RSS

Tag Archives: cruise job

Bucket List #17 : St. Petersburg, Russia – part 1

When I was in high school we had the opportunity to go to Europe for 2 weeks including Russia. I am not even sure why anymore, but Russia was somewhere I really wanted to go to. I think it is a memory of this amazing church and the folklore and the dancing, it sounded so fantastic. Unfortunately the Russian section of the trip got cancelled and so I decided not to go.

Finally, quite a few years later…. ok 20yrs later….. I have completed this dream and what do you know I even found the church!

Church of Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg Russua

Church of Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg Russua

Below please find a photo essay of the amazing tour I did and the amazing places I visited…. truly spectacular and nothing at all like the communist Russia we always hear about…

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

The Winter Palace aka the Hermitage

The Winter Palace aka the Hermitage


The Old Winter Palace of the Tsars is now the Hermitage containing over 3 millions works of art.

Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress

couples like these roam among the tourists trying to get money for a photo, I did a quick happy snappy of one of my guests

couples like these roam among the tourists trying to get money for a photo, I did a quick happy snappy of one of my guests

Inside the Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress

Inside the Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter the Great and his family

Peter the Great and his family

Remains of the Romanovs the last Royal Family of Russia

Remains of the Romanovs the last Royal Family of Russia

First view of Spilled Blood Church

First view of Spilled Blood Church


This church was dedicated to Alexander the 1st by his son, Alexander the 2nd. It is built over the spot where Alexander the 1st was assassinated, the main spire is 81m high (he died in 1881) and the 2nd highest is 69m high (he was 69 when he died). The entire inside from floor to ceiling is covered in mosaics, created with hand blown tiny glass tiles….

Church of Spilled Blood

Church of Spilled Blood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

mosaics everywhere

mosaics everywhere

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

if you didn't know better you would think they were paintings

if you didn’t know better you would think they were paintings

inside the main spire

inside the main spire

all mosaics

all mosaics

canal

canal


St. Petersburg is actually built on a number of islands connected by canals and bridges. From late night to early morning all the bridges are raised for river traffic so you have to be careful to plan you evening out….

After a fabulous day out exploring the city we enjoyed an evening of Russian Folklore and dancing…. Now I remember why it always fascinated me!!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful costumes

Beautiful costumes

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Cruise, Cruise Ship, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Aruba…ooohhh I wanna take ya

Theme Song While You Read

Every time I hear “Aruba” I break out into this song, I can’t help it, it’s automatic. It never crossed my mind that one day I might have the chance to do a tour of this stunning Island.

We docked at Oranjestad (Orange State) and I was excited to hear Dutch, giving me a chance to practice my Afrikaans (South African dialect of Dutch).

Wild Coasts

We drove round most of the island from the calmer more populated side to the wild northern coasts.

Aruba (3)

Even a land bridge, although erosion makes it unsafe to get much closer than this

And yes I am wearing antlers, it was Christmas week afterall

And yes I am wearing antlers, it was Christmas week afterall

Butterflies

To truly explore a place you must know where to look for the smaller things in life, so a stop at the Butterfly Garden was a must. Focusing mostly on native butterflies they also had a few exotics that were brightly colored. I spent a lot of my time chasing a particularly stunning blue one, but am pretty certain the only pic any of got was the postcard from the gift shop. I did however, catch a few others on film…

DSCN1857

DSCN1855

DSCN1861

DSCN1864

DSCN1880

DSCN1870

We also learnt about metamorphosis, where a caterpillar
DSCN1869

Becomes a stunning butterfly
DSCN1871

All in all it was a great tour, the island was a lot flatter than I expected but wild and beautiful all the same…

So when you visit Aruba
DSCN1878

And remember to look for the little things that will truly make your visit there spectacular
DSCN1872

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Cruise, Cruise Ship, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Swimming with Dolphins

Dreams and Bucket Lists

For as long as I can remember the ocean, and it’s creatures have fascinated me, and I have had a love of Dolphins and Whales. A year ago I got to scuba dive with whale sharks, marking a tick on my bucket list. Just a few days ago, through a crazy coincidence, I was able to go swimming with dolphins, marking yet another tick off.

