Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More of the crossing and into the Caribbean

Well, after Malaga, we went to Cadiz, Spain and I was gutsy enough to sign up for a nine hour tour… whooey! I decided to go see Seville, which was an hour and a half away, so the good part was that even though it was a long day, I got to sleep on the bus ride there and back. Seville was a gorgeous city! I wish I had more free time to check things out because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to take everything in. I saw the Spanish House (or at least that’s what I’m calling it) which was huge and crazy beautiful and then we went to a Jewish Quarter, which wasn’t much of anything. After we walked to see the Alcazar, which was an old GIGANTIC house with Arab architecture. I think my favorite part was seeing all the foliage in the city… very fall =) After the Alcazar, we went to lunch which was a buffet with okay food. Not the best, but it could have been worse. Our last stop was a huge cathedral, which was definitely old in character, and I thought it had a little flavor of Gaudi to it. I was bummed we didn’t have a lot of free time because I didn’t find a spoon; HOWEVER, on Sarah’s tour was a passenger named Cliff, whom we met on our tour to Rome on October 25, knew I collected spoons, as does he, so he ended up getting one for me! I tell ya, I meet some of the nicest people onboard. He’s been on 16 HAL cruises, and travels alone, so I think he really enjoys mine and Sarah’s company. And the nice part is that he’s not one of those creepy old guys; he’s a genuinely nice guy.
The next port was Portimao, Portugal and we had to tender because the bottom of the sea inclines up super steep. The tenders take about 40 minutes, and then it’s another 20 min or so shuttle ride to the city, so I didn’t feel like dealing with it. Therefore, roommate and I decided to make the day a lazy day: we ordered room service and spent the day watching movies! There was a Halloween party that evening as well and we went as Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Suess haha! Lisbon was the day after, and it was a crappy port city. We ended up finding some shopping, and of course, I found us a Starbucks! The final port of call was Madeira, Portugal; a small island of Portugal. It was really pretty; we just walked around and enjoyed the natural nature of it all.

Finally, the last seven days were… interesting. I had a hard time dealing with the motion sickness. The beginning of the crossing was pretty bad: I was in bed for a good two days because I was scared to fight the movement. I definitely got sick more than a few times, and I had tried everything I possibly could to prevent it. The best remedy I found was Ginger Pills and green apples. They helped the nauseating feelings go away. Despite my sea sickness, I was able to make it through all of the shows without any craziness happening! I drugged up and took ginger pills and did just fine. Some of the show nights were pretty rocky, so it made it interesting to try and not fall all over the place!

The day we got into Ft. Lauderdale was crazy! We had to get up at 5:30am to show customs our passports, and then do mandatory fire drills and general emergency drills to prove to the US Coast Guard we know what we’re doing. We got through all of that by noon and then all of us made a mad dash for solid ground; especially me! I ran down the gangway screaming and flailing my arms I was so happy to be back in the states and be on solid ground! We made runs to Starbucks, the grocery store, and had lunch at a local sushi joint. And of course, I made as many phone calls as I could and sent as many texts as I could while I was on land!

So now we are in the Caribbean until May! I feel so much more relaxed and less pressured to get off at EVERY port and see EVERY thing… it’s mostly beaches now and we’re here for so long that I don’t have to cram anything in. So last cruise, I got off at Grand Turk and went to a little place called Jack Shack and used free wifi and just enjoyed the beach. Then I got off the boat in Curacao; I did a tour to some pretty neat caves and then was given a short tour around the city. The next port was Bonaire, but I slept until 2:30pm (WHOA!) so I just walked around with Sarah for an hour just to get a feel of the city. Next was Aruba and we took a tour to a private beach where we went banana boating and tanned for the rest of the time. It was a nice beach! There’s something for everyone! I haven’t put any pictures up because I’ve not been diligent about posting pictures lately… oops. I need to make a list to figure out which ports I still need to upload from Europe and now the Caribbean. I’ll upload eventually!!!

So that’s really it for now… we’ve been at sea for the past two days on this cruise (which is now Cruise #10) and we’ll be in St. Maarten tomorrow. I’ve been dealing with everything pretty well so far, but especially now that the holidays are getting closer, I’m getting more and more homesick. I miss all the holiday stuff and the smells, and most importantly I miss my family and friends. I hate that I can’t be there for the holidays; I know that there are many more to come, but it doesn’t make this one less difficult to deal with. Sarah and I are trying to make it as festive as possible: we’ve decorated the crap out of our room (after a MAJOR shopping spree at Target last Monday) and have been playing Christmas music non-stop. We have Secret Santa gifts ready and most of our Christmas Cards done, and I’ve been working on other Christmas presents. I can’t wait to wrap everything and mail them off!! J

So, if you feel the need to ship me anything to make me feel like I’m home for the holidays, feel free ;) hahaha

Letters and cards go to this address:                     Packages to this one:
HAL/Noordam/Sheri Hayden                                 IWS/HAL/Noordam/Sheri Hayden
P.O. Box 13135                                                   3400 McIntosh Road A-5
Port Everglades, FL 33316                                    Port Everglades, FL 33316

Missing everyone from home like crazy!! Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!! =)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing catch up... Cruises 6-8; sorry it's long!!

OKAY WOW I haven’t written in a while and I apologize! I’ve been caught up with tours and shows and just have been too lazy to update my blog… oops! But I have some time now, and I’m going to try and catch you all up on the highlights of the last 3 cruises =)

Cruise #5 (continued)
I last left off about our Ballroom show, which I’m sure it went well. I’ve done six shows of that since that particular cruise, so I can’t remember the specifics about it. All I know is that all of the shows are beginning to feel like second nature to me and I LOVE IT! I don’t stress out about anything and I feel good performing onstage =). The next day was Africa, and Sarah and I got to go on tour to Carthage and a small city called Sidi Bou Said. Let me say that Africa was basically everything I expected it to be. I mean, we ported in Tunisia, and it looked sooo poor. It wasn’t a bad tour, but there wasn’t anything good to buy there. Carthage was cool to see, lots of it is still up, but I’m over ruins at this point HAHA. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I got to see it, but there’s only so many broken buildings you can see before they all start to look the same ;) The next day was Palermo, in which we had our Vegas show, so I didn’t get off the boat. Unfortunately, my roommate had a very minor eye infection and wasn’t allowed to dance in the show, so we had to reblock, and then she also couldn’t come on tour with me the next day in Naples. We were scheduled to go to Capri, but I promised her we’d go together, so I asked Shore Ex to put me on my second choice, so I got to go see Mt. Vesuvius! We took a 4x4 up the side of the volcano and then walked to the very top and I could see inside the crater; it was pretty awesome! Afterwards I went to our favorite pizza place, Castel Nuovo, and got rooms and I pizza and brought hers back to her on the ship. And that was really all there was for the rest of Cruise #5!!!

Cruise #6: The Last Eastern Med Cruise in Greece
Day 1: Civitavecchia obviously. Didn’t do much except for free wifi at my regular café that I go to, then had the normal boat drill, company meeting, tech rehearsal, and our LUEY performance. Easy day!

Day 2: Sea day, so we did Ballroom Blitz. We had our tech at 12pm and our two shows in the evening!

