The legend of Mariah Canary


As much as Rodrigo is legendary, there is another bird that has a legacy on this ship. After taking pity on an injured seagull on the running track on deck 6 the other day, someone suggested that I do not mention it to a specific crew member. I probed them further and they started telling me the story.  It sounded a little hard to believe. Then over dinner, I mentioned it and someone else didn’t just reiterate but elaborated on the same story.


Legend has it that this individual, who will remain unnamed to protect his identity (…but who is quite obviously a member of the production cast as no one else in any other ship-based profession would have the time to do this) found an injured bird one day and decided to nurse it back to health. Now, at the risk of stating the obvious, we’re not really allowed to have pets onboard (although I have seen fish tanks in more than one officer’s office before which seems like the cruellest place in the world to keep a fish). But yeah, there is even a position that exists on the ship for someone who is, among other things, responsible for us not keeping pets on board: ‘pest control’. I don’t know what they do all day but it must be working because I have yet to see a bug onboard. 

The bird man, a big fan of Mimi (possibly somewhat inspired by the singer’s own broken arm from earlier this year), moved Mariah Canary, who had a broken wing into his cabin where he kept her in a box. He fed her on crackers and rice stolen from the crew mess and, according to the legend, would take her for walks on the open deck every day for about three hours with a little string tied around her leg. 

According to the story, it wasn’t long before someone caught on to the fact that someone was keeping a live bird in their cabin and sniffer dogs were called in to find her (…and, I’m guessing, whatever illegal substances inspired this craziness in the first place). Mariah, at the time, was fortunately not in the bird man’s cabin but was being looked after by another member of the produc- …the team and they didn’t find her. I was waiting for them to finish the story with “and did you know the word ‘gullible' isn’t in the English dictionary?” but no, they maintained their serious composure. And people mock me for skyping my cat?

I eventually confronted Mr. Bird man directly to find out if this was true. He showed me pictures of Mariah who was apparently a “blue grey gnatcatcher” and corrected some of the gross exaggerations in my story. He confirmed that even though there were, in fact, sniffer dogs, they eventually got permission to keep the bird on board. He also clarified that it was not two weeks they kept this up for, but only one. One day while she was on the balcony near the backstage area, she disappeared mysteriously. Some say it was murder (certain dancers are suspects), others say suicide (the crew food is that bad), I however, choose to believe that her wing had healed and she flew away, and that even though we may have been at sea at the time or in a different port than the one she was from, that she found her way back to her flock where she met a younger bird and had twin baby birds (can birds have twins?), put on a lot of weight and lived happily ever after. 


Apparently, there’s also a legend about a certain Steven Seagull but that’s a story for another day…

Rodrigo fan art by Christina

In other news:

Nelson Mandela passed away
He comes up in conversation all the time when people find out I’m from SA. A couple hours before his passing I had a long conversation with some guests who asked if he was still alive. I told them I didn’t think he would be around much longer but I was still shocked when I heard. It was Mr. T who told me but he has a weird sense of humour so I thought he was joking. At least the news was broken by someone with great bone structure, not that it really softened the blow that much. I turned on the TV and they had about an hour of coverage on Fox News before the constant critique of Obama-care reclaimed its domination. I switched over to CNN and watched for a while that evening and the following day. It didn’t seem real. Later that night I found some other South African’s conveniently close to the very comforting midnight buffet choc chip cookies and we consoled each other. It was appropriately very multi-racial. There was closure. There were hugs. Then one of the satellites went down (we still have Obama-care sucks news network) and I haven’t seen or heard anything since. I’m really sad that I’ve seen nothing of the FNB stadium memorial service or anything else. I think I’ll go find a cookie… 

The decks have been decked for Christmas
That’s right! There are Christmas trees and wreaths all over the ship - mostly plastic ones, except in the crew areas where they have real ones! Real Christmas trees!!! I got quite excited when I saw that. It’s not the potted kind that looks all spindly and leaks sap all over your carpet (or maybe it does, I wouldn’t know, I’m foreign) but it’s the chopped off and mounted on wood kind. There is also Christmas music everywhere. Fortunately, these people are smarter than the people who own malls in SA so the music is surprisingly not sucky. They play Lady Gaga Christmas songs and Sponge Bob (I think the song is called “It’s Christmas, don’t be a jerk”). I haven’t heard Boney M once since I left South Africa! 