How it All Began…

Part of my duties as an English Social Hostess on board Divina, is to take visitors, usually dignitaries and officials, around the ship on a ship tour. I met all range of interesting people, but I must say, the group from Falmouth, Jamaica were by far the most animated, fun-loving group of officials I have yet met. In fact I got 2 marriage proposals (including one of them getting down to one knee). They insisted I join them for lunch in the ship restaurant after the tour, (after I got permission), and we had a great chat. One of the officials, William Tatham of the Port Authorities (if I remember correctly) gave me his card and said next time we were in port he would organize something for me.

Well, my mom always said I have no shame when it comes to taking people up on their offers, and so two weeks later when we were due to arrive I dropped him a message. Next minute, I get an email from Dolphin Cove inviting me to experience a VIP tour and dolphin swim at no charge!!!! I couldn’t believe it, wow!

Unfortunately, that port we had a crew drill and we got out too late to go, same for the next visit, I also had an excursion that time (the Jamaican Bobsled… where I feared for my life, but that’s another story).

It really looked as if we would never get a chance to take them up on their offer, until….

3rd Time Lucky

On our 3rd time back in Falmouth it was Jam Cruise. Not only did most of us have it free, there were also excursions. This was the perfect time. Dolphin Cove suggested I bring friends, the more the merrier, and so our merry group of 20 were all busting at the seams for the day to arrive.

….then, Murphy’s Law… I was scheduled to work, which meant, unless there was a miracle, I would miss the trip. But I decided not to complain, not to argue, after all it is my job. Instead, I think everyone else went to my defense, and with 30min before the bus was due to leave I was told I could go!!! Woohoo!!!

17 of us made it on the bus, and with our amazing driver, Derek, we set off on the hour long drive to Dolphin Cove. Derek, gave us historical and musical information the whole way down, and everything was, well, “Eiri Mon, just Eiri!”
bus

Swimming with Shakira

Our dolphin was named, Shakira, the other half of our group had Apollo. Shakira, was beautiful and I do not have words to express, how amazing it was to touch her and swim with her and even kiss her. In fact, I almost started crying the first time we got to stroke her as she swam past (oddly, she feels very much like the rubber toys they sell in stores…)
IMG_2347

After we got to meet and touch her it was time to swim with her. Here we had to tap the water and then she would pop up in front of us, lie on her back, we would grab her flippers and then she would swim us back to the pier. Very important was to let go when the trainer told us to, otherwise there was the threat of smashing into the pier as she swam under it….
IMG_2458

Finally it was the pièce de résistance, the kiss!!!
IMG_2463

It was a truly spectacular afternoon, and the staff at Dolphin Cove were phenomenal. All the Dolphins seemed happy and looked healthy. In fact, they have one rescue dolphin who was hit by a boat, during her recovery (to keep her entertained) they taught her the tricks and skills. Upon her return to health she was returned to the sea, less than a week later she found her way back to Dolphin Cove and “asked” to stay!

I will never forget this day, thanks so much to everyone who made it happen!

DOLPHIN SWIM VIDEO

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Cruise, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Shipboard Christmas

Christmas at Sea

And so this is Christmas…..

It is always hard for me to be away from family on Christmas. It is my favorite holiday and I have very fond memories of growing up in South Africa and visiting my grandparents for the Christmas dinner, which was always a large roast with potatoes and yorkshire pudding and gravy and all the trimmings. Now, noting South Africa has a summer Christmas, this was a fairly intense meal, but something that is a tradition in my house (of course now living in Oregon it means it’s cold outside and you feel like eating a lot more).

This would not be my first Christmas away from home, but that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact having Christmas while working on a cruise ship can make for a lack of Christmas cheer. So, you have to really focus on the good things, your friends, your friendly guests (hopefully we all had some) and if all else fails wear a pair of antlers and put smiles on everyone else’s faces.

Antlers
I chose the antlers,

With good friend, Marianna.

With good friend, Marianna.