Day 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sarah and I didn’t have a tour planned so we walked into town so we could pick up some gifts, and then did some grocery shopping at the grocery store right by the port. We were going to go cliff diving but it was a little too chilly for that. I took some really pretty pictures of some of the cliffs instead =)

Day 4: Corfu, Greece. Again, we didn’t have any tours planned so we just walked around to look for some shoes we had found previously and got some more souvenirs/gifts. When I got back, I called my sister so I could talk to Avery because it was her birthday and they were going to the Taylor Swift concert =) I was SO glad to talk to them!! Day 5: Katakolon, Greece. I had
IPM so I didn’t get off the boat, I must have slept in and was a lazy bum lol

Day 6: Santorini, Greece. Today was finally a tour! Roommate and I went to Oia and got to walk around and shop. I got myself another piece of jewelry that matched my ring and earring set, as well as some more gifts. HOLY COW it was very cold, windy and rainy this day! After about an hour of free time in Oia, we went to Sigalas winery and got try the greek wines they produce. They were all very good, I actually liked the sweet red wine the best interestingly! Sarah bought a bottle of it, so we might be enjoying that later on this contract haha. After that, we spent the rest of the time walking around on our own. We had lunch at a café over-looking the sea and we had the best greek pizza ever, and I also had the best cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted! So despite the rain, it was a good day =)

Day 7: Kusadasi, Turkey. No tours this day, we had a game plan of getting coffee and getting the rest of the gifts we needed to get for some people. After we got all of that accomplished, we sat in Starbucks the rest of the afternoon to use free wifi and, of course, have a cup of Starbucks coffee!!

Day 8: Athens, Greece. We just did the transfer to Athens so we could have wander on our own for about 4 hours. We actually didn’t buy anything this time! We did a lot of window shopping and tried stuff on, but we didn’t buy one thing =) The only thing we bought was Starbucks, because we found one while we were walking around lol. On our way back to the bus, we saw a “peaceful protest” in the street…. People were marching by the government building because they had all taken a third pay cut. Nothing got out of control, but it was crazy to be standing right next to the protestors!

Day 9 was a sea day, so we had Vegas, and Day 10 was Messina, Italy, and I had IPM so I wasn’t able to get off the ship. And that about sums up Cruise #6! The last of my Greek cruises for a while! Overall, I really liked Greece… despite its terribly economy; it’s a really beautiful country. 

Cruise #7: The last complete Western Med before the Crossing
Day 1 was Civitavecchia and I got some new black boots, some groceries and did free wifi. Day 2 was Livorno, but I had IPM so I couldn’t go anywhere. I wanted to go to Florence, but I can save it for future contracts =) Day 3 was Monte Carlo, and we had our Ballroom Show and I had IPM again because I had switched with someone else in the cast. The only thing I remember about the ballroom show was the during the first one, the pit got stuck about a foot down so we all had to lay down and hide until it finally moved all the way down; it was pretty funny =)

Day 4 was Barcelona. Sarah and I got on the tour that took us to see the Montserrat Monastery. I was a little weary at first because I’m a little tired of seeing cathedrals and monasteries, but this one was beautiful! It’s over 2,000 feet up in a mountain and the views are gorgeous. The monastery itself is gorgeous too. It’s also the home of the Black Madonna and a famous boys choir. I got a lot of good pictures, and was pretty satisfied with the tour itself. We got back to the ship around 5pm, and immediately had to get ready because we were going to have a special dinner and see a flamenco show (another tour offered). It was way cool! It was a dinner theatre, and they served us seafood rice, chicken and veggies, and the best mousse dessert ever! We also had bread and Spanish wine and the show was really great! Sarah and I took pictures with some of the dancers afterwards =) After dinner was a panoramic tour of the city at night, which was alright. Since we do overnights in Barcelona, I had already seen pretty much everything they were taking us too, so I was just ready to get back to the boat. We were going to go out that night and meet up with some cast members, but after touring all day, we were too tired and called it a night haha. The next day in Barcelona, we went to the post office to mail a bajillion post cards, get Starbucks, and get the last of the gifts we’d wanted to purchase. And that pretty much sums up our last overnight for Barcelona.

Day 6 was Palma de Mallorca and we walked to the mall… AND IT FELT SO GOOD!!! I’ve missed malls! I definitely did a little shopping (oops) but I keep telling myself that I’m in Europe, so why not!? ;) We just spent the day at the mall because it felt like an American thing to do on a cloudy, gloomy day haha. We had lots of rain this last couple of cruises… fall is coming! I’m glad I get to see some of it before I get to the Caribbean; especially since fall is my favorite season!

Day 7 was a sea day so we did our Walls show, which went well. After that was Africa, and even though I had IPM, most people don’t get off the boat so I just went and used free wifi at the same restaurant I always do. Day 9was Palermo, and we did our Vegas show, so we had our tech at 10am, and then afterwards, Sarah, Ali, Susan and I got off the boat to go grocery shopping and have lunch. The shows went well that evening; I spotted my favorite passengers of this cruise in the front row! Their names are Paul & Nicole, I met them on the last cruise (they were doing a 20 day cruise) and they are from Vermont… so sweet! I had quite a few tours with them so I got their contact information so we could stay in touch. They have family in Oklahoma as well! Hopefully I’ll get to run into them later in life =)

The last day of the cruise was Naples. We wanted to go to Capri but we couldn’t because we had traffic director training, however, it was chilly and rainy so the tour to Capri may not have been a good idea that day. Instead, Sarah, Ali and I walked around to get some things for Kellie and then had lunch for the last time at Castel Nuovo and said goodbye to Antonio, the owner. Soooo that about sums up the last cruise of this itinerary! It was pretty good; I enjoyed it =)

Cruise #8: The LAST European Itinerary and the CROSSING TO FLORIDA!!
YAY for beginning the last of my cruises in Europe! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast here, but I’m ready to be home. I want to use my phone and see regular stores and buy regular food and have a million pumpkin spice lattes LOL I’ll at least be able to do this every time we’re in Ft. Lauderdale, and we’ll see how much usage I can get out of my phone on the other ports. But I really can’t wait to call all my family and friends when I get back into the states =) SO with that, here’s how this cruise has been so far:

Day 1 was Civitavecchia BUT roommate and I got on the tour to the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica so it was back to Rome for the day!!! I was so glad we got this tour, it was all so amazing! After we walked around the Vatican museums, we saw the Sistine Chapel and then went inside St. Peter’s Basilica. It was all very stunning. Also, outside a TON of chairs were set up because I guess every Wednesday the Pope speaks and does some sort of dedication… but it was just cool to see the whole thing full of chairs, compared to the last time we were there and it was just wide open space. AND, I’m not sure how many people know this, but the Vatican City in Rome is actually the smallest county in the world… it’s a legit country with its own laws, government, etc. The cars’ license plates always have SCV and there’s special Euros that can only be used there. So basically I was in two different countries in one day… haha! After all of that tour, we got to have lunch at restaurant called Papa Rex, and the salad and pasta was amazing! The wine was also pretty good, and the tiramisu dessert was delicious! The best part though was the espresso after everything; definitely the smoothest and most delicious cup of espresso I’ve had in Europe! :) After lunch, we did a panoramic drive through Rome, and I just love how BIG everything is. It’s pretty awesome. I could definitely live in Rome if I really wanted to I think… it’s a really pretty city =) We headed back to the boat around 3pm and Sarah and I barely made it to our muster stations for the boat drill… we were literally running from the bus to the gangway, to our rooms to grab our lifejackets and then to our stations. It was pretty hilarious. We finished off the night with company meeting, tech rehearsal and our bumper show.

Day 2 was back in Monte Carlo. I didn’t get off because I was super tired from the previous day, so after our morning tech of our Ballroom show, I napped for the afternoon. The shows went pretty well, both crowds were pretty full and loud, but I just felt tired throughout them. I need to learn to get better sleep!!! LOL you think I would with all my extra time on the ship… lol I just wear myself out between tours, the gym, and all my performance duties I think.

