Reunited and it feels so gooooood!

All good things must come to an end. And thus, it was with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye to Edge last week.  It’s been nice knowing ya, but I had to move on, or down rather. Back down to the Oceaneer Lab (what up labbies, I’m baaaaack!). That’s right, and it’s all so that I could train my own very first new hire – Catie, you’re going to be great!

I’m really going to miss my little Edgelines. The kids, the space, the programs, the increased freedom and control, and even the added responsibility.  But I’ve also really enjoyed being back in the Lab so far (I’ve missed you, Gunter).  You know, in case you missed the entire beginning on this blog’s history, I spent my whole first contract in the Oceaneer Lab, and I had a blast.  It might still take me a while to get back into the Craft Room mindset, but I’m ready for the tissue paper and pom poms!

On a side note, I’m now addicted to beef jerky.  Thanks Oceans/Crew Mess, for scaring me off conventional meat choices.

Yum.

7 weeks left!

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Life.

As usual, I started strong with writing blog posts… and then I tanked.  I apologize.  But now I’ve got lots of news goodies to share!

But before I go any further, I would just like to point out that I have been back on board the Fantasy for 10 weeks, and not once have I touched foot in Jamaica yet… But hopefully that will soon change:  I now have a totally feasible plan of going on the Dunn’s River Fall excursion this week – what up, waterfall trek!

But anyway, amidst the blog post absence I have become an official Trainer! That’s right, as of two weeks ago I’ve now got even more responsibility – and people are supposed to listen to me too!  I have a certificate and a pin and everything.

But the excitement from that week doesn’t end there, oh no.  I then got to experience my first ever Red Parties (brownie points for whoever remembers what that code means).  Spoiler alert, “Red Parties” is code for a fire.  Yup.  It only lasted about 45minutes, and we never had to go to a General Alarm, but it was quite an adventure.  And the good news is, most of our department actually knows what to do in an emergency – hooray!  And for being so awesome, we were rewarded with donuts at our next team meeting.  Totally worth it.

Do you think that’s all that happened that week? Well, you’d be wrong.  Maybe only 2-3 hours after we recovered from our Red Parties (which caused a big chunk on the ship to lose air conditioning by the way, turning crew areas in saunas), we also got to rescue a stranded fisherman!  Naturally, being so close to Cuba at the time, most of us assumed it was a raft full of refugees that we were picking up, but that was not the case.  There was one man, on a tiny little life boat, who had sent out a distress signal from his fishing boat.  The Fantasy was the closest ship at the time, which meant that we turned around to pick the poor man up (who then got to enjoy the next couple of days confined to a stateroom with some surely delicious room service).  And I got to watch most of the drama unfold!  You see, one of the greatest advantages to working up in Edge is the view.  Our entire back wall is made up of windows, which overlook the front of the ship (well, there’s a big funnel in the way, which houses the spa, but you can see around the sides…so, close enough).  This means that we have a great view anytime a helicopter needs to land at the front of the ship, or, in this case, when we start circling a tiny little lifeboat. It was very exciting to watch, especially since we sent most of our kids out onto the deck to get a closer look and report back.

And last but not least, I’ve finally started planning my vacation!  Can you guess where I’m possibly going?  If you answered Disney World, you’d be absolutely correct! Just can’t get enough of that Mickey Mouse.  Come on down and join us, November 15th!

 

But anywhoozle, until next time. Later alligator.

Taking It To The Edge!

Edge is awesome. Done.  After my first full week, it’s been everything that I hoped it would be and more.  The kids (our little Edgelings) have been fantastic this week – they’re not too cliquey, they’ve gotten super into Gender Wars, they’ve got some sick dance moves (as well as some crazy flexibility), and none of us have had to call anyone’s parents at all!!!!  I’m really enjoying seeing and learning more about the programs that Edge offers, and all my fellow counselors have been super helpful and supportive.

