Someone said to me, “we haven’t heard from you in a while…where are the updates?”
And see, I thought there really wasn’t anything to report. Since LA, it’s just been four back-to-back sea days en route to Hawaii (which we’ll arrive at tomorrow). And, really, there isn’t much to report about sea days…or so I thought.
And then I realized that I’ve devoted this blog so far to telling you about the experience of going out and living my dream, about the destinations, and about the ship…and also a little bit about the work life.
But, I haven’t REALLY gone into a tonne of detail about what it’s like to work on a ship. And, sea days I realize give the clearest picture of what a real work day on the ship is like.
[P.S. I’ve devoted the latest photo updates to pictures of my fellow crew friends from my birthday, and also a “behind the scenes staff-only tour” of the crew work area: the front office where I work, the crew corridor, and the officer’s mess. I can’t show you the engineering department or the bridge because I don’t work there]
For guests, sea days are truly resort relaxation days. They’re in a beautiful hotel and have the day to spend as they please – sleeping, sunning, seeing shows, eating.
For the staff, sea days are when we work the hardest to free up our schedules for the port days. You’ve seen from my blog posts and photos that I’ve made the most of my port days to see the destinations…and my job really does allow me the flexibility of having wonderful time off (or even tour escort duty that still counts as my work time!!)
But, when I take the time to see ports, the fact is that the responsibilities of the day-to-day job that allows me to be here in the first place must get done. So sea days are basically min. 8-hour days. Not a lot of fun, but not too bad considering the fact I actually enjoy the work.
So here’s a day in an nutshell:
7:30ish – get up and get ready
8:30 – arrive at desk and check email
8:31 – head for breakfast
9:00 – start work. First job is to prepare the day’s lunch buffet menus.
10:00ish – Executive Chef brings down list of changes to main dining room lunch and dinner menus. Since the main dining room menus are so involved, I work at least a day ahead on them (sometimes two days ahead) – so this means I’d be working on the menus for the NEXT day.
12:00ish – Finish laying out and proofing all the menus, final proof sent to executive chef. Laying out and proofing the menus involves LOTS of looking up complex food spellings in gastronomic dictionary.
12:00 – lunch
12:30 – afternoon break
4:30 – Back at work. Executive chef will have responded to my menu proof. Make any last-minute updates, and send menus to be plated at the offset printer.
4:45ish – Work on any other editing jobs that have been requested during the day. This could include updating the wine lists, setting up a specialty menu for the private dining room, preparing the entertainment program, preparing the cruise guest list, making signs, editing letters, etc. My boss Leslie has the gigantic task of producing the daily newspaper every day (it averages 16 pages)…so I do the menus, and spend the afternoon taking care of any other requests that come in.
5:30 – dinner
6:00 – continue working on things. I may work ahead and start laying out menus for the next day or two days in advance. We actually use a set menu cycle from the main office…so I can go in and start setting up the menu layout to be ready for when the executive chef submits all his updates based on the food we actually have on the ship on a particular day.
8:30ish – done work
8:30-whenver – attending formal parties that Officer’s have to “schmooze” at
It might sound like my work hours are a little longer than the amount of work thrown at me…and some days that’s true, but other days there are a LOT of publications that need to be produced.
You can see that I don’t get a lot of actual writing work, which is the one thing I miss so far (although I said that when my boss-boss took us out for dinner, and she said ‘you may come to regret saying that! Things always change’).
But I am gaining a tremendous amount of experience in editing…a skill that I still need to build on and which will really augment my skill-set (being able to write is different than being able to edit). I’m also gaining a lot more knowledge of the printing process, which will help my design. So yes, the work is enjoyable and rewarding.
So…without amazing destinations to see on sea days…what do I do during my breaks?
Honestly, these last few days since Los Angeles I’ve really just been using my time off to relax. I mentioned I came down with the inevitable “living on a cruise ship” viral infection…so I have been under the weather (the alcohol of my birthday may have killed some of the infection!). As a result of my cold, as guilty as it sounds to waste away time at sea, some of my breaks I’ve just slept right through. Or watched movies on my balcony.
Regardless of the day, though, I try to make a point of going out to just breathe in the open sea at least once a day. And, I am writing this blog entry on my balcony, which is pretty nice!
But, all in all, sea days are another day at the office. Not too much to report…but nonetheless a part of the whole experience.
And speaking of the experience, I got to see “Into the Wild” last night in the movie theatre. I’ve seen the movie before, and fell in love with it. This time, though, one quote really stuck out and I think it’s a pretty nice one to hold onto. I may be butchering the exact quote, but it’s something like:
“The core of our being, the thing that drives us, is new experiences.”
P.S. Maybe a part of the fact that I haven’t been out so much to soak up the sun has been the fact that it’s been a little chilly. Not like Canada chilly (I hear it’s -20!!!), but during the daytimes it’s been long-sleeve weather. It’s warming up as we dip down south again from LA latitude towards Hawaii. Next blog post will be the experience of seeing Hawaii. I get to escort two tours!
P.P.S. Two pictures to point you to in particular…things I saw when I made the point of going out to enjoy the open sea. First was sailing into a rain cloud! The change from endless horizon to wall of rain was something else. The other photo is of the moon over the black Pacific at night.
P.P.P.S. My mom always dreamed of being a librarian when she retires. I’m excited to say that I experienced her dream yesterday. Our librarian fell ill, and I was voluntold to fill her place during my break. I really enjoyed it. The library’s beautiful and peaceful, with a great ocean view. I helped people find some DVDs, and helped a WWII vet find the place he was stationed in the atlas. My boss felt bad making me give up my break, but I said “acting librarian? I’d love to!”