Day 3 was Barcelona, and I walked around the city with Sean, Sarah and Zac. We went to the post office, Starbucks, the grocery store, and checked out a couple of Halloween stores. Sarah and I are going to the Halloween parties onboard as Thing 1 & Thing 2 from Dr. Suess, LOL we’re borrowing matching red onesies from two of our cast members, and found the blue wigs at one of the Halloween stores. PERFECTO!! I didn’t do much of anything else for the evening; I had dinner, made an appearance at the VIP party onboard, walked Deck 3 for 45 minutes, then read myself to sleep =)

Day 4 was a new port!! Cartegena, Spain. I took a tour that took me to Elche, which was an okay tour. We saw a cathedral where a famous play is done, and then saw some palm tree/botanical gardens. Nothing too spectacular, but it was still interesting. I think the coolest part though was that there was a medieval festival going on to celebrate All Saints Day, so it’s only happening this weekend and we got to be there for it! It reminded me of the Renaissance festival, so I saw lots of people dressed up from that time, jewelry stands, random knick-knack stands, and different kinds of room and drink from that time period.

AND FINALLY CAUGHT UP… today was Malaga, Spain. What a gorgeous port!!!! It reminds me a little of California and a little of Miami; lots of palm trees and resorts on a beach =) Sarah and I got to go on the tour that went horseback riding in the Mijas mountains; which was sooo much fun! Such beautiful views and just very peaceful! Before, we got to eat some Spanish snacks: bread with a super delicious garlic dressing, garlic tomatoes, prosciutto, cheese and of course red wine. All the wine is very sweet and light here! After the tour, we came back to port, and since we had 4 hours before all aboard, Sarah and I went to walk around the city a little bit. We got our spoons and magnets, and then had lunch at a café. I had a yummy chicken & strawberry salad with a yogurt dressing, Sarah got 2 seafood tapas, and we ordered Sangria! The sangria in Spain is the best Sangria EVER! We finished off the whole pitcher that they brought out (which is pretty big) and felt a little giggly after, but nothing too extreme lol. After we paid, we got some gelato on the way back to the boat since we only have a few ports left to get gelato (which is 1000000000x better than ice cream!) Now we’re back on board being lazy in our cabin and watching tv!

So there you have it, all caught up! SO sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve posted! And I’m sorry this is more lengthy than I wanted it to be… it’s to summarize ten day cruises I suppose lol! Tomorrow is Cadiz, Spain followed by Lisbon (Portugal) and then we have one sea day after that and our final port of call, which is Madeira, Portugal. Then… ITS SEVEN DAYS AT SEA MY FRIENDS AND THEN I WILL BE BACK IN THE USA!!!! I cannot wait!! I’ve been craving a pumpkin spice latte for 3 months… and I’m going to drool when I get one!! Lol Hope everyone is doing well and I miss you all!!!! Until next time!!! <3

This is a REALLY old post!!!

I'm so sorry I've been slacking on my blog updates!! This blog is from awhile ago, it's about cruises #4 and #5... which is the same one that my roommates parent's came on, haha! (And now I'm currently on cruise #8)! I'll post this since I took the time to write it, and I'm going to go write another and post it later =)

As much as I am loving Europe, and I am having a lot of fun, I’m almost ready to get back into the states so I can at least use my phone as much as I want every ten days. I’m going to look into my plan and see if I can get text messaging options while I’m in the Caribbean just because I use more texting that I do actual phone minutes. I’m not sure how well that is going to work out, but it’s something I can investigate. That’s why I’m also going to try to do an Alaskan cruise the next ship so I can at least keep my phone around longer. Not that I REALLY need my phone, but it gets hard sometimes to not be able to contact anyone whenever I feel like it, especially when I get homesick.
But anyways, as for the end of the last cruise, it went pretty well. Athens I stayed on the boat all day. I slept until 1pm (holy cow!) and then I tried to tan outside but it was actually pretty chilly and really cloudy. The weather has definitely started to cool down from when we first got to the Med, so it’s been really nice for going on tours and stuff. I don’t feel like I’m sweating all my layers of skin off anymore haha

After Athens was a sea day, so we had tech in the afternoon for our Vegas show and after that I taught the Foxtrot with Jacob. They were probably the best crowd I’ve taught yet. They all seemed to enjoy themselves and they were all really friendly. The shows in the evening went really well, no major mishaps. Riser 44 is still broken so we’re still running our modified show. (We use 4 risers in this show, and since is broken we can only use three. Hopefully it’s getting fixed by the next cruise).

The next day was Messina, and I went with Sarah and her parents to Taormina, which is a really pretty town. It reminded me a lot of Lucca. There wasn’t much to it; we saw the different style of cathedrals and the theatre that was there, and that was really all that there was. There were a lot of shops of course, and Sarah and I looked around, but all the shoes were super expensive, and I didn’t really look at a whole lot of clothes because I’m trying to reduce my spending haha.  We came back and had to get ready for the backstage event for the passengers, which is when we just do the two beginning numbers of Vegas in rehearsal clothes and they all get to ask questions after. Short and sweet, and I’m pretty sure that after that I went back to the room to take a nap because I was pooped from yesterday. In the evening, I got to go to dinner with Sarah and her parents to the Pinnacle (the onboard restaurant that costs extra to go to) and the food was AMAZING! I had French onion soup, Filet mignon with asparagus and mashed potatoes and dessert was coffee, vanilla, and chocolate flavored crème brule! SO yummy! I liked the different flavored butter that they gave with the bread in the beginning too. They had regular, garlic, and sun-dried tomato. The only bad thing though was that the service is REALLY slow. We had reservations at 8:30pm and wanted to make it to the 10pm show, but didn’t get there until almost 10:30pm… but we weren’t too upset because we all really didn’t care for the show afterwards anyways HAHA. After the show we had a midnight rehearsal for Walls, which went pretty quickly.

So that was the rest of Cruise #4, and now onto part of Cruise #5. On home port day, I got up early to go to breakfast to say goodbye to Sarah’s parents, and then came back to sleep for a few more hours because I headed out to my normal café for wifi time. I was planning on leaving around 11am, but we had a surprise fire drill at 10am so I was up earlier and headed off after the drill was over. I got my normal espresso and got to Skype with my mom! It was nice, but the videos were a little slow, but at least it was better than nothing. I also uploaded all of my photos, of course, and did my usual catch up day online. After that, I walked around with Sarah to see if we could find anything interesting, and we didn’t but we did end up getting some gelato. Mostly everything was closed anyways because it was Sunday. We got back on board, we did our traffic director drill, had our company meeting, did our tech for Luey, and did LUEY at 9:30pm.

Day 2 was Livorno, and I wanted to go to Florence this time, but I never ended up getting off the boat. First off, we had our Walls show this day instead of Day 3, so we had tech at 10am, and after wasn’t enough time to get to Florence and back (it’s about a 2.5 hour commute). I have IPM the next time we’re in Florence, so I probably won’t ever get to Florence, but that’s okay. Maybe another contract, and at least I got to get to Pisa! I don’t think I did much of anything during my break between tech and shows, but I think I went to the gym and had dinner and then just got ready for the shows. They were good, the second show had hardly ANY audience, but I bet it’s because everyone was so tired from their tours in Livorno. The first day after home port day is such a long port day for the guests… so they don’t really show up to the shows at the beginning of this cruise.

