My 2016 Ship Life

Long time has pass since I last wrote. I guess that should tell you I was a bit too busy enjoying life. =) So what happened this year? My new adventure started in February. I decided to return to ship life and start a new adventure with a different company. I got hired as a cruise ship photographer by American company named Image Group. So yes, I spent few months on the waves again and that’s more or less the reason I didn’t write anything on this blog. When you’re on board it’s just hard to find any free time to write, and when I do have time I spend it to rest, relax and have fun. =)

In February I flew to Miami where I joined the rest of us “new hires” and we all attended a few day training program. We were a fun international group and I could say we got along very well, considering we only met each other. For most of us this was our first time in USA, so we were all excited about small things. We were all impressed by cars in Miami, the avenues, the width of the roads and of course we were unable to resist some typical things we see online and on TV – Walmart… =D I know, for Americans probably silly thing to be excited about – for us, this was fun experience, because we hear so much about it. So yes, we all had to go to Walmart. =D Beside this unusual tourist experience we also went downtown to Miami Beach. Sadly we didn’t have much time to really enjoy it, but we had few hours and that was ok with us. Few drinks, some food, see the famous beach, stare at amazing cars that passed by and we even saw CSI van parked in front of some house! Now that was a proper TV scene. We kept saying: “OMG, look, it’s like in the movies!” =D

Last day of the training they told us what are our assignments and which ship will we be joining. I was one of the first ones to be told I was going to Australia. I was shocked and happy at the same time. I expected some Caribbean or Europe, instead I got the land down under! I checked the itinerary and I was immediately excited. I was joining in Brisbane in Australia, then we had circular navigation around Australian continent together with Tasmania. Then followed some New Zealand and crossing the Pacific Ocean with stops on French Polynesian islands and Hawaii. After that we had two weeks of dry dock in Portland, Oregon and after that 4 months of cruising in Alaska and in the end of my contract another crossing of Pacific back towards Australia. I was really surprised in a positive way, because I don’t think I ever imagined I’d actually visit this kind of places ever in my life.

So… First I was laughing because I packed one sarong with Hawaii text, some snickers with brand name Australian and another pair with brand name Polynesian. It was almost like I was packing and buying stuff that later led me to these locations. I thought it was really funny. But since my religion is “Law of attraction”, maybe that was it… =)

I started my journey in Slovenia, flew to Miami for those few days, then all across the US with airport stop in Los Angeles and continued my journey to Brisbane, Australia. Let me just say that I’ve been dreaming about LA since I was 16 and I always wanted to live there, even though I haven’t been there yet. But for me just changing flights at LAX was like a dream come true. The view of the city from the sky, the streets, lights and the airport itself… My eyes got a bit wet, and trust me, I don’t cry easily. When you dream about something so passionately and you can touch just a little bit of those dreams in real world, it’s absolutely indescribable experience. I went for some food at the airport and for the first time in my life I opened a fortune cookie – it said “Your future is bright”. I still carry this paper with me in my wallet and it gives me extra dose of optimism every time I look at it. =)

All I can say – my journey started absolutely amazing, even though I didn’t have Valentine’s day this year… Ok, this is another interesting story. =) My flight from LA was around 10PM local time on 13th February and because of the international date line in between I landed in Australia on 15th February, so I basically skipped the whole 14th February. Haha! My brother said to me: “Forever alone.” =D Haha!
So, let’s try to summon up these 8 months. In Australia I had a chance to cuddle a koala bear, pet a kangaroo, see some massive bats, some crocodiles, Tasmanian devils, dingo, seen the lightening hit the ground, touched the Sydney Opera house, snorkelled at The Great Barrier Reef and I visited some cool museums. Once I was on the forward outside deck in the middle of the night and I’ve seen dolphins jumping out next to the ship – absolutely amazing!

In New Zealand I’ve seen amazing Milford Sounds fjords, done some nice hiking and visited WETA workshop museum – the place where they make movie props. WETA is most famous for props in movies Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, but also Narnia, District 9 and many more. I took some photos at the shop and in front of the building, but we were not allowed to take photos inside. Let me just tell you I touched the mithril, seen original armors and weapons and I even held an original gun from the movie District 9. For movie buffs and LOTR fans this is close to paradise. =D
From there we actually did go to proper paradise. We had stops in Bora-Bora, Tahiti and Morea – three French Polynesian islands with proper tropical climate, palm trees, white sandy beaches and turquoise sea. I visited those small wooden houses that are built above the water, I’ve seen some amazing jungles and I was snorkeling with reef sharks and sting rays. It was absolutely amazing!

