Returning to the Real World

I’ve now been home for about a week and a half.  In that time, I’ve reflected a lot on my experiences the past 8 months.  Overall I had an excellent first contract.  I was challenged in many ways, but also liberated.  I saw many new places and met some wonderful people.  Returning to “the real word”, normal life, has proven to be a bit of a challenge.  Right now, I don’t want to be in the real world.  I want to continue the adventures.  I want to seize the day, take chances, make mistakes, and live my life.  But more on that later…

Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas

First, I want to share a few of the highlights from my contract on the Voyager of the Seas.

Best Tours

Dancing on the Great Wall

Dancing on the Great Wall

Riding elephants in the rain

Riding elephants in the rain

I cuddled a koala!

I cuddled a koala!

Best Beaches

Bondi, famous for a reason!

Bondi, famous for a reason!

Relaxing, sunny spot!

Relaxing, sunny spot

Small and beautiful

Small and beautiful

Best Nightlife

Everybody in da club!

Everybody in da club!

Overnight = endless fun

Overnight = endless fun

Most Beautiful Countries

Milford Sound. No filter needed.

Milford Sound. No filter needed.

A little bit of everything. A lot of beauty!

A little bit of everything. A lot of beauty!

Favorite Overall Ports

Full of possibilities

Full of possibilities

Nagasaki Bridge

Nagasaki Bridge

Obviously, I had a pretty incredible time.

While working on the ship, many things were taken care of for me.  I felt more relaxed than usual, and loosening the reigns a bit allowed me to grow.  I was less stressed, more carefree.  I felt like a person, rather than a walking calendar.  I was less focused on budgeting, and more focused on experiencing.  It was wonderful.

San Francisco, my home sweet home

San Francisco, my home sweet home

When I returned to San Francisco, I felt like I never left.  While it was comforting to return to such a familiar environment, I expected to feel different.  I’ve changed, so why hasn’t the city?  Shouldn’t I be seeing things differently?  The longer I spend there, the more I feel myself slipping into my old skin.  I’m acting like the person my friends remember, rather than the person I’ve become.  The main challenge of this vacation will be learning how to blend the two versions of me.  I must learn to face reality without losing my sense of freedom.

Leaving the ship

Leaving the ship

Over the next few months, I’ll be traveling around the country to visit family and friends.  I was very isolated on the ship, so now there are a lot of people I want to reconnect with!  During this time, I will not be posting.  The blog will be up and running again at the end of April when I return to Florida to start rehearsing for my second contract.  Then, I’ll be embarking on a European tour on the Adventure of the Seas.

All smiles :-)

All smiles 🙂

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!

Advertisements

Hanging in Hong Kong

At the harbor

At the harbor

I was excited to visit Hong Kong, and decided the best option was to stick with friends that had been there before.  Thus, I ended up with a large group of friends.  We took the train to the Ladies Market, blocks of shops set up on the street.  I bargained with a few sales women, and ended up with some fun gifts for my sisters.

Ladies Market

Ladies Market

Next, we went to a Computer Center, full of discounted technical equipment.  My dance captain was searching for a new camera, and I needed a hard drive.  We were both successful, and ended up running into some friends from the ice cast.

Computer Center. What a mess!

Computer Center. What a mess!

We hopped back on the train to go towards the harbor.  We stopped in some stores along the way, and then enjoyed some lovely views on the water.  We soon found ourselves on the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood Boulevard.  I had never heard of most of the stars, but I did enjoy the statue of Bruce Lee.

Avenue of the Stars

Avenue of the Stars

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

Shortly after our stroll down the Avenue of Stars, my group split into smaller bunches to find food and a good spot from which to watch the Symphony of Lights on the water.  I ended up sitting in a window seat in the Hotel Intercontinental (I know, I’m such a tourist), and sipping on a Whiskey Sour while watching the light show.  There was a live band performing in the hotel, so I was quite content!

Wandering before the show

Wandering before the show

Dinner at the hotel

Dinner at the hotel

After leaving the hotel, we ran into some other friends from the ship.  We found a nice outdoor bar and enjoyed another beverage in good company.  It was great to spend the day with so many friends, and I loved all that I saw of Hong Kong.  I hope to spend more time there in the future!

