Carrie's Adventures

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

So what does love cost?

Flight: $488.10
Shuttle from Miami to FLL: $34.00
Taxi to Hotel: $18.00
Hotel: $88.00
Taxi to Pier: $15.00
Taxi back to Hotel: $15.00
Taxi to Airport: $14.00
Spending the afternoon with Akis after being apart for 3 months: Priceless

So some may think I am crazy, and perhaps I am inclined to agree with them. But when I found out that I was going to be flying out from San Juan on Saturday and I might be able to see Akis on Sunday in Port Everglades, I needed to see what I could do to see him. He did say to me, don't spend money ~ but I also knew that if I didn't it was going to be another 3 months before I saw him.

So the story goes...
* I94 had me leaving from DFW to ACA but I didn't notice that it expired on Feb 28th so I freaked out thinking that the ticket I just bought I wouldn't be able to use as I would have to leave from the airport in Dallas.
* I get to Miami and realize I'm staying in Coral gables... completely the opposite direction from Fort Lauderdale
* Book a seedy hotel on line as everything is booked for the cruise lines and the cheapest non-seedy I could find was $150/night
* Arrange transport to the FLL airport that doesn't cost a fortune
* Get to seedy hotel and they won't let me check in until 3pm
* Didn't want to take bags to port as I didn't know if they would be able to bring them in ~ call Akis (where he proceeds to run around the ship like a rabbit trying to find somewhere for me to leave my luggage on the pier...)
* Feel at this point I should have rented a car and I could have left them in the trunk
* Meet guests who managed to sweet talk the manager into giving them a room for 18 people's bags... and they let me keep my bags there ~ god bless them. Only condition was I needed to give Akis a kiss from each of them. I was hoping the group was bigger than 18 at that point!
* Taxi to port, see Akis...
* Taxi back to hotel, spend the night and get a late wake up call...
* Arrive at airport, and my bags are overweight. I give the man $100 to pay for the bags after repacking one to make it underweight. (Nothing like displaying your underwear in front of everyone at check-in... Hey haven't I had this dream before?!?) Then forget to get change from the $100 bill I gave to the man, and he chases after me to give it back. See there are still good people.
* Stress that I have booked the flight to the wrong airport
* Arrive in Ixtapa and can't speak english and stress that they don't know where to take me. Hand over the $25 to the cab driver and figure, if I don't make it on the ship, I'll stay have a Margarita and then fly to San Diego for embark....

I am pleased to say that I did make the ship ~ and of course as is the way with hindsight ~ I think, geez, if only I could have relaxed a bit, this could have been an enjoyable 'break'.... Ahhh, who says I'm not Type 'A'?!?

Departure from the Constellation

So as you know, there were 2 fish. Well, somewhere during the last 2 weeks of my charge, it would seem that these 2 also fell to the same fate as their previous tankmates. I came home one evening to find that both remaining fish were now laying at the bottom of the tank, on their side... Not a good sign. As I looked at them, I tried to recall when I last fed them... Wasn't today, don't know about yesterday, so I think I am officially pronouncing cause of death as being starvation. Although it does seem odd that both of them would kick it on the same day. So once the bodies began to float, it was time to dispose of the evidence and plot the acquisition of the next batch. The internet research did not fair so well and it would seem that pet stores in the Caribbean are at a bit of a premium. I did manage however to learn that there was a very large pet store with many fish in the mall... This was the place I needed to be.

So I hauled myself out to the mall on Embark day on a quest to replace those that had passed on. I think the most amazing part was that for $1.00 I managed to replace them with 6 new ones. Hell had I known they were so cheap I would have not spent all those bottles of Evian trying to save the others. The size however was going to need to be explained to George ~ I figured the line 'they aren't smaller, you just remember them bigger' was a safe one to go with... Although ultimately, I ended up owning up to the deed. Believe it or not, it wasn't so bad. George acknowledged that perhaps they had a full life ~ all 18 months and that it was time to carry on. He was intrigued to note that I did not flush the fish, as this was his method of disposal for the one which did not survive in his care.

To perpetuate my image as a 'fish killer', there was one incident with the 'new' batch. The runt of the litter seemed to have a bit of a bum fin. This fin would cause him to not swim quite so well. I came back the day before I was to leave to find him stuck, ass backwards in the filter. Yes that is right, the fish was sucked up by the filter... Thinking there may be some fight left in him, I unplugged the filter but instead of merrily swimming out, he eventually dislodged and started to float. Akis has told me I am not allowed to go near his iguana when he gets it... I think I now have the reputation.
Aside from this, I spent the last few days trying to make arrangements so I could visit Akis while I was in transit from San Juan to Acapulco. This proved to be more difficult than I thought, but hey, the things we'll do for love...

