Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

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 πŸ™‚ 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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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…

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New Year’s and Swimming with Dolphins!

So I swam with dolphins today ^_^

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And we danced.

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And we kissed. My New Year’s kiss!

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Her name is Troya, and she’s about 5 years old. She was really cool to swim with.

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This was my first excursion and it was awesome. I went with my friend and roommate Jenny. This is us on New Year’s :

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We had the date right up there on the famous Carnival Funnel:

 

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It was supposed to change from 2012 to 2013, but it just ended up looking like this:101_2002

These were our guests:101_1994

And this was the crew, where we were all invited to the Lido Deck for the countdown:101_1988

 

Apparently someone complained about us partying up on deck to ring in the new year. There were drinks, but none being served up there, and there was just music and hugs, mostly. This person wrote that since they paid to be there, they should have been able to party, while we wait on them. They wanted their cruise comped. Fortunately, our Guest Services person is sane, and disregarded it.

Oh, and Frank’s coming to visit on the 11th! So excited!

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year so far πŸ˜€

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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:

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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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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…

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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 β€œwhat’s next?” and I said β€œI 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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