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January 19th, 2019

I'm Freeeeeee

**DISCLAIMER**: The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer!!




01/12 cont'd

Kayle and Skylar picked me up from Hojas and brought me to their house. I was still pretty wet from walking in the rain, so they gave me a towel to dry off. Then we just hung out together, and it was great. Kayle graded some papers while I looked for jobs and Skylar made us a beautiful lunch of baguette, apples, greens, and this amazing gruyere cheese made—a better word would be “crafted”—by one of his friends. It was simple yet so good I could have eaten it all day! Then we enjoyed the carrot cake I’d gotten from Hojas.

All too soon our visit was over, but I’ll be seeing them next Saturday! They’ll be picking me up from the ship to spend the day before my late night flight. I can’t wait!

Back at the ship I unpacked and got ready for the passenger drill. The last one I’ll ever have to do! It felt pretty good!

After that Nia and I took our phones to the nearest crew area to try and soak up the last bits of wifi as the ship pulled out of LA. Eventually we went out on deck to watch the sun set. There was an impressive line of thunderstorms moving across the area and over the mountains, pretty cool to see. The next time we come back here, it’ll be my last time.




01/13

At sea today. It was a fairly slow morning. I had breakfast and practiced, then had a look at the disembarking information packet that Jane had dropped off. Basically we will need to have our luggage packed the night before disembarkation, and bring it to security to be inspected. Early the same morning we will sign off at the crew office…I assume this is when we’ll receive our passports back. Finally on Saturday we’ll gather in the Princess theater and disembark together. I was glad to get all of this information in advance!



But reading all of that made me feel restless. I didn’t feel like going to the gym, or relaxing and reading a book. In fact I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Probably because what I want to do is go home!

Rebeca feels the same way, she misses her boyfriend and the foods that you can only get in Argentina, and her dogs. Molly wants to have a real honest-to-god sandwich and graham crackers, two things you can’t get on ships! Nia is looking forward to seeing her boyfriend and her sister’s dogs, and going on vacation. Stacey will be happy to see her family and play some gigs. Paula found love while she was out here on the Ruby Princess, and is looking forward to a visit from her new beau, who is coming to see her in Argentina after his contract ends! Jane still has a few more weeks on the ship and a lot of work getting all the new musicians settled in, but once that’s done she’ll be playing with her brother’s band in Canada and hopefully getting some much needed R&R!

And me, you already know. I am going to see Jameson, and start a theater gig, and have job interviews, and visit my family. I’ll be very busy, but I’m excited!

Oh wait, where were we. At sea. Haha.

So I couldn’t decide what to do with myself. I ended up walking around outside on the promenade deck, taking photos here and there.



The deck is a public area, so I was stopped several times by guests who had questions. This kept me occupied and killed time nicely too. I showed one woman how to get to deck 5 via the nearest elevator, then answered a question about laxatives from another woman (yeah I don’t know either you guys). Another person wanted to know whether the neck pillows sold in the shops on deck 6 came in sizes. And finally a woman asked for help figuring out whether she was on the port or starboard side of the ship.

I was glad to help people, but after a while I decided it was time for lunch and some quiet time before the Welcome Back show. The show went fine, it was more fun because it was our last one. I think every show will feel that way! Kind of like letting everything go piece by piece.

Next we had Brian Cheatham’s Motown/Disney shows. Both of those went well and we had a lot of fun, Brian is a fantastic singer and his energy got us all moving and playing our best!

Now I’m enjoying some anime and a little reading before bed. Tomorrow is Cabo, but I’ve taken IPM for Alex (dancer) so I’ll be on the ship for the day.


01/14

It’s an overcast day in Cabo. I wonder if more people will stay on the ship because of that.



I had breakfast and practiced. Had a nice view of the Grand Princess anchored next to us.


After that I went down to the crew office to let them know I wouldn’t be taking the company-provided transportation to the airport on Saturday. I took out some trash and did some light cleanup on the company music tablet, then had lunch. I went to the gym even though I didn’t feel like it, and visited the medical center because my sinuses are killing me and I think they’re infected. They gave me a saline spray (I already have Flonase) and that’s probably the best they can do since I’m leaving at the end of the week. I thanked them and went to my room to read and have a nap.

In the evening we had two back to back dance sets in Explorers lounge. Both went pretty well, though it would have been nice if more people were there! Afterward we stuck around for a bit to watch the new party band perform. They’re very good!

Tomorrow is Mazatlan. The ladies are planning to go ashore to hang out at the beach and have offered to find someone to take my IPM, but honestly I’m not feeling the beach. We’ll see.