I gave up my bangs (fringe) for Lent
And by “lent” I don’t mean 40 days sometime near Easter, more like a week sometime near Thanks Giving. And instead of it being “sacrificial” it was more supposed to be a beneficial thing …which actually does sound like the real reasons people give up stuff for Lent. Despite the fact that it is technically winter, the Bahamas and Miami are warm and humid and are just not conducive to bangs. (Of course, this doesn’t stop people from wearing boots, skinny jeans and jackets out in Miami because it’s fashionable or a jersey and a scarf on the beach while wading with their feet in the water.) So I tried to grow out my fringe, but then I looked crap all the time and so I trimmed it again and now I only look crap when I’m outside or when I’ve just been outside, which is still quite a lot. 

I started a flash mob
Right before I left to come here, I went to go see the movie Khumba (well done again, Dan). Any of my friends who may have been there that night will know that I tried to start a flashmob at Monte Casino. It didn’t work. Zolna is the only person who joined me (Thanks, Zolna. Dan, your friends are lame.) My first attempt to bring back the Macarena was an epic fail. Now, my job requires me to do a lot of line dancing. Last cruise they put me on beach duty which is the most daunting part of my job. It’s quite an intense task for only one person. At 7:30am you take the first tender to the island and shout announcements on a loudspeaker every time another tender boat arrives. Then you radio the ship every time a tender boat leaves. And then after five hours of doing this, when the sun has zapped you of all your energy, you get to go and entertain people for an hour at the bandstand (a sandy clearing between the island’s buffet and the main beach) in the sun. You do a tug-of-war and you do some beach Olympics, but you start off line-dancing for half an hour. Sometimes people really do want to do the Wobble (the most disturbing of all the line dances) while they are frighteningly scantily clad (there’s a lot more to wobble) and hanging out on the beach. And sometimes they really do want to do a tug-of-war or an egg and spoon race. But sometimes they don’t. It’s not uncommon for Cruise Staff to crash and burn the first time they try this. It really is an activity better suited to more than one person. It’s quite scary to take hold of a mic, cue the DJ and start dancing, praying that someone will join you. Fortunately (unlike Dan’s lame friends), this time they did. Lots of them. Like 50. Yay! I even almost got all the steps right. 

It looks something like this 

The team has changed quite a bit
I’m not the newbie anymore. We have a new girl. She’s from Latvia and her name is Oksana (second from the left in the pic below) or “Oxy”. This is her first ship ever ever. Watching her learn the job is a great insight into how far I have come in just over a month. Then we got a new entertainment admin too (second from the right). Well, not new new. She’s been in the company for 7 years now. Her name is Jayne and she’s from Australia. Then we were supposed to get another new guy today but he cancelled. And then very sadly, Mr. T (and his abs, sorry mom) left us. He was one of my favourite people on the ship. Saying goodbye is by far the worst part of this job. Karina also turned 30 this week (the pic is from her party). And yeah, most of this has happened in this last four-day cruise, all of it in the last week. This is why by the time I return I will feel like I’ve lived two years in the space of a few months.    

The Entire Cruise Director Staff (minus the Game Show Host)
And that’s it from me. See how I included a variety of different topics, Fox News? Feel free to hit me back with any info about what’s happening on your side, friends. Miss you.


11 cruises down, roughly 39 to go
Guest buffet choc chip cookie count from the last 7 days: 26

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About the Sharonicles

The Sharonicles is a travel humour blog about an ex-cruise ship crew member who is trying to adjust to life on land with itchy feet. Sharon is currently taking a break from her seafaring adventures to explore some more landlocked locations from her home base in Johannesburg, South Africa. She likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo 'Rodrigo' on her travels because it seemed like a good idea ten 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 writers have ever left their bedrooms. (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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