Snow White and the Seven Seas

As I may have mentioned, my ship visits a private island in the Bahamas every Tuesday and Saturday. Since there isn’t a port here, we drop anchor just off the coast and transfer our guests and crew to the island by tender boat. When this happens, the Cruise Staff are responsible for managing the flow of guests from the ship to the boat so that no one has to wait too long in queues or get upset - it’s like herding cattle, cattle with buying power that can sue. When we do this, we all communicate via radio. I used to work in guest services so I often say things like “copy that” because I’m old school, but for the most part everyone’s radio etiquette extends to “come in (name)” - that and not swearing. Because we’re entertainment, everyone has to have a code-name. I was told to pick one but I was pretty stumped because our Assistant Cruise Director, had already taken “Barbie”. 

So far I have been quite successful in my use of SPF 50 and so I often get comments from both guests and crew, saying things like: “Where are you from? South Africa? Doesn’t the sun shine there?” Although they are mostly aware that there are white people in Africa, they are still surprised to learn that there are white people in Africa. As on my last ship, it didn’t take long before someone started calling me “Snow White”. Despite the fact that she spent her time waiting on seven short guys and was pretty much a victim of necrophilia, I’m okay with that! Let’s just go with the Disney version. ...No wait, the Kristen Stewart version - wasn’t there a unicorn in it? And a Chris Hemsworth?

On my first ship, it was the floating Hotel Director (yes, that’s a pun - he moved from ship to ship filling in for others while they were on vacation) who first gave me this nickname. But after he got to know me he started calling me “Sharon, Queen of the Philistines” instead. I’m still not really sure if that was a reference to Delilah or Goliath - very different connotations there. (Feel free to shed some light on this peeps who have studied theology.) Either way, “Sharon, Queen of the Philistines” failed to catch on and not only did “Snow White” stick, but it seems to be recurring. We have the same initials and everything! It works. 

Great Stirrup Cay
Other names I have been called since I arrived include “The Great White Sharon”. Again, the “white” theme is sticking. The sharks also have South African connotations and I do love the ocean. Sometimes the guests call me ‘Africa’. I like it, not just because I really like being the only South African on the team, but also because in one of the most underrated movies ever, Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan’s character was home-schooled in Africa (despite having an American accent) so they call her “Africa”. Tina Fey wrote that movie and I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up and if I met Tina Fey I would like to believe that she would call me ‘Africa’ because we would instantly be so close we’d have to have nicknames for each other. I’ve also been called ‘Shannon’ a lot. But if you are trying to radio me, let’s go with ‘Snow White’, okay?

It’s unfortunately not just my pasty white complexion that has resulted in this nickname. My dance moves also contribute to this description (and the UV light on the Dazzles dance floor doesn't help either). Don’t get me wrong, I have mastered Gangnam Style to the point where they let me do it on stage now at the big parties. I can dance, I can do "Asian", but when it comes to the Latin stuff I’m a bit lost. Actually, some of our line dances are Latin (Holy Moly, Pit-bull has released a lot of music!) and I cope fine with those, but freestyle Latin dance - not so much. To make it worse with all the Latin guests we have on board this ship (most of which can’t even speak a little English, nothing, nada) our new Cruise Director (Joel number 2) is experimenting with replacing our Welcome Aboard Party (not the Sail-away party - that’s different) with a “Fiesta Caliente” (a Latin party). I like saying that: “Fiesta Caliente” - as much as I like saying “Malibongwe” and “Shongololo”. One more time: “Fiesta Caliente”! Yeah, Latin Dance here isn’t what Latin Dance is back home, not even close. I can South African Salsa but I can’t Salsa Salsa.     

The first two times we had this party I was on karaoke duty so I missed it, but this cruise I went to my first one and my feet are still sore. Heels were a bad choice. While the party was still warming up, Mr. T - the future Telanovela superstar from the Cruise Staff (also known as every Cougar’s Mexican pool-boy fantasy) - taught me Chabata. …Well, he tried to. The feet I can do, the hips still need work. Shakira was right, they don’t lie, they’re a little too honest actually. Then, when the guests started arriving I danced with one half of what I thought was a gay couple and then the other half. (Again, "no Ingles".) Then when this half ended up with his “hand on my crack” as observed by my supervisor (I maintain that it was on my hip, okay?) I realised that I may have been wrong about the gay thing. As anyone who has ever had to come out to me despite being openly gay for years will know, sometimes my gay-dar is really bad. I’m actually glad my supervisor saw it - hopefully he’ll put me on Dancing with the Stars again! 

Despite my sucky moves, after I got free from the not-so-gay-after-all guest I had this other random encounter with another guy. It was the last dance of the evening that I was obligated to do and Gabriel from Venezuela made his move. After about four counts I found myself being dipped which was actually really fun - probably also for all the guests who unexpectedly saw a flash of my underwear. Before the song was over, he was trying to find out when I would be available in Miami, ideally on a Wednesday night (despite the fact that we only dock for a few hours on Monday’s and Friday’s during the day), for him to take me to this club and show me Miami. Quite a lot happened in broken English in that three-and-a-half minutes. If I end up finding another lawn flamingo I have a name for him. Rodrigo really is gay so I’m sure he’d appreciate a partner. 

