Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

Cabin Chrismakkah

Holidays on a cruise ship are very different from what you get at home, but they have their own weird charm.
Hanukkah was celebrated for eight nights in the Main Atrium with a giant menorah.

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Being one of the only Jewish crew members onboard, I led the celebrations, and dealt with concerns regarding certain traditions including why we couldn’t light actual candles. We don’t allow candles onboard due to risk of fire, which is the most dangerous event on a ship. I say this, but the guests’ counter is “but smokers!”….and I don’t know how to respond to that…

“Our centuries old tradition could kill us all…but you could totally carry a tiny firestarter in your pocket always, if you want. Just flick it eight times.”

….

We had a Holiday Christmas Show that we put on a couple times. It’s mostly just singing, and a short story for the children, but it’s set up kind of homey, and it’s cute.

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Meanwhile, my mom sent us some Hanukkah and Christmas stuff for our cabin, and then I found a gingerbread kit at Target that I couldn’t resist. So decorations!

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I meant to cross stitch a little menorah for our cabin, but between all the Christmas prep, I didn’t really have time, and I couldn’t find the right plastic canvas in time. I’ll make one for next year. I already have a pattern all ready 🙂
This coming cruise is the New Year’s Cruise and the parties should be pretty good. See you all next year!

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New Pride

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Carnival LIVE

Carnival Cruise lines has been rolling out a bunch of new and branded ™ initiatives lately, to mixed reviews from passengers and crew alike. There is one, though, that I recently participated in, and thoroughly enjoyed: Carnival LIVE.

We had REO Speedwagon onboard this week. I got to meet some of them! I did not take pictures with them, but I watched the concert from backstage. It is by no means the best seat in the house, but with two fights out in the house, it wasn’t the worst.

We had banners all over the ship to sell tickets, and some people were given buttons to wear

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The load in was insane! REO by themselves had 44 road cases, and then there were the ones from the production company

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat blur there is me, apparently.

Frank had to run one of the spotlights, but got a couple of pictures of the band

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I also got a set list

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I forgot how much I love/hate big load ins 🙂 After the concert, we had to load everything out in time to leave Cozumel at 1 am. We made it with about half an hour to spare, I think.

We get to do it all again next month!

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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:

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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.

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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 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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