Day 3 was Monte Carlo, and I GOT TO GO TO FRANCE! I went to see Nice and Eze, two really pretty towns in southern France. I got a bunch of silly souvenirs because they were from France (like Paris magnets… LOL) Nice had a flower market which was really cool, and the beach was really pretty there. It was rocky, but the water is such a gorgeous blue that it makes up for it haha! I also ended up getting a cute simple grey dress because I was determined to buy at least one article of clothing from France ;) After an hour of free time, we drove to Eze (and we saw Elton John’s house on the way!), which is a super tiny medieval town up on a cliff of a mountain. I didn’t get anything there, just enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and an espresso… had to try it from France! After the tour was over, we got dropped back at the ship, but Sarah and I went to walk to see the famous casino that Monte Carlo is known for.  We didn’t go inside, but we took pictures outside and also took pictures of the Hotel de Paris =) After we took pictures, we walked around in search of food (and shopped at the Zara we found) and ended up just getting a pizza by the slice on the way back because we didn’t find much of anything. The two outside pizza places we went to, no one came up to us to serve so we left lol The pizza I had was okay, I still think Italy’s is better! We made it back on the ship and then just relaxed the rest of the evening.

Day 4 was Barcelona (Day 1) and we did a bike tour!! We rode 14 miles around the city and got to see some things I hadn’t seen before. We had a few accidents, but nothing extremely serious, but I really think people should be super confident in controlling a bike in small spaces and crowds… just saying. Jordy was another guy that worked for the company and he rode at the end of the line with us, and hopefully all of us will get to meet up in Barcelona next time and hang out! We finished the tour kind of late for various reasons, and then Sarah and I got some groceries and went to the post office to mail some postcards! (So yes, some postcards are in transit! I have many more to send, but I only sent six this time because I was afraid of them never making it to the states, so I figured losing six instead 30 was a better risk to take… lol) If they’re received by the next time I go to Barcelona, I’ll make the rest out in 20 days! =) After that, we walked back to the ship to change because we were going to dinner! We finally ventured off after 8pm, and had a really ridiculous situation to deal with (if you want to know about it, message me and I’ll let you know. I won’t put the details up here because I don’t know who all sees this, so I’ll inform you on a private basis lol). But after we made our escape to a Starbucks, we finally landed at a restaurant recommended by our tour guide earlier that day and had the most amazing tapas! I had veggies and gnocchi, and a glass of rose wine, and Sarah had a hummus, babaganush, and guacamole dish, sushi and a cab sav. It was excellent! I took my menu (because it was a paper one) for a keepsake! After that we walked around for a little, got amazing gelato and got bombarded by people trying to get us to go to the clubs. We almost did, but we had to be up early for the next day’s tour, but we might try to go next time just for the experience. We’ll see.

Day 2 was good too! I did a Guadi tour and got to go inside La Sagrada Familia, that amazing church I mentioned last time. The inside is just as stunning. I can’t wait to see what the complete project will look like. I actually want to come back in 15 years to see its completion; it’s on my bucket list! I ended up buying a book about it because I’m so curious about it, its symbolism, and how it’s built. I think I just love that it’s still a work-in-progress and that I get to be alive during the time it’s making history…. Cool!! After the tour, I tried to wait for Sarah to get back, but I think she was way later than I was, so I walked back to the ship by myself and slept until she got home, since I was tired again lol (I have a bad habit of staying up late when I need to get up early lol). She got back and we both napped until dinner, and after dinner we got some coffee and played scrabble and card games in the library haha it was fun. We came back to the room to watch movies and both passed our pretty early.

Today we are in Palma de Mallorca, and I have IPM, so I got to sleep in today! And boy did I, I slept until almost 2pm! I never sleep like this! It’s so weird to me, but I guess it’s just because I’m always on the go helping out with ShoreEx and then doing all the shows/techs/rehearsals that I’ve barely given myself downtime. So today has been a day of sleeping, and I haven’t done much since I woke up. Just been watching tv and updating my blogs :)

So tomorrow is a sea day, so we have our Ballroom show. The next day is Africa, and we’re hopefully going to Carthage that day, and I’m hoping to catch up with the internet then with pictures afterwards as well. The day after that is Palermo, and the last day is Naples. I’m hoping to go to Capri when we’re in Naples, I heard it’s stunning!! =) So that’s about it for the latest news… I miss everyone from home so much! Sometimes it feels like I’ve been here forever, but when I look at the dates, it’s only been a month and a half =(  It’s my lazy days that make me homesick… I have more time to think about everything. If I keep myself busy, it keeps my brain occupied and makes time fly. Six and a half months and I’ll be home! Love you all and miss you tons!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Highlights of Cruise #4

I'm really beginning to think that there isn't going to be one entry where I'm complaining about the life I'm living right now! This cruise has, so far, been yet another fantastic one!

Day 1 was home port in Civitavecchia. Sarah and I walked around and did some grocery shopping and then we did very minimal clothes shopping (we each only got two items each! hahaha) and then we did the usual cafe hangout with espresso and free wifi. Got back on the ship and did the "cruisely" general emergency drills, company meetings, and the run through for LUEY. Had our show that evening and then I went to midnight snack to meet Sarah's parents. Oh my goodness, I can totally see exactly where she gets her personality from! They are so funny!! Oh, a bit off topic, but at midnight snack, I discovered something.... I CAN eat seafood and I DO like it! *shock*!!!! They have avacado slices as appetizers for the Day 1 menu, and last cruise when I first had it, I just took the avacodo slices without thinking and ate it without any surprises. Afterwards Sarah told me that there was shrimp and crabmeat on it, come to find it out it was a seafood stuffed avacado. Who would've thought that I could actually stand seafood?? I'm pretty proud of myself because I've always claimed that I despise seafood... guess I"m growing up a litte ;) hahaha

Day 2 was a sea day, so we had our first show, Ballroom Blitz. Therefore we had tech at noon and two shows in the evening, nothing strange or unusual. The shows went really well, although it was a little more difficult for myself only because I’ve been fighting a head cold for about the past week. It’s getting better each day, still have a cough though! =(

Day 3 was Dubrovnik. I was on an early excursion with Kellie, but only because I missed my bus lol oops! We got to drive up the mountain and see the Old City from high above, and of course, take pictures! Then we drove back down and walked around the Old City, which is only pedestrian walking, no cars, bikes, or buses. It was really pretty! We saw a cathedral and a monastery (because really, what else is there to see in Europe….) and then after it ended, Kellie and I walked around to explore. There was a local artist playing in the town square, her name is Ana and she played what I would consider and electric bass? Not the guitar, but bass as in the huge string instrument. Whatever it was, it was really cool and she was really talented!! We wanted to buy one of her cds and we looked everywhere but couldn’t find any! (Apparently they were selling them right there in the square, of which I was informed later. Too bad that’s the one place we DIDN’T investigate!!) Hopefully I can find some of her work on iTunes or something, it was really great! So after that, we had some lunch and just did some sightseeing for more pictures.

Day 4 was Corfu, Greece. I had IPM that day so I couldn’t get off the ship, so I made the best of it by being SUPER LAZY!! I wanted to recover from my head cold, and from running on high speed all the time. I slept until noon, got up to brush my teeth and wash my face, then I finished my book on my kindle, and then napped from 2:30-5:30pm HAHA. We had rehearsal in the gym that evening for an hour, so I went to the gym for an hour and a half before that, and then went right back to my room to be lazy for the rest of the night. Definitely a great day for relaxing, it felt so good!

