Tidbits and Bulletpoints

–          Apparently applying two coats of SPF 70 means absolutely nothing to the Caribbean sun.  Today we had our Personal Survival Techniques class, which was super fun despite the sunburn.  We got to put on these giant immersion suits complete with big hulking boots to jump into the water and swim around with.  We also were taught the right way to jump into water while wearing a life jacket (*only if the height is less than 4m – never jump off of a cruise ship with your life jacket on. you will break your neck).  And then, finally, we had to flip over a life raft that had been turned upside down.  Now, when I say life raft, I’m not talking about some dingy, puny thing, I’m talking about a giant contraption meant to hold and feed over 40 people.  First, flipping the life raft over entails lots of embarrassing shimmying and jumping and pulling to get yourself up on top of it.  Then you and your partner have to grab the ropes and pull them so that the raft flips over on top of you, thrusting you back into the water.  Then you and your bulky life jacket have to swim out from underneath the raft and find the surface.  We were all pretty nervous about it.  However, all you need is to just find yourself a 6 foot something Frenchman to haul you up and you’re good to go. Then it’s a piece of cake.  Thanks Christopher.

–          My favorite kid on the ship is Adi.  He’s the son of the Chief Officer/Staff Captain, so his dad’s kind of a big deal.  He’s been here for two weeks already and he’s staying with us next week as well and he’s a sweatheart.  But there’s also Miles, who looks exactly like Jaden Smith, so he’s a close runner up.  And then there’s Kingston, who loves to just sit in my lap during the stage shows. What a cutie.

–          My Spanish is probably going to be awesome by the end of this contract (and by awesome I mean marginally better than my middle school proficiency).  There have been a ton of kids on this past cruise who speak only Spanish, so I’m slowly remembering things like “Water or Apple Juice? = Agua o Jugo de Manzana?”  But then there’s also a ton of Portuguese speakers and a couple French kids, and for them I’ve gotten really good telling them which other counselor they should go talk to.

–          Tonight I had a group meeting with our Manager of Youth Activities (the big cheese) to get to know us a little and we got to eat in one of the guest areas on deck 11 (it’s the deck with a bunch of pools and a stage for movies and parties).  It was glorious.  I never knew it was possible to be so excited about chicken tenders.

–          Best part of my uniform: the pockets! Mens’/Unisex pants are da bomb.  I was working in the craft studio this morning and I put a pair of scissors in my pocket (the little “child proof” ones – what does that even mean? Those guys are still capable of cutting off your finger, it’s just slower and more painful), and then totally forgot about them.  I didn’t remember they were there until it was 11:30pm and I was back in my room getting ready for bed.  In one pocket I had a pencil, and pen, those scissors, my schedule, a piece of gum, and a cough drop – I could barely feel any of it.  Disney Magic.

–          Tomorrow we’re back in America (Huzzah!) and I have a break between 11:30am-12:30pm.  Mayhaps you’ll be hearing from me…

–          Toodles.

Outside? Never heard of it.

This week we’ve been sailing to St. Maarten and St. Thomas, two very beautiful islands – at least, that’s what I’ve heard.  I’ve only been able to see them from the tiny little port holes in the space that we serve the kids lunch and dinner.  My trainer, Lexie, and I have been working the early morning shifts, where we open at 7am.  These shifts are actually pretty nice because you can sometimes be off by 6pm and have plenty of time during the night to relax, see a show (I FINALLY saw Lone Ranger last night), or go to the bar.  BUT, All Aboard is usually around 5:00pm – aka no shore time.   St. Thomas is also a great port because it’s a US Territory and therefore American cell phones work there! Too bad I didn’t get off work until we had already sailed away…

On a somewhat related note, I was having lunch with Christopher the other day and he was telling me that one of the French chefs that works at Remy (a reeeeally posh restaurant on the ship, where guests have to pay another $75/person to eat there!) once got off of the ship at St. Maarten (a French territory) with all of his luggage and just refused to go back.  And Disney couldn’t really do anything about it and had to hand over his passport and dissolve his contract because technically this guy was back in France and you can’t force someone out of their own country.  Hmm.

Anywhoozle, today was also the first time all us new hires got to participate in the crew-wide emergency drill.  Since YA staff members work with children, we are considered first responders on the ship and have a pretty extensive evacuation plan for all of our spaces.  During our practice drills guests are told to ignore all of the announcements, but the kids in our spaces still have to participate because organizing the kids into groups is a big part of our procedures.  Most of the kids are fine with this – you just tell them it’s like the fire drills that they have at school and then sit around in a circle playing a game.  Then, after the general alarm sounds, we go down to our life raft assembly stations (turns out Mel and I are the only girls at our assembly station…) and wait for the abandon ship alarm.  Next week my traditions group and I will be having our wet drill at Castaway Cay (this is where we get to jump in the water and practice deploying/flipping/getting into life rafts).  All of the training really makes me feel prepared for an emergency, and after watching a lovely documentary about the Costa Concordia sinking during safety training last week, it’s nice to know that Disney’s got their act together.

