Carrie's Adventures

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hangin' with the boys...

Well I must say the past 3 cruises have been nothing if not entertaining. Stefanos arrived onboard and shortly there after, Stavros ~ both Greek, both providing a very interesting perspective on life.

With Stef's arrival, my bar bill managed to grow about $300 in a cruise and a half. This takes into account only the money we manage to spend onboard. The evenings start with the Rendez-Vous lounge ~ where we gather, observe the folks around us and hassle Vasillis about his 'SQM socks'.

The scary part being that Ravi (the bartender) knows our numbers by heart and doesn't bother asking for the card any more. And for the most part, rarely asks what we want ~ I almost feel like Cliff or Norm at Cheers!

Some evenings that is enough for me ~ other evenings, I will continue with the boys up to the Navigator (the night club on board). The boys have their corner staked out ~ providing ample viewing of the dance floor from their location. There are some nights when it seems that I along with Alex are just plain silly ~ only thing that would be better is if Pam were here to be silly with us... But hey what can you do?

The excursions outside have revolved mostly around going out to eat ~ they seem to leave me out when it comes to the 'guy' activities ~ not that I really mind. This past cruise we got a bit more adventurous and headed out to Crystal Resort in Puerto Vallarta ~ to swim, eat pizza with double cheese and sit in the sun. Despite my best SPF 45 efforts, the nose still got burnt, and peeled like it always does...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zihuatenajo, Mexico

Pronounced Zee-what-in-eh-ho, this was my first exposure to Mexico. If you recall this was the port I flew into from Miami when I came to join the ship in January. Looking at it now, I again wish I had been able to just 'enjoy the ride' when I was coming into the port as this is one of my favourites. I tend to spend most of the time down by the water, but apparently the town is quite quaint as well.

Being another tender port, it is a bit of a pain getting off. With a tender service, as crew we need to wait until all guests have been taken by tender and there are no more queues to speak of. At that time, the ship will call 'Open Tender' and it is at this time that we are able to get off the ship. Generally this is about 2 hours after the ship has been cleared by customs ~ for me, this means around 11am. With our 2 different itineraries, the departure times vary, meaning that we alternate between 5pm and 2pm departures. Needless to say, we try to get out as early as possible.

When you get to the pier, there is a boardwalk which takes you along the shore. The first thing you run into is the local fishing boats and the markets. It is here where the locals will barter and sell you just about any Mexican souvenir your heart could desire.

Walking a bit further along there are restaurants ~ with the seating area firmly entrenched in the sand. It is quite relaxing as you sit and catch the breeze, hear the sounds of the ocean and enjoy the new location for the Corona patio...

And if you require entertainment ~ there always seems to be someone around who will sing to you... for a price.

If you keep walking along, you end up on a quieter strip of beach which also has it's own restaurants. Appearing to be a bit more posh, I did have to wonder how people would get to them as the only way in appeared to be the hike from the boardwalk ~ although I didn't really go out to discover, so surely there is some back way in.

I did manage to stop in a quaint restaurant to spend the afternoon. Took a book, put up my feet and just enjoyed the afternoon. As you can tell, the wind in my hair was also a highlight of the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Puerto Vallarta

I recall my first visit to Puerto Vallarta ~ it was 2004 and Beth and I managed to get an amazing deal as it was 'shoulder' season. We spend the week lounging in the pool, drinking the all included drinks and one night ventured into town. I remember her and I having dinner and she was pointing out where the ship docks saying that you see the ship out there while you are in town having lunch and try to forget that you need to return ~ in 30 minutes...

I went to lunch the other day at a restaurante recommended by Karene (HR lady from Class/Active). Irony of it was the person I was with was the HR Manager onboard and she is also an avid pasta fan. Anyway, looking out over the water, Julia (no, not Julie, Julia...) commented on how you could see the ship from here ~ and could you imagine watching it sail away. Funny how you have the same conversation with different people!

So I took the photos a while ago when I was out wandering the streets on my own. I must say that this is one of the favourites. Unlike Acapulco, it isn't as dirty and somehow seems more inviting. The walkway along the beach while quaint, still doesn't scream ~ come and swim, but I have gotten over that and realize my swimming is going to have to wait for Greece I think.

There are a number of folks who make their living by sculpting in the sand. The one below was the only one on the beach the other day, but it is quite amazing to see him work. He has lost the lower part of his left leg and moves around the sculpture on crutches. He has a 'water boy' who constantly mists the work of art to prevent it from crumbling in the Mexican heat ~ hmmm, do you think I could find a water boy of my own?!? Anyway, I think what he does is quite amazing and I am not one for handing out money to buskers ~ but he definitely got a few dollars.