In fact on evenings when I didn’t wear my antlers I had guests asking me where they were. I would wear them in my uniform when I was helping guests at reception, it’s amazing how hard it is for a guest to complain bitterly when the person you are talking to has antlers that jingle everytime she nods her head. Of course, if it became apparent that the antlers would not deter the guest from making a complaint, they were surreptitiously removed. But, for the most part, guests got a kick out of it. I would also wear them on excursion and got quite a few laughs when I went swimming with them in St. Maartin….

Snorkeling in St. Maarten

Snorkeling in St. Maarten

After the excursion, I joined some of the guests for a walk around town and a couple of beers…
drunk antlers

Decorations
In the US Christmas decorations usually start popping up the middle of October, with the occasional random xmas song, just to get us warmed up. Then come middle of November the radio stations are solidly booked with jolly songs about santa and reindeer and white Christmas. However, on our ship, we only put decorations up the 2nd week of Christmas, so it felt really strange as I am used to having them up for months. One minute they were up the next they were down. We went for a nice sublte, not to over stated, green wreath with a few Christmas trees and red, silver and gold balls. Over all rather elegant, although many US guests were expecting more of an … how shall we say… intense decoration experience. Oh well, this is an Italian ship and elegance is their thing.

Next to one of the xmas trees

Next to one of the xmas trees

Magnificent Buffet

On very special occasions the Chef and his crew create what is called, the Magnificent Buffet, and it is truly magnificent.
Here are a few pics to truly appreciate their creativity:
mag b

mag bu

mag buf

mag buff

mag buffe

Absolutely everything is either carved, or molded, or assembled out of food or food by products… truly Magnificent.

Department Xmas Party

Our department decided to have our own little xmas party. We were in San Juan, Puerto Rico on the day and our International Cruise Director organised it at Signor Frogs. Now, anyone who has been to a signor frogs knows it is all about the booze. We had a buffet as well (am pretty certain refried beans should NOT be a soup like consistancy), but, let’s just say it’s the company that counts.
xmas party

xmas partyy

Even Santa showed up!
santa

Great fun was had by all… but still, it’s always better with family!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Cruise, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Beach Life in Haifa, Israel

There is so much history and culture to explore in Israel that I was a little cynical when my friends said we should go to the beach in Haifa. I mean, I have grown up in South Africa, seen beaches in Australia, NZ and Thailand… I know what a good beach is like! Don’t I????

Following Friends

Sometimes you just got to go with the flow when the friends want to chill out at the beach. And sure, after working non-stop for months at a time, the beach is a perfect place to relax. So after doing my duty of assisting with guest disembarkation at 5.30am till 7am, then catching a quick 2 hr nap, I rolled out of bed to meet the crew. It was planned to be out of the ship by 10am…. 11.30am had us finally on the bus (and it was the girls waiting for the boys may I add).

The bus ride to the Carmel Beach in Haifa, Israel, seemed to take ages and for a time I thought we had over shot the stop. Which my friends delighted in teasing me about and had me completely believing we really had. But, eventually we got to the bus depo the final stop and the stop for the beach. You have to go through security everywhere in Israel, the beach included. Rather safe than sorry and it all became second nature eventually. After a quick bag scan we wondered through the mall picking up some amazing baked goods and some cola (possibly to go with the rum we might have had stashed somewhere).

The Beach!

Upon exiting the mall we trotted across the parking lot and onto the boardwalk lined with cafes, and restaurants, public toilets, beach showers and umbrellas. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I was wrong and this beach was incredible!!

Glorious Beach as far as the eye can see

Glorious Beach as far as the eye can see

The beach just continued as far as the eye could see on both side. The sand was a fabulous fine grain (which even after 4 or 5 washes I still discover in my swimsuit), the water a stunning blue and relaxing comfortable temperature… just perfect.

Good Friends

What followed were hours of fun in the sun with amazing friends…

My first friend on the ship, Biljana.

My first friend on the ship, Biljana.

Fun and Games

Fun and Games

Building Sand Castles

Building Sand Castles

Friends "admiring" said sand castle

Friends “admiring” said sand castle

mmmm wondered what happened

mmmm wondered what happened

making sand mermaids

making sand mermaids

The Price

After close to 5 hours of living up life and enjoying one of the most amazing beaches ever… it was time for us to wander on home to the ship, I had to work that evening. I could feel that I was a little sunburnt, but I had no idea just how much until after the shower….