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(The Edge Crew)

The biggest difference that I’m enjoying so far is that the kids know ME.  They know my NAME.  And it’s weird how weird that feels.  And it might just be me being vain, but, in this job, it is very very very satisfying being recognized.

One of our most popular programs in Edge is Gender Wars (which I just mentioned, but you probably didn’t know what I was talking about and you’re not here in person to butt in and ask, so….), which is an ongoing boy vs. girl competition that happens every night.  It almost always involves some sort of trivia (name that tune, family fued, etc), but pretty much any other activity can also be turned into a Gender Wars point.  For the final night, the last night of the cruise, we host “How Well Do You Know Your Counselors?”  It’s a lot of fun, quirky facts that they have to try to pair up with the right counselor (naturally, one of mine was “I’ve hand-raised baby seals”).  For the last round, the kids had to do impressions of all their counselors.  For the boys’ impression of me, Nicholas simply said “I love hockey and I’m awesome at Mario Kart. I’m basically a dude in a woman’s body.”  And while all the girls were outraged and offended on my behalf, I just couldn’t help but laugh, because they’re basically right.  The boys won that point easily.  And with that, the boys won Gender Wars for the week. Ha

Unfortunately, by the time Gender Wars ended last night, it was 11pm and my shift was ending, meaning that it was time for me to say goodnight and goodbye to everyone one last time.  And although I tried to bow out gracefully with a heartfelt speech, I ended being cut off and bum rushed into a giant group hug.  I could certainly feel the love – it fact, it nearly knocked me flat on the ground!  I’ll miss these kids.  They were the first group of Edgelings that I could call my own, and for that they will be hard to forget.

Can’t wait to see what this next cruise has to offer!

 

In other news, Castaway Cay is a freaking furnace.  How the hell do people actually live in these places year round?  How can anyone do anything during the day except lay down in the shade, completely still, and try not to die of heat exhaustion?  Even taking a Snapchat of my sunburned face seems to require too much energy. Ugh. When is summer over?

…Oh wait, never.

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Side note: Melissa, if anyone asks, you’re getting married in December and I’m the maid of honor (duh), and that’s the reason why Disney should approve my contract extension request!

Mooooooving on up! (Literally)

Guess what, ya’ll – I’m moving to Edge!

Just for a recap, there are technically 5 different youth spaces on the Disney Fantasy: there’s the It’s A Small World Nursery (up to 3 yrs), the Oceaneer Club (3-12, but designed for 3-7), the Oceaneer Lab (3-12, but designed for 7-12), Edge (11-14) and Vibe (14-17).  I spent my entire first contract in the Lab before moving to the Club, where I spent all of my second contract.  For the first 3 weeks of this third contract I’ve also been in the Club, but now I get to move!!!! Hooray!!!!

I’m super duper excited to be in Edge.  As much as I’ve grown to love my little toddlers, I’ve definitely missed my big kids.  You know, the ones that you can actually talk to rather than spend a solid 5 minutes just trying to understand the 3 words they’re trying to say… Oh, and I probably won’t have to listen to “Let It Go” 100 times a day anymore!!! I get to learn a new space, a bunch of new programs, and I’ll even occasionally be exempt from cabin inspection! So I’m sure to have lots of wonderful new stories to share.

Sooooo, it’s been real Oceaneer Club/Lab. I’m sure I’ll be down to visit every once in a while, but until then – See Ya Real Soon!

Happy Anniversary!

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Woo hooooo!  Last week marked my 1 year anniversary with Disney Cruise Lines!  And what a year it’s been (cue the emotionally background music and the montage of adventures…)

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In case by some bizarre chance you are unaware of my life thus far, I have been spending the last year working as a Youth Activities Counselor aboard the Disney Fantasy.  It’s here that I’ve been able to visit ports including San Juan (thanks, random hurricane), St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica (brand new!), and our Mexican ports, Costa Maya (now defunct) and Cozumel.  Not to mention our weekly stop in the Bahamas at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (it’s pronounced KEY, people!) and our home port, Port Canaveral, Florida (whatssup Merrit Island Mall, see you on Saturday!)

