. The World Cruise is a special package of a four-month itinerary that Crystal has done for the last 13 years. It’s offered up as a four-month package of 5 or 6 two-week segments. Each of these segments represents an individual cruise that you can take on its own…but they’re a continuous linear traveling itinerary…so you can do more than one segment without seeing the same destinations twice…or you can do the whole four months and complete the World Cruise.

Now, you’ve seen through pictures and read about the type of very high-end product that Crystal and the crew are offering to these guests (oh…we found out this morning that we were AGAIN awarded World’s Best Cruise Line…horray. I do feel a tremendous sense of pride and commitment to this top organization, though…we really do feel it). So, with such a luxury product, you can understand that there’s a lot of wealth in the cliental. Of course that varies from people who want to take one trip on a really great Cruise…through to the very very wealthy. Believe it or not I met a woman today who was already on board since Miami, and is STAYING on board for the World Cruise.

And it’s her nineth World Cruise with us. Ya, that’s not a typo. It’s safe to say that a lot of the world’s wealth is very unequally spread…and a lot of it happens to be right here on this ship.

Most of the guests are quite discrete and pleasant, and I haven’t come across many really high-profile people (aside from Hank Aaron who was our celebrity presenter on the past two-week cruise). Sarah McLachlan’s been on board, and one of the Molson family members was just on board. But otherwise, just a lot of people you wouldn’t know, who happen to have money and spend it on Crystal. For quite a number of guests, this is sort of their second home. Ya, pretty unreal.

I wrote in my previous update that I was going to be fed to the wolves and given the opportunity to really interact with guests by escorting excursions. I totally ate this opportunity up and loved every second. My first was an overview tour of Acapulco. As an escort I was responsible for meeting the guide and ensuring he knew what he was doing. Then I introduced myself on the tour bus and explained I’m just there to help guests. I generally stayed at the back of the tour group to ensure everyone stayed together and was on time. Lots of chatting with the guests and getting to know them. All the while getting to see destinations. And it counts as my work hours (i.e. I came back after the tour and STILL had my afternoon break!!)

Acapulco was very interesting. Definitely a neat glimpse back in recent history…as it was once the sunny resort mecca, but the tourism dollar has since passed on to new places like Cancun and other areas. It still had a neat retro air about it. We saw Las Flamincos Hotel, which was once one of the most famous hotels. It was owned by Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan). We also saw a beautiful chapel perched on the highest point overlooking Acapulco Bay. Our tour concluded with a visit to the Spanish Fort that once defended the Spanish Colony in Acapulco. Beautiful architecture and artifacts of treasure brought from Asia to the colony.

After finishing my escort duties, I walked around the main drag in Old Acapulco during my break. Believe it or not, rather than have delicious Mexican food, a friend and I actually caved and had McDonald’s for lunch. We were just longing for it.

My second excursion escort duty was to Cabo San Lucas, a fairly new resort at the Southernmost point of the Baja Penninsula. Absolutely stunning area…would definitely consider that as a resort vacation destination. We saw the spectacular coastline, and went about 30 minutes away to a town called San Jose Dos Cabos. This is the regional capital, and the place where people working in the tourism industry of Cabo San Lucas actually live to get away from the tourism crowds. It was really a very nice town, all the people I spoke with were very very friendly (I have found that locals are very open to chatting with you when you’re carrying a tour assistant sign signifying you’re a worker and not a rich tourist). It was a nice contrast to the poverty of Chiapas, and good to see some actual benefit of tourism dollars. It was also interesting to see golf courses in the desert…but also Wal Mart and Home Depot, again examples that the people in the area are living pretty happy lives (albeit with globalism’s influence).

So that concludes the two-week training cruise to Los Angeles.

After all the new guests embarked, we left shortly after 5pm. But not before another example of Crystal going totally overboard was displayed. We had University of Southern California’s marching band come on board to play just before sail away…and they played from shore as we left. Thus starts my 108-day odyssey as Assistant Editor on the World Cruise.


There was one incredible surprise today too. Call it a birthday present…but that had nothing to do with it. Mainly just ridiculous luck. Sorry to make you jealous AGAIN.

Remember how I was bumped up to a guest stateroom for the two-week training cruise, but expected that I would have to move once the world cruise began? Well, I did have to move, and I have a new home for the first two-week segment of the World Cruise to Papeete on Feb 1st.

They moved me into a Deluxe Stateroom with Private Verandah for the next two weeks.

Um…ya. I’ll leave it at that.

– Andrew

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