Carrie's Adventures

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Never in my many years of playing the game, have I ever been able to stand up and yell ‘Bingo’. That was until a couple of nights ago ~ and then I managed to yell the words everyone wants to… BINGO.

In efforts to raise money for crew activities and property, they have a regular bingo each cruise. The bingo consists of 4 games, with the last one being the progressive jackpot. For those unaware of the bingo games, the progressive bingo is a LARGE jackpot that goes on a specified number of balls and if it isn’t won, then you the person who does eventually ‘Bingo’ gets the consolation amount.

So after having someone play a cruel joke on me where they told me my vacation was only going to be 3 weeks and that my next assignment would be to a Century Class ship which would mean I would be sharing a cabin, I begrudgingly gathered my friend Pam and headed down for the games. Grumpy and miserable, I sat on the couch and started playing the first game. Rules here aboard the Constellation have all Bingo players who require only one number to stand so that others are aware that the Bingo is near. So during the first game, I stand. The standers usually get a round of heckles and boos, and then it happened… The number I had been waiting for was called ~ O66. BINGO!! So my collection on that wonderful game was a whopping $66.00, and all of a sudden, I am starting to feel a bit better about things. The second game starts ~ single line which doesn’t take long to get a whole bunch of standers. I join the group and get sufficiently boo’d when I do get the ‘N’ ball I had been looking for. Another 70 big ones in my pocket. Game 3 was a write off, but it was when we were getting down to the last few numbers, I realized holy crap, I only need one more. As I stand for the 3rd time that evening, the glares I received were painful. Unfortunately the third time was not a charm and I was not to take the hat trick, but I can tell you, with the jackpot still available, I will definitely be going next week!!

Good thing I had such excellent Bingo training in my formative years!

Monday, August 15, 2005

The countdown is on

And I can’t believe that I have been here almost 6 months. With only 26 days left until I board the plane in London to head back to Vancouver, I find it amazing to realize how quickly it has passed by. My friend Beth, who has also worked on ships, warned me that this would happen. When I first arrived and it seemed to take forever for week one to pass, she would tell me that after I got used to the ship, I would get to the end of my contract and realize that there was much that I haven’t done ~ well she is right.

Things on the To Do list:
· Go and see one of the shows here on the ship
· Purchase my souvenirs from my favourite ports
· Make sure I get out on the excursion to the Hermitage and the Ice Bar
· Go out in Riga and Oslo ~ two ports that I have yet to go out in
· Send the stack of postcards that I have purchased but not yet written…

The current cruise is the last cruise for a couple of folks that I have been hanging out with. You realize once people you know start to leave that your time is coming up very shortly. You also realize just how close you have gotten to some of these people. The ship becomes your whole life for 6 months. They are your co-workers, your social network, and most importantly your support network. I have talked to a number of people who have come back for another contract and they say that going home for vacation is a strange experience. You have been so used to working every day for 6 straight months, that you almost don’t know what to do with yourself. You are also used to the social aspect that comes from being on the ship ~ evenings start at midnight or 12:30 even though you work the next day. At home, 11pm is often called a late night! So while I am excited about going home, seeing friends, seeing family and catching up on all that I have missed for the past 6 months I am also uncertain what else this time at home will bring up.

Things I am looking forward to doing:
· Driving my car with the top down through the mountains
· Having lunch at Anton’s and a Thai Chicken wrap!
· Seeing my Dad’s kitchen that he renovated over 18 months ago that I haven’t been home to see
· Seeing my sister’s new house ~ although I think I may be roped into painting…
· Visiting a new and amazing bakery in Peachland ~ Bliss Bakery
· Catching up with friends ~ both in BC and ON
· Going to a Sunday matinee with the girls, gossiping and munching on popcorn
· Having someone else who is far more qualified than myself wax my legs!

I am sure the 2 months will go by very quickly and I will find myself back in what has become the ‘usual’ environment. But I am looking very forward to catching up with everyone.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Venice of the North, or so they say...

Having never been on an excursion and with only 2 cruises left, I decided that I needed to get out and experience some of what the Shore Excursion team had to offer. The one tour that seems to be very popular is the tour to the Hermitage. Again, being slightly ignorant of some cultural aspects, until I came to St. Petersburg, I was unaware of what was held within the building but was told I needed to go. So despite being exhausted, I changed and headed for the pier. Once there, I found that the only tour to the Hermitage that I could get on was the Spanish speaking tour, however I could join another one… With the weather changing from cloudy and overcast to sunny and warm, I opted for the Rivers and Canals and it was fantastic.

