The night I left my mark on Copenhagen

None of the ships I’ve ever worked on “overnight” anywhere - That means spend the night in port usually allowing the guests two full days in that port and allowing the crew the chance to go party past 2am. (We have a dumb curfew.) People who work on ships that have overnights always have the best stories about the experiences they’ve had and the things that they gotten up to (Not Joey from the Getaway - his experience was pretty wrong). Until recently though, I had never had the opportunity to do this. (As in ‘overnight’, not ‘do what Joey did’ - No one wants to do that.)

The home port of this ship is Copenhagen. That’s where we are based and it’s where we pick up and drop off most of our guests. Embarkation day is always a very busy day for us crew members but when we can get off, we do. There is a hop-on hop-off bus that comes right to the pier and it’s free for crew. It also has wifi so you can go shopping downtown and Skype your mom on the way, give her the tour of the city, introduce her to some tourists and hear about the crime in the neighbourhood back home because you’re South African like that. 

Anyway, on our last Baltic cruise we had to miss Sweden because of bad weather and so instead we went to Copenhagen early. I was a little bummed that I still haven’t made it to the Abba museum but I was excited about overnighting in port.  (Technically, this ship overnights in Russia too but they have weird complicated visa restrictions and I need time to orchestrate a plan to get through their loopholes, but that - and the Abba museum - will happen.) 

I didn’t care what we did, I’m from Johannesburg and I just wanted to walk around a city at night …pretty much for the same reasons that when we were kids my cousin from a farm in Zimbabwe would just want to ride the escalators at the mall every time she visited us. 

I don’t know if we just chose the wrong day, but Copenhagen is completely different at night to how it is during the day. 

During the day it’s all ‘green’ and ‘vegan’ and ‘bicycles’ and ‘you can swim in our harbour water’, but at night it’s all litter and vomit and urine and lots of good-looking but incredibly intoxicated young people falling off their bicycles. During the day it’s all nice gay couples transporting their kids and dogs around the cobble stone streets in bicycle carriages, and at night it’s the young people that are as stoned as the streets or at least pretty intoxicated who are being transported around in similar bicycle taxi things but with flashy lights (yes, please) and loud doff-doff music (never mind, it’s okay) through the same streets.

Night and Day


 



I went out with two of my guy friends and we walked a pretty similar route to the one the hop-on, hop-off bus usually takes. On our way, we met up with most of the people we would normally see in crew bar and then some. Most of them went to bars and noisy clubs, but we just wandered around the streets taking in the sights of the city lights and all it’s intoxicated inhabitants (and unfortunately the resulting smells as well). We eventually found a quiet bar and I spent way too much money on a Pepsi.- I only figured out how much later because I greatly dislike maths (because of it’s dishonesty, obviously - but that’s a blog for another day).

After we finished our over-priced drinks (It wasn’t even Coke!) in that German-looking Biergarten with bear trophies on the wall, we started our 1.5 hour walk back through the city which got better the further away we got from the drunk people and eventually it was really quiet with no one else around. Apart from the bicycles chained up and parked cars, there was almost no evidence of any people around at all. There were also no signs of a public bathroom and after the actually-pretty-large-but-still-not-worth-it-Pepsi I was starting to need one. 

With so many people riding bicycles, petrol stations are pretty scarce as well. So after being in pain for a while, I eventually had to do one of the things I could also never dream about doing in my own city. I just had to. When we got to the park I made sure I was in ear-shot of my guy friends who could hear my screams if anything went wrong and went behind a tree. There are these really creepy statues all over Copenhagen and there were two that were watching me. As someone who doesn’t drink, I’ve never done this in public before, but I guess, when in Rome, right? It was quite liberating really but I probably wont make a habit of that one. (Especially not if I want to keep my fake arrests fake.)

Who’s being creepy now?

We eventually made it back to the Little Mermaid statue close to where our ship was docked and we could start to see the sun rise in the background (at 3am). The moment was beautiful as it was, but especially for me having been liberated from the pain I felt a few minutes before. I imagine that in the true spirit of all that is Copenhagen, a nice bicycle-riding family had a vegan picnic under that tree later that day. Only the statues know how bipolar that city really is. 



In other news

That night was actually three weeks ago and we have been cruising Norway and the arctic ever since so I’ve been a little distracted. The ports have been beautiful and when I haven’t been working or off exploring and searching for trolls, I have spent a fair amount of time gazing at the fjords outside and appreciating the midnight sun. (That’s why I have neglected my blog, sorry.) But I’ll write about all of that stuff in the next one. Here’s some other stuff that’s happened:

The midnight sun: “Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy, ’til we see the- …Nevermind”

I got my haircut
Getting a haircut when you live on a ship is always interesting. The last time I had to cut my hair during a contract I went to some place in Miami and used one of the very limited Spanish words I know “poquito” to explain to the Latina that I wanted a trim. Apart from the wifi password (well, most of it) she knew almost no other English. Now, I know we have a Spa on board complete with some very capable and qualified english-speaking hairdressers, but even for crew they are overpriced and expect tips. …and there’s the whole thing about me being cheap. We have over 1000 crew members on board and they also have hair (most of them) that also needs cutting and a lot of them are also from third world countries like me and are not prepared to pay first world amounts of money for a haircut. There is always another way! 

