Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

New Pride


We’ve started a new contract on a ship called the Carnival Pride, and boy is it…something.

This contract started in Hollywood, Florida for a month. Frank and I were selected to bring out new shows to the Pride. We were provided with a little furnished house to live in with our supervisors, and went every morning to a warehouse that was converted into a rehearsal studio.

This was our little house.


There wasn’t much to do except go to the studio most days, but every Monday, there was a gathering of food trucks not too far from where we were staying. We made a point of getting out of the house and going every week.


The month went fairly slowly. While I had all the set pieces and most of the props for the shows, and Frank had all the sound equipment he needed, most of the time I’d set up a scene and then they’d spend all day in that one scene. There were days I did nothing but cross stitch. I tried to watch videos of the shows and write the cue sheets, but my supervisor left after just a few days to demolish the old shows, so I had little direction. It didn’t matter…all the paperwork I did there was eventually scrapped, and we did everything from scratch…but I digress.

In the last few days of October, we were sent to the Pride while it was in dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas. We had to take the tiniest plane ever! And, clearly, the whole airline was on what we call “island time,” because the plane was sitting at the gate when we arrived at the airport, but we didn’t start boarding until what was supposed to be departure time.


The flight was super short, though, and we actually got to the Bahamas at the time we were supposed to. Our luggage, however, did not. I suppose they didn’t consider that at least 10 of the passengers would be packing for 7 months, and the rest would have tools and equipment…about 100 lbs per person. The plane ended up being too heavy to fly, and without telling us, the airline personnel took several bags off the flight, including one of Frank’s, and one of mine. We were not happy, to say the least. Luckily, there was another flight coming from that same airport that evening, so we eventually did get our bags.

For dry dock, basically the entire ship was undergoing renovation while sitting on blocks out of the water. We missed the worst part, apparently, but there was still no air conditioning some days, and the water was shut off at night. There were a couple days when the water wasn’t shut off, but we couldn’t use it because of fluoride.

We could get off the ship in the evening if we had time, and take a chartered bus from the port to Port Lucaya, about 30 minutes away, for decent food and internet. The bus only had about 50 seats on it, and left on the half hour. Some bus drivers were sticklers for having only the amount of passengers that there were seats, which means some nights, people got left behind to either wait an hour or take a taxi. Luckily, Frank and I were never left behind, but there was never a line, just a mob of people elbowing other people to get out of their way. It was frustrating and chaotic, and gave a real insight to how certain people operate.

We finally set sail on November 7th (maybe? The days ran together…) and got to Tampa on the 9th (definitely the 9th). Our department still had several shows to install. We opened with two main shows and the Love and Marriage show, but we have 7 day cruises, so we brought on several variety show acts to fill the other nights. We still had two main production shows and three other shows/games to install. Every week we opened something new for another month or so.

That month was…interesting. I learned about working with bosses whose idea of encouragement was kind of degrading. I also learned how difficult it is working under two people who are at the same professional level in the hierarchy…especially when they don’t share certain visions.

But it’s over! The Office Personnel have left, we’re in operation, and the ship is ours now. We’ve opened 4 great production shows from PLAYLIST ™ Productions, and Carnival’s Hasbro the Game Show, which is actually kind of fun (go Red Team!).

This is the first time I’ve been able to get off the ship anywhere but Tampa the entire time we’ve been in service. Frank’s stuck on the ship on duty, so I took the day to just see the sun for more than ten minutes at a time and grab some free-ish WiFi. More updates coming soon!

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A Long Awaited Journey

So I’m here in Orlando. All by myself. For a couple days until my job starts and I’m on the high seas for six months.

What’s a Harry Potter nerd to do? In Orlando?

Convince her friend to play hookey and GO TO HARRY POTTER WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so hooray and, seriously, finally. I’ve been wanting to go for AGES.

Walking in, I was literally skipping. I’m 24 years old, and jumping up and down to get to this place. Worth it.



The entrance. I don’t know what the spell limit means. Is it the speed at which you can cast spells? Is it the number of spells you can produce per hour? Do you get pulled over more often if you have a red wand?



I wanted to ride it. Also, it was quite something to see snow on all the buildings. In May. In Florida.

Then I saw this!


They’re expanding!!!

So we went to Honeydukes first (and then last, because we didn’t want our chocolate that we knew we’d buy to melt)



They had so much stuff! And Zonko’s was attached (I didn’t take pictures there). I loved all the packaging on all the stuff. Also, I really didn’t know what “sweet” smelled like until I walked in there. I don’t know if it was just from all the candy, or from them pumping in the smell (which I know for a fact happens…KD is going to reek this year at Haunt from all the not-as-much-scary-as-really-really-gross smells in all the haunted mazes), but it was almost too much.

Then we went straight to the Three Broomsticks for the obligatory Butterbeer.


