It’s so Christmas-sea!

(I know I already used that as the title of my Christmas album on Facebook but I’m too tired to come up with another nautical christmas pun or play on words)

I finally had a northern hemisphere Christmas! I’ve always wanted one but I don’t think this one really counts. It was pretty awesome though. If you have to spend Christmas away from your friends, family and cat I don’t think it’s possible to have a better Christmas than I just had.


The Christmas cruise was quite a strain on the Entertainment department. For a start we replaced our usual embarkation welcome doff-doff music with some dreary, annoying (like Alvin and the Chipmunks-annoying) and sometimes disturbing Christmas music (like The Supremes’ super creepy ding dong song). Then we replaced our first production show with a Christmas show. The singers and dancers had to learn new songs and choreography for just one cruise. The Hotel Director and the Captain were also roped in to play small parts and the Cruise Staff (that’s me) and the Youth Staff performed the 12 days of Christmas. “True love” was replaced with the name of the company as the giver of obscure gifts (What the hell is a partridge anyway? And do they even come in pear trees? And if so, would you really want one?). And then the obscure gifts were replaced with things you would find on a cruise like “five bingo cards”. I was one of the three waiters waiting.

After a really late night rehearsal, the day of Christmas Eve started with tendering. After lunch and another rehearsal, we decorated the Dazzles lounge. Most of the ship was already decked out (ha ha, pun!) with Christmas trees but we added some cheesy Santa pics, banners and candy canes. I scored some of the leftovers to go with Christina’s USB Christmas tree in our cabin.

Christmas carols as seen on my cabin TV
The evening’s activities started with Bingo after which the Gameshow Host Ferdie treated me to some fancy Christmas dinner in the officers’ dining room. Then my schedule told me to go to the atrium to hand out books for Christmas carolling. That is the one thing I was really missing. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without some Carols by Candlelight or some ‘Carols by normal-light as open flames are a safety hazard and you live on a ship’ as I like to call it. I was excited. Then when I discovered that the Cruise staff would be leading the event singing on the atrium staircase, I was even more excited. The whole culture around Christmas here is pretty weird. You’re supposed to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” so that if the guests aren’t celebrating you don’t offend them, but everything around you is Christmas themed anyway so everyone is forced to celebrate it whether they like it or not. When we sang  "Away in a manger" we actually made mention of Jesus! And yeah, it was a bit awkward.    

After that we had to go perform in the show. Then after the show I assisted with Dancing with the Stars (but sadly did not dance). Then my work day was over and the fun began. At midnight we had a crew talent show. Everyone from the guest show repeated their performances and anyone else who wanted to be in it could audition. It was rad. A whole heck-load more adult and loads of fun. We were also treated to free drinks which is always a great way to boost morale among crew members missing their families. After the show the partying continued in the crew bar. 

After a short nap it was Christmas day. My day started at 7:30 in the morning as I was on all day duty (everyday one of us is). At least I have the best job in the world, so for someone who had to work really long hours on Christmas, it wasn’t that bad. After greeting people on the gangway for an hour and a half, I met up with the rest of the Cruise Staff where we exchanged gifts. I wasn’t expecting much but my secret Santa went overboard (Ha, another ship pun! …I’m sorry, I’m really tired). Brad was my secret Santa and he bought me a lot of tasty stuff and Hello Kitty everything. Yes! Thank you, Brad. 

Making the most of all day duty
My duties for the rest of the day included: Are you awake trivia (fortunately they weren’t and didn’t pitch), Goofy Golf, a Basketball tournament, the game ‘Celebrity’, Arts and Crafts (also known as the not so very Christmassy lotus flower napkin folding session), the sudoku challenge (I’m bored just typing that and yet 14 people showed up, 14 effing people!!! On Christmas day! What the eff?), ‘Holiday trivia’ (aka Christmas trivia) and poolside games. Between all this I managed to phone my family and even have breakfast with my friends. Then I had Christmas dinner with my roomie after we also exchanged gifts (she bought me glow-in-the-dark nail varnish - best roomie ever!). Finally, I hosted Karaoke between 10 and midnight. Then, when I should have gone to bed, there was another crew party with more free drinks in the crew bar. (I’m starting to understand why there haven’t been any crew parties for a while). It was fun to hang out with so many people I’ve grown to like so much. The best part about working on a ship is that people are contractually obligated to be there and cannot go off to Cape Town without you until New Years. 
Still not a fan of seafood

Boxing day was just like any other day except they threw a special lunch for the crew in one of the guest dining rooms. They had live music from our bands, they gave the crew lobster AND the captain even cut the turkey. It was awesome. I feel appreciated. 

…And then I had a nap. I’ll stop bragging now. I hope Christmas was good for you too. 


The ladies of the Cruise Staff (minus Barbie)


In other news:


I survived my first pub hop
It’s no secret that I really don’t like drunk people. Some drunk people are nice and are funny to watch fall over and stuff, but if you have enough of them in one place you will always end up with some mean drunks. - And nothing in this world is worse than irrational mean people, even sober irrational mean people like Robert Mugabe. I generally try to avoid drunk people but sometimes you can’t help it. Last week it was my turn to host the pub hop. People who are about to get drunk are always super enthusiastic and fun so it always starts off nice, but I always have this weird feeling of dread knowing that the alcohol will turn someone into a jerk and that jerk will be my problem. You’re also supposed to do toasts and play games and entertain people along the way but by the end they’re so unruly it’s almost impossible, so that makes it daunting too.