01/15

Mazatlan. We had a crew drill in the morning, our last one. Yay!
After that the horns had a sound check for Disco Deck Party, which took a little longer than usual because we needed to work the transitions with the new party band.

After that I think the girls were heading out for their beach day, but I decided not to tag along. I know it’s lame, but hey. I’m lame.

Instead I had lunch at the buffet, then did a load of laundry and packed more, as much as I could four days out. Then I went exploring. I was trying to find the ship’s main laundry room to get new bedding for the next musician to use our cabin. After wandering around for quite a while, I finally figured out that it was on Deck 2…I’d never been there before! I was able to get clean sheets and a towel. Another thing to check off the list.

Nothing exciting happened in the afternoon. I made the mistake of checking the ocean forecast for the end of the week: Thursday looks pretty tolerable, Friday looks like it could be the worst sea day we’ll have for the entire time we’ve been here. Great.


01/16

At the Vallarta Mall for the last time, doing my weekly job hunt. I don't have anything until 4:30pm, so there's plenty of time, but I still got up early so I'll have time in the afternoon to relax. I applied for many jobs, and signed up for one open call audition, and took care of all the mundane stuff that a land-based person would do throughout the week but I've got to delegate to a few hours.

So this is the last port before we head back to the US. My last port as a cruise ship employee.

I've learned quite a lot, and while I wasn't the most outgoing or adventurous, I've gained a great deal from this experience. Musically I was forced to step outside my comfort zone, especially concerning jazz improvisation. I'm still not comfortable with it, I still don't like it. But I'm better at it, and I at least know more about it than I did, and this will help me in the future I'm certain!

I learned how to lip trill, or at least do a "shake", which is just awesome! I've been trying for years to master this skill, and finally I can do it. Thanks Princess Cruises!

I've met six wonderful women, who I hope to keep in touch with in the future. I can't wait to see where our paths will take us.

I've learned how to deal with all of the physical and mental challenges that come along with working at sea, and found that overall I am capable of handling them.

As I sit here getting all pensive about my time on the ship, a few things that I've learned come to mind. I'd like to share them with you as recommendations, in case you decide to cruise for leisure or work! Take 'em or leave 'em :)


  • Don't expect to be able to walk from one end of the ship to the other on every single deck. In other words, just because a restaurant or shop is on, say, Deck 6, doesn't mean you can get to it simply by walking on Deck 6. You may have to go up a deck, or down a deck, or use an elevator. Don't complain, just do it!

  • Go to Tea Time at least once on your ship. On the Ruby Princess this was between 3:30pm and 5pm. It's great food and a lot less crowded than the lunch/dinner buffet!

  • Whether you're an employee or a guest, treat yourself to one of the fancy restaurants on the ship! They are WELL worth it! I can highly recommend the Crown Grill steakhouse!

  • Remember that the VAST majority of ship employees and crew do not speak English as their first language. You may have to repeat yourself or wait while the employee grabs an English-speaker. Please be patient...regardless of nationality, everyone is there to help you and will do so asap.

  • Expect periods of limited/slow/absent wifi and phone services, especially on sea days. The technology is improving but hasn't quite reached anyone's expectations yet.

  • Be prepared for motion sickness, even if you've never experienced it before. Anyone can get motion sick. My boss has been working ships for twenty years, and I saw her struggling with nausea and headaches. Bring whatever you need to bring, and/or visit the ship's medical center for some Meclizine. You never know.

  • If you know that you'll be motion sick, it's best to book a cabin that's midship (literally the middle of the ship) and as far down as possible (I recommend deck 8 or below).

That's all I can think of for now. What an interesting experience this has been for me. I feel like I've gained a lot of perspective out here.

After a while I decided to call it quits and head back to the ship. Once on board I took a shower and had lunch, then relaxed until it was time for rehearsal.

Rehearsal was fine, Brian’s shows were fine. We had a fun moment where he came over and danced with me, which was a lot of fun! A great memory for my last show with him. He’s a great guy and I hope he goes far in the entertainment world. Honestly, almost all of these guest entertainers have been wonderful to perform with :)

Then we had a late entertainment Christmas/New Years party! It was a little weird because, well first of all it’s way past both of those holidays! And also we’ve got a combination of people leaving very soon, and people who have just arrived and don’t even know anyone yet. But it was a great party, great people and awesome food!

