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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

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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 7, 2011 (Los Angeles)

 Though I’m a bit sad at leaving my friends and Miami, I’m excited about never being in that freezing cold conference room again and about joining the Norwegian Star. I don’t sleep well with the excitement and wake up well before my 4:00 a.m. wake up call. I’m packed and ready to go and head downstairs to meet Laarni for 5:00 a.m. Also waiting for the shuttle to the airport are Daniel and Loren. It is good to see them one last time.

The early morning airplane ride from Miami to Los Angeles is an uneventful voyage except that my luggage went from weighing 50 pounds when I left Toronto to 75 pounds leaving Miami. That would have all been good and fine except that other than my camera, I didn’t buy anything. Laarni and I struggle through the hotel and through the airport with the overweight luggage, the carry-on luggage and my computer bag which now substitutes as my purse. The weight of this particular piece of luggage would prove most challenging as we get to the Port and try to board our ship, The Norwegian Star.  One of the wheels was under a great deal of pressure from the load and threatened to break. Every so often, the wheel would refuse to budge and I would have to kick at it while Laarni balanced it on the other three wheels. Luckily we, and the luggage, made it to the ship in one piece though I may have to buy a new piece of luggage to get home.

Oh, remember when I left Toronto and spent a whole heap of money on food at Pearson International Airport? Well, I swore I wouldn’t do that again, and I didn’t, but I did spend almost $50US on magazines, batteries and a few snacks. I couldn’t help myself!  They had magazines I could only dream of in Toronto! My children know to keep me away from bookstores. I really could have used their help at Miami International Airport. 

I don’t get to see much of Los Angeles except what I can see from the windows of the taxi. We take the freeway and get caught in the infamous Los Angeles traffic jam.  I feel as if they have done this just so I can have the experience! I try to take a few pictures but you can see how successful that effort was.

I finally get onboard the Star and I’m in awe at everything. Let me set the record straight about something. Crew areas are VERY VERY different from guest areas. While everything on the guest side is lavish, and colourful, the crew areas are monochromatic, basic and functional. That’s not to say that they aren’t comfortable. Crew spend such little time in their cabins anyway, that all the lavishness would be wasted.

I spend my first day engaged in learning about my new environment. I take a safety tour, a ship familiarization course (I’ll get to help facilitate this course soon) and I get to know the main crew route that is called the I-95 after the main highway through the US. I also collect my uniforms. I wear “whites” during the day and my “blues” after 6:00 p.m. if I will be in the guest areas. My uniform is basically a shirt, pants or a skirt and my 2.5 striped epaulets. After realizing how cold it is on the ship due to air conditioning, I’m switching to pants full-time! My blues includes a jacket and a tie. I wear very ugly white shoes with my whites and just as ugly black shoes with my blues. The uniforms are comfortable and they look great after the laundry crew has worked their magic pressing them.

The first day is jam-packed with things to do in many different areas of the ship—finding my uniform, unpacking, signing documents at personnel and trying to find my way around. One of the things I find out is that the ship is relocating. This means that our itinerary is changing. We will be on the Alaskarun until sometime in September. Thanks Sharonfor making that a reality! Sharon is my sister. When she found out that I was joining a cruise ship she joked that I’d get sent to Alaska. From her mouth to God’s ear, it would seem! I wish I had confirmed Alaska before I left so that I could have packed differently. My cute summer dresses and skirts, sleeveless shirts and tanks, just don’t cut it in two degree weather. After September we’ll be relocating back to Tampa. Sunshine and warmth here I come! 

I had a problem finding food to eat. Because it was embarkation day—where both crew and guests join the ship—the normal schedules for everything gets thrown out of whack. Out of desperation, Laarni took me to Market Café and I managed to snarf down some food.  Guests are always given priority and crew are not to eat in guest areas during peak times. This was a peak time but I was desperate!  We checked with the Food and Beverage manager that it was okay and I grabbed something, I can’t remember what, and ducked out of sight to eat. Anyone who knows me knows that if you want to see my evil twin show her face, all you have to do is withhold either food or sleep (now I’m thinking that keeping me cold may also get her to pay a visit). I was getting to that point where I wouldn’t have the strength to fight the twin much longer without food. I felt kinder after eating. 

I worked until about 22:00 (10:00 p.m. for your landlubbers!), which isn’t unusual, and when I finally get to my cabin—a small room with a desk, a tall cupboard a small fridge, a single bed and of course a bathroom that is just big enough to accomplish all the necessities–I pass out. 

The voyage continues…