Christmas on the ship

Just before I finished my last contract, I came to the realization that this year, going home for the holidays was simply not going to be an option. After having them come out to Vancouver last year, I thought I might be pressing my luck to have them come and visit me on the ship, but hey, if you don't ask you never know. So in August, I floated the idea ~ how about you come and spend Christmas with me on the ship... Well, Krista jumped and said, 'if it's warm, I'm coming...' and Dad wanted to know more details. It was finally confirmed just before coming back to the Constellation that yes, they would look at flights and then the email came that they had booked. =)

The arrived on Christmas eve ~ ready to go. They were booked in my cabin, which when Krista saw it figured it was going to be close quarters for the week, however we were fortunate that we were able to find another cabin for them and they had a cabin with a balcony! The cruise itself had limited ports ~ there were only 3 port days the whole week ~ but we managed to get out in all of them to see some of the sights.

Krista, tired from all of the kids being wound up for Santa went to bed early after arriving. Dad and I managed to meet up on the open deck to watch the ship sail away. The following day was Christmas and we were at sea. So Christmas day, they were up searching for deck chairs ~ apparently a difficult task with 2000 guests looking for somewhere to sit. They managed to watch the 'chair' phenomenon and actually disagree with a woman and her son when they 'stole' Krista's chair. Who knew the holiday spirit could be so feisty.

The second day we were in Dominica. We decided to go on an excursion that took us through the rainforest on the back of a jeep and to a wee swimming hole which was completely enclosed by rocks.

The Jeep:

Dad on the Jeep:

The Rainforest

The 'Hot Spring'

I thought that the swimming as it was described was going to be at a warm beach ~ but alas, it was cold, like Lake Huron and I had to do the frantic doggie paddle to get into the water. Once in, it was pretty cool though ~ only downfall, was that I couldn't take my camera in for pictures. One of the highlights of the excursion was the people we met. There was one gal from New York who was very quick on her feet ~ when asked a personal question by another lady travelling with us about the size of her boobs and whether she had ever considered a reduction, she took it all in stride saying that they were in fact 'party tricks' and she liked to bring them out on occassion. I found it all particularly amusing ~ as did Krista who piped up that she will never have that problem...

Aruba was a beach day. We headed out to try and catch some rays in the overcast morning. We found the beach, managed to take out Krista's new from Santa Del Ray frisbee (which turns purple in the sun) and played a bit in the water. I managed to become rather 'red' through out the process, but it was good to go ~ my first time to the beach in Aruba. As the rains came, we headed to the only place under cover and had a wee snack as we watched others come and lounge. There was a hammock at the end of the dock that seemed to call to people as they swung in it, drank their beer and enjoyed the siesta.

Jim enjoying the sand:

The Hut with the hammock and food!

The beach...

Dad then treated us to dinner out that night. We went to an Italian place where the portions were huge and the cats wandered freely in the restaurant. Open air on the harbour, it had a nice ambiance and to be honest, for me, it was just nice to have something other than ship food. Although I did manage to get to the Alternative restaurant, the Dining Room twice and the Speciality restaurant with them while they were here. My diet of salad normally seen in the mess had definitely been supplimented that week!

Curaco ~ the sunny home of the Dutch. It is cute, never been here before, and was amazed at all the colours. It seemed much more affluent of islands,and this was apparent by the money that was spent on the up keep of the buildings.

We managed to walk around town and find a small cafe setting to sit and have a beer ~ Dad insisted that he needed to sit and have a beer in the cafe and watch the people go by... =)

The last day was a sea day and once again the hunt for the chairs was on. Although I must admit that they did a good job as everytime I came past they managed to be sitting in one and not on the deck. It was great to have them on and I realize just how important it is to have family and those that you love around. This year Christmas was not commercial ~ in fact there were no gifts ~ but rather the biggest gift being the company of those who are important. They left San Juan on Saturday and it was hard to see them go, but I know that Dad is eager to see Alaska now, and who knows, I just may see about taking him on Infinity this summer when Akis get to Vancouver!

Beth arrives!!

My first visitor on board was my friend Beth. Looking for a bit of a get away, she emailed on Sunday and said 'Can I come this Saturday?'. After some stressing about making sure that she got on the list, and the last minute planning of the flight, I saw her standing waving to me from the guest area in the pier in San Juan. The cruise was pretty low-key with Beth rediscovering that sometimes once you have seen a Caribbean port, you have seen them all... She had her own key, she had her own bunk and I came to realize that I think she had her own deck chair!!

Having worked on a ship before Beth had been to some of the ports before and actually took me out in St. Thomas, into town to see the sights. Being 2 weeks before the holidays both of us were on the hunt for the 'right' gift and neither of us could believe that the holidays were coming, especially in light of the heat and the palm trees.

So to cap off the week, we sat and drank Coronas. No, it wasn't the Corona patio, but it was pretty damn close!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Carrie resurfaces in the New Year!

