The Southern Hemisphere – aka paradise

Previously on LOST…

Hello hello. It’s been a little while since I’ve last posted. The main reason for that is that I’ve come to realize how long it takes to upload the photos and blog content via marine satellite internet. So, rather than post frequently, I’ll save it to every one to two weeks and I’ll do a bulk posting of blog updates and photos. I hope that’s fair. If there are any questions you’d like me to answer or updates you want to share, please feel free to email me, though. I download my emails daily and respond to them fairly frequently.

I also realized that putting all my photos in one library made it take long to load…so from now on I’ll be separating the photos into individual “albums” broken up generally by “section” of the trip.

The horizontal line you see in the photo above (where the water and sky meet) isn’t the horizon, believe it or not. It’s actually the Equator, the distinctive line that separates the cold Northern Hemisphere from the Southern Hemisphere that Crystal Serenity has now sailed into. A place that I’ve come to recognize as paradise.

Approaching the Equator was quite interesting. I kept peering out looking for it, and then suddenly there was a distinctive bump at 8am – like a speed bump really. The line just stretched out as far as the eye could see – like a ribbon around the middle of the earth.

Being a Polywog, I was greatly concerned that I would be subjected to King Neptune’s fearful initiation ceremony as it was my first time crossing the Equator. Sure enough, being the outgoing fool I am, I did sign up to participate in the initiation ceremony, and was scheduled to be a prisoner for the amusement of the guests. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, of course – as I had no idea what the ceremony entailed. A last-minute change, however, spared me what I soon realized would have been quite the ordeal! Just look at the photos. I’m happy to say that being in the Southern Hemisphere, now, I’m officially a Shellback.

En route to the Southern Hemisphere, we took in the magical Hawaiian islands of Oahu (home of Honolulu) and Maui. The pictures really speak for themselves. I was impressed, however – particularly in Honolulu – at the level of development and nice quality of life that seemed to be present throughout. Honolulu, though a busy metropolis, was quite beautiful. It is, of course, wonderful to be away from the chillier weather we had experienced sailing from LA on our four sea days towards Hawaii.

At Oahu, Crystal treated all the guests to a private Hawaiian buffet and Luau at a marine animal centre. I continue to be taken back by the type of product that Crystal is offering to the guests. I had the opportunity to escort a tour in Oahu and to help escort at the Luau. Needless to say, I’m gaining much more confidence socializing and assisting the guests. I’m glad I don’t have to do it non-stop, but I do enjoy the variety that it brings to the job.

Sailing farther south, one thing I have definitely noticed is the length of the day…a HUGE change from the virtually non-existent daylight during Canadian winters.

As beautiful as Hawaii truly was…dare I say that I’ve been even more impressed with where we’re at now: the South Pacific Islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia. Following another few sea days to sail south from Hawaii, we’re now circling around a few of these islands…and they are nothing short of paradise. I’ve been through the Rockies…but the jagged edges of the islands’ volcanically-created mountains is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The coral atolls surrounding the islands envelop the lagoons with water more turquoise blue than a postcard could ever capture.

Needless to say, my priority these last few days during my breaks has been to find the closest stretch of sand and spend a maximum amount of time swimming. Both of the last two days – at Raiatea and Moorea – I achieved my goal. Donning my swim goggles, I’ve been able to float through schools of colorful fish and coral growths. In Raiatea, in fact, my crewmates and I just went in at the closest beach. I swam out a little, then put on my goggles. I looked down, and right below me the sand had dropped off infinitely – literally the edge of the island shelf with coral and fish living all along the wall. Diving down about 10 feet was mind-blowing.

Anyway, something about drying off under a palm tree after a swim melts away any of the boring routine that builds up during sea days at the office.

Sailing away from the islands, we’re afforded unparalleled views of the topography, of the waves crashing against the atolls, and of the sun against the water. Leaving Raiatea, I was looking at the water and noticed a bird just gliding across the water. Suddenly, it dove into the water as if to catch a fish. But it didn’t come back out!! It was a flying fish. I had no idea they could travel so far above the water…literally out of water for about 20 seconds.

Tomorrow brings to a close the first “segment” of the World Cruise. Some guests will be returning home with this segment’s close…but of course many others are continuing on for another segment or two, or the world cruise in its entirety. Fortunately, there is a much smaller guest turnover with debarkation/embarkation tomorrow – and the French officials did a special on-board immigration check a few days ago (they’re so much smoother than the US Dept of Homeland Security!)…so I won’t have to ensure the marathon day that was assisting with immigration at LA.

The next segment of the World Cruise will bring us around a few more Tahitian islands including Bora Bora, then to Apia, Fiji…and eventually to New Zealand.

I honestly can’t believe how far away from home I am already – I mean, I’ve never been this far. But it seems like it’s all gone so quickly so far, and that the distance isn’t nearly as far as it truly is. I know that these four months will go quickly (though there are still 7 more World Cruise segments o go). One thing that was said to me, however, is that “working on a cruise ship makes the world seem like it can fit in the palm of your hand.” For me, it’s all new experiences and endless excitement…but I am feeling already that I’m gaining more confidence exploring and discovering. I’m also truly settling into my job and taking on more self-initiative on projects/requiring somewhat less guidance from Leslie. So…I’m settling in a little, and finding my place more and more.

But always embracing the newness that keeps unfolding.

Until I post again…keep warm,

Andrew

P.S. One thing that’s always neat is taking tabs of the things that are different on ship or in different parts of the world versus back home. We will be watching the Superbowl on board…but with our satellite feed we get no commercials for any shows (since there’s no audience market for advertisers bother selling ads to…ads get added in at the local network level).

I’ll keep posting little quirks and tidbits along the way.

P.P.S. Sure enough, I can’t keep my Deluxe Stateroom with Private Verandah forever. Tomorrow morning (Feb 1) I give it up and move into the crew quarters I was supposed to have all along. I’m okay with it, though…while I loved the life of luxury for these few weeks, I came into this prepared for small shared quarters. That I got so much extra (albeit temporarily) is a huge bonus. I’ll post some photos of what my new home will look like. Most of all, I’m looking forward to living amongst my fellow crew rather than up with the guests.

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