To continue on about working with Renaissance Cruises between 1992-96 which really if I can say so myself was probably the highlight of my entire hospitality career up to now and will remain there. I was a couple of weeks before my 33rd birthday and when I disembarked I had just turned 37 a month before. They were grand days and dare I say was at the top of my game in the waiting profession with so much energy to burn. Hey I was still single! What do you expect.
I mean every night there was a party in one of the cabins , usually ours , because we waiters would get into the beer and everyone else would come on over and join in. I wasn’t one of the late ones but people started filing out of our cabin I remember around 1-2 o’clock. Let’s face it we had to be up at 6:15AM to get ourselves ready to set up for breakfast. Our routine after breakfast , unless there was a fire boat drill , was to catch a few winks or else we would head ashore for a quick espresso and sit in the sun.
But often because we were going ashore after lunch to check the sites out , we would take the nap. Then it was to tour or go out for a lunch. When we were in Ashdod in Israel , we went to see Jerusalem and Bethlehem for example. During our stop in Istanbul we would do some shopping in the bazaars where you could bargain for a leather jacket , or check out the beach during a stopover in a Caribbean port. If we had an overnight we would be heading to the clubs for sure. Seville in Spain was a great overnight I recall going from one dance club to another. Safaga Egypt was one when the passengers would all leave the ship for an overnight in Luxor and we would have the entire ship to ourselves. This meant a big pool party during the day and hitting the disco in Hurghada that night and coming back in the wee hours of the morning. This was especially nice since the passengers weren’t due back till the evening service so you had the entire next day off to recuperate!
Sometimes like Monte Carlo for instance , where I must have been about 30 times you knew exactly where you wanted to go instantaneously. For me it was to Cafe de Paris for a latte on a warm summer day. I wasn’t much of a gambler so I did not hit the casinos. The bartender and I on one contract whenever we hit Patmos Greece there was a place where we would go and eat and while you were eating you could look at the pristine water while sipping on some Greek wine and food. Then it was time to head back to the ship and grab 30-45 minutes sleep , shower and head to the dining room for dinner service.
Afterwards the ship would leave port and then the next day you were somewhere else. Then after dinner there would be a party somewhere. Either in someone’s cabin , crew mess , or even on the pool deck at the back of the ship. The life was surreal. No bills to pay , no responsibilities , just work and have fun and save your money too.
I traveled in the Red Sea , Mediterranean , Baltic , did the trans-Atlantic crossing , did the 5 week cruise from Piraeus in Greece just outside Athens to Singapore stopping off in places like Malaysia , Thailand and India along the way. Saw a lot of Indonesia during the 10 day cruises from Singapore to Bali.
Then your 6 month contract would end and you would have 2 months to travel some more and visit friends you worked with on the ship. So really I did not have a clue as to what was going on back home. Even now when I hear of things that happened during those years it is news for me. I was out of the country nearly all the time.
Also I used to participate in the cruise shows that was voluntary on behalf of the crew. Those of us who wanted , to would practice something to entertain the passengers. For me it was either telling jokes , singing My Way by Frank Sinatra , or doing Singin’ in the Rain by Gene Kelly. I have these on tape so once I get these in the right format I may just put them on Youtube.
Getting seasick too was one of the worst feelings you can ever have. On one occasion we left Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to do a cruise hitting some Moroccan ports but the weather was so bad we hit only one port the entire 7 days! The passengers were quite unruly cause of this and battling with seasickness too, this made for a cruise that I would never want to do again. The seas and wind were so strong that the front of the ship dipped into the water. Grant it we were a small ship not one of your huge liners you see today. When it was rough you used to slide in your bunk from the tossing of the waves. Blecchhh……
Of course during a contract you would have to work with all kinds of people but the most pressure you would come across was a team in the dining room that just did not have the right chemistry or a Maitre’d that was a complete jerk. You always felt under the gun. And one thing about a cruiseship is they feed off the passenger comment cards at the end of their voyage. One bad comment and the person was singled out.
One comment I had will be for another post probably this week. It was a doozy! Other than that comment I did exceptionnally well on the ship getting promoted at the end to Maitre’d. I guess if I stuck around longer Hotel Manager would have been next and I would have by now owned a couple of properties and had a slew of money in the bank. But what happened is another post coming up.
Stay tuned for more……..