Food ~ while Beth and I were here, I fell in love with the fresh Salsa. Nothing can beat the fresh tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeno peppers. Beth and I could have lived on it. So every opportunity I get to go and have a wee 'appetizer' I do. I do remember once being presented however with something that looked like Pace Salsa ~ the shock was almost more than I could bear! What is this? Prepared Salsa? In Mexico? Anyway, I love the open air restaurants and it seems that no matter where you go, you are able to sit, relax and generally just chill out. Something I am looking forward to now that someone else is the boss!!!

Back to the life as the Assistant

Well it is 6:26am and I am officially back to the life of the assistant. Yes, that is right, I am up at the crack of dawn doing the Night Audit. Only difference here is that I am not in a frigid computer room which really wakes you up! Here the office does have windows, but how depressing to see that it is still dark outside. I know Kathey used to watch the sun rise, but I'm thinking as soon as I can get my butt back into bed, I am there!!

Hard to believe I only have 3 weeks left before I am done. Although I must say it seems like forever since I was on the Constellation and that was only 4 months ago tops. Life has been a constant change here and I moved cabins for the 6th and final time here on Mercury ~ at least I hope to god it is the last time. I have been psudeo living out of a suitcase for the past week and a half and am beginning to wonder where I have put all of my underwear! Anyway, I still shouldn't complain as I am still in my own cabin despite the threats from the company to take this 'benefit' away from my position. There have been some other 'cuts' as well which impact shipboard life for us, such as public area privledges ~ so all in all, it may be time to weigh the pros/cons and decide if selling potatoes in rural Greece might not be a better idea.

With only 3 weeks or so until vacation, I have been working on my vacation plans which AGAIN seem to be jam packed and leave me with very little time in Vancouver. My friend Beth is currently living in Hong Kong ~ I think ~ as she seems to travel around Asia checking out the area and I am currently looking to go and visit her. They have just signed a lease for a 3 bedroom unit so it means I will have my own room and space to spare, which is awesome ~ particularly when I have been hearing stories of the small apartment she and her fiance were previously sharing!! So it looks as though I am actually going to need to plan a few things. I'm also thinking about selling Maggie the Miata. While it breaks my heart to do so, I am not sure that continually putting her in storage and not allowing someone to 'let her wild horses run' is best. Although I don't know what will be required to sell her, I think I am dreading that and my emotional attachment is what has prevented me from selling thus far. Well we'll see what happens ~ who knows!

We are coming to the end of our Mexican stint ~ we only have 2 cruises left and I leave on the repositioning cruise. It is amazing to realize just how fast the time goes.

Anyway, I have uploaded photos from Zihuatenaho and Puerto Vallarta from ages ago, and will write more tomorrow... Now that I have extra time in the office while I wait for the audit to finish!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Acapulco ~ Take 2

Well I have to say that despite Acapulco not being my favourite port, this past cruise was definitely an exception. So I woke up at 6 that morning despite not needing to do the audit, in anticipation. I had breakkie and then went to the office where there are windows. As I saw the Infinity pull into the Bay, the grin on my face grew noticibly larger. I don't think it was until the ship actually turned to dock and I saw the name that I actually believed they were here.

As fate would have it, not only were we not allowed on the each others ship, we also both had boat drill in the morning which resulted in our day beginning at about 11:30. The boys (Akis and Nikos) came by to say hello and stood outside the ship. As I walked off the gangway, Akis introduced himself and asked if I was there for the blind date... hahaha

We headed out of the pier off to a resort called Villa Vera. Akis had been there previously but it was new to me. We hung out for the day in a HUGE suite, swam in the pool and ate lunch. It was great to spend time with him again and I realize that he truly makes me smile and laugh ~ god love him for being perpetually 12.

Now had we been there longer, I would have for sure taken advantage of the tub ~ check this out, it is like your own private pool!!

This was the pool outside of the bungalow. There were only 8 rooms that used this pool so it was definitely a place to 'get away' from everyone.

So after being off the ship all day ~ what a treat that was ~ we headed back to the ship at 8pm to pick up our respective bosses to go out for a few drinks...

As we headed out to Paradise ~ a local hangout for the crew, we sat around a bucket of Coronas, drank, laughed, and the boys went bungee jumping. It seemed amazing how quickly the day could pass ~ almost 11 hours I got to spend with Akis this time. Despite needing to go our separate ways, we were both feeling better knowing that it would only be 32 days until we see each other again in Juneau...

The countdown is on!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What to do now....

So as you know, Akis and I have been on separate ships. January saw a large expenditure to go and visit Akis for the afternoon. I was very excited to see that the ships were meeting up in Acapulco on the 12th. We have spent the past 4 weeks looking forward to seeing each other again...

