A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Woomby

Beautiful places, Rough Seas and Vodka!

sunny 29 °C
View Celebrity Constellation Cruise 2008 - 2009 on Woomby's travel map.

Well since my last update I have spent most of my time in Spain and man what an amazing country! This place is just so beautiful – the buildings, the weather, the women, the beaches. But the other places I have been to are Portugal and Morocco, which to me are so totally different. As I write this we are docked in Lisbon again and I’m just not that excited about getting off the ship. Some people totally disagree with me but I feel Lisbon is a dirty city and people are out to rip you off, steal from you or sell you stuff (hash, sun glasses, whatever) which makes me feel uneasy. In Casablanca I tried to think of Isla and Rick, but as romantic as the movie makes out, this place is filthy, run down and old, but totally fascinating! We walked through the markets and the back streets towards the mosque, which was the nicest part of town other than the Hyatt hotel where we drank some mint tea.

Showtime for the evening of Casablanca was an amusing singer who didn’t really understand tempos and wanted to play everything too slow or too fast – I mean you just DON’T take Big Spender at 130 bpm!! But alas this is the job and we have to suck it up entertain the ego of the guest performer no matter how unmusical their show is. Oh well. Anyway we reached the end of the show and our great cruise director was informing the audience of the evening’s activities and the procedures for the next day as they do and all of a sudden – WHAM! The ship must have hit some crazy waves but man we started flying all over the place. The audience were holding on, the cruise director was trying to keep his feet firmly on the stage and the poor band… we were sliding all over the stage, risers were bashing into each other, the piano players amp rolled into the wings, the sets for the production shows were crashing around. Apparently the rest of the ship had a hard time too. I spoke to one of the accapella guys who told me they had to stop singing in one of the bars because of the noise of bottle smashing as they fell from the bar, wine carts were rolling around, art works were falling off their easels! Luckily the big waves only lasted a couple of minutes but then all night the ship was in a constant circle as we headed up the coast towards Cadiz. I hadn’t felt sea sick at all in the month I have been here until then. Although I wasn’t sick I certainly didn’t enjoy my night. I went to bed, curled up and tried to sleep through it knowing that when I woke up I would be in amazing Cadiz and I could go to the beach, drink beer and finally get to go swimming.

The next part of my journey is the transatlantic crossing to New Jersey and despite my optimistic view apparently we can expect some more of the rough seas we experienced off Morocco. Last night however was smooth sailing and for the first time we finally got the whole band together for a social event! This seems to never happen as there is always someone who wants to sleep or go ashore or has some other plans etc. But last night we pulled out a giant bottle of vodka that one of our brilliant guest artists bought for us and took up residence in the backstage area. Our sax player has a very nice Bose sound dock and we all took our laptops, ipods etc and listened to some killer tunes and got rather tipsy. It was a brilliant night, but for every good night there is a bad day. Thank god for the box of horse strength Ibuprofen I bought in La Coruna!!

Anyway that’s about it for now, next stop – The Azores!!

Posted by Woomby 08:24 Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Cruise 1 down!


View Celebrity Constellation Cruise 2008 - 2009 on Woomby's travel map.

So I am now on my second cruise and I thought I would update you all with what has been going on and what this job is like.

Day 1

I showed up to the port in Harwich bright and early and was actually quite nervous. I think the size of the ship made it especially daunting. I joined the line of 79 other staff and crew boarding the ship and said good-bye to Sandy and Will. Once I got on the ship I was sent to the cinema where I met some HR people and signed my contract etc. Then my boss, T came and found me. He’s an aussie as well so I was quite excited by that, we had a quick chat about home and my home town. Later on that day we had the rehearsal for the evening show which would be the Captains Welcome aboard show. At this point I started to get an idea of the easiness of this gig. We rehearsed for all of 5 mins and then played 2 10 min sets.

Day 2

I woke up having not slept very well, but I did have a room to myself at this point. I spent the day learning my way around the ship, rehearsing and getting things organized. On this day I also discovered THE CREW BAR! What an interesting place. It never kicks off until late, about 11.30pm and goes until about 2am or later but there is the most amazing mix of people there – Americans, South Africans, Aussies, British, Indians, Philippines and every one is drinking, dancing, smoking! I didn’t realize you could smoke on ships, but it turns out you can and people do it lots, everywhere!

Throughout my first cruise I have met some really cool people and I get on with the whole band really well. My bosses are awesome, all the way up to the captain and the ship is amazing. I spent the first 10 days or so in training, which was hilarious and mind numbingly boring. It’s not so much training as dull lectures that they legally have to present and is really common sense, the same as any large corporation I guess. Unfortunately I learnt the hard way though that you don’t miss safety training, no matter what! Unfortunately a few days in I forgot to set my alarm and slept through until about 1pm, straight through the safety training and was promptly summoned to the safety officers office along with my supervisor T and the Staff Captain. They simply informed me of the legal ramifications if the ship gets inspected by the coast guard and sent me on my way, they were even quite friendly and funny about the whole thing. Anyways that was my one and only slip up but I realised how easy it is to lose your job here. They have zero tolerance policies left right and center and I have seen people, in my department, be fired already! In 2 weeks!