I thought about making light of the fact that I’m a teetotaller whose boss has a sense of humour, and not drinking the first cocktail “sex on the ship” (a.k.a “sex on the beach” but on a ship) because it doesn’t come in “virgin”, but this was not the right crowd for those jokes. Excessive drinkers will always be way more condemning of teetotallers than teetotallers are of excessive drinkers. Sure enough there was one meany who kept complaining that the other’s weren’t drinking fast enough and that we weren’t moving fast enough but I think we lost him after the third bar so it wasn’t too bad. A virgin daiquiri toast to me!


I was in Dancing with the Sky Stars again
And I was voted out first again…


I found Cabbage Beach (with Christina)
The island of Nassau in the Bahamas, where we go twice a week, is right next to Paradise Island which is really nice. It’s where Atlantis is (the Sol Kersner resort) and where Oprah and Mariah Carey and Tiger Woods have big houses and yachts. Nassau, on the other hand, is a little dodgy. If you accidentally take the 10a bus instead of the 10 bus you will see for yourself that if Paradise Island is Sandton, Nassau is Alex, and if Paradise Island is Dainfern, Nassau is Diepsloot. We dock on the Nassau side so you have to take a taxi to Paradise Island if you want to go.

Normally when we dock there, I go to one of two places: 1. Junkanoo beach, which is a 10 minute walk from the port and where you have to keep an eye on your bag the whole time while you swim in cruise ship harbour water. 
Rodrigo on Cabbage Beach
Or 2: Cable beach, which is like the Randburg of the story. It’s not Sandton. But it’s not Alex. (But it is still the Bahamas so it’s better than Randburg.) We take the bus there (a 15 minute drive down the coast), wander through the Sheraton like we’re staying there and onto the beach. If you get the last part right it’s free. 

I kept hearing people mention Cabbage beach, a free beach on the other side of Paradise Island that is apparently really pretty - despite it’s disturbing name (vegetables, eugh!) . Rumours have it that it was on the same strip of beach as Atlantis (an $80 day-pass beach) and that there were waves there (there aren’t any at Junkanoo or Cable). So I did some research and discovered that I could get there with a very affordable taxi ride and roped in my roomie Christina to go with me. No need to take someone who’s actually been there. Who does that?

After the water taxi dropped us off we took a couple of wrong turns… - okay, all possible wrong turns, but we found it. And it was awesome. And there were waves. And it was exciting to discover something new. Then, when we had collected a sufficient amount of sand in our swimming costumes (I mean “bathing suits”) from being dunked by the waves, we headed back to Nassau and even had enough time for some lunch. Oh, and we saw turtles. Adventures are fun.



I made it though an entire Fiesta Caliente without dancing with anyone creepy!
Oooh, and I danced with a seemingly gay guy who actually turned out to be gay!


I did a backflip
Actually, I did several and I don’t mean in the pool. - More like on the pool deck. It was White Hot Party and it was packed. After the line dances we were all just dancing. I was doing my classic two fingers move when the assistant cruise director Jasper spotted me and started chanting “go Sharon” in the mic. Moments later some guy grabbed me and flung me around the dance floor. There were crazy lifts and everything. Jasper was worried he’d break me. He didn’t. I’m hardcore. I can’t believe that Jasper couldn’t recognise how gangsta I am from my “two fingers” dance! Anyway, I chatted to the guy, his name is Mike and it turns out he’s a professional swing dancer from Michigan. After the party Jasper bought him a drink. Then he showed me some other crazy swing dance moves and eventually flipped me a couple times. It was awesome. I asked Jasper if we could keep him. He said ‘no’. I’m moving to Michigan now. Heather, if you are reading this, can I stay with you? I think I found a date for your wedding. His name is Mike, he’s a professional swing dancer. We’ll try not to upstage you at your wedding but we can’t make any promises. - My “two fingers” is epic!  


So friends (not so much you, random strangers, who may have stumbled upon this, but welcome), I would love to hear about your Christmases. I’m having the time of my life but I do miss you. Hope you had a good one and I trust that you are all enjoying Cape Town.


14 cruises down, roughly 36 to go
7 day guest count for people I reprimanded for photographing the production shows: 8 


               
               



            

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Sharon Waugh

Sharon is a writer, cruise ship entertainment host and freelance unicorn wrangler, living it up on the high seas. She also likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo in exotic locations because it seemed like a good idea 10 years ago and 53 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

 Sharon greatly dislikes reading “travel blogs” by people who are just rephrasing press releases or composing lists like “15 ways to travel the world for cheap”, specifically formulated for SEO, with absolutely no evidence that the writer has ever left their bedroom. (This is not one of those blogs.) Sharon also dislikes bigotry and referring to herself in first person, apparently.

To find out more about Sharon and Rodrigo’s travel aspirations read this.

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