Another paradise stop were Hawaii. We visited Maui, Oahu, The Big Island and Kauai. I’ve been to the famous Waikiki Beach, I’ve seen volcanos and even a real lava flow coming into the ocean, I was swimming with turtles (we randomly encountered them while snorkeling), I’ve eaten at the famous Duke’s restaurant, seen dolphins, seen some waterfalls and I even learned how to surf! I guess I couldn’t pick a better place to learn this sport than the islands where it all started. =) Although I was told later on in the day that they spotted a great white shark just at the area where I was surfing… I guess luck really is on my side. =) Nevertheless, from now on Hawaiian Islands are my favorite place in the world and I think plumeria is now my favorite flower. =)

Following all these paradise islands there was dry dock in Portland, Oregon waiting for our ship. We disembarked all the guests and basically crew had the whole ship for ourselves. Well, obviously we had quite a lot of limitations, because a lot of areas were closed for maintenance. But we did eat at the main self-service dining room called Windjammer and we didn’t have to wear our uniforms (that was the most awesome part for most of us). Now and then certain sections of the ship would be without electricity or water, but hey, that was part of the fun of the dry dock. Photo team was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have much work to do during dry dock. That meant we had a looooot of free time. And that meant – have fun, enjoy, relax, discover, explore… One day we rented a car and went to see the famous Multnomah Falls. I actually had this place as desktop background on my computer for years and for a long time I thought it was some sort of fantasy style illustration and learned years later that this place actually exists. I had no idea that’s so close to Portland, so imagine my excitement when I realized we can drive to that place! This was like a dream come true for me and I think all my friends were really glad I suggested we go there. It was spectacular! =D

Beside exploring the waterfalls we’ve also done some hiking in the park above Portland, we visited the river side, we’ve all done some shopping, visited famous Saturday market, we even went to a strip club (Hey, they say try everything once in your life… Well, except drugs and other illegal stuff – don’t do that.). I even got a lap dance from some sexy male stripper. Never thought I’ll ever experience that, haha! =D Besides all that I even visited a “Filmed by Bike” festival, because my friend’s girlfriend was there representing their video. They even won some award there, so I’m definitely glad I went. And it was absolutely amazing feeling to meet up with another Slovenian. =D And since she knows my brother I even managed to give her some small souvenirs to take them back home and give them to my family when she comes back. =D

So… When the ship was back in the water we sailed towards Vancouver, Canada, got our new round of guests and started our Alaskan season. Four months of Alaska… For many people real fun and amazing experiences, for me it was kind of torture… Yes, I agree Alaskan wilderness and nature looks beautiful, but the climate is just not what I crave for and I’m used to seeing mountains every day, because I live under the Alps. I guess few cruises would be nice, but few months were too much for me. First few weeks we also had nice warm sunny weather and later on we had a lot of rainy and cloudy cruises. But I did see some whales, I’ve seen how the glacier ice is caving and falling into the water, I’ve seen some nice lakes, mountains and forests. Our last cruises we were even lucky enough to see northern lights. But even with all that beauty of nature, my head was set on tropical places and palm trees. =)
Luckily I was on board for another crossing, so I got Hawaii and French Polynesia one more time before flying back home. I must say that when I was on board we were quite lucky with the Ocean Gods and we didn’t have any really bad weather. We had a big storm a day before my departure home, but it didn’t feel that bad. It did look rather spectacular, because we were in the middle of Pacific, black night all around us, strong wind and then the whole sky would turn white when the lightening started. Amazing and a bit scary feeling, but I’m happy I’ve seen something as impressive as this.

I was flying home from Wellington in New Zealand, to Melbourne, to Dubai, to Frankfurt and in the end to Ljubljana. I had 28 hours in the air, 38 travel hours all together. This was for sure the longest journey I had so far. =)
When I look back I can only say these eight months were absolutely spectacular and I’m so glad I’ve done it all. On board I met some amazing people, got great friends, had the best parties, explored so much, seen places I never thought I’ll ever see, had experiences I never believed I can possible have and I came home believing anything is possible even more than before. It’s hard to explain to people how “ship life” works and how it changes a person. For sure it’s not for everybody. I mean, I’ve seen people quitting after few weeks, crying after few hours, being home sick and just had enough of being around people. But to me, this is the best adventure of my life so far. I truly feel blessed and often still can’t believe all this is happening to me, because it feels like a movie. But it is true, it’s my reality. =D
Thank you all that shared time with me in these few months, all of you that I consider my ship friends and everybody that was crazy enough to do some of these adventures with me. =D I’m also attaching a video of my adventures… =)

Video: Radiance of the Seas 2016

So now I’m already on the way towards new adventure… I’ll let you know about this one when I return. =) For now I just wish you all great start of New Year and keep dreaming – dreams do come true! =D