Check out some of the fun crafts that I’ve made this week!

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Random fun fact that I learned recently: There are over 1,500 crew members on board, only 56 of them are American.

The more you know.

4 Days = 3/4 Episode of Smallville

Dear Uncle Bill (and everyone else), sorry for the week of radio silence.  Yes, I’ve been excruciatingly busy.  For the last few days I’ve been working roughly 9am-midnight every day, so I’m pooped.  Aaaaand I’m sick – damn kids.   But whatevs, I’m stocked up on Dayquil and Halls, so I’ll deal.  This week has certainly been hectic and crazy.

This past week was filled with a ton of training sessions as well as floor work.  We had a training on how to deploy the life rafts (we don’t get to go in the fancy shmancy life boats), which was pretty cool, and we also got to watch some pretty fantastic 90s style safety videos.  Our training sessions for Youth Activities have been super information overload, so I’m kind of nervous for when we have to get tested on everything in a couple of weeks.  But we’ve also been working on the YA floors more and more throughout the week.  In fact, as of this past Saturday, HR training has officially ended and we now work 100% in the YA spaces.

There’s a ton of really cool programs that happen throughout the Lab/Club spaces every day.  My favorites are Once Upon A Time, where one of the princesses shows up to tell a story to all the kids, and Stitch.  Stitch uses this incredibly cool technology where the computerized Stitch is displayed on the TV and can actually see and interact with the kids – if he’s taking questions he’ll say something like “How about that kid in the middle with the dark blue shirt” and is able to respond completely.  One kid shouted out that he wanted to go to space to experience anti-gravity, so Stitch “turned off” the gravity in his space ship and floated around for a bit.  It’s really cool and since there’s no set script, you never really know what’s going to happen.

On Friday, when we were anchored at Castaway Cay, our whole traditions group was taken on a tour of the island and then most of us had about 3 hours off before work, so we all went swimming (despite the rain and thunder –thanks a lot Hurricane Chantal).  I’d forgotten how fantastic the water in the Caribbean is! Stay tuned for some silly underwater pics.  Now that I’m working one-on-one with my trainer, I almost never see anyone from my traditions group anymore.  I still see the YA girls fairly often, if only in passing, but the other day I never even saw Mel and she’s my roommate!  So, it’s pretty exciting when I see someone like Christopher or Edil in the hall or mess.

However, it’s also been a sad week.  Alice decided to go home and left while we were docked in Port Canaveral on Saturday.  Alice is awesome, so I’m super bummed and sad that she’s gone.  I’m going to miss my Bachelorette buddy.

On a happier/funnier note, at the end of our last cruise, as we were closing the lab for the last night (around 12:30am), one of the girls that I had been playing with asked me to adopt her so that she could live on the ship forever.  Ummm thanks, but no thanks.  I’m not quite ready for that kind of commitment.  Plus, I don’t think Mel and I could literally fit a third person inside our room.

Alright, well my dinner break is almost over, so I’ve got to get back to work.  Until next time….eventually

 

(Melissa: On our current cruise there’s a girl from Azerbaijan!)

July 8th – Getting in the Groove

It’s been a couple days now, but it feels waaaaay longer.  I’m now completely confident navigating between my room, the mess hall, our training rooms, and our work areas.  I even found the gym this morning with my roommate, Mel!

In addition to all the basic trainings that we’ve had this weekend, we’ve also begun training for our specific jobs.  Yesterday we received our costumes, and now we’ll be wearing them every day for the rest of our contracts.  The good news is that we don’t ever have to wash our own costumes – we just drop them off at the wardrobe department and then pick up new ones.  The bad news is that they still look atrocious.

Today was the first time that we got to work on the floors on the Youth Activities centers.  My department consists of both the Oceaneer Club (3-7 years old) and the Oceaneer Lab (8-13), which both have quite a few different rooms/areas, including Pixie Hollow, Andy’s Room and Animator’s Palace.  There’s also a stage area where we host programs such as Storytime, where Characters come visit the kids.  While working the floors this evening, I got to help host a playdough craft, I participated in our Cinderella storytime, and finished the night helping kids make their very own Mr. Potato Heads in Andy’s Room.  The best part of Andy’s Room is a door we have that leads into crew quarters (of course, the kids don’t know this).  Instead, we tell them that that’s where Foo the Closet Monster lives.  But Foo is allergic to kids and that is why the door is locked, because he doesn’t want to get sick.  The kids can then knock on the door and Foo will knock back to them (as crew members pass by), or they can ask him questions by passing paper under the door for him to answer.  It’s super cute.