Cocktail, anyone?

Cocktail, anyone?

Downtown

Downtown

The Aptly Named Great Wall of China

A couple days ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Great Wall of China.  Needless to say, I was eager to see it.  The prospect of visiting this World Wonder weighed in to my decision to accept this contract.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

I was part of a large crew tour, so it took awhile to get everyone off the ship and onto buses.  We had approximately a two and a half hour drive from the port in Tianjin to the Great Wall.  I slept for most of the drive, and played Spider Solitaire and took in the sights for the rest.  Driving through China was fascinating.  The landscape quickly alternated between developed towns and wide-open spaces.  Some of the areas we drove through, including our port city, actually used to be water.

Carting to the top

Carting to the top

By the time we reached our destination, we only had about an hour and a half before we needed to head back to the ship.  I was one of many crewmembers that opted to take a golf cart to the top of the wall rather than hike up from the bottom.  The hike takes around two hours, so there was no way to make it all the way up.  I’d love to go back some day and climb!

View from a turret

View from a turret

Even though I rode up the mountain, I worked up a sweat walking up and down the stairs that cover much of the wall.  I wanted to see as many sections as possible, so I moved quickly!  It was interesting to see the range of the age and type of stones used throughout.

Gorgeous views!

Gorgeous views!

The views were absolutely incredible.  The wall weaves like a giant snake, and from any point you can see beautiful mountains and trees.  I was actually surprised by how narrow the wall is.  It is about the width of a single lane road.  The length, however, is astounding.

IMG_0901

Before riding back down to the bus, I wandered through a little market.  I attempted to bargain with an old woman for a pack of postcards, but ended up paying her asking price.  Some friends of mine were more successful negotiators.  Apparently I need to work on my bargaining skills.

Dancing, as usual

Dancing, as usual

I slept through much of the bus ride back, then had a busy evening on the ship.  I learned how to work the spotlights for the ice shows, participated in a passenger drill, and performed a short number in a Welcome Aboard show.  It was an exciting, exhausting day!

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

If you ever want to read an amusing, non-fiction book about China, pick up a copy of Lost in Planet China by J. Maarten Troost.  It’s about a spontaneous tour of this giant country.  The author is moderately crazy, occasionally clueless, but very entertaining.

Next post, Taiwan!

Let’s Get Down to Business

Written 7/13/13

Time has flown by since I joined the ship last Friday!  After signing on, we went straight into orientation.  Various safety and policy trainings have been spread throughout the week, in addition to rehearsals, costume fittings, parade rehearsals, and practice safety drills.

En route to the ship

En route to the ship

Days have started blending together in my mind, and my sleep patterns have been more than a little unusual.  The only constants have been meal times, though today I was unable to even make it to lunch.  We had our first full dress rehearsal of the Broadway show this afternoon, and have just one more run in costumes before we open the show!  I’m struggling with some of the quick changes, so I hope I can move faster tomorrow.

The water has luckily been pretty smooth during rehearsals, but simply being on a ship while dancing has added a whole new challenge. There are also a lot of intricate costumes and large prop and set pieces in all of the productions, so they have dramatically escalated in difficulty.  I was teased quite a bit during our parade tonight (first one!) because I looked somewhat panicked every time I left the parade route to change props.  I spent most of the day essentially paralyzed by anxiety.

The ship has stopped in Tianjin and Jeju, but I’ve been unable to go on land because of rehearsals.  I’m looking forward to getting off the ship and exploring soon!  I’m especially excited to go to Jeju.  From what I can see, it’s beautiful.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

I’ve made the most of the little free time I’ve had on the ship.  I’ve met some people from other departments, went to a crew skate night, attended a “strum session” at the staff bar, and went to a beach themed crew party.   I was also able to see the previous production cast perform our Movies show and watch the ice show!  I’ll start helping with lights for the ice show soon, so it was nice to see what I’ll be dealing with.

This week has been a roller coaster.  I’ve had emotional highs and lows, feeling joy, anger, and everything in between, but overall, I’m still optimistic.  Once I get into the swing of things (and stop getting lost), I think I’ll have a great time.

Port updates coming soon!