They have it on tap!IMG_0178

I had to get the far-too-expensive souvenir cup 🙂



^Profile pic if ever I saw one.

I’m not going to lie, though. I feel like a bad Harry Potter fan, but…I don’t think I’ll buy Butterbeer again. It was far too sweet for me, which is a sign of my getting-old-ness. In the fourth book, when the trio goes to visit Dobby and see that Winky is drunk off the stuff, Harry says it’s not strong, but Dobby counters that it’s strong for a house elf. I honestly think that there should be an adult version with a bit of alcohol in it. The bitterness would cut the sweetness nicely.

Or maybe I’ll just stick with Strongbow.

We rode the Dragon Challenge and chose the Hungarian Horntail. I should have taken pictures of the outside part of the queue line. It has banners cheering on the various TriWizard Champions. Cedric’s was bittersweet. They were all clever.

We went to the Hogwarts castle next.

Outside, the winged boars:


Wide shot of the castle:


I was quite unsure what to expect, but the queue line was easily the best part of the entire thing.

In fact, I might have held up the line for a few seconds at a time because I was taking pictures EVERYWHERE.

The first part was inside. (I think it would have been awesome if there was a boat ride to the castle…but whatever 🙂 )

Bad flash picture of the Mirror of Erised!


I didn’t see anything but myself…so I must be pretty happy with the way things are!



I think it might be Salazar Slytherin (?) because then we see this:


A pipe from the Chamber of Secrets!

And the Potions Storeroom. I think…



The next part was outside…in the greenhouse!


We are such dorks. The entire time we were in here, we talked about how awesome it would be to be on the design team for this place.



A welcome statue with the icons of each house.



I still can’t find the snake though :/

Ooh ooh! House points!


On Pottermore, I was sorted into Hufflepuff. Go, Hufflepuff, go!

More statues!IMG_0193

I took a picture of this tapestry because it was used in the imagery of a play I was in called “Night Train to Foggy Bottom.” At that point in the play, I was trying to seduce a unicorn. It was a weird play.

IMG_0194 IMG_0196

The griffin the guards Dumbledore’s office!!



The people in the pictures were talking about us…


Map of Hogwarts. It reminds me of the old 8-bit world maps from Legend of Zelda…


The Portrait Gallery! They were talking about us, too.

Salazar Slytherin:


Helga Hufflepuff:IMG_0200

Godric Gryffindor:IMG_0201

Rowena Ravenclaw:IMG_0202

Then we went to Dumbledore’s office.

Spindly instruments!IMG_0203


And the Pensive!IMG_0207



Ooh, and he spoke to us lol


The hologram was actually really good all throughout this line. Colour me impressed.

Next was a Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. For some reason, the trio was trying to rescue us from History of Magic boredom here.

I found the skeleton parts fascinating. I’ve often wondered about the biological studies of the Wizarding World.







And the Fat Lady! She wanted us to take her portrait to the Quidditch pitch so she could see Harry fly.IMG_0220

Then it was time to spend MOAR MONIES.


Hawthorn, 11 inches. Doesn’t match my Pottermore one, but I like it 🙂


Phoenix feather core. Why not?




Not made of the best chocolate, but still good. I’m nibbling it as I type this!

And, of course, the chocolate frog card:





It was quite the day. We had just the right amount of time. More, and we would have gotten bored. Less, and we wouldn’t have spent so much money.


End of hiatus!



I’m getting back to the ships. Today, I drove…*checks Google Maps*…over 800 miles today to get to Orlando. Sunday, I will be shipping out of Port Canaveral on the Carnival Sensation. So, I have a couple days to kill (after I get some stuff done which is the reason I’m here so early in the first place). I’m going to try to get to Harry Potter world!!

Anyway. Here are pictures from my drive.

Start: Virginia.

As I drove south, I got to say good bye for real to Kings Dominion


I’ve had some really awesome times at that place 🙂

There was no leaving sign, so next is…


Notable fact about North Carolina: my best friend went to college there. She has a blog about food. Read it.

Of course, just south of North Carolina is…   IMG_0153

Winner overall for classiest Welcome sign. Thank you, South Carolina, for your kind words and brickwork.

Then this happens:IMG_0154

When I was younger, my family lived in Florida and we’d drive to Virginia twice a year to visit my grandparents. We had a couple games we’d play in the car, and one of them was to try and count the amount of billboards advertising this place. They start about 100 miles out.

South Carolina also wishes you farewell:


You’re welcome, South Carolina.

Hello, Georgia.IMG_0159

Now, here I stopped to get gas right before Florida and use the restroom. This was the men’s room:


Pretty standard.

Then I saw the women’s bathroom:


Wtf? Why did that need to be pointed out? Even though there were two stalls, I locked the main door too.

Final stretch!


And now, I’m in my hotel. In a giant bed. Sooooo sleepy.

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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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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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