The first cruise as a new staff member can easily be described in one word: overwhelming. It’s funny because things are supposed to be easier for me since my native language is American English, but no. I’m just as lost, if not more, than everyone else. I mean that in the literal sense. I get lost every single day. I’ve been assured that I’ll start knowing my way around in a couple cruises, so I’m crossing my fingers for that. It’s just tough having to learn the crew areas and the guest areas, especially considering I literally have no sense of direction. My mindset is if I can learn how to find my way around a college campus, I can definitely learn how to find my way around a ship. It’s just going to take awhile. My problem is that I always have to wear my nametag, and guests on the ship assume that I know what I’m doing when in reality, I’m just as lost as them.
All-in-all, it’s been an incredible experience. I’m already toying with the idea of doing another contract after this one. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself though since I haven’t even finished my first cruise yet. There’s a lot of things of learn, and there’s a lot of training involved, all while I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be living on a cruise ship until April. It’s a fun adventure though, and I’m glad that I’m working on youth staff because I think the job suits my personality. My experience is mostly with older kids – working at camp, mentoring in college, etc. etc. This is my first time working with several young children at once. When it comes to children, I’ve mostly just had one-on-one interactions with baby-sitting and such. I’m enjoying it more than I originally thought I would.
DAY 1: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22 – EMBARKATION DAY
My day started around 4:15 am, later than it was supposed to. I woke up late, and we got to the airport around 5 am for my 5:35 am flight. I was the last person on the plane, and I fell asleep immediately for the 2ish-hour flight. When I got to Atlanta, I called my boyfriend, Joe, and we chatted for a bit while I made my way to the Delta service desk so they could print out my boarding pass. Again, I passed out for the full 70-minute flight to Jacksonville.
At the Jacksonville Airport, I sent out a snap to let everyone know I landed safely, and I got a surprise phone call from one of my college roommates, Anamaria. We talked while I brushed my teeth, freshened up and walked to baggage claim. Once I got my bags, I had to wait a few minutes to board the bus to the port, so I called Joe again.
When I got onto the ship, it was basically nonstop. I was taken to a room to fill out some paperwork then I got my temporary cabin, put my bags up, met my roommate, Lauren, and then we headed to orientation. After that, the Youth Director, Tai, met up with us for a mini tour, and then we visited Camp Carnival to see where we would be working and to meet the staff.
Lauren and I are both animators on the ship, so we’ll be dressing up as Dr. Seuss characters. Right now, I’m an extra person, but later I’ll be switching between Sam I Am and either Thing 1 or Thing 2. I mention this because the first thing we did as a youth staff member was attend the Sail Away Party. This is where the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 along with the youth and entertainment staff go to the Lido Deck and do several dances as the ship leaves the port and everyone’s vacation officially begins.
After the Sail Away Party, we went to dinner then did some training. I was struggling a lot the first day because my head was pounding. I couldn’t tell if it was seasickness (minus the nausea and vomit) or if I was just exhausted and dehydrated. In either case, I wasn’t feeling well so it was hard for me to concentrate during the training. Luckily, Tai was very accommodating, and helped us buy some ginormous bottles of water and let us sit outside while we did the training. The fresh air definitely helped.
Next, I got to hang out with the 2-5-year-olds. For the most part, I just observed and followed along with activities that the other counselors were doing. Let me just say that these kids were absolutely adorable, and they made me so excited to be part of youth staff.
DAY 2: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23 – SEA DAY
My work day started at 10 am, only after eating some breakfast in the staff lounge and visiting the medical center for a mini check-up and providing them with all my paperwork. It was another morning of training with Tai for a couple hours. We had an hour break for lunch, and then it was time to get ready for the Dr. Seuss Parade and Storytime. I didn’t have to dress up, but I was there to observe the process and participate in the parade. For Storytime, I watched Kevin, the cruise director, read The Cat in the Hat to the children and their families. Afterward, it was back to Camp Carnival for more training.