By the end of the 1st cruise we met Mario, a brilliant and cheesy guitarist from Australia. He had some chops but his music was so corny, so corny though that I had heaps of fun, and he was a brilliant guy! (Aussies everywhere!) Unfortunately for his second show I was starting to get sick and that brings me to now.

For about the past 6 days now I have been horribly sick with a sore throat, fever, chills and exhaustion. I’m not sure how I picked up the bug as other guys who have never been on ships before haven’t got it, but it is going around, it’s even knocking out the old hats. I went straight to the doctor and he put me on amoxicillin and cough drops, although after another few days I was showing no signs of improvement I went back and I got penicillin needle in my butt, and then another one this morning. Finally my sore throat is moving on, although eating is still impossible. Now I’m developing an irritating cough and I still have no energy.

This cruise is fairly light on work for me as it’s a charted cruise, and the company has brought all their own entertainment. The only work we do is the production shows, which allows me lots of time to see the ports. Currently we are cruising around spain, which is unreal! Though the first cruise was pretty amazing as well – 2 weeks around the Baltic. Despite my heavy training schedule I still managed to get off at almost every port including Denmark where I got to catch up with my amazing friends Martin and Karina. Although I only had 3 hrs with them we crammed in everything Danish. We had Danish food, Danish beer, Danish pastries, Danish liqueur and saw the sights including the Royal Castle where Princess Mary from Australia lives. I called out to her but she wasn’t home hehe.

The other amazing ports of call in my first two weeks were Warnemunde, Germany – A beautiful port with a brilliant beach (the Americans were notably shocked by the Europeans relaxed nature with nudity). Tallin, Estonia – An amazing old city which is really picturesque. St Petersburg, Russia – this city is just insane! The is no other way to describe it. You would definitely benefit from having a Russian speaking travel partner or host. Helsinki, Finland – so beautiful, but was a Sunday so it was quite. Stockholm, Sweden – The most beautiful place I have ever seen, from the city, to the people to the islands on the sail out. I never got a photo but I will never forget playing basketball on the top deck, sailing through these amazing small islands with the most fiery sunset overhead! Amazing. Riga, Latvia – missed it because of training, I heard it was amazing and finally Klaipeda, Lithuania – a nice place but nothing special.

So tomorrow we dock in La Coruna, Spain and I’m enjoying the warm weather already. I see why the Brits move down here. Another 2 weeks or so around Spain, Portugal and Morrocco and then about another 2 weeks and I get to see my parents!!! I miss them so much so it’s going to be so amazing to have them on the ship for 2 weeks.

Right that’s all for now,

Steve

Posted by Woomby 13:26 Tagged cruises Comments (0)

I miss home!

(Sometimes)

all seasons in one day 18 °C
View Visit to Belfast on Woomby's travel map.

After living abroad for 7 months I am beginning to miss a lot of things about Australia and home. I'm going to blurt them onto the page as I think of them...

I miss the lorikeets flying over at 5.15pm like clockwork

I miss the sunset from my back deck

I miss my dad's homebrew

I miss our GAS bbq

I miss steak

I miss beef in general

I miss aussie sunsets

I miss my bed

I miss afternoon storms in summer

I miss summer

I miss the sun!

I miss my drivers tan on my right arm

I miss my car and driving

I miss aussie drivers (you don't have to fear for your life on the road in aus)

I miss driving and not seeing anything for hours

I miss going out in Brisvegas

I miss cheap, reliable pool tables with a D on them!

I miss having Tooheys, Carlton, XXXX and every other aussie beer on tap - Fosters is not aussie dammit!

I miss Bundy Draught

I miss the Irish Club

I miss the old drunks at the Irish Club

I miss the Goldie and how the sand burns your feet

I miss wearing sunglasses all day, every day

I miss not having to worry about a jacket on a night out

I miss knowing how to get around without looking at a map or satnav

I miss fresh fruit and vegetables

I miss Vegemite, Milo, Timtams, Fantails and Minties

I miss Vegemite and cheese sandwiches

I miss being able to afford decent quality food

I miss wearing thongs (flip-flops to you uninformed)

I miss wearing shorts without being looked at strangely

I miss walking down the street without holding onto my wallet inside my pants (trousers again for you uninformed)

I miss being able to walk on the grass without going ankle deep into mud

I miss red soil

I miss fully detached houses with front yards, back yards and driveways

I miss being able to practice without annoying the neighbours

I miss not having to put a converter on the end of my laptop/shaver/etc

I miss aussie tv

And finally I miss all my friends and family!

Posted by Woomby 15:26 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Colchester

all seasons in one day 18 °C
View Celebrity Constellation Cruise 2008 - 2009 on Woomby's travel map.

