Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

New Pride

IMG_0146

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.

IMG_1241

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.

IMG_1237

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.

IMG_1243

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!

Leave a comment »

Hey, we’re not hermit crabs!

We do go out sometimes once. Last Nassau day, Frank and I got off the ship early (!) and went to Paradise Island to visit the Atlantis Resort and their aquarium. 

First, we saw this guy:

100_2275

 

Then we had to take a picture of the “JMU fish” for Frank:

100_2276

 

 

Then there were so many!100_2277

100_2278

 

And this shark:

100_2279

This part of the aquarium was called The Dig, and they modeled it to look like the Lost City of Atlantis.

100_2280

Shark again.

100_2281

And another sting ray

100_2282

The attention to detail in the architecture was pretty incredible.

100_2284

The JMU fish again.

100_2286

This was our guide paper to the fish as we walked through the place:

100_2288

100_2290

 

Then we saw the lobsters100_2291

 

 

And I only got one good picture of a lionfish. I think they’re awesome100_2297

Schools!

100_2298

100_2299

This fish was weird and bony:

100_2301

As I walked around the corner to this next tank, I cried out “Oh my god…” The pictures can’t really show you just how big this grouper is…

100_2304

It’s massive

100_2305

Then there was a touch tank.

100_2308

100_2309

Lots of fish!100_2310

100_2311Then the jellies

100_2312

100_2313

100_2314They’re so pretty

100_2315

100_2316

100_2317

I couldn’t get a good shot of this pufferfish.100_2318

 

 

Clownfish are my favourite fishes! Even before Finding Nemo. We used to have one that lived in a shell because we didn’t have an anenome.
100_2324

Most of the seahorses were difficult to spot among the seaweed, but this guy stood out.
100_2325

We left the Dig, and made our way to the predators exhibit. The walk was beautiful as well.100_2326

 

100_2328

100_2329

100_2330

There was a whole group of these guys:100_2331

 

And then this one:100_2333

 

The predators part was under that shell building.100_2335

100_2336

100_2337

 

I think this one looks like a Gyarados:100_2339

I have been playing pokemon a lot.100_2340

100_2342

 

SHARKS!100_2344

100_2345

And this fish.100_2346

I love tunnel aquariums like this. Though the BGM was a little horrible.100_2347

Look! A flying barracuda!100_2348

Swordfish!100_2349

We saw another massive fish. I had Frank stand near it to gauge how big it was. 100_2350

100_2351

He’s…hiding…100_2352

And some seatutles! (For Isaac)100_2353

And some poisony-looking eels.100_2357

100_2358

As we left, we were waved out by this creepy mannequin:100_2355

It was a good trip. And it’s odd, because we’ve gone to at least three aquariums together on separate occasions, and Frank doesn’t like the ocean lol…

He says this always reaffirms his fear of the sea. I think sea creatures are awesome.

So…now no one can say we didn’t do anything on our trip/job. We saw fish. 

 

 

Leave a comment »

I haven’t abandoned this ship…

I haven’t been updating this blog as much as I really should be. It’s going to sound horrible, but I haven’t been getting off in ports very much for anything more than internet, and in Port Canaveral, groceries. I go to these amazing-ish tropical places, and I’ve spent much of my time in bars and shops.

The thing is, this is my job. I work here. So things that intrigue tourists, annoy me. Don’t ask me for a taxi, Bahamas man, I just want a coke and a connection. And I don’t want a horsey ride either. Frank doesn’t like heat too much, and while we’re saving up for our wedding, we haven’t done any excursions, though I do want to try one before we leave. Also, in Freeport, you need to take a bus out of the port, which costs money, and in Nassau it’s just shops and some unsavory looking alley ways. There are a couple beaches, but then…tourists. I get quite enough of our guests on the ship.

Also, while I don’t mean to speak ill of our guests and crew, there’s a weird vibe on this ship that I simultaneously can and cannot pinpoint. I will not name specifics, though it probably has something to do with our run. Ah well. Hopefully the next ship will feel different.

