The internet has been shaky since we went back to the Pacific Ocean a few days ago. Now we are heading north for the last half of the last Panama Canal cruise of the season. In a week, we will be in San Diego and getting ready to head up to Vancouver and begin the Alaska itinerary that I’m SO ready for! It’s hot and humid down here in Central America and although it’s no different than Missouri in August, I’m already quite sick of it. I’m ready for 50s, 60s, and 70s!!
However, I have been super busy transforming my library – bringing out books about Alaska or the North and putting back books about the Panama Canal, the Mayans, etc. Furthermore, I have been working to save the paperbacks and softcovers in my library. Many have curling covers, they were never reinforced with clear plastic adhesive labels like they should have, so I’m working to save the ones that are in bad shape and preventing more from also getting bad.
While I am working on the paperbacks and softcovers, I’m also working on an even bigger project to add keywords and LOC subject headers to my library’s online inventory. It will probably take the rest of my contract, but the hope is that it will help me to find books for guests when they ask for books by subject matter.
I should note that, despite the fact that most people gain weight on cruise ships, I have managed to lose 16 pounds in a little over 7 weeks. As someone who could stand to lose 50 pounds easily, it’s a great start to what I hope will be a solid year of losing weight, and then keeping it off for the rest of my life. I have to thank one particular person who has really helped me so far, the lifestylist aboard my ship. He, along with his girlfriend, the lead singer of the main band on the ship, has really encouraged me to eat differently and change up my workout regime and it’s worked thus far. He and I have had breakfast together every morning for the last two cruises and he is well liked by all the passengers on the ship. He’ll make a great personal trainer wherever he ends up.
Hope the internet is a bit more stable once I get to Alaska. I’ll write again soon!Tweet
We are now a day into our last Panama Canal cruise before heading up far north to Vancouver and the start of Alaska season. Whereas I had a cruise full of furniture movers during the last cruise, I now have a cruise full of big deal readers. I can swear that I have checked out more books in 24 hours than I ever have before. It’s going to take a lot just to keep the shelves full.
In other news, the guest comments mentioning me positively are much more than last cruise, although the only gifts I received from guests were two boxes of Sno-Caps, which were great! I already ate one and the second box is going to be saved for a night I decide to take in a late movie at the theater, since it was always my go-to movie candy selection back home.
I got a lot of great shopping done in Fort Lauderdale. I’ve never been so happy to see a Dollar Tree! I have lots of new makeup, a new dress, some socks, pajamas, and jogging pants. Now I can save up the rest of my money and wait for my next paycheck that comes in about 3 weeks.
A bunch of crew members left yesterday, including the DJ, the Youth Program Coordinator, the cruise director, the lead singer of the ship’s band, and many others. This is the way of living on a cruise ship. People you share 2 or 3 meals with a day leave to be replaced by completely different people. For those who have been working on cruise ships for a couple of years, it’s not rare to get a chance to work a second time with someone you became friends with, but for me, everyone is someone brand new.Tweet
I wrote this a couple of days ago, but was unable to post it until now. Sorry for the long delay between updates!
After far too long without the little connecting piece that connects my charger to my laptop, I was finally able to find something at the Puerto Vallarta Wal-Mart today for the equivalent of $16 - small price to pay to be able to actually write blogs again. It just doesn’t seem to work so well on my iPad.
Well, what can I say? I survived my first cruise by myself. We arrived in San Diego on the 29th. The written comments by the passengers revealed that they liked me a lot. I received over a dozen positive comments, most mentioning me by name, some referring to me only as the “Librarian”, but all were sweet. I also received some presents (a can of macadamia nuts, a handmade yarn lei, a free dinner to one of the nicer restaurants on the ship, and some money as well). I said good-bye to some passengers that had been on for 28 days, and even a few that had been on the ship longer than me, for 56 days! I won’t forget the coin collector who fed my habit by bringing me money from our different ports (Aruba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico). He would only buy Bingo cards from me, not the DJ, because he said I was lucky. I’ll also remember the couple who dressed exactly alike every day and were so appreciative when I saved a picture of them at the Canal on my laptop and sent it to them.
Today is my birthday! Tonight, I have a reservation at the Italian restaurant on the ship and will be sharing dinner with three friends I’ve made on the ship (my roommate, the DJ, and the internet manager). The employees onboard are great. I hung out with the international concierge in San Diego a few mornings ago and had Starbuck’s and looked for shoes for him and me. It’s sad to know that most everyone is leaving the ship before my contract ends and I’ll have to get used to a whole new set of people who will take their place.