Seriously the job being a Tour escort was not that difficult and it meant I could join the tour at no cost ~ double bonus. My responsibilities, walk at the end of the group. Hey I can do that, and given we were on a canal boat for half the tour, it was like I was a guest. In my travels into town, I have noticed that there are a number of canals, but you truly do get a different perspective looking at the buildings from the water.

As we toured through the water maze and made our way to the Neva river we passed ~ yes the Hermitage. Once out on the open waters, we were treated to the history and views of a number of buildings. It was actually quite nice to know what all the buildings were that I have been seeing in my shuttles from the ship to town.

The Hermitage is a museum/art gallery consisting of 5 buildings ~ one of which is the Winter Palace. It looks gorgeous from the outside… Maybe next time I’ll get to go in!

And true to form, this yellow building must be important as I took about 12 pictures of it ~ and can’t for the life of me remember why. Or the statues... LIZ ~ where are you when I need you?!?

The tower on the banks here are actually lighthouses. The other perspective I had of these was the night the group of us went to the Plaza night club and I took a picture of the morning sky ~ the lighthouses and Peter and Paul Cathedral were in the background. It is all coming together now!

The final showcase from the River tour was the Battle ship and naval academy. Apparently there is a museum in the ship and it depicts the life and times of a Russian sailor. Could be a cool place to check out.

After the boat ride ended, we took the bus to the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It was quite amazing to see all of the people lined up to see one church, but I suppose it is because it is the burial place of Peter the Great and Lady Catherine and other important Russian guys… (Liz?!?) I was in awe of the painting and metal work inside ~ unfortunately photos truly don’t give it the justice it deserves.

This was also when I started to lose people from the tour ~ at first I was concerned, and then, I realized there is no way to herd a group of adults if they want to wander off, so hey, let ‘em go. They can find the bus right?!?

In all, I’m glad my original plans for the Hermitage fell through ~ it was a beautiful day and very cool to see a more elegant/opulent side of St. Petersburg.

The Subway…

I love getting emails from my friend Karen. She has such a colourful way of describing her life, her surroundings and is always appreciative of the things in life that really matter. In closing she often says ‘lucky, lucky Karen’ and ya know, I have come to realize that I too am lucky, lucky Carrie. I have found some good people here on the ship, I am looking forward to going home to good friends and family and I have had an amazing experience. That’s not to say there haven’t been lows, and moments when I wonder what in the hell I am doing, but then there are the times when I look around and realize there isn’t anywhere else I would rather be.

This past St. Petersburg, I took in two tours. The first the Subway ~ I mentioned my friend Karen as she is a resident of Toronto and her colourful descriptions of the TTC and it’s riders make me grateful my morning commute is down the hall and up one floor. As we started the tour and started to check it all out, she was the first person to come to mind and I thought about whether or not her ride would be different if she had this incredible décor around her.

A group of us left the ship on a mission to hit the underground. We arrived with our guide, inserted our token (10 Rubels = less than 1 US dollar I think) and we made our way to the escalator. It was a quick moving thing and once you step on it, you are wisked into the darkness.

OK ~ we are going up the escalator, but you get the idea of how long it is...

We had 5 stops on the tour, each with their own distinct characteristics and beauty. The subway was originally opened in the 50s and the beauty of the stops was done purposefully, to give the people of St. Petersburg the sense of richness. So despite they were not well off, the state was able to afford to give them beautiful surroundings in their Public Transportation. The intention was to boost the moral of the people ~ hey Karen, perhaps they can paint your station!!

Stop 1:
The first stop and a cool statue of Puskin before the garden. A great poet who I had never heard of before travelling to St. Petersburg on a regular basis... Gosh, sometimes I think I may need to expand my cultural horizons!!

Stop 2:
This mural was made of marble and depicts the story of life in earlier Russian times. This is when I wish Liz was around as I know she would remember more of the story ~ I was a bit too busy looking around to take in what the guide was saying. Liz is good for that type of multi-tasking...

Stop 3:
This was one of my favourite stops. Each column had a different sculpture. I could have spent a long time just looking at them. The lights play a huge theme in the subway ~ with each stop using a different type of overhead lighting. It does leave the platform a bit darker, but in contrast to the flourescent glow, it was kind of nice...

Stop 4:
This stop was rather cool in that there were a number of columns and each of the columns were covered with cut glass. It is hard to appreciate from a photo, but the work was very detailed. The other amazing part was that there was no damage done to these. I'm not sure how hard it would be to break, but it was truly impressive to see that people respected them enough to not damage them.

The riders:
Part that was quite unbelieveable was that folks are able to drink on the subway. Note the gal in the photo below holding the bottle. Hey Karen, maybe she is onto something!!