Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

When it rains…

…it pours.

This entry is really several days worth. No ports recently. I’ve been port manning, which means I can’t leave the ship for a week. Then our sound technician, who was the Tech on Duty had to leave for a family emergency. Since I was stuck on the ship anyway, I took on the On Duty jobs too. It’s not that much more. But then we have cast change. As the back stage manager, I am required to do set ups and breakdowns for the new cast. I’m not complaining about all that. It’s my job. And I like my job. It’s just a lot. I was doing okay.

And then everything changed when the theatre attacked.

On Sunday, everything was set for our show. Everyone was in places, and the announcement was made. The music played….and no lights. The timecode for the music wasn’t being read by one of the lighting machines. We had to stop the show—well, I it never really started. We brought out a comedian instead. And then the curtain broke. When we couldn’t figure out the light problem before the second show, that was canceled too.

For a couple hours, one of the A/V techs and I worked on the motorized pulley, while the replacement sound tech and the light tech worked on the timecode problem, both with very few results. The next day, we went back at it fresh with a couple ship engineers…at 8 in the morning. The lighting technician had someone from the main office come to help with that situation. It turns out that for that, the machine that reads the timecode just flat out died. Apparently, the power has been surging lately.

As for my curtain issue, the track that the curtains travel along was slightly bent and twisted, causing the cable that pulls it to slacken and then twist and tangle around the motorized pulley. First, the engineers rebent and clamped the track together, and I worked for about 5 hours by myself trying to figure out the rethreading of the pulley. It sounds like it took a long time, but it’s very precise work, and there were several false starts. I was wicked proud of myself, especially considering that I have never really officially learned anything about rigging except for hanging drops. And motorized drops are a new territory for me.
And then the curtain broke again. My ego was sad. The company that actually fixes the curtains, SRS, is coming on to completely replace the curtain cables on Monday.


On top of all this, all the entertainment techs and staff are getting wicked sick. I’ve been coughing up my lungs for a few days now. But I have so much work to do that I don’t want to go to the medical centre and get signed off, which means I couldn’t do any part of my job.


All in all, I just keep being thrown into situations and learning new things.

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Enjoy the view

With all my trainings and worrying about how on Earth I’m going to remember all of what I’ve learned, I haven’t really gotten out to see many sights, or even explore the ship that much.

I did yesterday though, and realized what a wonderful view I have right outside my theatre:

There was a beautiful lightning storm out there last show.

Now that most of my long trainings are finished, I’m going to explore the ports more thoroughly. Ironically, I explored the most in Key West, and we spend the least amount of time there. Though there is much less area to cover on that little island.

So I’m starting to relax into a routine. I should be posting more pictures soon. I need to buy a new camera though. My iPod won’t cover it sometimes.

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Identify yourself.

One thing I cannot get used to is having to wear my name tag every time I step out of my cabin. I keep forgetting, and sometimes I don’t want to put a pin though my clothes. I’m especially forgetful when I’m just running up to grab food from the crew mess. And during the shows I have to take off my name tag, so it doesn’t fall off on stage while I’m working.

And the ID cards are required for entering and leaving the ship, getting paychecks and portmanning.

The last ID I just got was my Pryotechnics card! Level 3 or something. It’s pretty cool.

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Solo at sea.

This is my first cruise without the person I was replacing. I was so nervous that I called a tech run, which actually went pretty well. The actual show went pretty well too, except I raised one of the curtains too early, but luckily everything behind it was set, and the backdrop pretty much matched the tone of the song being sung. All in all, it could definitely have been worse. I feel better about being on my own now. I already have a few repairs to do that I didn’t notice before. But now, I can start to relax into a routine.

And speaking of relaxing, I have volunteered to be a spa model for embark days. This means that in exchange for letting people walk in on the session (with everything including my face covered, of course), I get a $200 treatment for free. it wasn’t entirely relaxing, but I felt pretty good afterwards. I don’t know many details about what it does, but there are electrodes and algae. And if I keep doing it, I’ll have a six pack by the end of the contract. I’m okay with that.

Because of the tech run, I did not spent time in Nassau. I’ll have to explore next week.

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First test

Yesterday was the first time I did one of the shows (almost) by myself. There were a couple moments where I froze, and my (for lack of a better word – he’s the person I’m replacing) boss asked “what’s next?” and I said “I dunno!” and rushed to my cue sheets. There are some times where I tried to rush, but there was nothing to do, and other times where I was caught off guard about what I was supposed to do. Several things went wrong with the show that I could not have prevented, like people getting injured during the show. Luckily we are having a tech rehearsal this week. Just for me!