Also also, we just got out of cast change. This month-long rehearsal process starts out innocently enough, but then it attacks the techs with weird half tech runs where I and one other guy try to do the show backstage by ourselves when there are usually me and my six stagehands from the deck, and then full techs where we need to coordinate with Fire Patrol and the Deck department. Then, suddenly, I’m changing a stranger and we get to know each other very well as she struggles with her costume and ends up elbowing me in the nose.

And in the middle of all that, we have a work call to fix something…kind of. But because the dancers are using up the day, we get to work at night. And then we have to fix it again, because the first thing didn’t work. For the record, because we are using the wrong equipment, it’s still not working right.

When I finally got to get off the ship for the first time in weeks, I spent the afternoon downloading every episode of 30 Rock and Parks and Rec, along with the latest America’s Next Top Model and Masterchef. Don’t judge me.

Really, this is very similar to when I worked at Kings Dominion. Why didn’t I go on the rides all the time since I got in for free? Because my dark bedroom is cool and quiet and doesn’t smell like funnel cake and throw up and emotions. Why don’t I go to the beach all the time? Same reasons, except for the funnel cake. There’s none of that on the ship.

And my wedding is in less than a year now….I should get on that…

Leave a comment »

Doctor Who?

So, I recently go caught up on the entire reboot of Doctor Who. I instantly fell in love with the series. I now have TARDIS earrings, and I found a couple things around my current life that remind me of the good Doctor.

A Bahamian Police box:

Bahamian Police Box

 

When I work with certain chemicals, I have to wear this complicated face mask:

IMG_0568

Are you my mummy?

I know it’s kind of a stretch, like my Hogwarts post…but I’m a full believer in the fact that you can find fandom everywhere. Even at work.

Leave a comment »

Holy Chartered Cruise!!

…well, some of the passengers thought so anyway. It was a Christian Rock Festival called The Music Boat that rented the whole boat for 4 days. Apparently, I met some famous bands. Well, famous in the Christian Rock world. Now, although the subject matter isn’t really my cup of tea, some of the bands weren’t that bad.

I couldn’t do very much in the way of being helpful for the bands, because it would have taken their technicians more time to explain what they needed than it would for them to just do it themselves. It was frustrating.

Also there were the 15 hour days to contend with. I’ve done them before, of course, but usually I’m prepared for them. Luckily, on the ship, afterward my commute is a 5 minute walk, not a 45 minute drive.

We deviated from our usual itinerary, and went to Grand Turk instead of Cozumel and Key West. It was interesting. Mostly shops and beaches.

Oh, and I thought this was funny. We have these decorative sphinxes all around the upper decks. They look like this:

But during the Christian charter, they looked like this:

The housekeeping staff had been told to put little bras on every single one of them! Because I’d been stuck backstage doing a whole lot of nothing, I didn’t notice until the last night when I’d been asked to do something for the deck stage. I think it was funny.

All in all, it was exhausting, and I learned that I have a whole lot more to learn about everything. I seem to always learn that one…

Leave a comment »

Why my ship is like Hogwarts

I have noticed several things that parallel the magic castle from the Harry Potter universe known as Hogwarts, and it makes me smile. My friends accuse me of making a very feeble argument, but here’s what I’ve got:

1.) We have to walk through a special curtain (secret tapestry) to get to our rooms.

Secret.
2.) We have secret doors that look like the walls:

Secret.

Plus, most of these doors lead to secret passageways throughout the ship.

3.) In our atrium, we have a glass ceiling that opens up to the sky…or perhaps an enchanted ceiling??

4.) I have a transforming set of stairs and moving floor at my disposal in the theatre. We couldn’t decide if taking a picture of the stairs would be allowed due to copyright law. And the moving floor is just a circle till it moves. Just believe me on this one.

5.) Pretty much every day that we open our doors or windows, they open up somewhere different. Like the Room of Requirement in the last book for Neville secretly living in it.

6.) When I come back to the room after working even for like 20 minutes, my bed is made and we have fresh towels. Room stewards or HOUSE ELVES??
On top of all of this, my first week I experienced elation at finding my theatre from my room without getting lost, which paralleled immensely with the described delight experienced by Harry and Ron when they first found their class without getting lost in their first week at Hogwarts.

 

And that’s why working on a ship is like living at Hogwarts.

Boom.

2 Comments »