Day 5 was Olympia, Greece, where I got to see the famous ruins! I didn’t catch a whole lot of information because the tour guide spoke softly, but also because she spoke forever, so I accidentally tuned her our after a while because I got bored… oops! But there really isn’t much left in the site, especially after “surviving” two earthquakes, one being a 7.5! Of what was left, I saw the gymnasium, and area in which boxing was done; and get this. Anything was acceptable except for biting and something else (which I forgot) so basically, people got really rough and some actually died from doing this! How crazy is that!? Then I saw a holy shrine, and then the Temple of Hera, and the Temple of Zeus. But like I said, there isn’t much left after the earthquakes, and what IS left is just scattered allll over the place, but that’s what makes it cool =) So, that part of the tour was fun, but the next part is my favorite! We went to a little café by the ruins, and we got to eat authentic Greek food, drink their wine and ouza, and then did some Zorba dancing!!!! I ate everything that they served, it was all really good and different. There wine was semi-sweet and light, and I didn’t try any ouza because it smelled like black licorice and I’m just not a fan. But the Zorba dancing was a blast! A bunch of people who were dressed up grabbed a bunch of us tourists and made us dance in a circle and they taught us some steps. We had to have danced to three or four songs, it was definitely a lot of fun! Sarah’s mom kept telling the men to “challenge” Sarah and I because “we’re dancers on the ship!!” haha I loved this part because it was so great to experience the culture! One of the lady’s that owned/worked at the café came up to me as I was leaving and told me that she was impressed with my dancing, ahah how sweet! But yes, definitely my favorite part of the tour! Later, when I got back on the ship, I went to the show in the Vista Lounge that night because it was two acrobats from Cirque du Soleil. They were phenomenal!!! Super strong and just completely impressive! Sarah and I got to talk to the guy after and he told us all about his and his wife’s career and where they’ve performed, and then he recommended us to go see Cannes the next time we go to Monaco =) Woowhoo!! After that, Sarah and I went to the sports bar with her dad while her mom played in the casino for a bit and the bartender there is named Marlin, and he’s a riot! He had so many funny jokes, and was just a genuinely nice guy. He kept us entertained for about two hours haha We’ll have to go watch him in the crew show because he told us he’s dressed as a woman to do the dancing because none of the females would do that dance, haha!

Day 6 was Santorini. I just did a simple tour for the island, but there’s really not much to it. We drove up to the highest peak, Profitis Ilias (I think) and got to see all around the island and got some great pictures! Afterwards, we went to the town of Oia, which is the city that you see on all the postcards. It was cute, we got an hour and a half to walk around so I just looked at the shops by myself. I ended up getting the most beautiful earrings and matching ring that we handmade and designed by a Greek designer. The setting is modeled after the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods and the stone is the most beautiful color of Swarovski crystal I have ever seen. I’m really excited about it because I feel it’s truly a Greek piece of jewelry. And the lady told me that the designer only distributes to only a few select locations, so just another piece of info to make me feel confident about my purchase. I REALLY wanted to get the bracelet because it was the first thing that caught my eye, and it was double set so I could wear it with the blue stones on one side, and white stones on the other, but it was just far too expensive. Maybe next time… or one day haha! After Oia, we were dropped off in Thira, where I just walked around and enjoyed the shops. I got myself one dress and then headed back to the ship. I took the cable car down the mountain this time, so I have officially utilized every option of transportation to get up and down the mountain!! Donkey ride up, walking down, bus ride up, cable car down… CHECK! When I got back on the ship, I passed out for a few hours because I was pooped from having to get up early with only a few hours of sleep. When I woke up, I went and enjoyed the Mediterranean buffet on the aft of the ship, and then went to the Lido Pool Party where I got to dress up in a toga!!! We got a bunch of the guests dancing into a congo line, and also on the dance floor by doing dances like the Cupid Shuffle and the Electric Slide. Two little girls wanted to dance so they came by me and I was dancing with them through it all, SO CUTE! After the part died down, I went back to my room to wind down for the night because I had another tour excursion the next day in Turkey =)

Day 7 was Ephesus in Turkey. I got to see the Virgin Mary’s house, which was her supposed final resting place and has been visited by the Pope himself. It was very quiet and peaceful, I enjoyed seeing it. I couldn’t take any pictures on the inside but I got plenty of the outside. Backtracking just a few, the drive to Mary’s house was incredible, up the side of the mountain and it was actually a little scary at times. The roads were so curvy and even though they have the metal railings on the side of the road, they seem smaller than what the USA has, so when I would look out the window, all I would see is the mountain below me and its surroundings. Insane! I kept thinking of my mother (sorry to call you out on this one!) because she gets super nervous around mountains, especially driving up them, haha so I had to laugh at myself a little ;) So anyways, we took that same drive back down the mountain to get to Ephesus, which was amazing! I can’t believe how much of the ruins still remain after all this time; much much more than Olympia. I got to see old Roman baths, the Library, the famous Amphitheatre where the apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesians… all of it was incredible! We walked down the marble road where there were supposed to be tons of shops on both sides, and I could only imagine a bunch of people walking around in togas and Jesus sandals… hahaha stereotypical I know, but it helped me picture things! After Ephesus, we went to a carpet making store right by the port and the host explained a bunch of different types of rugs of Turkey. The important factors about Turkish rugs are actually not the material, it’s the way that they make it and the labor it takes. They are known for double knotting, which is what makes their rugs last forever. He showed a bunch of rugs that were 5-7 years’ worth of labor… how insane is that! The softest rugs were of course silk on silk and they were beautiful. I also got to enjoy my first cup of apple tea, which was actually chilled! I bought some for myself and it’s not in a tea bag, you just scoop the flavor out of a bag and put it in either hot or cold water. Nifty! Another cultural element that I just loved! And I actually met some guests from Michigan during the rug presentation! After all of that, I went back to ship to grab my laptop and now I am currently sitting at the port Starbucks in Turkey! YAY for really good coffee! I was hoping that they might have the pumpkin spice latte, but no such luck. Oh well… I’ll be in Ft. Lauderdale soon!!!

Tomorrow is Athens, Greece, in which I have IPM again so I’m going to take another day of relaxing to myself! I’ll probably be making some phone calls back home tonight and catching so more sunshine on the top deck tomorrow ;) I gotta get really tan before my dad gets here so he has no chance of beating me in our little tanning contests hahaha! After Athens is another sea day, which means tech runs for Vegas and I’m teaching the Foxtrot! Then Day 10 is Messina, Italy, and we’ll see if I get an excursion or not. So like I said, not much to be complaining about with this life!!

Also, I DO have postcards… a LOT of them! I will try to send some from Europe because it’s just way cool to receive them postmarked internationally, but I’m also nervous that they’ll never make it to their final destination. So don’t be alarmed if you receive a postcard sometime in November and it’s dated from September… it’ll be because I’ve waited until I got to Ft. Lauderdale mid-November to send them off. But I do have them! I haven’t forgotten about anyone! =)

Much love to everyone back at home!! I’ll post more soon!! =) xoxo <3

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cruise Number 3 at a Glance!

Well, cruise number 3 has been pretty amazing! Our first port was Livorno, Italy, and Sarah and I got to be escorts on a tour that took us to Lucca and Pisa! Lucca is a very cute and quaint town, surrounded by walls, so public transportation is forbidden within the city. We had to be dropped off outside and walk into the city. It was lovely to see, and I did a little bit of shopping ;) After, we took the bus to Pisa! (The country side of Tuscany is gorgeous!) In Pisa, we got to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and go inside the Cathedral, which was really amazing to see. Sarah and I got matching coffee mugs that lean a little like the tower because we’re goofy like that =) It was a short tour, but it was so worth it to see such amazing landmarks!