As our T&D Manager (training and development) remarked: “You look like boiled lobster”
this was rather amusing until he followed up with
“which means you are ready to eat!!”
Trapped in a small elevator after that statement, it turned to disturbingly funny, well he was Italian…

Lessons Learnt

– Trust your mates when they say there is a great beach

– The Israeli sun is hot, hotter than other places, always wear sunscreen and if you do, be sure to reapply generously!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Cruise, Italy, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bucket List #7 – Float in Dead Sea

Legendary Locations

Visiting legendary places like Machu Pichu, Angkor Wat, Lake Titicaca or seeing things like Blue Footed Boobies, whale shark while diving, or even riding an ostrich have all been on my Bucket List. All things I never thought I would have the chance to see or do. Now I not only get to cross off another item but also have the chance to do it again later in the season… Float in the Dead Sea! With the bonus of mud coverage!!!

How I got Here

Well it started with a boy, who got me wanting to work on a cruise ship. That part is history now, but the adventures have only just started. 4months into my first contract with MSC on the good ship Lirica, I find myself in Haifa, Israel every 11 days. On the 3rd cruise of the summer season my chance to escort an excursion to the Dead Sea arrived. Who would have thunk!

The Trip

The journey involved waking up at 5.30am, discovering breakfast only opened at 6am and stealing some croissants from the Officers Mess! Leading my group onto a bus (after intense security searches by Israelian Authorities) for the 3hr journey to Masada (the home of King Herod). Being brought up in a scouting family, I was prepared with my small travel pillow, water, sunscreen, snacks for the trip the whole sha-bang.

Slept through most of the drive there, waking up for the brief coffee/toilet stop. As it was shabat, the Jewish Holy day, nothing was open, so it was really just a toilet stop. Finally we made it to our first destination, the location of the palace of one of the Bible’s super villians, King Herod!

The entrance to Masada before taking the cable car to the top.

The entrance to Masada before taking the cable car to the top.

Masada

When Herod learned that a new king was to be born who would destroy him, he did 2 things. He ordered all baby boys to be killed and he built a palace out in the middle of the desert on the top of a high mesa (flat topped mountain) with enough supplies to last 10yrs.

Many years later the same fortress would be used by 1000 Jews refusing to give in to Roman rule. The defied the invading forces for 3yrs, surviving on food they grew themselves. However, the Romans used slaves to build an earth ramp to the top of the Mesa, an impressive feat if you saw just how high it is. When the Jews realised that they were soon to be over run they gathered and made a suicide pact. The Romans found no man, woman or child alive, making it the largest suicide pact in the history of man and really annoyed the Romans.

You now access the Mesa top by a very windy steep pathway or by cable car. When you reach the top the views are breathtaking, showing you views of the desert all the way to the shore of the Dead Sea.

Cable Car

Cable Car

The ruins also contain the oldest mosaic in the world.
DSCN1047

After an hour or so of history and exploring the ruins we headed back to the cable car and down to the buffet for lunch. Food was included and was delicious, a variety of Israelian delicacies including hummus and pita bread, also the most delicious baked potatoes ever. We also had the chance peruse the gift shop and pick up some Ahava products which are made from the minerals in the Dead Sea and are highly prized. I found the sale section and discovered a bag that contained shower gel, hand lotion and a big tub of lotion for 100 schekels, about 22 euros. Not a bad deal.

Dead Sea Bound

Finally it was time for the highlight of the day, we all boarded the bus and headed for the Dead Sea. Just 30min down the road was the Dead Sea Resort. We were all given locker keys and a towel and then let loose down the path to get changed and get to floating. I joined up with a family from Germany and we headed down to the beach. Thank heavens for the previous guests who had highly recommended bringing some flipflops for the walk to the beach as the path was desert rock and super heated from the sun. The temperature was 38C in the shade and just getting hotter.