It's mid week here in Colchester and on saturday I board my ship - GTS Celebrity Constellation. I am staying with Sandy, my mum's best friend from school and her family, Will (husband), and kids Grace and Chris. I am really enjoying being here and it's amazing how alike this family are to my own. I feel very comfortable here and it's been the perfect break from the stress and worry of a life on the road, especially before starting something so different for me.

So far we have seen a few cool places around here and it really reminds me of home. Sandy has taken me around Colchester, which is the oldest recorded town in England and the original roman capital, to Mersea Island, which is incredibly quaint, and to Nayland which is a small village just over the border in Suffolk. As teenagers Mum and Sandy were caught by my uncle Terry going to a dance in Nayland town hall, I don't think Terry ever told but apparently my grandad didn't like Mum being around Sandy!

Tomorrow Grace gets her A-Level results and finds out if she is excepted into Brighton Uni so there is a bottle of Bollinger on hand to either celebrate or commiserate. In the evening she is planning a night out with all the girls which I will probably attend as well, if Chris comes along for the male support! haha. Friday we are off to Cambridge to see the colleges and sight see. Hopefully the weather will hold out! It's pretty manic here right now, blue skies followed by tropical storms, in Essex! Strange. We are also planning a bbq for friday night which will be my last night with the Wilsons.

By 10am on saturday morning I will be boarding the ship, signing paperwork, meeting my bosses and probably starting training straight away. Hopefully I will get a rehearsal before my first performance - The Captains Welcome Aboard show!

By the way, pictures of this can be found on my facebook profile.

Posted by Woomby 15:07 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Belfast and Liverpool

semi-overcast 16 °C
View Visit to Belfast on Woomby's travel map.

I'm now back from my very fast trip to Belfast for my visa. My first train to Liverpool was a hassle as they swapped the train at Manchester Piccadilly for some reason! This resulted in me losing my reserved seat and having to stand for the final hour! I was a little annoyed to say the least.

Once I arrived in Liverpool I had a good walk around town and worked out where I would need to take the bus from to get to the airport. I wandered down towards Albert Dock and then west along the Mersey. I came across the port and in a fitting introduction to my new life at sea I came across a huge British cruise ship - Grand Princess. She was amazing and I couldn't get over the sheer size of this thing! And to think in less than two weeks I will be aboard one of them, it blows my mind!

http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/163293/Grand_prin..verpool.jpg

Next I found my way to the Museum and had a good wander around in there, where I took advantage of the airconditioning. I came across an exhibit called 'The Beat Goes On' which was basically a look at all the stars of the Mersey, from the Beatles to the Coral to the Wombats. It was mildly entertaining but I was annoyed by the millions of screaming kids... I couldn't use any of the interactive features because all the little beggers had taken over.

Then I headed back to the bus stop and took the next bus to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and quickly made my way through checkin and security. Lots of people seem to have problems with the way the airport is run and although I can see most of their complaints, I had a very easy time getting through everything and getting to my gate. The flights was about 30 mins delayed though and they didn't really tell us, we went through the boarding gate about 10 mins late but then stood in a long corridor waiting as the finished loading the plane and doing everything they do to them. The flight itself however was very quick and painless. I landed safely in Belfast and caught the bus into town.

I quickly met my hosts for the 2 nights and then proceeded to the movies to see the new Batman movie and then on a late night walking tour of the city centre. The next day I had my interview for my Visa which was relatively painless and quick and then mailed the passport back to Colchester by the very next morning!! How's that for service!

After the interview I spent a long time walking all over Belfast. I walked up Falls Road, across the Peace Line and back down Shankill Rd, taking a million photos as I went. Then I headed into town and then right across to the east, over to the docks and along the Titanic trail. Unfortunately you can't see a great deal of the ship yards where titanic was built and it is all a bit old and run down now. But I did happen to run into my old friend Grand Princess in the Belfast harbour! I'm not sure where she was heading after Belfast, but I was sure it wouldn't be Liverpool again where I was going.

The flight and train back to Leeds was all a bit long and exhausting but I finally managed it. I then had a day of rest and packing before sitting on a bus for 8 hrs to get to Colchester. Now I'm here and practicing hard, I only have 12 or so days before boarding and my chops are no where near ready yet!

Posted by Woomby 06:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Preparation

sunny 26 °C
View Visit to Belfast on Woomby's travel map.

Months of preparation have gone into this very small visit to Belfast, all for a C1-D Crewman Visa, so I can work aboard Celebrity Constellation.

The American's appear to be a little strict with their Visa's and as such require me to attend an interview in person, where they will take my finger prints, and probably strip search me.

Basically I will catch the train from Leeds to Liverpool on Tuesday, then hop a flight to Belfast where I will meet with another Aussie and couchsurfer Nat. On Wednesday morning I have the interview at the US Consulate, followed by a look around Belfast. Wednesday night I will join other couchsurfers at the Belfast crew's weekly trivia table. On Thursday I will fly back to Liverpool and then train home, where I will have about 3 days to fit in 2 gigs, pack and get on the road to Colchester to see family and friends.

Steve

Posted by Woomby 07:28 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

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