Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Downsides to Teaching on a Cruise: Boarding the Sea Princess

We're delighted to again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock!

Karen consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues, including on cruise ships. Today, Karen is sharing some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise. Downsides?  Yes, it's true.

If you missed her blog last week, you might enjoy reading it first, as she shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching five classes while on board her latest cruise.


Wen and I said goodbye to our lovely hotel on Papeete, Tahiti and effortlessly boarded the Sea Princess.  Not only was I VIP because I was a “guest lecturer,” but there weren’t others lined up with bags since I was boarding midway through a 32-day cruise.  Celebrity cruises had been somewhat of a trial because there were hoards of guests with bags and dock staff seemed uncertain of where my bags should go on the ship (crew is separate from the other passengers).

Princess was a dream until we discovered later that my status on the ship (crew) would be officially different than Wen’s (passenger).  That meant he had a typical cruise boarding card and I was going to need my photo taken for a special crew badge (laminex).  I wouldn’t be able to leave the ship until I got one.  Getting one was not easy. The badge photographer was busy and couldn’t be chased down.  This meant we’d have to scramble and find unorthodox ways involving  an activity director’s pager and slipping into secure areas to get a badge made for me last minute so I could get off at our first destination:  Morea.

A curiosity and concern:  Our room had only one key (not a card like other passengers, but an actual key).  Another couldn’t be made that day—which could have been a problem because Wen and I thought we’d have to go our separate ways when it looked as though I wouldn’t have my badge in time to get off the ship.  I insisted Wen still enjoy the island best known for its snorkeling.  The key didn’t show up in the morning, but it still worked out since I got the badge just in time to go off the ship with Wen

Unlike the Celebrity cruises I taught on, where we had outside staterooms with romantic portholes, Princess provided us with an inside room with no window.  Disappointing to say the least.  But hey, I reasoned, we never spend much time in a stateroom anyway.  There was a consolation prize on our crew location; we were directly across from the captain’s cabin. We brushed shoulders occasionally while going in and out, down a hall lined with various plaques and distinctions and curls of smoke – apparently the nonsmoking rules don’t apply to the guy who has 3,000+ lives in his hands. 

The biggest and most unexpected disappointment was that we’d be sleeping in bunk beds.  My positive slant, it would force us to be more creative.

The activities director, Andrew, reconfirmed with me about schedule and AV needs.  Peter, the cruise director, checked in with me about how many typically attend my lectures.  I told him 50+ depending on what’s happening at the same time on the ship.  He scheduled my first session in a perfect venue, the second largest on the ship – the Vista Lounge.  Comfy, with a nice stage, great lighting and sound system.

Later that evening, as Wen and I drank our 60% discounted cocktails.  We struck up a conversation with Australian Rock and Roll Legend, Roland Storm, who performed later that night.  He called himself a “washed up musician.”  He was nice guy with an Australian sense of humor that slipped right past us sometimes.  

We explored the underworld of the ship where the cooks, waiters, pursers, janitors etc. live.  That was eye-opening.  It was its own little universe.  Stark, metal floors, bare bones accommodations, ATMs and discount Internet minute machines, unadorned buffet dining that looked nothing like that above, crates of food and cleaning supplies lining the walls, crew office, security office, and the infirmary. 

People sat along the medical station wall waiting for treatments for coughs or sea sickness or more severe issues as we learned later.  We learned that it was essentially a hospital down there, and that medical treatment is very expensive and often not reimbursed by Australian insurance.  99% of the passengers were Australian.  We loved the accents, even if we didn’t always catch what was being said.

Adjusted to the ship, we looked forward to the first port, Morea.


Thank you, Karen!

We hope you'll drop by Chiseled in Rock next week, on June 25th, for the next installment in this series!

1 comment:

Tirun Travel Marketing said...

Celebrity Cruises is known for the unobtrusive and intuitive service on board.