Although I have been on the ship for a month, I still find out now and then that there are things I do that are not policy. For instance, it turns out that I am not allowed to use passenger elevators although I had originally been told that it was okay because I am supposed to socialize with guests. Each time something like that is said to me, I just say, “Won’t happen again!” and I learn how to do something differently. It’s a pain to live with so many rules that affect my work (thereby affecting my daily life) but I play the “newbie” card and change the habit. I probably won’t be able to play the “newbie” card much longer, but since pretty much everyone else on the ship has done at least 2 or 3 contracts now, I really am still a newbie.
So far, I adore Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco the most, but I have to stay onboard in Huatulco, our next port. I have learned to look forward to IPM days because they allow me to get a lot of stuff done including laundry and library projects. Right now, I am still working on gathering books for donations and getting all the board games put in my library system. I am also having the passengers complete puzzles that may be missing pieces because I found this big cup in my storage closet containing a bunch of random puzzle pieces. I want to see which puzzles I truly need to throw out and which ones to keep.
Oh well, back to work I go. I’ll update again soon!Tweet
So, I know I haven’t updated in a while. I lost a little connector thingy to my laptop’s charger and its difficult to write long blogs on an iPad but today I am in San Diego and hoping to find what I need here. I’ll be back to updating as soon as possible. Today marks the end of my second cruise and the beginning of my third. Back to the Panama Canal again!Tweet
aruariandance asked: Aruba is not owned by the Netherlands. A very simple google search would have cleared that up. In two sentences: "Aruba’s national flag was adopted on March 18th 1976. Since Aruba became an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on January 1st 1986, it is the national flag of Aruba."
Thanks for the clear-up! I realize Google would have given me more information, but I was pressed for time and did not look for it. The internet is expensive when you’re on a cruise ship and the library does not have an encyclopedia set. It seems to me then that Aruba is much like Scotland, with its own government and flag, but with no representation in the UN and it is still part of a large nation. Scotland is to the UK what Aruba is to the Netherlands. Am I on the right track?Tweet
Ok, so I haven’t updated this in a while, but as you can imagine, the long hours of cruise ship work doesn’t leave much time for blogging. At this very moment, I am in Oranjestad, Aruba on Aruba’s National Day. Aruba is still owned by the Netherlands, but they nevertheless celebrate a National Day anyways.
I have been working by myself in my library for the past three days and at times I really feel like I’m making progress in getting it whipped into shape and other times I feel like I’m being pulled in five different directions. At the beginning of each cruise there is a rush to get set up with internet accounts. The problem is that the average age of the passengers on these cruises is 69. This means that I have people who have not only never used the internet before, but people who don’t understand how to use the backspace button or how to send e-mail. Some of these people have e-mail accounts, and I wonder if perhaps they have secretaries that take care of all internet communication back home. Many have grown children who want to make sure that Mom and Pop are okay on their cruise and so they give them instructions on how to send e-mail. Although I do have an internet manager, he’s hardly ever there, and so the task to getting people set up on the internet falls to me.
Some are grateful for the help, others are frustrated when the internet is down or slow (which is frequent). Many were upset that they wasted minutes trying to check their e-mail while we were rounding the coast of Cuba. Apparently Cuba is a dark zone in which both internet and phone calls become impossible.
On the other hand, I’ve gotten the hang of weekly paperwork, figuring out Bingo, checking everyday for Bridge players, and just the normal everyday routine of living and working on a big floating piece of steel in the middle of the water. I must say I’m grateful to be standing on dry land today and now we have about three days of sea and Panama Canal before hitting Costa Rica. Things are going well with the boss and I’ve made friends on the ship (two are sitting next to me right now).
Wish I had more time to write but I better get back to the ship and eat lunch. Sayonara!Tweet
Hi everyone! I see I have a few new followers once again and I’m very excited to see the growth! It’s extremely humbling to see a couple of the new followers are public and university libraries. I hope my silly blogs about my time as a cruise ship librarian is interesting. I must admit that you won’t see much by way of “reblogs” in the next few months. Simply put it’s hard to spend too much time browsing Tumblr because my time on the internet is limited. This should hopefully be better by May when my ship finishes its Panama Canal cruises and transitions to Alaskan cruises. I hear that there are quite a few ports with great wi-fi up in Alaska and Canada and I might have more time on my breaks to goof off, put up photos, GIFs, and other library related stuff. Until then, you’ll have to put up with my somewhat infrequent updates of life as a cruise ship librarian.
After having seriously worried about my career choice, I have come to realize that my job is awesome and the passengers are great and although I never get a day off, I get to see and do a lot. We will be in Florida tomorrow, but since a vice-president should be visiting, I’ll be staying on board to make sure all is good. I’ll post a blog about Days 11-14 very soon. It will be chock full of stuff about the Canal, Cartagena, and learning how to do weekly reports and getting passengers to PLEASE return your books before leaving the ship.
