If anyone would like to send me a Christmas card I will be in Cape Town by Dec. 22. As long as it makes it there by then I will be able to get it! Here is the address:
c/o Oceania Cruises, M/S Nautica
John T. Rennie and Sons
PO Box 702
1 Thibault Square 19th Floor
8000 Cape Town
I just found out that I do not possess the required documents to disembark
the ship in India. They applied for them when we first joined but apparently
they take up to two months. Luckily we will be making our way back to India in January and again in April so hopefully by then we can see a few places. I’ve been told I’m not really missing much but it would like to determine that for myself. I can only see a little bit of Mumbai from the top deck of the ship and it is very hot and humid here.
It’s only day 1 of being stuck on board for 5 days and I’ve already watched
Elf twice and finished a needlepoint project. I’ve pretty much eaten all of the
snacks I have stored in my room and I’ve now become so bored that I am writing a blog about my boredom. So here are some fun stories I’ve been collecting about ship life.
There are many nationalities working on board. In fact, including the 4
singers there are about 7 Americans. Everyone else speaks English but sometimes not perfectly. I find myself speaking slower and in a strange European accent when I talk to everyone, like they will understand me better if I speak the same broken English they do. Also, sarcasm doesn’t really translate very well across lingual lines. I saw a room steward carrying a cooler full of ice down the hallway and I asked him,
“Do you have a human head in there?” He said,
“Do you have a human head in there?” and this time I pointed at the cooler.
“Human?” I said,
“Ya! A human head!” He said,
“Why?” I thought about it and couldn’t really figure out why he would or why I thought it was funny in the first place and that’s just about the worst
feeling in the world. I just got uncomfortable and walked away. This kind of
stuff happens to me all the time.
Also, people from eastern Europe do not have the same cheery disposition as
people from other countries. It’s kind of a rule that if you pass someone in a
corridor that they should look up at you, smile and say hello. Not only do these people not say hello, but they stare at you like you’ve done something wrong. It’s very awkward and then you start to feel like you did do something wrong. And then every time you see them you try to make up for the last encounter by being even cheerier but that seems to make it worse. I’ve been told to not take it personally but it’s hard not to.
The guests on board, however, are primarily Americans. They are also almost all over the age of 65. We have afternoon tea on board everyday at 4pm. Part of my job as Social Hostess is to walk around and greet people and, well, socialize. Everyday I take my pass around and people are sipping their tea and reading their kindles and nooks. You can change the font size on those things so you can make it large print if you want. These people have the font so large that there’s only about six words on every page. They have to keep “turning the page.”
There’s also a language barrier with the guests. You could be talking with
someone for 10 minutes before you realize they’ve just been nodding at
everything you say. My 95-year-old grandfather does this same thing because he can’t hear anything you’re saying. I’ve started to recognize the nod so I know when to keep it brief. My favorite talks in tea are the ones that start with, “Well I tell you what, anyone’s better than that Obama.” Then I put the nod into effect myself, accompanied by a smile and an eye glaze.
Now I’m listening to Christmas music and wondering what New York City looks
like these days. I’ve heard it hasn’t been very cold there at all yet and that
annoys me. I thought I was cheating winter by going on this cruise and if I come
back to find out I missed the most mild winter of my life I’m going to be really
pissed. I guess I’ll go watch Elf again and try to cheer up and wait for The
Maldives, our next non-Indian port.
Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve spent the last 4 days in the United Arab Emirates.
The first 3 were in Dubai. Unfortunately I had to work for most of that time but I did get a chance to see a little bit of the city. I went to one of the biggest
malls in the world with 1,200 stores, an aquarium, an ice skating rink, a waterfall, a huge fountain AND a TGIFriday’s! What more could you want from one location? I did a little bit of shopping there but the exchange isn’t great and everything in Dubai is VERY expensive. It was a pretty “westernized” city, as people say. It was kind of nice to be in a place where I recognized things. This mall even had an American Eagle. I’m bummed I couldn’t see more but I didn’t take a few pictures of the skyline with the tallest building in the world.