Today we were docked in Grand Cayman.  We didn’t have any free time to get off the boat, but we did go up onto the crew sun deck to get a view of the gorgeous water.  It’s beautiful.  Tomorrow we’ll be arriving in Costa Maya, where the other YACs and I should be able to get off and go visit for a bit during the afternoon, which should be super fun.

Speaking of fun, beers at the crew bar cost $0.85.  That’s 85 CENTS! Yup.

Last night we went to a crew party on the crew sun deck (which is on deck 14, the highest deck, at the very back of the ship).  It was quite fun, even though we really just hung out with our Traditions group.  Most of my night was spent explaining to Christopher why American beer tastes like piss waster and then comparing different word pronunciations.  We have a really great Traditions group.  Everyone is super friendly and we all get along well.  Although our schedules are soon going to get incredibly crazy (and totally different from one another), we’re hoping to arrange some kind of weekly standing breakfast/lunch/or dinner date with everyone.

Okie dokie, that’s all for now.  Smell ya later!

July 6th- Welcome Aboard!

I’ve probably heard that phrase well over a hundred times today, but it hasn’t gotten old yet.

The day began with us waking up bright and early at 3:30am this morning in order to catch our bus to Port Canaveral (a good hour’s drive from the resort).  But before leaving, the other YAC girls and I made good friends with the man at the concierge desk, who was very excited for us to begin our new jobs and ended up giving us all flowers and Disney coloring books for the ride (score!).  Although our bus driver told us that we should all be napping, he actually then proceeded to give a surprisingly detailed tour of Floridian wildlife (“Look at all the alligators over there!” and “I think that’s some kind of pig in the grass on the left”).

After arriving at the port and getting a spectacular view of our new home, we, along with our luggage, proceeded to be sniffed by the most adorable drug dog ever.  Once the oversized puppy decided that we didn’t pose any threats, we finally got to walk across the gangway onto the Disney Fantasy.  Welcome Aboard!

As we began the first of many many many training sessions, our first order of business was adding a slight modification to our name tags.  We each received a ribbon that attached to our name tags saying that we were still in the process of “Earning My Ears.”  This ribbon is basically a get out of jail free card for being a bumbling idiot during the first week.  But it also means that anyone that looks at you instantly knows that you’re one of the newbies and calls out “Welcome Aboard!”  It’s almost turned into a game at this point with the rest of our training group (there’s 16 of us in all, with jobs including Characters Manager, Assistant Chef, Merchandising Assoc., and Wait Staff) to see how many people will acknowledge us with “Welcome Aboard!”

After being led on three different tours of various parts of the ship, I think I’m getting the hang of navigating I-95 (the main crew passageway) and all the confusing hallways, stairways and elevators.  But I definitely don’t think I’ll start exploring shortcuts anytime soon, it’s still waaaaay too easy to get turned around and lost – even when you have a map of the place.

Today’s Highlights:

–          My roommate is actually one of the other YAC girls that I’m training with right now! Her name is Mel (short for Melissa – woah, what a co-ink-y-dink) and she’s from Australia.  Super nice and super cool.  It’s definitely a good match.

–          Our cabins are just as hideously small as I expected.

–          We got fitted for our costumes – yellow polo shirts with blue elastic-band pants that practically come up to your rib cage.  Sexy.  Once we receive our uniforms tomorrow/Monday I might decide to grace the world with a picture…or I might decide to personally burn all photographic evidence.

–          Group picture with all the Disney Characters on board!

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Oooookay, starting at the top, left to right: Ryan (Florida, Characters Manager), Richard (France, Assistant Chef at Remy Restaurant (REALLY nice and extra expensive), Christopher ( France, Waiter), Sukran (Bali, …I don’t know), Vijay (India, ….I don’t know), Lionel (India, Bartender), Lee (UK, Food & Beverage Manager/Trainer), Eidel (Honduras, Kitchen Staff), Sara (Mexico, YAC), ME, Rosa (Ohio, Nursery), Mel (Australia, Nursery), Olena(Ukraine, Photographer), Roxanne (Jamaica, Merchandising), Laura (UK, Waitress), Alice (Utah, YAC)

Welcome Aboard!