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Black…and Blue

The adventures of Carol Brown, representing Norwegian Cruise Line on a 6-month mission on the open sea to train the crew, explore new ports, seek new friends and experiences, and to boldly go where she has not gone before.

Carol’s log: Cruise Date: May 8, 2011 (at sea)

I didn’t stir until 4:30 a.m. at which point I was wide awake and a bit confused about where I was. I also realized that I would be at sea for the next three days and when we finally make port we’ll be in Juneau, Alaska. I’m cold just thinking about it!

This is a “Sea Day” and it starts early. I’m up, showered and eating breakfast by 7:00 a.m. I have bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns and orange juice. I have Day 2 of the Ship Familiarization course which includes an exam. I worry that I won’t do well at the exam because I don’t think I’m retaining any of the new terminology or rules and regulations but I come away with 90% on the exam. Not too shabby!

The office that Laarni and I share is an icebox. You can hear the air conditioning blowing its vile cold air before we even open the Fire Screen Door. I wear my spring coat (the only coat I brought with me), my scarf wrapped around my neck, my fleece blanket wrapped around my legs and my leather gloves while working in the office. We called the crew from refrigeration to fix it but I guess it isn’t high priority. It gets so cold in the evening that we ask the boss if we can work from our cabins from 20:00 to 22:00 (8:00 – 10:00 p.m.). Luckily he says yes. We know that working from our cabin is frowned upon by head office and it isn’t something we intend to make a habit of but even a polar bear would have had something to say about the cold.

I finally get to meet my new boss. He is a wonderfully loud and energetic Italian man named Filippo. He welcomes me as if we are old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while and feeds me the most delicious tea with lemon that I’ve ever had! Filippo reveals his love of chocolate which makes us kindred spirits. He tells me that there are 60 nationalities on the ship with the Filipinos making up more than 50% of that. Filippo gives Laarni and me a project to do that I think will involve PivotTable and reports in Excel. It is going to be a challenge and I get to dig out some of my old Excel skills. This job is so cool! He also tells me to be in my blues and back in his office for 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) because I am to be a part of a reception line for the guests that include the Captain and other heads of departments. This it seems is a part of my job and one I must say I love. The guests are so happy to be onboard and are honoured to get to meet the officers. I still can’t get over the fact that I’m an officer!

I also get to take my photo tonight in my blues to be added to the officers’ board. There are a handful of Black guests on board and they are thrilled to see a Black female officer. They stop me to ask me questions and to take pictures with and of me. It seems I’m a rarity to guests, even to those who have a long history of cruising. They have me curious to find out just how many Black officers, male or female there are working for Norwegian. Ooh, a research project!

I get lost all day. I can’t figure out which way is Forward (the front of the ship), Aft (the back of the ship), Port (left side of the ship) or Starboard (right side of the ship). Knowing this is all very important to finding your way around because everything is referenced by direction such as Deck 8 aft, which is where my office is or by staircase number. Every time I went through a door or got off an elevator my natural instincts would lead me in the wrong direction. I’m climbing 4 flights of stairs from my cabin to my office and occasionally take the crew elevators. If I keep this up my calves will be looking real good! Luckily, everyone is very nice and helpful, and they know I don’t have ship experience so they are wonderful at setting my feet on the right path, until I go through another door and I’m confused again! So I come up with markers so I know where I am and which way to go. For example, there is a large red vinyl tile at the bottom of the Staircase 40 Deck 3 where my cabin is. If I can get to the right Staircase I just look for the red tile and I know that I have to go through the door on the right. Easy right?

The voyage continues…


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