I had a few hours of free time before the Kids’ Dinner, so I took advantage and had a little power nap. At Kids’ Dinner, parents can come and drop off their children with us, and the kids all eat dinner as a group. As a staff member, we get excited to eat on the Lido Deck because there are more options here than there are in the crew and staff mess halls. I had a pizza along with some watermelon and cheese. Strange combo, I know. I get excited every time there’s watermelon on the line, because it’s not always available.
I got to hang out with the younger kids again today, and it was so much fun. Let’s just say balloons were involved. I have a feeling that I’m going to start memorizing little kids songs that I’ve never heard of prior and becoming acclimated to the clean Kids Bop versions of songs.
I also had about an hour of training before my shift ended at 9 pm. I went to bed pretty early on the second day two to try an wean off the bit of headache that was still lingering from the previous day.
DAY 3: MONDAY, OCTOBER 24 – NASSAU
I was finally feeling 100% this day. No more headaches, and I felt like I finally caught up on my sleep. Breakfast was a struggle because Lauren and I didn’t realize that the staff and crew mess closed at 8:30 am. A little after 9 am, we were frantically trying to find something to eat before we settled on having some dry cereal from the crew mess. There were also a few pastries set out, so I had three apple fritters and a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (the taste you can see! Does anyone remember that commercial?
No? Just me? Okay then).
We had an emergency drill this morning after the majority of the passengers left the ship to go explore Nassau. After the drill, we got a surprise knock on the door. Cassie came to see if we wanted to get off the ship, and in short, I said “Heck yea!” We all had to be back at work by 2 pm, so we didn’t have too much time, but with six months on the ship, I’ll have plenty of time to explore later. Normally, new staff members don’t get off the boat this early, but Cassie, who has literally been the best through this whole thing with her wealth of knowledge (even though this is also her first contract, and she was the new girl before Lauren and I got on the ship), saw that all three of us had to be back at work at the same time, and decided to let us see a bit of Nassau with her.
Cassie worked for a travel agency and lived in Nassau for a few weeks awhile back, so she knew a little about the area. We walked around to find a place to eat before we settled on this place called Imperial that Cassie said was delicious, and it did not disappoint. I got a spicy chicken burger, and it hit the spot.
Afterward, we went Main St. Ice-Cream to, of course, get some ice-cream. Lauren said in Essex (a town just outside of London) where she’s from, they only offer chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice-cream, so she was overwhelmed by and excited about the selection. She still ended up getting plain chocolate ice-cream, but added a few M&M’s in it. Cassie got a Rocky Road cone, and I got Dulce de Leche. It was so scrumptious!
While we practically inhaled our ice-cream, Cassie led us to her favorite coffee shop in the area to get some free WiFi. It’s this place called Avista, a little bit off the beaten path, but that meant it wasn’t busy, and we could take advantage of the WiFi without having to pay for it on the ship.
Our time in Nassau was brief, and at 2 pm, we were back at it again. Lauren and I had more training, but today, we were trying on the Dr. Seuss costumes. I tried on both the Sam I Am and Thing 2 costumes. It was my first time being in a mascot costume, and holy blindness! I could barely see anything, but it was especially difficult in the Sam I Am costume.
After changing into our work uniforms (I finally got XS shirts that actually fit!), it was back to the grind. I hung out with the 6-11’s for the first time for about an hour before it was time for more training. We had a short break afterward then went to Kids’ Dinner. I played with the 2-5’s for an hour, did a half hour of training then did some activities with the 6-8’s.
After work, Cassie, Lauren and I went to the Love & Marriage Show, and it was hilarious! It’s like the Newlywed game, but with married couples of any length of time. It was incredible, and I had such a fun time. It’s really awesome that I’m able to go see the shows that the cast members put on. We have so much talent onboard, and it’s fun to support all of them and see them in action. There are lots of different shows that go on throughout the cruise, and certain acts switch in and out, so I’m looking forward to seeing more shows as my contract continues.
Check back soon for days 4 and 5!