Now, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what any of the excursions are like in these places.  I don’t even really know how to get to any good beaches.  But you know what I can do? I can tell you where to find good food and free wifi within easy walking distance from the ship in ALL of these ports.  And that’s pretty cool too, I guess…

The weirdest part of this whole anniversary business though, is realizing how few of us are left from my Traditions group, the group of weekly new hires that I started out with.  Some have transferred to other ships and some have resigned, but a small handful are still here.  And a lot has changed over the last year (including having safety boards installed into the top bunk beds….I can’t decide if I’m surprised that so many people here tend to fall out of their beds here…repeatedly).  Itineraries have shifted, and I’ve even gotten to celebrate a few holidays on board (including the DCL Games).  Lots of people have come and gone, which is the absolute hardest thing about ship life.  And the constant turnover of counselors and management makes for a less than ideal work environment.  But somehow, despite all the drama, this ship has become home.

Yuuuuuup, a lot of changes.

And I’ve also become a lot better at reading myself.  For example: you know you’re in a good mood when you’ve spent an hour straight letting two little kinds continuously drag you into jail, from which you escape, and then letting them drag you right back, and then running around like a zombie (which apparently fails to infect anyone else even when you grab their face and yell “you’re a zombie!!!”…), all with genuine smiles and laughter.  Because, despite the long hours, the god forsaken heat and humidity, and the abysmal pay/rooms, this job is still pretty dang awesome.  Even when kids occasionally pee all over themselves….

But for reals, it’s been great – and the fun’s not over yet! I’ve still got another 4-5 months left in this contract, and there may even be the slightest possibility of a fourth contract way out there on the horizon…. but I’ll get back to you on that one…

Until next time!

Captain Marco has been to the Short Hills Mall.

I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.  That’s too far in the story, let me start over and set the stage: it’s Friday afternoon, and I’ve just gotten back to my cabin…

 

Holy Crap, What Just Happened?

What just happened? I’m still in freak out mode, I’m still processing, so forgive my ranting tone – but I just got back from a private tour of the Bridge this morning.  Yup, that’s a capital “B,” as in the Bridge, as in “Captain, you are needed on the Bridge” to, you know, sail the ship!  And why did I get to go to the Bridge, you might ask? Because I’m awesome (and because Maddi and James both had a +1 and I don’t start work until 2:30pm today, so I had nothing better to do).  You see, Maddi and James are moving up in the world, and they’re taking me with them!

It all started with a meeting in the Cruise Director’s office, where Ray met with us to get ready for our VIP tour – (and hey, there’s nothing like your own Cruise Director calling you VIPs to make you feel special), so there we were, Maddi, James and I, heading on up to the big man’s office.

The Bridge is on Deck 10, and all the members of the Steering Committee (Chief Officer, Staff Captain, etc) live just outside its doors.  It’s through here that Ray led us before leaving us at the end of the corridor.  He had to “prepare them” for our visit.  As soon as Ray was behind the extra-locked door, the three of us turned to each other, wide-eyed and giggling.  Then, Ray popped his head out of the door and beckoned us inside (“beckoned” probably isn’t the right word – in the moment it all felt so mysterious and sneaky).  The first thing I noticed, of course, was the view.  Gorgeous ocean as far as the eye can see (we were docked in Castaway, which has us facing backwards back out at sea rather than towards the island).  The second thing I noticed was the carpet.

Now, I’ve heard that the carpet on the bridge is the single most expensive thing on the ship.  Forget all the giant crystal chandeliers hanging in the atrium.  Nope, all of Disney’s money has gone into a rug.  But not just any old rug – this thing is a hand woven depiction of the world; a scaled map of all the continents and oceans, which has been spread out throughout the entire bridge, from end to end.  Now, it’s not like its useful or anything, but it does have a pretty nice novelty, and it certainly looks impressive in person.