Then I was off to Fujairah. This place took the crappiest port title away
from Cyprus. I was so uncomfortable to whole time I was there that all I wanted to do was turn around and go back to the ship. There were no women out anywhere, never mind ginger women with two loud New Yorkers. Everywhere we went people stared at us like we were doing something wrong. We finally hopped in a cab back to the port and George was chatting with the driver. When he asked where we were from, George very casually said, “America.” I scolded him after and told him unless you are in America, tell everyone you are Canadian. He hasn’t been hit with the wrath of an angry foreigner who wants to tell you why it’s your fault that the US is ruining the world, as you sit in a McDonald’s and laugh at the irony of the whole thing. Always say you’re Canadian.
Even though the day didn’t start off to well, I knew the dinner we would have tonight we make up for. I had been looking forward to it all week. Our guests are primarily Americans so I knew they would have a Thanksgiving feast for us. Well, while the guests are Americans, the chefs are not. I don’t know what that was, but it was not Thanksgiving food. There was turkey, which I don’t eat, cranberry sauce, which they had just run out of, mash potatoes, which is the only kind of potato dish I’m not a big fan of, and “stuffing.” This stuffing was made with cornmeal and maybe a little gravy. It was disgusting. I pushed it all aside hoping the pie would fix things but it didn’t. The pecan pie tasted like pecans and not like sugar and butter. Nothing was right and there was no family there to laugh about it with so it became extremely unfunny. I ended up crying into my plate which was fine because it could all use a little salt anyway.
Oman is a very beautiful country. On my first day there I went to a beach
where there are blowholes in the rocks and at high tide you can see the water
shoot out of them. I only saw happen a couple of times but the best part was the people who didn’t know what it was and walked up and stood right over them. Not only did it scare the crap out of them but they got soaking wet AND it was hilarious. That was one of the best parts of my day!
Then we moved on to see Job’s tomb. It was a tiny little room on the top of a mountain where people went to pray. We had to take our shoes off and if we wanted to go inside, the women had to cover their heads. Pretty much all of the Muslim countries I’ve been to like it better if the women are covered up. You can’t show your knees or shoulders and in some places your head. So I've been walking around in the 90 degree desert wearing long pants and a scarf. It's interesting how different this culture is from my own where most of the men prefer their women NOT to be covered up.
Our guide for the tour was very smart and he loved to talk. He told me about
how he lost his first wife and he was very sad so his good friend said, Rashid,
please don’t be sad, I’ll give you my sister.” And even though he thought out
it, in the end he realized his friend’s sister was much to young for him and she should be out in the discos not home with an old man. It was nice of his friend to offer though. So instead he found his new wife in a chat room. She is Russian and he told her after one week of chatting that he wanted to marry her. He told her, “I don’t want a friend, I want a wife, so if we keep talking I want you to be my wife.” After only 2 more weeks he flew to Russia and they got married. I think she was just looking for an excuse to move to warmer climates.
One of the perks of working on a cruise ship is if I have a day off I can
sign up to escort the guest tours. The guests pay hundreds of dollars to take
these tours and I get to tag along for free! My job for the day is keeping a
head count and making sure no one gets hurt or left behind. The most recent tour I escorted was to see Petra, Jordan and the Wadi Rum. If you don’t know where Petra is or have never heard of it, (like me) you may know it from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (is that the third one?) when Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are horseback riding through the mountains and stumble upon this HUGE façade and go in search for the Holy Grail. That façade is in Petra and it is incredible. The whole thing is carved into the stone as one piece. You can’t imagine how gigantic this thing is until you are standing underneath it. The walk down to this façade, called The Treasury, is about two miles from where you are dropped off and it’s completely through the canyons of these mountains. They carved so many things into these mountains and some of the even lived inside them. I think Fred and Wilma definitely lived in Petra.
After walking back the two miles and having a nice lunch at the resort we
moved on to the Wadi Rum. This part of the tour was when we took open top jeeps into the desert to a Bedouin camp. The ride itself was pretty amazing, just driving through the desert and seeing camel footprints on the side of our path I imagine driving in sand is a lot like driving in snow so I think I would have been okay. When we got to the camp there was a red carpet laid out for us and Bedouin men playing music and dancing. There was a table twenty feet long filled with food. We sat on cushions on the ground with low tables and drank wine and ate amazing food. There were campfires built and we sat all around eating pastries and talking to the Bedouins. When it was finally time to leave my jeep was at the end of the caravan so there were no headlights to ruin my view. I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. I definitely did not want that day to end.
I must say I felt a little guilty about clumping all of the middle east together as kind of a scary place but after seeing how completely beautiful Jordan was I know that all of those countries have their own identities. I guess realizing things like that is exactly why I wanted to come on this trip, to broaden my mind and try to be less ignorant about the rest of the world.
