Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Vacation August 2015: Great British Tour!

To finish up this very short vacation I was lucky enough to be visited by a friend from New York for her first time visiting Europe. This seemed like the perfect excuse for a road trip, and for the more story telling images please check out my Instagram page. But here on my blog, a prettier approach...

We started close to (my) home, exploring the Peak District, in particular Chatsworth House:

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Then day 2 was my much loved central Manchester

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Day three took us to Warwick Castle as an ideal stop on the way to London.

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Day four we made it into central London and to the 72nd floor of The Shard!

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And back down to river level...

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Day 5 finished with The Making of Harry Potter on our way back out of London

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And finally, always my highlight, a night in the Lake District

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(don't you love my little hire car!)

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And on the way home a quick stop in Morecambe to show a typical seaside town, unfortunate weather though!

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And now it's back to work and the privilege of the newest ship in the fleet, wish me luck and hopefully some free time to share some photos!


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Vacation August 2015: Seville and Gibraltar

In my brief time off before returning to work I'm staying very busy! Firstly Portugal with family and I just have one photo to share of the view over to Salema in Portugal where I was staying. Dramatic coastline due to the high winds in this South West corner facing the Atlantic!

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Following Portugal I hopped on a 21 euro bus to beautiful Seville where I had never been but is full of history and interesting places.

So first up, Plaza De Espana, put together for an expo in 1929 this old palace has a seat representing each of the provinces of Spain and incredible mosaic decoration.

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The centre of Seville is a collection of buildings grouped together as UNESCO sites, one palace, one cathedral and one building containing important documents including those related to Christopher Columbus.

The palace, the Real Alcazar, is a collection of buildings from different periods plus endless manicured gardens with aromatic hedges that made me wonder why all hedges aren't aromatic... life could be so fragrant!!

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I am lucky enough to have been to the Alhambra, not so far away in Granada, and I found this particular part of the Real Alcazar, to be exactly the same! However the gardens were different and stunning.

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Immediately opposite the palace is the cathedral. The largest in Europe.

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Moving onto something much more modern, the Metropol Parasol was as impressive to me as the historical sites, dominating the new part of town it gives impressive views in an amazing piece of engineering.

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Exploring the city further brought me to more churches

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A beautiful setting for an art gallery

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And the colourful waterside area of Trianna

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Then from Seville I took a day trip out to Gibraltar, a place I had always wanted to go having sailed past on transatlantic crossings three times! The tour I was on featured 3 stops. Firstly Europa Point, the southern tip marking the divide between the Atlantic Ocean and the Med with views over to Morocco only 20km away!

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Secondly St Michael's Cave, one of the largest so high above sea level, certainly a tourist trap and used for events.

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And finally one of the spots where the famous monkey's are fed, which happened to have a great view!

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Here's a view of 'the Rock' showing how pedestrians walk straight over the airport runway on their way to pass back into Spain!

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It was great to getaway and see somewhere new, Seville comes highly recommended from me (go to the Aire spa!!). As always there's more photos on my Flickr page.

Until next time...


Monday, 3 August 2015

6 (and half) months as Entertainment Admin: NCL Sky Jan-Jul 2015

Dear blog fans... things have really changed!

But I'm sure someone said change is always good.

I was doing some serious traveling and some really exciting things, Shore Excursions 100% is a job to be jealous of but last contract I cross trained so I could become Entertainment Administrator.

And the reasons I wanted to be Admin are exactly the things that I loved about the last 6 months but it doesn't mean I have lots of traveling photos to show you but instead pictures of people, a lot of challenges mastered and skills gained!

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So the number 1 thing I do as Admin is update the 'Freestyle Daily' which is the ship's schedule of the day. I'm sat at a desk a big chunk of each day hence the picture! However by big chunk on average I would say 3 hours a day, I really don't want to return to 8 hours staring at a screen as I did before ships!

Updating means all departments contact you to make their changes and then you take those changes to the Cruise Director, who is ultimately responsible for the daily schedule, to make their changes. As my understanding grew I was able to make suggestions to departments who I could help. I was always expected to spell correct and adjust those changes submitted as per the Freestyle rules. And what I really loved was, as trust grew, I could work with the Cruise Director to suggest changes and carry the knowledge to assist in the decision making.

My second most important responsibility as Admin is Deal Or No Deal (DOND), as in the game show, as in a money making opportunity for our department. We make money through Bingo, Instant Wins (like lottery scratch tickets) and DOND. I personally do not make money from Bingo or instant wins and the Assistant Cruise Director handles the paperwork. But DOND is my responsibility, I sell, manage the inventory, deal with guest quires and complaints and do all the financial paperwork. I share commission with the Cruise Director, who hosts the gameshow, and a cruise staff on rotation who helps me sell.

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The photo shows me and lovely William at the DOND sales table on formal night. Over the months I did make some good money from this!

And the number 3 most important thing I would say I did as Admin was be available for the Entertainment Department, who I loved and who made me feel loved! By this I mean I could be called upon to do anything from show around a new member of staff, collect drinks for a party, or cover an hour of karaoke. Over time I really got to care for so many staff and it absolutely was my job to help in anyway I could, so different to the sales positions in Photo and ShoreX where I absolutely cared for my teams and people outside of my teams but it never seemed to be to my advantage!

This was my team!

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And these were some great times...

80's party!

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When Flogging Molly took over the ship (this charter cruise was an incredible time, I had to work extra hard but was tipped and offered a job for my efforts by the Flying Dutchmen team who organised the event!)...


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On my birthday...

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On 4th July celebrations... another amazing day where I was able to help in an unexpected way as Jeimy really want to go out on stilts for the celebration but no staff member was free to be her spotter, but I was! And she looked great!

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And I didn't feel like my efforts went unthanked after I was nominated for the vacation hero awards!


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It's nice to show off all these photo highs, I cannot lie about how tough some times were and most importantly I want to say the Sky is not the ship for me. 3 and 4 day cruises attract a crazy crowd but more importantly you really feel like you are going round in circles, 2 embarkation days every week, 2 white hot parties... I nearly, completely lost my mind! Miami, Bahamas and back again. I stopped going out and really lost my drive.

It is incredibly important to get off ship and spend time away from the job. Right at the beginning I went on a couple of tours in Freeport as it was the only new port in this run for me.

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Doing a trip like this REALLY helps clear your head. For any Cruise Directors reading this... let your Admin out! Only with my first CD was I able to do an 8am tour, possible by preparing the Freestyle the previous night and sending it before I left (and being excused from drill!)

Anyway I did a good job, it's a great position for me because you're helping people who really appreciate what you do for them because the last thing they want is to be stuck at a desk! I'm the only one doing it, I like to feel special! And because I did well I'm off to the newest ship in the fleet next which is a huge compliment so with only 5 weeks to rest I'll be on NCL Getaway in September!

But first, let's have a bit of a break!!