The party took place in the Youth Center up on Deck 17. There was an air hockey table and Skii-ball, and games and music. The music managers had collected baby photos from most of us and put them together into a slide show! We had a lot of fun trying to guess who was who! We were some pretty cute kids ;)

And partway through we had a nice surprise. Nia (trumpet) had put together a slide show of our band featuring video and sound clips from our shows, and photos and memories of our time together. It was thoughtful, heartfelt, and just beautifully done. Jane (our boss) was crying at the end of it. Once we leave she’s going to have to go back to working with those darned male musicians :P Of course there’s nothing wrong with that! But, you know…we’ll miss each other! We had a big group hug and it was really a wonderful moment. Thank you so much Nia, and all of you ladies. It’s been so awesome.




01/17

Today I gave myself the gift of sleeping in, followed by my last breakfast buffet here on the Ruby Princess! I had smoked, fish, roasted tomatoes, French toast, muesli, and fruit. As I ate I did a little networking and was excited to possibly line up a gig with a NOLA-style brass band! Yay! I’ve never played New Orleans-style before, and honestly, before this ship contract I would not have been confident enough to put myself out there for something like that. Despite my complaints here and there about working on this ship, I am extremely grateful for what I have learned here. While I’m not a great jazz musician and probably never will be, I can at least look at jazz music and jazz gigs and say, “I can do that”. Something that was not possible for me before working here. So thank you Jane, for forcing me to play jazz. Thank you Nia for coaching me and leading by example with your freaking sick playing! Thank you Stacey for the jazz lessons and insights, for listening to my whinings and forcing me to get over my jazz hang-ups. You have all made me a better person and a better musician. Thank you.

Anyway, haha. Next we had Voice rehearsal, it went well and quickly. I went back to the room and packed some more clothes and started my last load of laundry. Then Jane called me to her office for my final appraisal (basically an employee evaluation). I was happy to find that she’s been satisfied with my work and every aspect of my being a part of this group. Again, I’m incredibly grateful. It’s been an absolute privilege!

Later in the evening we had our last dance set together in the piazza. For whatever reason, there were a TON of people dancing, possibly more than we’ve ever had. It was really, really awesome. As we took our bows I looked around and saw Jane and Paula tearing up again. You guys! Stop that!!

Tomorrow we have a VERY long day. We have to get up early to do all our sign off paperwork, then we have the Voice followed by two of Dwight’s shows, followed by checking our luggage with security. Among other things. Woo!


01/18

Today started early with signing off at the crew office. We had to turn in our employee IDs, and in exchange we got a Seafarer’s Certificate and a letter stating that we had successfully completed our contracts without incident. Yay!

Next we had Voice rehearsal and show. The ship was moving a lot and it was a bit of a struggle for me, but the show itself went well! When it was finished I was happy to pack up my company-issued music tablet for the last time. Yay!

Then we had two of Dwight’s shows in Explorers lounge. These were our last two shows, ever. Dwight made a point to address us during the show and share with the audience how much he enjoyed working with us. What a stand-up guy. When those shows were over some of us were a little teary-eyed. We turned in our music, and that was that…our last work on the Ruby Princess. Yay!

After that we had to get our luggage inspected by security and loaded onto a cart, to be distributed to us when we disembarked the next day. This didn’t take nearly as long as I thought, but it was still around 11pm before all of us were finished. I went up to crew bar for a little bit to spend time with the girls and other crew members who wanted to say goodbye and wish us well. It was nice to have this opportunity to say goodbye and have a drink with everyone, but the ship was still rocking a lot and I wasn’t feeling it. I ghosted out pretty early.

Tomorrow, we disembark. It’s been a wild ride.


01/19

My eyes popped open at 6:50am. I began tearing the sheets off my bed. By the time I was finished Stacey’s alarm was going off.

We got to work packing our remaining things and cleaning up the room. Although disembarkation isn’t until 10am, we needed to be out of the room by 8am because the new band is moving in right away. That’s a quick turnaround, but that’s normal on ships I’m told!

Soon we were ready to leave. The room was clean, all we had to do was take our linens to the laundry room and trash to the incinerator. Goodbye cabin. It’s been fun.



We dropped off our garbage and dirty laundry, then went to the mess for breakfast. I was very happy to have phone signal! I’ll probably treasure that small pleasure all week haha. We ate and did internet stuff to kill the hour. We were joined by Nia, Molly, Paula, Rebeca, and others a little bit later. We all enjoyed killing time together, for the last time!

In a little while I'll go through customs before setting foot off the Ruby Princess for the last time.
There's so much that I could say, that I'm going to leave unsaid for lack of time. I don't know if I'll be able to post later today, so I'll do it now and have a follow-up post later on.
Mostly, thank you everyone. It's been a pleasure. See you down the road.