More of the same ship!

by - December 07, 2016

(It’s actually a little bit more positive than it sounds)

There is a saying that when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Did you know that there is, in fact, more sugar in lemons than in strawberries? I’m not sure if that’s true but I wouldn’t be that surprised if it is. I read that in a question for one of the trivias we use on one of our ships. I’m never really sure how accurate any of our trivia questions are. The trivias on our work computers have been added to, borrowed from and rewritten by so many people over the years, most of whom don’t even speak English as a first language, that they in themselves are evidence of a big international game of broken telephone. According to another trivia question, there is also supposedly more vitamin C in strawberries than in oranges, but that fun fact doesn’t really contribute to my point in any way. The point is that if there is more sugar in lemons than in strawberries, even though they are sour, the potential for sweetness is there. I’m like, so positive right now. Someone stick that saying on a washed-out Instagram in hipster font! 

I don’t make lemonade though. I don’t know anyone who does. When life hands me lemons I take selfies with them. I really do. Taking selfies or inappropriately happy photos to document bad situations is one of my favourite coping mechanisms. While some of my recent “#makingthemostofabadsituation” pics I wouldn’t actually even share or hashtag, here are some examples of this habit:

Stuck in traffic in a heatwave in a car without aircon while douchebags overtake us in air-conditioned vehicles in the emergency lane:

The time my friend’s car broke down on the highway and we happened to have fun props in the boot of her car:

The time my besties car got hit with another car.


When you have certain dreams and expectations for your life, and you think things are going a certain way, when they don’t work out, it throws you. I have been working as Cruise Staff for three years now, on top of that I spent a year with another company. I have always dreamed of working in the Mediterranean and I thought that dream was about to be realised. Things, however, didn’t quite work out like that. I ended up back on the same ship feeling stuck. I know travelling between four countries every week doesn’t sound like “stuck” but it actually is, okay? I was dreaming of Barcelona and instead, I'm back in the Caribbean doing the same itinerary I've done so many times before that barely allows me any time to explore the ports I’ve already been to, while my friends on other ships are posting Instagrams in amazing diverse exotic locations every day. With so much time spent at sea and so little spent docked, this is a particularly tough ship for the crew. I love my job and I’d rather be here than a lot of other places but - Barcelona! …Other amazing places in the Med too and Barce-frikkin-lona! Think of all the #makingthemostofthebestsituations photos I could be taking! (Or as other people call them: 'photos'.)

This led me to do some soul-searching and reevaluate my life choices. It also led me to cry for about three days before I made peace with it. I came to the realisation that my life is just like the Hunger Games and this must be just what Katniss Everdeen must have felt like. (That's not melodramatic at all, right?) She won the Hunger Games and then before she could enjoy her freedom, they changed all the rules and made her do it all over again. I am genuinely not sure if I can do this ship again. I thought my previous success meant I wouldn’t have to. Yes, I know that there are starving children in Africa and I’m one of the fortunate souls on this planet who not only has a job but has a really cool one that allows me to host karaoke and teach Gangnam Style in the Caribbean for US Dollars, but other than that, my life is so hard! 

So we agree? My life is exactly like the Hunger Games but my survival doesn’t depend on the death of everyone else (in fact I have to be nice to people) and the food is much better. Also, there are no Liam Hemsworths. That’s a bit unfortunate. Any Hemsworths would actually be quite nice. 

I’ve been away for three months so things are a little different. 

Things that have changed since my last contract:

  • We got knobs! - It took six months of organisation and enough emails to require it’s own inbox folder, but the book cabinets in the library finally have knobs.
  • I have friends. - It took me about two months to make any the last time I was here but this time not only do I have friends from that contract but other ones from previous ships have signed on since I left. 

Hanging with my Mexicans

  • I used to be part of an all-male team, now I am part of an all-female team. - That has its pros and cons. 
  • No more fitness! - There are people on this team who are very good, even professional when it comes to fitness so I can do other stuff while they take care of that.
  • I’m not an effing muster station leader this time. No, instead of being in F I’m in A. It’s bigger - It’s in the theatre. There are probably more than 1000 people in it. I’m responsible for a lot of people in a real emergency. - A lot. On the plus side, I always did want to work in theatre. Now I can tell my agent I have shared a stage with a Tony-nominated Broadway star. - So what if all I did was a life-jacket donning demonstration? I’ll leave that part out. 
  • My cabin is in a different place - and keeps moving. I started off on deck 3, in the bowels of the ship, then they moved me from that temporary cabin to another temporary cabin on deck 8. And then they moved me to a permanent cabin on 71 (That’s a deck between deck 6 and 7 in only one section of the ship. This ship doesn’t have 71 decks, only about 22.)
  • I have a cabin pet named Jeffrey-  …Or at least I had one. I lost him in the first move. 

Stay tuned for more possibly very similar adventures to the ones we’ve had before from Rodrigo and I, as we do what we did the last contract all over again.