The third thing I noticed was the cabinet full of hats.  Yep, there’s a cabinet just full of captain hats, you know, in case you need one and forgot yours back in your cabin.

But anyway, after saying hello to the First Officer on duty and him joking about calling security on us (yikes), we made our way out onto the port wing of the bridge, which hangs out over the side (complete with glass panels in the floor to see underneath), giving a full view of the side of the ship and all the gangways in operation on the ground. Here there is one of the control panels for driving the ship.  It’s only slightly more complicated than the ship simulator we have in the Oceaneer Lab…  Ray told us about what all the buttons do, how you switch between the different manual controls, and how all the radars work.  There are several of these control panels; three on the bridge (one in the middle and one of each of the wings), one in the engine room, and one in a room that is essentially a backup bridge.  The control panel in the middle is also the part of the room that has all the radars, the fire detection sensors, the emergency radio channels, and lots of other things, not least of all of course is the Captain’s chair.  Imagine the Captain’s chair in Star Trek.  Then imagine two of them side by side (perhaps Commodore Tom and Captain Marco don’t like to share…).  But by far, the coolest part of all the control panels in the entire bridge was none other than….drum roll please…the Mickey Horn!  In fact, there’s an entire AMX panel devoted to all the songs that the Disney Fantasy can play.  But just in case the AMX panel malfunctions, don’t worry, there’s a separate shortcut button just for When You Wish Upon A Star, our signature song.

It was then that Captain Marco himself came strolling into the bridge.  After some awkwardly nervous hello’s, Marco led us over to the starboard wing of the bridge, where we chatted some more. And this, my friends, is where I learned how much Captain Marco loves New Jersey.  Yeah, that’s right, he’s been to Summit, he’s been to Millburn, and he’s been to the Short Hills Mall!  And likes the Newark Airport more than JFK (duh).

“New Jersey is a nice place, I like it quite a lot” – direct quote from Captain Marco.

Yup, sorry Captain Mickey, sorry Captain Hook, and sorry Captain Jack Sparrow, but Captain Marco is officially the coolest Captain on board.  Ta Da.

Marco then soon left to deal was some Captain-y issues, and we got to move to on to the next room.  But before going back inside we got to pass another important table – the coffee table.  Now an espresso/latte/fancy shmancy coffee maker makes much more sense being in the bridge than it does in the Crew Mess (after all, I’d rather my bartender be sleepy than whoever is driving the ship), but I still felt a sharp stab of jealousy course through me.  Oh well, c’est la vie.  Next came the back room, which had even more buttons: buttons for emergency lighting, buttons for emergency generators, buttons for thrusters, and buttons for public announcements.  And then there were the infrared cameras.  Cameras along the sides of the ship detect any heat signatures on the open decks or balconies.  So the next time you decide to throw a cup of coffee overboard – don’t! (the cameras probably won’t be able to pick it up…but you still shouldn’t do it, that’s pollution.)

Ray ended our tour with another brief look at where some of the other members of the Steering Committee live, on Deck 9.  But the best part of these cabins is that they also have access to a communal balcony, which opens out from the hallway and has an equally great view of the open ocean.  In fact, since it’s considered a crew area, even we are allowed to go there, you know, if you don’t mind standing directly in front of someone else’s window, (but keep that on the hush hush – we don’t want our potential new favorite spot getting spoiled).  And since this balcony is right underneath the bridge, where there are no lights allowed, it’s the perfect spot for star-gazing. Ahhhh, lovely.

So, yeah, you could say that Friday morning was pretty bomb-diggity.

Now, you see, I had a bunch of other stories that I was planning on sharing with you all today, but all this excitement over the bridge has left me absolutely clueless as so what those stories were about…(which is probably for the best, seeing as I’ve already spilled out enough word vomit).

So, for me Grace – See Ya Real Soon!