Just below the water level (where they keep us all) things are a little different. We are our own society and many people have skills or connections (‘mafias’) not always directly related to their jobs that can be of use to other crew members. I asked around and found out that our tailor works as a barber after he gets off work at 9pm. I spoke to him, got his business card (obviously) and even though he usually only cuts the hair of “men and lesbians”, he agreed to cut mine. I arranged to see him in his salon (staircase 31, deck 3) later that night. I created quite a stir (and made new friends) waiting in line (he’s that popular) for my appointment. Not only am I probably his first ever non-lesbian female customer, but probably his first white girl as well. Fortunately, he did a good job and there was no-post-haircut-crying as is the ritual for many of us white girls. So there you go ladies, need a haircut? Look no further than “Grupo Barbero”. 



I saw a whale!
That was one of the things I really wanted to do this contract (when I thought I was going to Alaska). Okay well, I didn’t see an actual whale but I saw a splash that was generated by a whale! And it was very exciting! …Well, I was excited. The guests who were at the wii Tennis Tournament that I was overseeing were less excited. Now that the Cruise Director is my facebook friend and could potentially be reading this, I should probably leave out the part where I got a little distracted and temporarily looked out the window turning my back on my activity when the captain announced that the whales had been spotted. I was just “mingling”. Never miss an opportunity to “socialise with the guests”. “Whale, Whale!” and a whole lot of pointing just happened to be the subject of the in depth conversation I decided to have with the people sitting near the window and some other passersby who also seemed more interested in the wii than the very exciting whale splash. (Some people just suck!) Come back Willy, come back!


The tree is gone!
Yes, I no longer live in the coolest crew cabin on the ship. The ex-roommate of my current roommate came back from vacation and came to collect a “couple of things” she had left in the cabin one of which happened to be the tree. It sucks! She is not my friend! Now we’re trying to think of something cool to replace it with. I contemplated stealing a plastic bonsai tree from the Asian restaurant on board but it would just get lost under all my roommates shoes. That, and it’s too small for fairy lights. I also contemplated a taxidermy polar bear from Hammerfest but I think it’s a little out of my budget and the ceiling may be too low. Any other suggestions are welcome.  



I have run out of Yorkshire tea
It’s true! My life is so hard! I really didn’t think I would go through that box so quickly. I also didn’t know I would like it enough to buy more than one box. My Cruise Director is British and has a stash of teabags in his office that are probably equivalent to one of our South African crap brands (and again, he could be reading this but he’s a busy man, there’s no way he’ll get this far), but it is still a better tea than the three-teabags-to-make-a-weak-cup-of-craptastic-American-brand-“organic” tea (and if you are reading this, thanks and please don’t fire me?). So I’ve been helping myself to those (you did say I could), and that box is also diminishing quickly. It couldn’t possibly be just me. We are in Norway, I blame the trolls!  

According to rumours, the ship might be changing back to Lipton! If that is not true, it’s a really cruel joke. Don’t eff with my emotions like that! I never thought I could ever be this excited about Lipton, but I am. I think I may also have made a contact in SA who is coming to the ship soon that can bring me a box of Five Roses. I’m trying not to get my hopes up again after the last crushing disappointment. She doesn’t know it yet but if she comes through for me she is going to be my new best friend.


Rodrigo made a friend
When we went out in Leknes, I climbed a nearby hill with some of my friends in search of trolls and to find a nice view for some selfies or ‘grelfies’. (That’s the new word we made up for ‘group selfies’ - It’s going to catch on. You heard it here first.) When I got to the top and I pegged Rodrigo into what was also not a troll, my friend pulled a lawn ornament out of her bag too. Her travel companion is a gnome named ‘Gnome’ and has been on this ship the whole time we’ve been here. Just when I thought we were unique! Well, sadly our human and lawn ornament friend pair will be leaving us soon to go on vacation so the two of us will be unique once more. We will miss you Hannah and Gnome. See you when you return. (Don’t forget the presents!)  

Rodrigo and Gnome

My ship will now be doing the Baltic run for the rest of the season so we’ll only be going to ports we’ve already been to before. So, if you haven’t already unfriended me on Facebook I’m sure my posts will be slightly less frequent now if not less enviable. 

And that’s about it. My life rocks!


A whole lot of cruises down, 10 and a bit cruises to go (probably)
Dolphin photos added to my fridgey walls since last blog: 3


               
               



            

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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.