As you also know, we have been 'Code Red' for the past 4 weeks. We finally stepped down to 'Code Yellow', but that is still having an impact on our visit. I came into the office today to find the following email from the Staff Captain:

Dear all,
Please be advised that no visitors will be allowed during our stay in Acapulco from Infinity or the opposite as a precaution, due to our current Yellow code.
Sincere Regards,

My reaction ~ WHAT!! WHAT?!? After weeks of anticipation, we are now unable to visit each other on the other ship. I have been able to swing the day off, but just coming out of Dry Dock, I'm not sure if Akis will be so lucky to be able to get that much time off.

The moral support has been great ~ Event Coordinator Alex suggested the net and looking for a hotel, the Concierge Uma offered her services and has given a couple of options for the day while the others have lent their support and condolances... I figure, no matter how hard I try, the day can not possibley cost me $700 ~ so at least I am better off than last time.

Although, I have needed to sit and reflect ~ I joked about the possiblity of not getting on the ship due to the code Yellow/Red, but really never thought anything would come of it. So my suggestion ~ be careful what you put out there, it may just come and bite you in the butt!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mazatlan, Mexico

So a couple weeks ago, I managed to take a few hours off in the afternoon ~ before all this code Red stuff happened...

Being a bit of a beach gal, I decided to take a cab down to what is known as the 'Golden Zone' and stroll along the beach. It never ceases to amaze me the 'hotel strips' in these resort locations ~ the massive building perched on the edge of the beach ~ and us to clamour to them for some sort of reprieve from our everyday cold weather and existance. It is as though I have forgotten what it is like to be the guy working the regular '9 to 5' job and what a treat it is to be where I am everyday.

To get to the beach, I did have to take a cab ~ very cool open air cab which let me enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. As I went along, I did notice that there were these very colourful statues and at the time thought, I'll be back and can take photos later. What I didn't realize was that these were there only for Mardi Gras. We had stumbled upon one of the biggest parties of the year ~ 8 days of tequilla and any other intoxicating liquid that might meet your fancy. Apparenlty not much gets done during this week.

I was also given the opportunity to see some Cliff Divers. While not the same height as those in Acapulco, I was told that there is only a small number of divers that will dive from this cliff. Apparently the skill required is one of timing and accuracy. There is a small area which when the wave comes in swells to provide a deep enough hole for the diver to safely land. The cabbie stopped so I could watch this feat, however you do know that before he was to perform the dive, he and his co-divers managed to pass the hat around accepting any donations you may want to pass their way. Anyway, here he is...

On the Rocks...

Just about ready to go!
The plunge....

New boss is on board... and the bleach continues

You know how sometimes you just wonder if it is ever going to end? Where that elusive light at the end of the tunnel is? Well I gotta tell you the crew on Mercury are sure beginning to wonder. We did sail from San Diego on the 27th and the bleaching has continued. We have received various instructions from various people, spray and wipe, to spray and leave on, to spray and wipe again, and now we are back to just spraying. The unfortunate part of the 'just spray' theory is that the ship looks awful. Streaks running down what used to be clear glass, or reflective mirrors ~ it now looks like my car after it hasn't been washed in over a month and someone has written on the back 'Wash Me'.

We do have 2 folks onboard from Head Office to 'manage' the complaints from guests about the condition of the ship. I know these two have been running their tails off. They were previously in our office, so we would get a bit of a sneak peek at some of the complaints. To be quite honest, it is amazing to see what people are asking for ~ trying to get something for nothing. Each passenger was made aware of the situation at check-in and were given the option of not cruising, Celebrity would pay for their return flight home and credit the cruise allowing them to cruise on another date. Despite declining this offer, people are now coming out of the woodwork looking for any type of discount/credit possible. Amazing really.

The other big event of note is Stefanos' arrival. A permanent DSM, he is now here and I am once again the assistant. To be quite honest, I am ok with that. It means that I am not the one who is going to get the phone call in the middle of the night to fix the phones, or cause the server has crashed. The hard part is going to be getting used to do what someone tells me to do again. My routine will have me back to doing the night audit in the morning ~ so yes 6am will be coming early. This time however, I do need to wait for the process to complete which I hope means I will have more time to write and do all those things I have felt I just didn't have time for.

The other exciting note is that we are going to be meeting up with the Infinity next cruise. It has been over 2 months since my brief but expensive visit with Akis. We are lucky as both ships are going to be docking in Acapulco in about a week. I have already let Stefanos know that I will be taking the day off! It is also good that this is a late port ~ we don't sail until 11pm ~ so I do have a lot of time to see him. This will be good as I know the distance has been taking it's toll.

Hard to believe though ~ only 6 weeks and then I'm done this contract ~ don't have the tan, but maybe that will change if Stef doesn't work me too hard. =)