I’m realising now how much I need paper photographs. My side of the room is woefully bare, while my roomie has many photographs all over. I’m sure I’ll collect post cards and pictures along the way. Pretty much all I have is a photo of Frank and me from our senior prom, and I just bought a tiny painting from Key West, and a Jimmy Buffett magnet…

I had crowd control training today, so not much time for Cozumel. I’m coming here next week to go to the beach and some shops.

I also need some new music. Comment with suggestions?

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There are wild chickens in Key West…

My first venture in Key West this cruise. Touristy as it is, I love the Keys.

We haven’t got a lot of time here every week. We come into port at 7 am and leave at about 2 pm so that we can get to Nassau the next day.

There are some fascinating shops here (some not so fascinating ones, too). Really, I don’t much like the shops that cater to people about my age and college kids. Some of the t-shirts they sell are vulgar, and some are just stupid.

I went into a shop called Pelican Poop, though, bought something for my cabin, and had a nice conversation with the cashier about the wild chickens.

I also passed this wonderful cake shop:

The shop is called Cakes by Karol, and really you should check out her gallery. Her cakes are fantastic.

I also went to a conch shop to grab a few post cards. It was neat in there too.

I’ll have to visit more places next time I’m here.

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First week – 2 cruises

First week – 2 cruises

There is definitely a steep learning curve. Of course I have the boat drills and safety briefings, but I’m worried that I’ll never get the shows. Everyone keeps saying that I’ll be fine. I can’t hear that phrase without cringing anymore. And I’m sure I’ll say the same thing to the person who replaces me in so many months. Frank has been saying it for like 3 months.
I have 4 pages of typed notes for each of the two main shows, plus hand-written notes in the margins for myself. Each one is about an hour long, and I’ve been watching the videos of them as much as I can. Sometimes I refer to my notes and try to imagine what I’m doing during each number. Sometimes, I do something different (like working on my swap project/Chrismakkah presents) while I just listen to the music, so I can know what songs there are and when they happen.
One of the shows is fairly steady in terms of cues per section. The other has waves of business. So I can rest for like 2 minutes at a time, doing just one or two cues, but then I’m scrambling for about 45 seconds getting 11 or 12 cues done.
With all the rehearsals, safety trainings, and other random stuff I’m required to do as a recent sign-on, I hadn’t been able to get off the ship since Cozumel, even though we stopped back in Miami and Nassau. In Miami, we had a couple weddings on board. It was pretty, and I’m sure the price is good, considering the honeymoon is pretty much included, and the ship provides for the reception and everything. I don’t know though…I don’t think, after seeing one, that I’d want a wedding aboard a cruise ship. Probably especially after working on one.
I hope I’ll learn everything quickly, so that I can start enjoying The ship and ports properly.

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First Cozumel

My first stop! Cozumel!

I’m not seeing much of it today. I’m really just using the closest restaurant for their internet. It was a shock (though it should really have been unsurprising) to find my Google giving me all Spanish results lol…

My first couple of days have been filled with paperwork and brainwashing. That was the first thing I thought when I heard the soothing female voice in one of the safety videos I had to watch. Most of it common sense stuff.

It’s the theatre stuff that’s melting my newly washed brain…

In Kings Dominion (the theme park where I worked for nearly two season) I had cues enough to keep me busy for a 20 minute show. Ten at the most, probably this year, and looking for things to do during the show. Here, I have four typed pages for just one show, and that’s just what I do! On top of that, I supervise 6 guys who work in other departments, but work as stage hands for the shows.

Probably the most exciting part at this point is that I need pyrotechnical training. We have four pyro cues in the show, and I need to be able to tell when it is safe for each cue to fire.

I am so nervous that I won’t be able to learn everything before my predecessor leaves…


Oh, and here’s a photo of my ship I took today:

The Carnival Imagination!

Here’s where I sleep, top bunk!

I get a little curtain for privacy, and a little light over my head for lit up privacy 😀

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Day -1

It’s the day before I set sail 😀 But, I guess if tomorrow’s Day 1…would that make today Day 0? …No, there was no year 0 lol…


Last night (though it seems much longer…I have had a long day), we had a going away party with the family. They surprised me with a cake and everything

That’s a picture of my ship, the Imagination! On the cake!

Carnival Cruise Lines provided my plane ticket and hotel room for one night.

This is a (stock) photo of my swanky hotel:

I’n’ it pretty? King sized bad and a room to myself. My mother said that the hotel managers put us in big rooms because they know we’ll be packed like sardines for the next six months lol.

So, tomorrow at 9 am I leave in a shuttle to port. I’m so nervous and excited. I’ll try to take an actual picture of my ship instead of using a stock photo. I probably won’t even be able to post at all until Friday, when we’re back in the US.

As for nervous and excited, all week I’ve been bombarding Frank’s inbox with questions about what to expect and what to bring. I’m still worried I brought too much…or not enough… :/

Did I mention I’m nervous? And excited?

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