The next day was Monte Carlo, which is just absolutely stunning! The buildings and architecture were just amazing! We just walked around for a little bit because it was a show day, so we couldn’t go on any tours. We didn’t do anything shopping either because they didn’t have a whole lot of boutiques/shops, and the ones we did find were SO expensive!

The next day was Barcelona, another overnight stay! The first day, Sarah and I had IPM, so we had to stay on the ship, which was fine because we made a lazy movie day out of it! I think we watched 5 movies? Haahaha it felt good to relax though. The next day we took a Panoramic Barcelona tour, which was my favorite tour so far! We drove around the streets and saw lots of Gaudi’s work, which is absolutely incredible (and insanely expensive to rent for living!) We saw two of his houses, both of which were very unique and different. The first one looked like a gigantic mosaic on the outside, and the other one was much plainer. The best of his work that we saw was La Sagrada Familia… HOLY STUNNING! It was so big, and so detailed, it was just a breathtaking thing to see! The church has 3 facades, Christmas, Passion and Eternal Life, representing what Gaudi considered to be the three most important aspects of the life of Jesus Christ. The whole thing is under construction because although Gaudi worked on it for 42 years, it’s still only 55% completed because he was that detailed in his work. They’re predicting that it will be completed in the year 2026, coincidentally the 100 year landmark since his death. We’ll see how that goes!! This is definitely a must-see for anyone who decides to visit Barcelona! After that we drove up the mountain to see a beautiful view of the city, and on the way we drove past the Palace and the Olympic Stadium =) Such a great tour! After that, we got dropped off in the city where, of course, Sarah and I did some shopping! We did some good damage that day! Haha

The next day was Palma de Mallorca, where we took a tour to a small town in the mountains called Valldemossa and got to see where Chopin (the composer) lived and composed some of his most famous works. After going through the monastery and seeing different cells, we watched a short piano concert and heard 3 of Chopin’s greatest pieces =) It was a cute little tour! And once again, we got dropped off in the city and did even more shopping! We saw the huge cathedral that’s right by the water, which was beautiful! And then we had lunch at one of the street cafes and had one of the most expensive sodas in my life! They were in GIGANTIC glasses, and we had a billion straws that were like, two feet long! SO much fun!! Too bad they were 10.50 euro!! It was more expensive than the entire pizza I ordered haha!!

The next day was a sea day, so we had our Ballroom Blitz show. I taught the Waltz earlier for a 30 minute ballroom class for the guests, that was a lot of fun! They were all very sweet and patient, which was nice because the space we had was a little too small for how many people showed up. The shows went really well too!! I had two solid performances, so I felt great by the end of two shows! It was formal night, so we went up to deck 10 in the Crow’s Nest in our long formal gowns, and had a drink and mingled with passengers and some crew. We were starving after so we went to the Lido restaurant and pigged out on pizza… I swear the ship has great pizza!!! We finally made it back to the room around 1:30am, but we gained an hour woowhoo!!

Today we are in Africa, and we haven’t done too much. Had some training this morning, after helping out with Shore Excursions, and then Sarah and I definitely got off the ship to ride a camel! His name is Ali Baba. It was fun!! Also had a bird on my head, I think her name was Leila, but I can’t remember. Not doing much of anything else today, just been enjoying my down time and free wifi in the port in Africa… Once I get back on the ship I’m going to eat and nap because I’m still super tired from yesterday!!

Tomorrow is Palermo, and after that is Naples… in which I cannot wait to go have another pizza again from Castel Nuovo! I think Europe has the best pizza by far, and I’ve had in every country because it’s so yummy!!! Hope to post more soon!! =) All my love to everyone at home!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photos from Turkey and Santorini

Sarah and I being served our first cup of Turkish coffee!

A view of Santorini, Greece from the top

Susan and I at one of the 3 black sand beaches

The stairs that take you up/down the mountain! I rode a donkey up and walked down

Susan and I on the donkey!!!

(the link is on the right side of my blog)

Photos from Athens, Greece

Pretty stairwell in Athens

Panoramic view form the top!

Myself by the theatre

The Parthenon!

Absolutely stunning

Holy beautiful

A view from the top


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Been a few days, sorry!!! All about Greece & Turkey

Hello from Messina, Italy!! I haven’t been writing as much, and I apologize! I’ve just been busy going out at every port and seeing all sorts of new things, and also keeping up with the responsibilities of putting on clean shows ;)

This cruise has been a pretty good one! The second day was a sea day and we did our Ballroom Shows, which went very well. The third day was Dubrovnik, Croatia and I didn’t do much because I stayed in the port. I did get some groceries and a really beautiful scarf! The fourth day was Corfu, Greece and I explored the city with Ali, Kellie and Sarah. Such cute little town with LOTS of shopping! I found a pair of shoes that I wanted (which I’m hoping to get next time) and I even found a MAC store!! I had my first authentic Greek dish, moussaka, which is sort of like lasagna, but not, but either way it was very good! I also tried some Greek coffee, which wasn’t amazing but at least I can say I tried it! We took a lot of pictures by some beautiful architecture and saw “The Fort” (not sure if that’s the real name for it, but that’s what everyone was calling it). I’m hoping to post pictures of it soon because it was beautiful and so was the sea; so so blue!!

The fourth day was Katakalon, Greece (aka Olympia). I didn’t do much at this port either. I wanted to go see the ruins, but I didn’t make it this time so I’m hoping to make it next time. I just walked around the port shops with some of the girls and got two really pretty full length dresses J

The fifth day was Athens, Greece. HOLY BEAUTIFUL. When we first got there, we had to walk through the city (which reminded me a whole lot of NYC) to get to the metro. We took a 15-20 minute train ride to the shopping area called the Plaka; lots of fun little shops there! Then we walked up the mountain to go explore the Acropolis. The further up we went, the prettier the views got of Athens. It literally looked like building vomit all over the bottom and then the mountains stretched up without any buildings. They weren’t kidding when they said Athens was crowded! We finally made it to the top to buy our tickets to venture around the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. The entire experience of seeing all of that history was amazingly breathtaking. The views, the structures, all of it literally brought tears to my eyes because I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in a place where I’ve heard so much about through my schooling. It’s absolutely stunning to see everything. I know I saw the Parthenon for sure, and I saw other structures, I’m just not certain what the names of them are. I will definitely post pictures of this city soon because there just aren’t any words to describe the beauty I saw. After walking around, we made our way back to the metro and got ourselves back to the ship. Oh, and prior to getting to the Acropolis, I bought myself a really cute gray European dress and some handmade Greek silver earrings!