In other news:

I got a new roommate. 
After more than a week of not having one I came back to my cabin and there was not one but two girls in the top bunk. Awkward! I was a little uncertain as to whether they were just really close friends who liked to cuddle (because well, my gay-dar… - we’ve covered this), or if there was more to it than that. There was more to it than that. Obviously. Now, if it had been a straight couple I would have had a right to object but I technically shouldn’t have a problem sharing with girls, except I had just gotten used to having the (tiny) place all to myself and now I had to share my precious bathroom with not one but two other girls. Two! Girls! When I came back from work that night the curtain was closed around the top bunk and I could only hear one person snoring so I thought the other had found her cabin (I knew they had assigned her one), but no, I awoke to the sound of them whispering to each other. Fortunately, it was only for one night. The next day we dropped them off on the Island where they will be staying with Monica and her scarecrow (from Sharon Spam 2.0) as part of the island staff. There are about 30 desperate single straight boys living on that island and before the arrival of these two, only three girls. Shame.  

The next cruise Christina arrived. - Only one of her and everything! She’s from Northern Ireland and she’s really nice. She says “wee” for “little” like my granny did. She also pronounces “cow” like “koi” and “toil” means “towel”. Snow Patrol is also from Northern Ireland. That’s the only reference I have to Northern Ireland. One of the first questions I asked her was “Isn’t that where Snow Patrol is from?” I hate that. In the short time that I have been here I have received similar questions directed to me about Die Antwoord (I die) and Dave Matthews (actually, that’s okay) but I don’t want to be that person. Other annoying things I’ve started to say include “If you enjoyed that, my name’s Sharon. If you didn’t, I’m Brad” (It’s such a cliche but it gets a laugh every time) and “Congratulations, you have won yourself free ice-cream for the rest of the cruise” (because obviously, Ice-Cream is free anyway). I’m getting lamer by the week. By the time I come home I might be Ian Von effing Memmety! AAAAAaaaagh! 

My new roomie Christina

I went to a Movie Night.
I went with Gigi to a movie night with the youth staff in the Kids Corner or ‘Splash Academy’ as they call it. A whole lot of seasonal youth staff are onboard for Thanks Giving and Christmas so their team is huge. Wherever they gather it’s a party. We were told we were watching Harry Potter (not that I’m the biggest fan) but we were tricked into watching The Messengers. It’s supposed to be scary except it has Kristen Stewart in it. And it was bad for other reasons too. I’m still waiting for some crew parties. There haven’t been any since I arrived so I’m sure we’re due for one. I’ve also been exploring the ports with some of the newbies. After hours they act like the children they take care of during the day. 

Hanging with the youth staff in Nassau

I started a thing! A Tea, Cookies and Karaoke thing
Every night one of the Cruise Staff is on Karaoke. Because of this, meeting each other at karaoke after our other duties to torture each other (mostly with Boyband songs) followed by a visit to the midnight buffet for Tea and amazing chocolate chip cookies has become something of a tradition. We’re bonding.  

I experienced Thanks Giving
I think they made a special dinner for the crew but I still ate at the guest buffet. I had some Turkey (yay!) and was going to have some Pumpkin Pie because I think I had it before and I liked it. The problem came in when I found it not with the rest of the food but with the dessert. I forgot it was a dessert. It’s against my religion to eat vegetables as dessert. I just can’t do it. The thought of it is about as off-putting as eating raw pork or kissing your cousin, it’s just wrong! So then I had chocolate Ice-cream and chocolate fountain marshmallows instead. I tried to discuss the meaning of Thanks Giving with the crew members I ate with but no one really understood the origins. Then we discussed what everyone hoped to buy at the Black Friday sales. I was still very grateful on the inside though. - Not just because I was eating chocolate ice-cream but that was part of it. My life is amazing. 

And that’s it from me. I pretty much live under a rock now where we only get American news which I don’t really watch. If there is a bedbug outbreak at a college in Denver, a rabid skunk at a park in Washington, inconvenient weather of any sort (obviously not referring to the situation in the Philippines) or if anyone wants to nitpick anything Barak Obama has done today, I know all about it. Apart from that, I’m clueless. Feel free to fill me in on anything that’s happening politically, personally, or in pop culture. Seriously, if the fox has said anything else I wouldn't know.

Love the Great White Shannon, Queen of the Philistines or ‘Africa’ to you, Tina. 
This is Snow White, over and out. 

8 cruises down, roughly 42 to go
Gangnam Style count from the last 7 days: 7




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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Practical travel tips and destination guides for anyone visiting any of the places I have been.

My thoughts on travel mascots, photographing your butt in exotic locations and the addictive nature of cruise ship employment, among other things.

True stories about trying to find trolls in Norway, toilets in Denmark and getting flashed in Cuba, to name a few.

Tips for cruisers and crew members, as well as anecdotes from a variety of experiences at sea.