So I have been very bad at updating the blog ~ and once again, I find myself needing to write a months worth of activities! Let’s go with the highlights and lowlights…

First week on my own was a bit rough. Trying to get my feet under me, I found that I had a limited amount of patience ~ and that amount was not very big. The first few weeks I struggled with my assistant. There were some ‘late arrivals’ that did not go over well with me, particularly since it seemed to start happening once George left. The other was coming to the understanding that I was going to need to mentor him from the ground up. I am glad to say that things have gotten better, but there we a couple tough days…

Fish #2 ~ kicked the can. After the seemingly miraculous rescue of the hemorrhaged fish, I thought I was going to be in the clear. With only one replacement this wouldn’t be too difficult to manage. Alas, the second ‘belly up roomie’ came as a result of the ‘ick’. Now not being in the know when it comes to goldfish, everyone else was very happy to dispense advise… Go get drops they said. While seemingly logical advise, I had to scratch my head and wonder ~ where on the 37 square miles that makes up St. Maarten am I going to find a pet store that carries ‘anti-ick’ drops? While I pick on St. Maarten, I think just about every port we visit could fit in this category ~ Grenada? Margarita Island? I mean really…. So fish #2 ~ official cause of death…. Ick.

Fish #3: Well it seems that I am going through them at rapid rate… Kind of like toilet paper, but hey what can you do? With the Ick infestation in the tank, I decided to save the remaining lot, I would need to disinfect the tank. Now all of this seems very logical and could only lead to good things. Well I pulled out my connections, managed to get myself some bleach to disinfect the tank and we were in business. Beth, refused to assist but felt that in a supervisory capacity she could be of great service. As the tank was in the bottom of the shower, bathing in a bleach/water solution, I decided that all of the rocks, plants, etc would also need to be disinfected. Setting them aside, this was going to be Phase 2. Scrubbing the tank I felt that the remnants of the ‘ick’ could not have possibly survived that cleaning and prepared the tank for new water. I filled it, added the chemical and took it back to it’s home on the desk. The reintroduction of the fish was not as well received, as I would have liked. One of the fish proceeded to swim like a maniac around the tank like he had just lost his mind. Again with 3 more bottles of water, I scooped the suspect fish out into his own tank… I’m sorry to say that this one didn’t make it. So the official capacity of the cabin is now 3 – Carrie and 2 Koy. George doesn’t know yet. However the rest of the officers are enjoying giving me a hard time about it.

Embarkation on Christmas Eve AND New Years Eve? Well I don’t need to say any more about that ~ the guy who wrote the schedule should be shot. Leaving out of San Juan also means that embark goes until 10:30pm… Yes, I was in the mood to celebrate after a 14hr day!

Cold and Flu Season is not restricted to those who live in colder climates. I have spent every day of ’06 battling the flu. After spending every day last week in bed when I was not in the office, I can tell you the 2 hrs of sunshine on the beach, while hacking up a lung, was much appreciated.

But enough of that….

Beth came to visit! Having been a former Royal employee, Beth is no stranger to the whole cruising in a cabin bit. The Murphy bed above mine worked out really well as she came, vegged out and we had a chance to catch up a wee bit. Not to mention stir up the staff as Beth read cards for folks and I learned things that nobody would have ever told me in a million years!! The fall had been very tough, so I was glad she was able to come out, relax and unwind a bit before she decided to take a whirlwind adventure… She has convinced me that I need to see Asia ~ somewhere I have really had no desire to travel. So it looks like that will be one of the destinations late this spring once I finish this contract.

Dad and Krista came to visit. Knowing I would be spending the holidays on the ship, I had asked that they come for the holidays back in the summer. There was some discussion when I was home on my vacation and I am very glad that they decided to. We managed to spend a fair bit of the week together, eating somewhere on the ship most nights, or out in the Italian place in Aruba with the wandering cats. I also managed to put in fewer hours that week, taking advantage of a Tour in Dominica as well as the Beach in Aruba. We did manage to see a fair bit given that the cruise had 3 sea days out of 7. Next cruise may be Alaska with Akis in the summer, but Krista has already advised if it ain’t warm, she ain’t going…

I have progressed to Lesson 8 on my Greek CDs. While Akis still thinks they are ‘malakia’, I like to think that I am making an effort. Albeit, it is progressing at a rather slow pace, and the general thought is I will be a grandmother by the time I will be able to converse with someone… But hey, the effort is there ~ the next batch of 30 lessons should be arriving shortly! Look out ~ Athens, me and my bad Greek will be there in 5 months!

In taking on George’s role, I have had a tremendous amount of support from folks both here on the ship and the folks shoreside. It has been a good experience and while I snubbed my nose at the implications to my resume, I realize that new experiences are never bad. They help us to grow, and I think I have done some of that here.

Well I only have 2 more weeks before I pack my bags here and head over to the Mercury and check out Mexico. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beth appear at the pier… (yes, this is an invitation…) I also have my ladies who we talked about having them come down to the Caribbean with me and I just never managed to get my stuff together, something I will need to check out and see how interested they are in Mexico…