After another twelve hour tour I came back to the ship just in time to wash the dirt circles off my ankles and hop into my disco costume for Boogie Nights. I think at that point I was so overtired that I got slaphappy and threw it into high gear for the performance. Everyone was so amazed that I had the energy to sing and dance after that long day but I do have to admit that the 70s show is my favorite.
Now I am on day 2 of four sea days in a row. So far I am doing okay because they keep us very busy on sea days. I play a lot of bingo and do a lot of needlepoint. Tonight I get to host a table in the Grand Dining Room and I’ve already looked at the menu and decided what I was going to have (it’s only 2pm).
It has been a while and so much has happened since my last blog. We spent
time in Safaga, Egypt, which is the port city where we docked. I didn’t do too much wondering around that area because there wasn’t much to see. The port itself was barren and covered in trash and debris. Not a great first impression but I’ve been to Egypt before and I know what kind of mind-blowing sites there are to see. This trip I took a crew tour into Luxor. I know in Vegas there is a Luxor hotel with a giant pyramid in front but actually there are no pyramids in Luxor, not that I saw anyway. They do have The Valley of the Kings though. This was our first stop on the tour. They drove us all through the desert for four hours to get there. Even though it was only sand and dirt, the view was amazing. The road winds through mountains until all of sudden the land becomes green. This is the area where the water from the Nile River irrigation reaches to. We passed through a small town and could see people getting ready to pray and kids running around outside. Their houses didn’t seem to have any doors or windows and the roofs were made of hay or straw. I kept thinking how different it would be to grow up in a place like that, but I guess if that was all I ever knew I wouldn’t know what I was missing. When we finally made it to the Valley of the Kings our guide informed us that photography was not allowed and we must leave our cameras behind. So unfortunately I don’t have any pictures but it was an
amazing site to see. The Valley of the Kings is where all of the ancient tombs
of Egyptian royalty were found. They haven’t even uncovered all of them yet
because each one takes so much work. When they built the tombs they would hollow out a passageway in the side of the mountain and decorate it and fill it with treasures so whoever was kept there would have everything they needed in the afterlife. All of the dirt and rocks they took out of the mountain they then used to pile on top of the entry way to hide it and preserve it. I’m not sure how people knew where to look but most of the tombs were robbed before anyone from present day was able to uncover them. But even without the treasures these tombs were amazing to see. All of the paintings on the walls and ceilings were mostly still intact and still with vibrant colors. We walked by the location of King Tut’s tomb but it wasn’t open to go into. After we drove away it seemed even more impossible that someone would know where to look because they were buried so deep in the mountains.
Now on our way to the Karnak Temple our guide gave us the opportunity to
ditch the bus and cross the Nile in a boat. That was one of the highlights of my day. I never imagined that one day I would be cruising down the Nile River on my way to see an ancient temple. The Karnak Temple was amazing. It’s continuously baffling how these structures were built with no modern equipment. I can tell you how they were NOT built however. Our tour guide informed us contrary to a very popular American belief, the temples and pyramids were not built by aliens. So all you Americans out there who thought aliens came down just to create a pyramid and then left, you are way wrong. Our guide wasn’t too found of the kids from the US. He didn’t think women were particularly intelligent either so you can imagine how much he loved me.
On the way home after our 12 hour day I was listening to my headphones and looking out the window at the scenery. A full moon lit sky bouncing off the desert mountains. It was very helpful that most cars on the road didn’t have headlights so they weren’t ruining my view. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more beautiful I saw a shooting star! I had never been so disappointed to end a four hour bus ride in my life. It was only slightly better that my usual route from Boston to New York.
Sidenote: The pictures are taking a lifetime to download so I will post them at another time!
We are now in Haifa, Israel for the next three days. Today I escorted my
first tour excursion. We went to The Sea of Galilee (which as it turns out is
really a lake) then to an ancient city recently uncovered called Zipporri. Part
of the ruins uncovered was a Synagogue and when we walked through it there was a family who traveled from America to have their son’s Bar Mitzvah there. I wonder if they knew there would be tour groups walking in and out of their ceremony. He seemed pretty happy to be the center of attention though. We also visited the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized and you could actually go into the water and pay to get baptized there. Then you could buy the DVD of it all. Somehow I don’t think that’s how Jesus and John did it. After we ascended the Golan Heights and saw a view of are whole day from above. The views were pretty unreal and just being in Israel with it’s history makes me feel part of something epic.
