I’ve been on-board for 17 days now. It’s my fourth contract and it’s been my hardest so far. Part of the reason is every time you start a new contract, you go through training and handovers, and it takes time to adjust because so many things are different. Another part of the reason is because I’m on a massive ship with over 4000 people, so I have more responsibilities. Bigger ships are fancier and shinier and have lots more facilities but they tend to have a lower crew to guest ratio, so you end up being busier. Still, it’s pretty awesome to be able to watch a glass-blowing show or drink a martini chilled with dry ice or walk on a lawn. Yes, we have a real lawn on my ship and a guy hired as a lawn keeper. And there’s a real tree on-board. All there’s missing now is a petting zoo. It’d be awesome to have giraffes and elephants on-board. It’d be just like Noah’s Ark except with a glass-blowing show and a variety of porn available for purchase.
Anyway, another part of the reason is because the last guy doing this job left a ton of stuff for me to do and reorganize, so that sort of sucks. Perhaps he thought his primary duties were to socialize, which is an easy mistake to make. Sometimes I forget that I’m not a passenger on a cruise ship as well. Not this time though. I’ve basically been doing 10-12 hours work everyday which is kind of a shock after the schedule I had become accustomed to in Riga.
But it’ll get better. On a happier note, we were in Istanbul yesterday doing an overnight. This is the first time I’ve done an overnight while working on a cruise ship apart from being in dry-dock in Baltimore. Before you get all jealous, it turned out to my lamest attempt at travel in all my life. I completely failed at travel. Before arriving, I thought it’d be good to contact a few Couchsurfers to see if anyone wanted to hang out Saturday night or if they had any advice on places to go. Surprisingly, even though Istanbul is one of the 10 ten largest Couchsurfing cities, all the responses were negative. Fail #1.
In the morning, a bunch of us attempted to visit Dolmabahçe Palace, which was the recent residence for Ottoman Sultans. After standing in line for over an hour, the guy in front of the line said that we were in the wrong queue. Apparently we were in the line for groups. We were a group and had a group ticket but apparently, groups in Turkey mean “a group with a tour guide and a reservation”. We considered moving to the queue for “individuals” (even though there were 10 of us) but the guy said it was “forbidden” to enter without a guide. Basically, they wanted to fleece us for more money. What a pleasant welcome to Istanbul.
Our group decided they had enough and decided the only viable option was to head to a bar. I wasn’t in the mood to pay 8 Lira (US$4.50) for a pint when I could drink for half that price on the ship. Plus, it wasn’t even noon. So, I returned to the ship. I had work to do anyway. Fail #2.
A few of us planned to hit town later that night. However, a crew party had strategically been organized for us onboard. It’s a cheeky way to make more revenue on a quiet night. Plus I heard some “horror” stories about how people were charged $40 for a drink. Or the craziest one was when a group ordered 2 bottles of vodka at a club and had a bill of $1000. Surprisingly, crew members aren’t particularly savvy travelers. Fail #3.
So the majority of people stayed behind while a few headed out to a hookah lounge and surf the internet. I was very interested to try a hookah in Turkey but the idea of being on Facebook on a Saturday night in Istanbul sounded depressing. So I opted to stay on-board instead. Around midnight, a bunch of the guys decided the wanted to visit a gay club in Istanbul. Really? Not that I have anything particularly against gay clubs but if I wanted to go to a gay club, I’d go to the crew bar. With a ratio of 9:1 men to women, what more do they want? I stayed on-board. Fail #4.
Next time we’re in Istanbul I’m venturing out to see the nightlife, even if it’s by myself!
Ever felt like you had failed at travel?