Of course it is very important to follow the rules when swimming in the Dead Sea… otherwise it could be… well hazardous to your health.
DSCN1059

A Floatin’ We Shall Go

Finally it was time, we removed flip flops, took 2 steps…. then jumped around holding our burning tootsies till we got the flip flops back on. Bloody hell the ground was hot, almost as if the desert floor had been super heated by the sun… actually that would be quite accurate. We decided to use flip flops to water line, eventually just taking them in with us.

“Swimming” in the Dead Sea is one of the most unique experiences ever. The water has such a high salinity that it has an almost greasy feel to it (making flip flop wearing a dangerous affair over rocky ground). No matter how hard you try you can not force yourself down, instead you hover in suspension and just kind of…bounce! If you flip over on your belly doing the doggy paddle is the easiest thing in the world, and the safest as it minimizes splashing.

I had the mandatory picture reading the MSC tour magazine, the hardest part was not the floating but trying not to flip over by mistake. It’s kind of like sitting on a large ball and trying to balance.
DSCN1061

Then it was off to the mud. Large tubs of it brought in for us to smother ourselves. I have now enjoyed mud in this manner in South Africa, South Korea and Israel.
DSCN1066
DSCN1071

Time to Head Back

After reveling in mud and floating around it was time to gather the troops and load the bus. I had a slight headache and knew all my precautions to prevent heat exhaustion might have been in vain. But feeling better after a cool drink we all enjoyed the bliss of bus air conditioning. Feeling tired I tried to take a nap. After about 2hrs, with less than 30min to go, the headache, combined with the gentle roll of the bus up and down, up and down, proved too much. And my glorious lunch, that was so good going down, was not as good coming back up. On the good side, if there is one, at least i had a plastic bag and am apparently a silent vomiter… But the old saying of “Better out than in” was true and I felt much better as we rolled into the parking lot 15min later.

A truly unforgettable experience and allowing me to write this sentence:

Bucket List #7 – Float in Dead Sea – CHECK!!!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Cruise, Italy

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Survive Being Sick While Working On A Cruise Ship…

I have spent the last 2 weeks sick with a bad cough that often sounded quite dangerous to everyone’s health. It was apparently caused by allergies and is not contagious, although I am fairly certain my roommate has been following me with disinfecting wipes just in case. So here are a few general rules to surviving being sick when working on a cruise ship, from real time experience!!

1
DON’T GET SICK!!!!!

If this fails…

2
Drink lots of tea with honey and lemon.

3
Get plenty of rest…

‘Cause there is lots of time to rest while working on a cruise ship…NOT!
4

Try whiskey and hot water.

5
Try brandy and hot water.

If these fail…

6
Go see the ship Doctor and get to know him and his nurse on a first name basis.

Diagnosis: Minor lung infection due to allergies and ship’s air conditioning

7
Be put on copious amounts of drugs.
DSCN0540

8
Ask the fabulous server in the staff mess to save you yoghurt for dinner, discover he starts saving 2 for you for every meal!

9
Explain till you are hoarse that you are NOT contagious, you just sound like you are.

10
Have a daily nebulizer appointment and checkup.
DSCN0575

11
Discover there are 2 main reactions to you coughing up a lung: looking at you like you have the plague or suggesting you drink more whiskey.

12
Have an amazing roommate who can sleep through your hacking cough.
DSCN0542

13
Become the butt of staff jokes due to your coughing…

Warning this will involve laughter, that makes you cough more!

14
Start greeting other crew members, who are also suffering from a cough, with fake and not so fake coughing sounds, since we are all part of the same team…

15
Soon you will meet guests of all medical professions, including a South African Pharmacist and an Egyptian Surgeon.

16
Just as you start to wonder if you will need new lungs, you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t be fooled and don’t go towards it!

17
You have an ominous discussion with the doctor that goes something like this:

Me – Do you have something to stop the coughing??
Doc – Yes
Me – May I add it to my medication list
Doc – No
Me – ummm why (sounding fairly pathetic I might add)
Doc – maybe tomorrow, I have a plan for you!!!

18
Finally be given the legendary stop coughing syrup that contains the good stuff and make you pass out in the drool on the pillow type of sleep…

19
Start feeling better, but I still don’t recommend laughing as it still causes coughing!

20
Refer to tip #1 and DON’T GET SICK!!!!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Cruise, Italy, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: