Chaos Attraction

Cruise- Day Four

2008-12-07, 6:56 a.m.

Got up to go to the breast cancer "walk a mile" thing on the roof track this morning. (Logically, you pays your $10, get your pink merchandise, and who's gonna notice if you actually get up and walk or not. But what the hell, I was awake anyway.) Also, at least I didn't have to hit up other people for money. The very top is interesting to see, albeit windy. There is also mini-golf, but I almost wanted to try it there. (Except I tend to lose the balls and smack people with clubs, so uh...yeah.)

After that, went to a towel folding class to learn how to make those animals. (I bought the book on how to do it too.) We did a dog, elephant, seal, and bunny. I was about as good at it as I am at origami (i.e. not fabulous), but it was fun. The funny thing is that the guy giving the lesson (the guy who hosts the karaoke), I guess he last made animals a year ago or something and was a bit iffy at it. Another guy was going through the audience correcting us, and on #2 (elephant), the karaoke guy noticed this and got him up on stage to do the demos better.

After that was a talk on how to get off the ship, most of which flew over my head. Then lunch, where I tried one of every dessert. I will say that the food kind of conforms to what I call the Miss Mush Rule of Bulk Cooking. Which is to say (if you never read Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School), the more people you have to cook for, the more the quality will decline. A few things are supergood (yogurt, warm chocolate melting cake, lasagna, fruit bisques), most is fine if a bit bland. I'd say the daytime desserts are mostly bland compared to dinner. So I tried about 8-9 desserts and ate a little of each.

I do think it's funny how people gripe about the food. Like, "OMG, IT'S NOT PIPING HOT!" and "The cherries jubilee wasn't set on fire!" Uh, it's a ship. Fire is a no-no? And when they've got huge amounts of food to get out, I'd be happy if it wasn't icy by the time I got to the later dinner. Or my favorite, bitching about the baked Alaska being horrible (I liked it, but to be fair, I've never had it before and to me it tasted like Neapolitan ice cream cake than whatever it's supposed to be), and yet still eating every bite. Huh?! Okay, it ain't the best gourmet ever, but it's not terrible for bulk eating.

Now (1:30 p.m.) I am watching ice sculpture being carved on the sun deck. Lovebirds and a heart.

You know what I like about cruising? This is the only trip I've ever been on with my mother where I didn't absolutely have to be in her presence 24-7. I can actually go off by myself at times without her having a cow, and she can't call me all the time, and she can talk to other people. This is the first day I've had to spend more time with her without anyone else around, and here I go again being cranky, albeit less than usual. She made a lovely comment about how maybe I'm just bitchy all the time naturally. Uh-huh. On the other hand, I am currently writing this (5:30 p.m.) in a bar, alone, since Mom is off packing and the other chicks all took off to pack. (I packed at 3:30 so I could party.) So there you go.

It's STILL been a busy day, without me swimming (TOO cold!), nor did I go to the gym (hey, I did my time on the walk...). I went on a backstage tour of the theater, and I also went to a 70's Saturday Night Fever dance class today. I rather wish Mom hadn't taken photos of that...but then her battery ran dead and her memory card got full. Hah.

The interesting thing about today is finding out what it's like to live on a cruise ship during Q&A's. Facts I learned during the stage tour and the Q&A with the cruise director in the bar:

* Contracts are for 6 months, no days off (the occasional hour or two off!), then they get 6 weeks off and get flown home (wherever "home" is) by the company.
* People seem to switch jobs/shifts a lot.
* Stage managers go in with NO prep whatsoever and have to run a show on their first day. Dancers at least get a month of preparation, doing rehearsals during off-hours.
* The crew have their own restaurant AND bar below. Since the staff is international (only 20 Americans on board!), the food there tends to be less American and more international.
* The crew throw huge parties once a month.
* They can do passenger-type stuff on off-hours as long as they hear their name tag (which I saw when a bunch of staff were also in the disco).
* Couples can stay together, and the company is good about keeping them together.
* No hookups with guests allowed. Tons of hookups with crew allowed. You're stuck dealing with them if things go wrong, though. (Note: the travel agents I was traveling with laughed their heads off when I mentioned this.)
* Mostly you work at other events in addition to your main job- the dancers also sell bingo cards, work at debarkation, etc.
* Most people do the job because American money is good in their other countries.
* If you get fired on a cruise ship, what happens? Well, there's warnings and whatnot, but if it gets down to that, you get a knock on your door at 6 a.m. when they come into port (the "6 o'clock knock") telling you to pack your bags and get all your 6 months worth of crap outta there in a few hours. They can't give longer warning because god only knows what a disgruntled future ex-employee is gonna get up to with warning.
* The cruise to Cabo is being discontinued in February due to fuel costs. Now that fuel's lower...who knows.
* They decorate for "the holiday season" in a few weeks.
* Titanic is "the movie that had a nice band." The cruise director said he'd been asked how often these ships sink and he said, "Just the once."
* Theater shows are specifically designed for the theater space, and they have been doing the same show for 10 years (the run of the ship). They only change shows if the musical rights expire.

Speaking of shows, we saw the dance show tonight, "Spin." It was surprisingly good. The conceit (such as it is) is a game show called "Spin", where you spin a wheel and go to a different city/routine. Cool Coney Island setup, and a rollercoaster scrim thing going on that nearly made me start screaming just watching the video. The Texas bit was amusing (especially the cowboy costumes), and at one point they had chicks dancing with cowboy dummies. There were big feathers and the four suits of cards for Vegas, some hot dancing in Puerto Rico, a WWII scene for New York (huh?!), and a New Orleans funeral. It was pretty cool, I wasn't expecting it to be that good.

After dinner, we hung out as a group in the bars (minus Mom, who was still packing but wouldn't have enjoyed it too much anyway), drinking and carrying on. In the first bar (Duke's, the weird piano bar), the piano player was yelling out, "Look who's here! HOLY SHIT!" periodically. I think that's the best bar callout ever. Awesome. Then we went down to the Drama Bar (isn't that the best name for a bar, ever? especially if I'm in it?) where they were having some semi-karaoke thing going on, followed by an air guitar contest. This was hilarious because the kid who won was maybe 11-12, and he earned it fair and square. (At one point another contestant picked him up and use him as a guitar.) The kid ("Jack the Hammer") got a small ship trophy, and his mom got a medal. He did a solo to "Eruption," and then two of the other contestants picked him up and carried him around on their shoulders.

I was surprised at how much drunken revelry this group got up to, since this is an older married crowd. But they were nothing but nice to me, no single shaming, no bingos, AND they did some partying, at least until 11. Fun folks! Incidentally, it's really convenient to be traveling WITH YOUR TRAVEL AGENT. Not just for the freebies either, but for the finagling she does, such as getting the Southwest plane passes and a better debarkation time.

They all went to bed around 11 and I continued to party, since I packed earlier. I watched more karaoke- saw great performances of "Turn Off The Light" and "Fire and Ice." There was one guy who ah, clearly was more interested in dancing than singing. And finally, there was a guy who was singing "...Baby One More Time." He did so well at it that the karaoke guy said, "I wish I could end on this one."

Then I went back to clubbing for a bit. A lot smaller crowd this time, but I still got down and danced with more people. Surprisingly, dudes who would normally never go for the likes of me. Huh. Went to bed at 1 (sadly, really had to get up early).

You know what I love about vacation? There is something to look forward to all day. You really think about what you're going to do, you enjoy every moment of life. On a regular day you just sit there for 8-9 hours, bored off your ass, waiting all day for the day to end so you can experience maybe 5-6 hours (optimistically speaking, and if you don't have a family of course) of doing things that you want to do. Why does real life have to be so damned dull in order to make a living?

Oh, and tonight's animal.

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