Yesterday we had a crew drill where they told us there was a bomb on board
somewhere so as part of the entertainment team I had to go into the Nautica
Lounge, where all the shows are, and search for a suspicious package. Margaret said they like to hide it in the Lounge because they think the performers don’t know what they are doing so we had to be very thorough. Turns out she was right and she found it tucked into one of the curtains hanging from the big windows. I should’ve know it was there because that’s exactly where Dad used to hide the Easter eggs. After the drill was over the crew had to meet for a quick discussion about pirates. Over the next few weeks we will be in a heavy piracy area and basically the captain told us if somehow pirates made it anywhere near us (which they shouldn’t because we will have military on board who will be watching 360 degrees) to tell all the guests to move to the center of the vessel and get low to the floor. He said this happened once before and he told them to stay low to the floor and away from windows so everyone went to their staterooms
and stood out on their balconies taking pictures. I guess they are not a very
big threat because we are such a large vessel but it was still a little scary to
have to talk about it.
Today I am Kusadasi, Turkey. I was able to go ashore today but this city is
not my fav. It looks like the place where Aladdin lived with all the vendors
trying to bargain with you. It does have a Starbucks though! I didn’t go in
because I think I would feel bad about myself if I did that.
Yesterday we were in Naufplion, Greece but I wasn’t able to get off the ship.
I did take a couple pictures from the sun deck though.
Last night we did “Showstoppers” which is all Broadway music. When I was
rehearsing it I felt so silly and campy but when we did it for the audience last
night they gave us a standing “O”, which is saying a lot considering most of
them walk with canes and hip replacements. I’ll try to remember and take
pictures of my costumes next time we do a show. Also, people keep approaching me to ask me if this is my real hair. What I want to say is, do people generally walk about without their own hair? Is that your real hair? What if this wasn’t my real hair? Now you’ve just pointed out that I’m bald in a crowd of people! But usually I just say, “yes.”
It’s hard to believe this is the last day of the cruise! I definitely feel
like I just got on board, but when I think back on everything that’s happened in the last 2 weeks I feel like it’s been a lifetime. I also discovered Meclizine
which is an anti-seasickness medication that they give out like candy. It works like a charm. I’ve also heard getting drunk helps you to not feel the rocking so much but I think that should be reserved for last resorts.
Ciao for now!
I was the Tooth Fairy for Halloween this year. But I wasn’t the one for baby teeth, I was the other Tooth Fairy. I was the one who collects teeth which were
accidentally lost such as in car wrecks, decay, hockey incidences or that time you brought your metal water bottle up to your mouth too fast. Ya, I’m that Tooth Fairy, and I don’t give out money either. I just give out advice like a little Tooth Fairy Fortune Cookie such as, “Watch where you’re driving,” or “Wear a mouth guard,” or “Floss.” I whisper it softly into your ear as you lay comatose after your wreck and after I’ve swept the scene for fallen teeth. I’m sure you’re probably thinking it’s weird that I’m out collecting teeth, but honestly my denture business is thriving. Our sales were through the roof this quarter and with our marketing team working on the gold plated grills all I can predict is success. My wallet is fat and I was finally able to quit my job at TGIFriday’s. I mean listen, the Not for Profit Tooth Fairy is a sweetheart and bless her but she lives in Hoboken. It takes an hour, at least, to get anywhere! I live in Brooklyn Heights now with a view of the bridge and Lady Liberty, surrounded by young couples with cute dogs and babies. I’m not going back to Journal Square! So I pick up a few teeth and make a few bucks. Ya, I’m THAT
hooth Fairy. Happy Halloween!
Today I was in Katakolon, Greece which is a small port town people use to get to Olympia. I had rehearsal all morning so I got out in the afternoon to explore the port area and eat some Greek food. We ate olives, feta and tzaziki while a three legged cat sat under our feet hoping we would drop something.
Tonight we do our Swing Time show and tomorrow is the Broadway review called, “Showstoppers.” We are coming to the end of the first cruise which means no more rehearsals but more bingo and shuffleboard. But I am excited to move forward because pretty much every port I have left will be a place I have never visited!
Sassy ginger from NH off traveling the world.