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!

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Bathing Beauties

Making our mark

Making our mark

Sadly, last week we stopped in Jeju for the last time.  The island is very quirky, but I enjoyed each day I spent there.  Instead of trekking out to see lava tubes, some girlfriends and I decided to have a relaxing day on the beach.  It was the first beach day we’ve had since leaving Florida!

In need of some sun!

In need of some sun!

Shortly after arriving at the beach, we bumped into one of the new ice skaters.  He had to go back early for training, but left us his Frisbee to play with.  I must admit, I am terrible at Frisbee!  I had fun trying though.

Frisbee fun

Frisbee fun

While we were playing, we befriended a group of American and Canadian guys that were also spending the day at the beach.  They were part of an overnight ferry tour from Seoul, where they’ve been teaching English classes for the past year.  After spending so much time with Chinese guests and crew, it was nice to meet some other Americans!

Such a lovely beach

Such a lovely beach

We grabbed lunch on the patio of a small restaurant on the beach.  They had delicious smoothies and sandwiches.  I’ve gotten a little sick of the food in the mess, so I thoroughly enjoyed having a good meal!

Our lunch spot

Our lunch spot

After lunch, we took a little walk and ran into some other friends from the ship.  We spent another hour or so on the beach with one of our singers and some of the shop workers.  It was great to have time to talk about things other than work.

Relaxing with friends

Relaxing with friends

I made it through home with a little sunburn and a big smile.  It was a perfect day!

Perfection

Perfection

Lost in Loveland

WARNING: Some of the photos in this post are very inappropriate.

I found love!

I found love!

Before I entertain (and possibly disgust) you all with photos from my trip to Loveland, I’d like to apologize for my absence.  We’ve been visiting new ports, so I’ve been out exploring rather than writing!  The good news is, I now have lots to share.

On a recent stop in Jeju, I accompanied two of my cast mates on a trip to Loveland.  What, you may ask, is Loveland?  Wikipedia describes it as “an outdoor sculpture park… featuring 140 sculptures representing humans in various sexual positions.”  The park website describes it as “a place where love oriented art and eroticism meet”.

Words cannot adequately describe the park, so here are a few of my photos.  I hope they don’t make you too uncomfortable!

Yes, those are breasts

Yes, those are breasts

Keeping it classy with marble

Keeping it classy with marble

A mother photographed her baby on one of these benches...

A mother photographed her baby on one of these benches…

"A Dog Always Follows His Master"

“A Dog Always Follows His Master”

Awkward...

Awkward…

Interesting

Interesting

"Arrows" found throughout the park

“Arrows” found throughout the park

This was different...

This was different…

"Take Your Pick". Yes, the faucets work.

“Take Your Pick”. Yes, the faucets work.

Check back soon for details from Toyoma and Sapporo!

Lots to do in Jeju

We have stopped in Jeju many times now.  Unfortunately, this port always has fallen on a show day, so instead of sightseeing, we have just gotten coffee and good internet.  Due to a storm last cruise, we ended up in Jeju a day early, meaning we could actually explore!

Waterfall #1

Waterfall #1

Some friends and I rounded up 3 cabs to take us around the island.  We drove for nearly an hour to get to the first destination: a beautiful waterfall.  After wandering around and taking mass amounts of photos, we got back in the cabs and went to see the volcanic rocks along the coast.  There was information about the different kinds of rocks, a statue filled promenade, and random figurines.

Volcanic rock

Volcanic rock

Dolphin!

Dolphin!

Our third stop was Chocolate Land!  It’s a chocolate café, museum, and school all in one!  A few of us decided to take the chocolate class, and were able to melt chocolate, pour it into molds, and take home our homemade confections.  In case you haven’t noticed, I am a chocoholic, so this was heaven for me.

Chocolate school

Chocolate school

We ended the day at another waterfall.  We weren’t able to get as close to the fall at this location, but there were other beautiful sights to see, including a large bridge and 2 smaller waterfalls.

Waterfall #2

Waterfall #2

Driving back to the ship, we laughed at the plethora of other activities in Jeju.  There is a Safari Museum, a Women Diver’s Museum, a Dinosaur Museum, which confused a friend of mine (“I thought dinosaurs were extinct?”), and an erotic park called Loveland.  There is also an art museum and planetarium, in case we decide to go somewhere “normal” next time!

Beautiful bridge

Beautiful bridge

Golden Birthday

On August 25th, I hit a different kind of landmark… a landmark on the road of life.  I have now lived for a quarter of a century.  I was a little stressed out in the days (actually, months) leading up to my birthday, because I started thinking about how drastically different my life actually is compared to what I thought it would be.  As a child, I imagined that I would go to college, get married shortly after graduating, have babies around 26, and live out my days in marital bliss.  Instead, I deferred college, joined a ballet company, moved to San Francisco alone, and am now on a ship.  While I’ve had significant relationships, I’m nowhere near walking down the aisle.  I started fretting about how quickly time passes, and how much more I want to do while I’m still young.

Ice Skating!

Ice Skating!

When the clock struck 12 on the eve of my birth, I was skating on the ice rink on board.  I don’t remember the last time I went ice-skating, and I had certainly never skated in the middle of the ocean!  I am shockingly clumsy for a dancer, and while I felt like Bambi on ice, I managed to stay on my feet the whole night!  I was so proud!

We all scream for ice cream!

We all scream for ice cream!

The morning of the 25th I had a tech run, then promptly got off the ship.  We were ported in Jeju, South Korea.  I went with some friends to a café, where I enjoyed another cinnamon mocha and was able to Skype with my family and a few friends.  After that, some cast mates and I wandered to find lunch.  While we were searching, we came across a carnival, and ended up going to ride the Viking Ship.  I laughed so hard I cried as we rocked back and forth on the ship, just the 3 of us.  We then found a delicious Korean barbecue joint, ate ice cream cones, and got back on board in time to nap.

My goodies

My goodies

That evening, we performed Music in Pictures.  I loved having the chance to be on stage on my special day.  Since our show times fall in the middle of dinner, we always get food in the theater after our performances.  My cast surprised me with a delicious chocolate cake along with our show food, and also gave me some really nice gifts.  I got a hand-drawn “Ginger Ninja” card, a stuffed koala bear, and a bottle of bourbon.  They know me so well!  I also got 2 bars of dark chocolate from my roommate, and a box of Ferrero Roche chocolates from one of the singers.  Yum!

With some of my dancer girls

With some of my dancer girls

I ended the night with a drink with friends in the staff bar.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my beverage of choice had finally been restocked!  The timing could not have been better.

My birthday buddy

My birthday buddy

The next day, I was able to sleep in, and after 2 Farewell performances and a parade, got dressed up for my party!  One of my cast-mates was celebrating his half birthday on the 24th, so the 2 of us had a joint celebration.  We had a white party, complete with black lights loaned to us by one of the light techs.  Our clothes glowed, as did our smiles.  It was a fun night, full of shenanigans.

The cast in WHITE

The cast in WHITE

Now that I have passed this landmark, I see that I was worrying for nothing.  Although my life is different than I thought it would be, it is full of love.  Instead of spiraling into a deeper state of panic, I have become more aware of what I have already accomplished and experienced.  I am excited to see what the future will hold!

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!