The sixth day was Kusadasi, Turkey. The first stop Sarah and I went to was Starbucks!! There was one right by port! This was the second Starbucks I saw so far the other one was in Athens. After, we decided to do some shopping! Any American girl would love this port because the men are all over you and complimenting you and trying to cut you deals on their product haha! But be warned, the shopping IS AMAZING!!! I have never seen so many brand name things (even if it was mostly fake) and little shops! It was almost overwhelming the amount of shops that there were. I wasn’t planning on going crazy… but that’s sort of what happened... oops! I bought my first genuine leather jacket which is super cute!!! I sort of feel like Edward Scissorhands’ girlfriend, bahaha but that’s just my thoughts. I never really thought about getting a leather jacket, but I think it’s going to be a good addition to my wardrobe. After my purchase, Sarah and I sat down with the owners of the store and were served Turkish coffee!! Definitely a different experience than American coffee; it was super earthy, not very bold, but not bitter either, and the bottom was full of Turkish grounds! He said that they made the coffee with cold water? I didn’t really understand him entirely about the coffee making process but I remember that part! After, he did a Turkish tradition, which usually the women do, and he read us our fortune through the coffee grounds. He tipped the tiny cup upside down into the saucer, and let it sit there for a few minutes so the grounds seeped onto the plate and out of the cup. He deciphered my “fortune” from the trail that the grounds left on the cup. He did the same process again by putting the grounds on the plate back into the cup and read the trail left on the plate. The only things he told me was that I was clean and that I am going to get very rich haha! He wasn’t really a fortune teller, but the fact that he played along and gave us that experience was a lot of fun! After that we found a little boutique on a side street that had so many cute dresses, and I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted, so Sarah and I bargained with them and we got 5 dresses for $220; four of which were mine and one was hers! It was a steal though because one of my dresses was over $100 and Sarah’s alone was going to be around $100 as well, so we really did a good job with that! I completed my purchases with a hand-beaded navy scarf with two gigantic peacocks on it; it’s beautiful!! So after all that damage, we decided to leave port because I didn’t want to spend anymore. There are so many good things there, so just be careful if you ever decide to shop in Turkey!! And get your bartering skills mastered, because it’ll work with them. I stalled long enough on one thing I bought (not mentioned because it’s a gift) and I got quite a huge chunk of the price knocked off =)

The seventh day was Santorini, Greece; yet another amazingly beautiful city. The city is at the top of a mountain, and since it’s too shallow for the boat to dock at the bottom, we had to port in the middle of the sea away from the island. Therefore, we had to take tender boats to the actual port. I went with Susan, Levi, John and Jacob because we were planning on going to the black sand beach! We got the port, and had three options of getting to the top: a) walking, b) cable car, or c) riding a donkey. WE RODE THE DONKEY!!  They threw Susan and I on the same one, which was an odd choice but we had fun. It’s definitely a haul for those poor animals. They like to hug close to the wall too, so when they turn the corners it’s a little frightening because you can see over the ledge and it’s such a steep hill! But that was fun; so glad that’s on my list of things I can say that I’ve done! Once we we’re at the top, we walked around til we found our way to the bus. Everything is so simple and serene; it’s all white with blue accents. Even though the streets were crowded it still felt calm. So anyways, we rode the bus to one of three black sand beaches (I forgot the name of it, but it started with a P and it wasn’t the most famous one). We rented beach chairs and umbrellas, and then went swimming and lay out. It felt so good to be in water again! Yes, I’m on a boat, but we can’t really swim in the ocean (obviously) and the pool we can only use at certain times, so it felt good to finally be in the water! And I forgot how funny salt water makes your skin feel! I practiced my rock skipping skills because there were a ton of perfect stones for skipping! (The best I got was 5 haha). While we were lying out, a guy waited on us and brought us drinks and food; it was marvelous! That was really all we did in Santorini. We took a bus back and walked down the mountain (very steep!) and made it back to the ship just a little before all aboard.

Day 8 was a sea day, thank goodness! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going out to see every port, but it’s tiring too! I don’t feel guilty staying on the ship when it’s a sea day because that’s the only thing I can do! We had our “Love in Any Language” show at 10:30am (which is really the singers and dancers singing one song onstage with all the crew standing on stage as well. It’s a big farewell to the passengers). After that Sarah and I went to talk to the Shore Excursion manager BECAUSE we are going to help out with tasks for Shore Ex, and in return we are going to be escorts on some tours! Margo, our entertainment manager, helped hook us up with the opportunity, so we’re stoked. They’re even going to try and get us on the same tours together since we are willing to help them out. I’m so excited to be helping out! Not only can I can tour amazing things for free, but I can mingle with the passengers more! I love that! After that, we had our tech for our show that night (That’s Vegas) and then I slept until dinner time. The shows went really well, it’s so fun to perform on a ship! By the way, if any of you decide to come on the ship and see our shows, PLEASE be loud and crazy in the audience!!! It’ll help us out and hopefully get the rest of the crowd going! Sometimes they’re a tough crowd!!

Today is day nine, and we are in Messina, Italy. Or rather, we were. We left that port at 1:30pm and it is now 3:45pm. I didn’t make it off today because of such a short port stay, and I was up late last night doing laundry so I wanted my sleep. At 2pm, we had a “Behind the Scenes” with the passengers, so we did the first two numbers of our Vegas show, and then they asked us questions. It was fun! There was a mother and her daughter that I have seen numerous times this cruise and they were there asking us questions and chatting with us; they are super sweet! I couldn’t help but think of what it was like when I was young and wanted to meet “famous dancers”… and then I thought about how I AM that famous dancer that they’re meeting! Yeah, I know we’re not headliner famous, but I still felt cool as a kid to meet anyone who did something awesome like dancing on a ship! It’s still crazy to take in that I’m living my dream and doing everything that I’ve always wanted to do =)

So with all of that, LIFE IS GRAND!! I have decided that Greece is a MUST SEE. It’s such a gorgeous country; I never would have expected half of the things that I saw. I can’t wait to go back! If you ever get a chance to go, GO! Simply stunning! Tomorrow is home port day, aka the beginning of Cruise #3!! I have import manning, but I’m hoping I can hop off and try to use free wifi for a while to upload all my pictures! The next cruise we go back to four shows instead of three, so it’s going to be a little busier than this one was, but I’m okay with that! And hopefully that’s when I start being an escort for shore excursions! I’ll keep you posted!! Love and miss you all very much!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More photos of ship life and Greece!

Mine and Sarah's cabin! Behind me is the tiny bathroom, and to my left is our closet. That's pretty much it!

Sarah and I in our opener costume for Ballroom Blitz!

Charlotte and I in the Northern Lights club onboard

Roomie and I are SOO classy!

One of the famous sites of Corfu, Greece

Posing in a gigantic, beautiful archway with the Med Sea behind me

Sarah, Ali, Kelli & I posing with the amazing blue sea behind us!!

"The Fort"

That's all for now! I figured out why it was slow to post pictures ;) There are a lot more on my facebook, but I'll try to port more to my snapfish so everyone who doesn't have facebook can see :)

Cruise #2: Shows, Dubrovnik & Corfu

So we're on the 4th day of our second cruise and so far, so good! The first day was back at the home port in Civitavecchia where Sarah and I walked around a little bit and used the wifi there and bought a few little things from the stands at the port. The second day was a sea day and we had our Ballroom Blitz show that evening, which was a lot of fun! We also had dance classes that morning and afternoon. I went to the afternoon one (in which they taught the Waltz) and I partnered with a few ladies because there weren't enough men. They were sweet; we keep running into them on this cruise which I think is so fun!! I also met a mother and daughter, Louise and Natalie. Natalie is 12 and dances and they both love our shows (They did a 20 day cruise) so they were talking about all the fun things that had done before on other cruises. They were fun to meet. I saw them sitting in the front row of our second show that evening!

The third day, Sarah and I walked around Dubrovnik for a little. We didn't go into the city, but just stayed out by the port because we slept in and only had a few hours before all aboard. I bought a really pretty scarf and we also went grocery shopping! What an experience that is to guess what you're buying since you can't read the wording! HAHA But I think I did okay! =) In the evening I went to the gym before we met up with the boys there and worked on some choreography and our frames for our shows. Afterward, roomie and I ordered room service and watched It's Complicated.

Today Kellie, Ali, Sarah and I went our to Corfu to sight-see and shop! We did quite a few hours of that and I had authentic greek food for lunch, which was surprisingly better than I expected :) I'll try to post more pictures, but for some reason my computer hates uploading pictures lately :( That's frustrating! I have a lot up on facebook but I know not everyone has facebook.