Future potential blog posts:

  • Library cabinet knobs: An introduction to Cruise Ship bureaucracy 
  • Jeffrey the fly: Which insects make the best cabin pets. 
  • Moving cabins multiple times between floors without elevators: A guide to keeping fit whether you like it or not. 

In other news:

Dodging balls and growing some

Speaking of crazy violent elimination games, I played dodgeball! 
In South Africa, the Will Farrell movie of the same name is better known than the actual game so I had never played it before. Basically, you have two teams of people with about four balls (two on each side) and you have to throw them at the other team. If you hit a person they are out, if they catch the ball you are out. 

The inspiration behind this sporting event was a Solo Cruiser I had on a different ship two years ago named Andre. He was a part of the #bestsolocruisersever group (we have a Facebook page and everything) and he came back to cruise again. Last time he decided we should have a ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ tournament and ran around the ship for three days collecting sign-ups. I arranged the venue and a prize. This time, he and Marc (another solo cruiser from that group), came armed with four foam dodge-ball balls and another sign-up list. The current solos host organised everything else. I just wanted to drop by to show support but I got roped into playing. 

I remembered the 5 D’s and managed dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge the balls - Actually it was only really the first one and the last one that I successfully implemented. I mostly just ran away from the ball a lot and tried to hide behind other people. (That doesn’t start with a ‘D’.) No one is allowed to cross the centre line of the court and so in one round my entire team was eliminated and I was the only one left. All the balls were on my side so although my approach to the game (a.k.a “taking the line of least resistance”) had been very successful up until that point, I was forced to make a play. 

Before I even realised what was happening, my whole team started chanting my name: “Sharon, Sharon, Sharon!” - In all my years on this planet that has NEVER happened before - definitely not in a sporting event. In fact, in school when they made us do Physical Education I was always the last picked to be on a team, and if the teachers picked who was on what team, my team members would say “Great, she’s on our team, we’re definitely going to lose”.  I’ve spent my life avoiding sport so that I wouldn’t let people down, but not on this day! - Well, on this day I refused to avoid it, but I still let them down. I picked up a ball threw it at a member of the other team and I can’t remember if they caught it or threw it back at me but it was all over after that. At least the solo cruisers are a lot nicer than the kids I went to school with. And then we played another round. 

Apart from being the only solo cruiser to ever bring four dodgeball balls on a cruise with him, Andre also brought a very lovely girlfriend this time named Katie (which, yes, kinda contradicts the whole point of the solo cruise programme but we’re so glad you participated in it anyway) and an engagement ring. In my time as a Solos Host, I have seen many many (sometimes disturbing) hookups, but this was my first engagement. Congratulations again, I couldn’t be happier for you two. (P.S. If you try to participate in the solos programme on your honeymoon cruise people are going to think you are swingers.)

(A picture documenting the secret to my dodgeball not-quite-but-almost success: hiding)

Welcome to Trumpville!

Usually, I try to avoid politics, but people keep asking me what it's like being in America at this time. Well, I the same week Trump was elected president and despite being foreign and here for a job, they let me in! Yay! 

I arrived in Miami the same day that this was happening:

So to try to answer your questions diplomatically, it is certainly an interesting time to be in America. I have heard some stories from my fellow crew members who have experienced heated political debates from guests and tried to counter the fallout, sometimes without success. (Whole dinner parties have been ruined! Ruined!) Fortunately, I have yet to experience any of that. Vacations are really not the place for political debates. 

I did have one conversation with a Trump supporter who asked me what I was doing on a ship in the first place. When I explained the economic reasoning behind it (i.e. there are no jobs in my line of work in my country) she reassured me that Trump would fix that. When I explained that I got the distinct impression (from, you know, the whole wall thing with Mexico and all) that he wasn’t terribly interested in helping out people from foreign nations, she suggested that I marry an American and that I join a country club or take a law course to find a wealthy conservative husband. I mentioned that I like musicians and creatives and she warned me that they’re too liberal and feminine. Nobody wants that! I thanked her for the advice and ran away. 

The non-Trump supporters that I have spoken to have vented to me that they want to emigrate to Canada because they don’t like their president. Well, I must confess that I didn’t think I would see you here, but welcome to the club! It’s quite sad and I hate to admit this, but South Africa thinks everything America does is cool and wants to be just like it when it grows up! That’s why when they open a frikkin Crispy Creme, because it’s associated with America, we have lines out the door for months. Seriously, it’s a DOUGHNUT! (Or “donut” if you want to be like that.) - They taste the same at Pick ’n Pay! For once America is mimicking South Africa and okay, the circumstances are not ideal, but it’s a little bit refreshing.   Don’t worry, we can show you how to panic and file immigration papers, we’ve got lots of experience.

3 cruises down, 23 to go
(Or 29 on this ship down and 23 to go …maybe) 
Patience pills I should have packed for this contract: 182 (One per day)

For other Sharonicles on what it's like being a cruise ship crewmember, click here.

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