FIRST DAYS AT SEA

Even though I went to sleep at 23:00, if I consider the new time zone, that is actually 1:00 in the morning at central European time, so it was late. But I woke up at around 7:00 on the new time zone, so that is 9:00 back home. I thought I will sleep longer, but it seems that was all the sleep I needed. I had some free time because of that, so I went through the brochures in my cabin, to learn more about the ship and the following cruises. On one of the papers there was a quote: “Some people dream their dreams, others stay awake and live them.” That sentence really made me think and I realized that I tried to live my dreams for so long, and now it is actually happening, or at least it seems so.
Then I met with the videographer that I will be replacing and I followed her around when she was filming. Of course I know how to make videos, but I had to learn a little bit what to shoot on these cruises. Since this was a day at sea, we had to film some events and activities on board. There was some game with small balls and to me that was quite funny, because the ship is constantly moving and the balls aren’t really going in right directions. The darts were quite “normal”, considering the waves. Then we went on the top deck to film some golf that is actually more like a mini golf. But that was a lot of fun for me, because it was my first time on the top deck and it was sunny and quite warm! There was an ocean all around us and it did feel a little bit surreal…
And the big surprise (for me) with the events – the dolphin races… Sounds interesting, I know. I had no idea what that is. Now I do… =) There are like wooden statues in a shape of dolphins and you need a player for every statue. The statues are quite big, so the player stands behind it and actually moves with it. The game master then throws the dice and whichever number is up, that player needs to move one field further (there is like a board with fields on the ground). To me, seeing this game for the first time was really funny. The team leading the whole event sure knows how to make it attractive and fun. I have to tell my mom about this game, this will be like an extreme sport for her. =)
I have to admit, I love this experience so far, but I really have to get used to the waves. Usually I don’t get sea sickness, but this time I am on the ship for much longer then I am used to and on bigger waves. I just feel a little dizzy most of the time, especially when I don’t sit down for few hours. It happened to me that I felt sick for a moment, so I just had to sit down and let it pass. Luckily I was ok and there was no dirty ending… =) But I’m sure I’ll get used to it sooner or later. At the moment I am just happy for every free moment that I can sit down or get in my room to lie down for a while. It helps a lot. I feel kind of bad that I am not outside enjoying the sun on the deck, but I really need to get used to all this. I am sure I’ll have enough time for the deck and the sun in next few months.
Oh, and I really need to mention the people. I know I’ve only been here for two days now, but I already met many people. The staff and the guests are all very nice and they are all willing to say few words with you. I am sure there will be some bad experiences along the way, but for now I can only say that I have never been surrounded by so many nice people.

Philosophy and emotions (day 43)

Day 43 – Thursday, 1.11.2012
We slept a bit longer today because we went to sleep quite late. I woke up at 9:00, when my alarm went on. I wanted to sleep a bit longer but on the other hand I needed the toilet and as usual the toilet won… So I had to get out of the warm bed into the cold morning air in the apartment. Brrrr. But I survived as you can see. =)
Anyway, I switch my pyjamas for some warmer clothes and I spent some time on my computer… Again… Damn you technology! Well, I guess this is what modern times can do to us. =) But then I took some time for something I consider more valuable and more important. I decided to light two candles that I bought a day before and I lit them up; one for my grandpa and one for my grandma. Since I’m unable to visit their grave today, I think this is the closest thing I could do. And I took some time to remember them, to recall some nice memories I have about them and how they played and laughed with me. I think it’s good to take some time for things like this. And they make me feel happy, though I know I can’t be with them, I know that the time we had together was amazing and that’s what counts. When our time comes it comes, but it is what we do before that counts and we should hold on to that, not to the tragedy of losing someone. So yeah, I took some time for memories and it filled me up with love and happiness. =)
Then I returned to reality and decided I need to buy some food. Gaja, Damir and I went to the shop together and we cooked some lunch when we returned home. I really felt like eating rice today so I decided to cook myself some risotto. And it turned out sooooo damn good! Mmm nom nom nom! =) This time I put some soy chunks in it and it tasted almost like chicken! I just love being vegan more and more; I keep on discovering so tasty new recipes! =D Mentioning being vegan – I must admit I’m quite proud of myself because I see I have no problems with temptations. After more than a year, I’m obviously used to it so much that other food doesn’t really convince me anymore. But sometimes I do try something that’s vegetarian, but just try. Like for example I tried a bite of some cake Damir baked few days ago. I was interested in his cooking skills. =D It was good, but I noticed there were eggs in the food right away and I knew I shouldn’t eat more of it. My body just didn’t like it, like it rejected it. =)
Ok anyway, I didn’t mention that today I feel like relaxation day and I’m listening to relaxing Chinese and Japanese music with mix of nature sounds all the time. It just feels right today. Then I took some time for meditation because I know I don’t do that as often as I would want to. And again, it felt so right and so nice and oh, it was great. =) So now I feel like I’m reborn and I could move mountains. =D Ok, enough of philosophy for today… =D