Tomorrow is Olympia, Greece! Hopefully I can get out to see the ruins and such, I just have to figure transportation and such. So yes, so far so good! Still loving ship life! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

End of turnover week & Naples, Italy

AHH! So turnover week is FINALLY over!! Today was our first day off!! But before I get into the details about today, yesterday was our final show, "That's Vegas." BOY what a show!! There's so many sets and special effects and costumes and all together its just WOW!! Not only did we do it twice in a row (8pm and 10pm), but we also had a full show for the tech at noon, so we did the show three times in one day; and that takes a lot of energy! But it was a blast. The second audience was amazing! They had such great reactions to a lot of numbers =)

Today, we had a fire drill and general emergency drill. The fire alarm woke us up at 9:30am, and we had to evacuate our cabins because the "fire" affected our part of the ship. Then we had to do the general emergency drill at 10:10am, where we are traffic directors (which basically means we mediate the traffic in the stairwells of the ship) and after that we are told to report to our life raft stations. So that was fairly quick and easy, so a bunch of us got ready and went out to explore Naples, Italy for the day! It was also one of my cast member's, Susan's, birthday today! We ate amazing pizza at Castel Nuovo and then did some shopping! I got a shirt, an italia jacket, a really pretty dress, a belt, and a birthday present for my old roomie =) Definitely successful!!

Tomorrow begins a new cruise, and we only have three shows throughout the cruise, so now we can REALLY start to enjoy the ports and go exploring Europe! I'm STOKED!!! It felt good to get off the ship today and accomplish some things, so now I can't wait to continue doing that at these later ports! We'll be at Civitavecchia tomorrow and the next day will be a sea day before we arrive at Dubrovnik. AHH I LOVE MY LIFE!! =)

Most of the cast in Naples, Italy eating pizza at Castel Nuovo!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Second show = success!

Tonight we did our performances of our second show, 'If Walls Could Rock', which is our musical theater show. It went really well! The second crowd was more responsive than the first, but both were pretty good crowds! Its a fun show to do since it's a lot of acting in addition to the dancing. We only do this show every other cruise though, so we won't be seeing it again for almost 20 days!

Today's port was an island off of Spain, Palma de Mollorca. It was soo pretty! Sarah and I were going to go shopping but we realized that we were close to all aboard time so we scratched the idea. So we napped instead before the shows =)

I love going to the crew bar between the two shows because it leads directly out to the bow, and I get to see the beautiful sea and any surrounding land!! I went out there today between the shows and it was a little windy, and I saw mountainous and on my right with a lighthouse and a wide open sea on my left. SOO pretty. Next time I'll take a picture... actually, I'll probably take a lot of pictures!

Tomorrow starts the three-day streek of crazy rehearsals for our Vegas shows. Tomorrow is also a sea day so the theater will be occupied a lot, therefore we have to have our rehearsals super late in the evening... we start at noon and go until six, have dinner, and then rehearse in the ocean spa for a little bit, and then go back to the theater until 3am. Yikes! We'll be good though :)

Other than that, that's about it for now. Our next show is in three days, and this cruise ends in four days, which means turnover week will be over!! YAY!! Stay tuned for more posts! <3

Friday, August 19, 2011

First few days of turnover and Barcelona!

Well, so far so good with turnover week! It’s been a busy process but not too excruciating! On Tuesday, we got up at 5am to board our 6am shuttle to Civitavecchia and made it onboard a little after 9am. We immediately had to go to some crew meetings and right after those, it was off to rehearsal! We set the opening show, LUEY (short for Let Us Entertain You), onstage and had costume/wig fittings. Around 4:30pm, we had to report to our designated spots on the ship as traffic directors for the lifeboat drill that happens the first day of every cruise. Let me tell you, it’s a little nervewrecking to do on your first day because a) you don’t really know what to do and b) you don’t really know the layout of the ship! I had at least three people ask me questions (all while being stationed in a crew hallway) and I had to ask other traffic directors because I had no clue! I felt silly, but I did let them know it was my first day onboard J After the drill, we had a little bit of time to get ready and go back to the theatre to do a tech run for LUEY, and then perform it “for real” at 9:30pm. It’s only a baby 30 min show, with little snippets of what the passengers can expect from later shows, but it was still fun! It’s tricky learning to work with a moving stage. We have four risers that move up and down, and those are within the turning part of the stage, and then in front of all of that is the pit that goes up and down. SO my choreography corresponds with the risers going up and down, and the first time I did it during blocking I actually got scared because I forgot that one riser goes back down after we step off it! In time I’ll get it, and so far I haven’t had to deal with a whole lot of boat rocking yet so that’s good! But anyways, after we did LUEY, we had to stay and start blocking for our ballroom show, and we were in the theatre til around 2:30am, making for a 22.5 hour day!

Day 2 wasn’t as crazy as the first, but we still had to get up early for meetings and take care of a bunch of new employee stuff, such as getting signatures from different officers and taking training classes on the computer. In addition, we still had all of our rehearsals, and we there all day again up until around 2am. We finished blocking, and then had a heads and feet run after, which is where we were all of our shoes and headpieces (wigs, hats, etc.) We had a few hours in the evening to go eat dinner and sleep because apparently we were all so tired that the run we had wasn’t very good… so bless Tj’s heart (our rehearsal director) for giving us time to recharge ourselves.

Day 3 wasn’t too bad. We finally didn’t have any meetings so our first call of duty was at 11am. We had a run of the ballroom show at noon and we were done a few hours later after that. I was able to nap in between and eat dinner, and then got ready for our first two shows of Ballroom Blitz!  They turned our really well! I had a lot of fun! It’s a 55 minute show but it goes by soooo quickly. I literally feel like after I’m onstage, I change and then run back to get onstage for the next dance. It helps that we have dressers as well, which I am pretty sure are all Philippino. I was nervous about it at first, but there’s really no time to think about being completely undressed when you’re rushing to get into the next costume! I definitely wouldn’t make my next dance if they weren’t there to help. So overall, both shows were a success!! J

Today was a fairly light day! We didn’t have anything until 11:15am, which was only costume fittings, and then we started blocking our second show from 1-9:30pm. The theater is dark tonight because we are staying overnight in Barcelona! J The ship had a free shuttle for crew members to get to Barcelona, so Kellie, Sarah and I went and walked around for a few hours. Even though I only got to see it at night, it was still really pretty!!  We walked down one of the main tourist roads, holy crowded!! Kellie bought a piece of the most amazing pizza bread I have EVER HAD. Both of us were practically salivating because it was SO good! I can’t wait to go back during the day and go SHOPPING!! There were so many stores, all of which were closed because it was nearly midnight when we walked around, but I can’t wait to explore them! The roads don’t look like NYC or anything; they’re pretty alleys and make imperfect paths, AHH!! So crazy awesome!!

We’ve also been to Livorno and Monte Carlo, but I haven’t been able to get off the ship; obviously! We stay in Barcelona tomorrow until 11pm and then go off to Palma de Mallorca (Spain)!  So there is the beginning of my worldly travels; and you best believe that I am dancing in each country! Not only on the ship, but Kellie took videos of each of us dancing in the streets, so we’re going to keep doing that at each port we get off at J AHHH!! Loving this life!!! Missing everyone from home, but I promise that I am doing very well and I’m stoked to share as much as can with you all J Much love!!!!
It takes awhile to post pictures, so I've posted the bulk on my facebook. I'll try to post more on here later :)