Category Archives: travel

Slave labour and the mouse

My rather dull [current] life is in great contrast to, what seems like, my previous life. I have been very fortunate to have traveled greatly and worked overseas on a number of occasions. One of my most interesting adventures was working for Disney Cruise Line.

It sounds exciting, right? Working on a cruise ship for what is arguably the world’s most famous entertainment companies. It was to a certain extent, however, there is so much about life onboard that isn’t glamorous, exciting and could even be deemed as depressing.

I worked onboard the Disney Wonder as a Youth Activities Petty Officer (AKA Kids club counselor). She was a great ship to be a part of. She was beautiful and the crew were so friendly. I remember the first time I boarded I could sense the excitement and (forgive the cheese) wonder of the place

Disney Wonder

I always found it quite amusing when guests (both young & old) seemed to be surprised that the crew actually lived onboard. When they heard that we did the immediately thought we stayed in the same luxury that they did…. that was not the case. My current bathroom is bigger than my cabin (including the bathroom) onboard the ship…. and that was shared with another crew member. The crew cabins were situated on decks A and B (under the water line), and the crew mess served boiled rice and boiled chicken daily. Food was edible, but certainly not good and it was very, very dull.

We worked hard. 10 hours per day, 7 days per week for stints of 5 months straight – and that was a ‘good’ contract. It wasn’t exactly hard work entertaining kids, but it was very, very repetitive and quite stressful. Spew, snot and pee were daily challenges, and no thanks was generally received from parents. Not that they should thank us, I suppose – the cruises were ridiculously expensive.

One of the kids clubs

The route I worked on went from Florida- Nassau – Castaway Cay. It was a nice route, but did get dull quickly. Castaway Cay is the most amazing place to visit. White sand beaches, clear water and awesome food. I didn’t like working on the island. Sand in your ship regulation sand shoes, heat, screaming dehydrated kids and a window of 30 minutes at the end of your Island Shift to get on the ship, shower, change and start back in the kids clubs.

Castaway Cay

What made my life on the ship, and indeed made me return for a second stint were the people with whom I worked with, lived with, and had fun with. Parties were awesome, and you truly make friends for life. I miss everybody I met, and think about them daily.

You will notice that beer and booze plays a big part in crew life...

Alcohol plays a big part of crew life. The crew bar is really the only place to relax and everybody (and I mean everybody) drinks. No matter what time you finished your shift, be it 7pm or 2am you would normally head to the crew mess and then the bar. The prices in the bar were strange and would fluctuate greatly depending on whether or not you knew the bar man. A vodka and Coke (normally a tripple) would start at about $1.50 and could dip to as low as $0.50. A Coke could cost up-to $3. It was all rather strange. Sadly, there were people who were reliant on alcohol – which wasn’t surprising as it played such a large part of crew life.

I had a great time during my two contract stint on the Wonder and would recommend a life on the waves to anybody. What I would say, however, is that it is difficult to make a career on a ship, well a Disney one at least. You also need to remember that you live and work in very cramped spaces – which isn’t great if you dislike someone. It is a good place to meet new people and have some fun!

I have many stories & hundreds of photos of my ‘adventures’ on the Mickey Boat which I may share in the future… if I can be bothered

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London and on and on and on

I am just back from an enjoyable weekend in London. I went down with my parents to visit my sister who has lived and worked down there for quite some time. I do enjoy visiting London on the whole, however, as a city it isn’t a patch on Edinburgh in my opinion. The problem is that journeys take so long when in the city as so much is spread out – not the case in Edinburgh. Again, that is just my opinion and I am very slightly bias.

I always find it amusing that very few people working in London are actually from London. If you have a think about it, it actually makes sense. The majority of those employed in tourism, or retail are on minimum wage… and you can’t live in London for any length of time on minimum wage. Many of the low wage workers are younger people on student visas. The government are looking to crack down on such visas which does make you think what will happen with much of the tourism and hospitality industries in  places like London. I assume it will simply mean prices will rise as businesses will need to pay their staff more.

Anyway, I digress (which if you have read other posts you will know is a common problem). London is a great city, with one of my favorite attractions being the Natural History Museum. It is a free attraction, and is highly informative and very entertaining. Being a 29 year-old kid my favorite part was the Dinosaur gallery. It isn’t huge, but it does contain some fantastic interpretation and specimens. It also has some very realistic animatronic  dinosaurs including a juvenile T-rex. The only problem with this gallery is the number of people visiting. You can wait for a couple of hours to see it on a busy day… it could be controlled much better.

There are number of excellent other galleries. the Darwin Center ‘Cocoon’ was absolutely fascinating and much quieter than the rest of the building. The Cocoon is much more like a trail than a gallery. You can use a bar code card to ‘collect’ information to review at home. it is a great idea and looks like it is being rolled out across the NHM.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the NHM or my trip – but you don’t want to read too much about that I am sure. So I will sign off in a second. Before I do I have two things I need to get of my chest…
1. East Coast trains are very good, but, the coffee is awful!
2. A quiet coach should be quiet. Sit down and shut up. Needless to say, being polite Brits the coach simply tutted, and complained behind the selfish woman’s back.

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