Thanks for taking this 6 month journey with me.Tweet
Oh my goodness!! I have so many new followers, I can’t keep up! The internet is less than optimal on a cruise ship and I have to pay for my time, so excuse me for not making GIFs for everyone, but know that I am humbled that you’ve chosen to follow my silly blog. I promise to make it up to you once I start my Alaska cruises. Thanks again!Tweet
The days are up and down. I’ve seriously never been so bi-polar. At times I have great interactions with the passengers and with my co-workers. I walk by an indoor pool on the Lido deck on my way to and from the Lido Restaurant multiple times a day and I get invited to sit and chat with the passengers who are interested to talk to the girl with the master’s degree who has never been on a cruise before. A great number of these passengers have logged over 200 days on cruise ships, the vast majority loyal to my particular cruise line. Although it makes me proud to know that my company does such a good job to keep such a loyal clientele, there is a part of me that has huge misgivings about the fact that I am serving people who choose to spend their money in such frivolous ways. Furthermore, there are so many hidden expenses for the passengers. Alcohol, the nicer sit-down restaurants, the shore excursions, the casino that I can hear from my library, and even Bingo cost a pretty penny. The shops sell souvenirs, toiletries, bottles of liquor, clothes, extremely expensive jewelry, and large framed pieces of artwork. But, what do I know? I have no idea how our passengers invest, spend, and give money. Some may be great charitable givers. Some may tithe. I cannot even begin to speculate.
On the other hand, I’ve been told that carrying a company logoed messenger bag “makes me look like a student, so ditch it.” I messed up the Bingo paperwork after only being shown how to do it once and cost the company $300. I lost my name badge and got called out on not wearing one, so I had to get a new one made. Despite all that, I have yet to be PIN’d, which is the system used to discipline employees. Receive too many PINs and you’ll be fired and dropped off at the nearest port. I miss my old bosses at Ellis. The only saving grace is that the people come and go so quickly around here. Contracts end and people get start their new contracts on different ships. The boss I have right now leaves in June and she will be replaced by someone else. However, if I stayed with the company long enough, there’s a chance I may work under her again. Such is ship life.
Everyone has told me stories about their first contract and their first week or first month of the contract. They’ve told me how they cried, how they were homesick, how they were overwhelmed, how they made tons of mistakes. I try to take it to heart and remember that I am the newbie. I’m not sure how well my boss and I will get along. I feel like there’s an abrasiveness there that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Maybe she and I will get used to each other in time. I certainly hope so.
Tonight, we end up in Panama and I will learn how to hand out tender tickets to guests wishing to get off the boat for the evening. The ship cannot get close enough to shore to dock, so guests will be put on boats and floated to shore. Tomorrow will be an all day trip through the Panama Canal. I hope to take a lot of pictures. I need to get these pictures onto my laptop so I can finally show you all what I have seen thus far. The days are long and I end up exhausted every night. At least I sleep well and I eat well and I am now exercising every day. I dropped 4 pounds my first week. I hope to keep it up. Losing weight was one of three main goals of this contract, including saving money and building up good references.Tweet
So, obviously, it’s been a bit busy the past few days. Puerto Vallarta is beautiful, but I only went to the Starbucks in the mall right across the street from the ship to catch some wi-fi and the Wal-Mart next door to grab some essentials I didn’t pack in my luggage. Port days are only 6 hour work days. After a day at sea yesterday, we were set to have three port days in a row. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has other plans. Due to hurricane force winds on our way from our present location Huatulco to the next port, Port Chiapas, we are staying overnight right where we are, having a sea day tomorrow, and arriving in Guatemala on Friday. That will be an IPM day for me, meaning I am stuck on the boat all day regardless of being at a port. That’s perfect for me, because I need a day to really work hard in the library. I’ve already got Large Print, Best Sellers, and Biographies figured out, along with a majority of the board games. I really need to work on the histories. They are a disaster right now.
Huatulco is a quaint little beach resort town. Lots of marketplaces with lots of flip-flops, but no real shoes. For that, one must take a taxi to the next town, La Cruciates. They have real “cosmopolitan” shopping, but I elected to stay near the beach in eat in restaurants and take advantage of their “mostly” good wi-fi. However, I had to buy a tropical looking dress tonight, since the ship does do a Tropical White Party every cruise and part of my job is to show up at 9pm dressed like the guests. I bought something nice for semi-cheap prices. Hope I look ok!
Another thing to keep in mind when going to Mexican tourist towns that take American cash – they don’t take your $50 bill if even a sliver of the bill is cut out of the one corner of the bill. Seriously, the sliver is so tiny, and you can clearly see the $50 logo. I have no idea why they won’t take it, but I can get my money changed for smaller bills on the ship, as it turns out.
The Panama Canal should be coming up this weekend, and then we’ll have quite a few sea days before getting to Florida. I’ll post pictures soon.Tweet