Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cruise Life!

Hello World! It’s been a while, a long while, and a lot of stuff has happened so I thought I’d update my blog to let everyone know how cruise life is!

So, I began this long journey with rehearsals in Los Angeles. Stiletto, the company that hired me, put me and 9 other singers/dancers in apartments near the studios. We rehearsed for 5 weeks, 6 days a week, 8 hours a day with an hour for lunch. We learned 4 full-length production numbers (about 50-55 minutes long) and a bumper show (about 10 minutes long). After the rehearsal process was done we packed up all of our things and took a charter bus to San Diego where we would board the ms Maasdam.

Our first day of turnover was about a 21 hour long day. Including travel, orientation, rehearsal, costume fittings, more rehearsal, boat drill, a performance, and more rehearsal. It was the longest day of my life. Hands down. Luckily, we had a great team of 2 choreographers, and our production manager with us, and they helped us remain sane.

Most turnovers last about 2 weeks, where all the shows learned in rehearsal are blocked on the stage with the set for the first time ever. Unfortunately, we have an interesting group so of course turnover had to be interesting.

Those of you who have cruised before have probably heard about NLV or the norovirus, common on cruise ships. If you don’t know about it, imagine things coming out of both ends. Enough said. So we had to cancel our 2nd production show because 4 cast members came down with NLV. Normally if something like that happened we would reblock the shows without them, but the ship has this pesky rule: If someone gets NLV they are quarantined for 48 hours from their last symptom AND their roomie is quarantined for 24 hours. So I was a victim of 24 hour quarantine. 11 out of our 15 people, cast and service staff were affected by NLV and the ship had astronomical numbers of outbreaks, somewhere over 150 people. The normal is 2%. Out of 1700 people on board, crew included, you do the math.

But even through all of that, we managed to come out alive and kicking, with standing ovations at every show. We also put up a brand new show on the Maasdam, On The Air, and we’re going in the Stiletto bible for future casts to watch. Yeah!

Aside from turnover cruise life is a blast. I’ve been to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Columbia, through the Panama Canal multiple times and we’re just finished a two week stint in the Caribbean. I have a very nice tan, although not without a terrible sunburn in the beginning. We can get off in almost every port unless we have IPM (In Port Manning) where 33% of the crew needs to stay on the ship at all times. But the cast rotates, so it’s not so bad.

I’ve managed to not waste away my money too badly on the ship. Luckily I don’t drink that much so it’s a plus. And for a while I was hanging out with a new Event Manager (my boss), and I was enjoying the perks of the House Account! My momma raised me right!

Now my days mostly revolve around meals, when I can eat and what I’ll do in between. Haha. Free time includes tanning, reading or enjoying some movies, working on my pilates stuff, and working out. We also get to enjoy the guest entertainers on the ship and other fun things like Crew Shows performed by the Filipino and Indonesian crew. We have crew parties, bingo, movie nights, karaoke, and other fun things that keep morale up. The crew is awesome and so nice. Some people don’t like the cast because we work the least out of everyone else on board and we get paid great, but we make sure that we’re friendly everyone.

My roommate, Mandi, is out of the shows this cruise due to a hernia, so we’ve been working really hard this cruise to reblock all the shows which is a major hassle for the dance captain, Meg, and the rest of the cast. I had to learn a solo/duet for a show we performed and it worked out beautifully. But we really try to work as a team and fill in the gaps as much as we can.

8 out of 10 cast members live in the same hallway, so while it’s nice to scream at your door and have your friend hear you, it gets hard to stand each other. Luckily, there’s enough love in our hearts that we’re able to bitch each other out, make each other cry, and hug it out at a later time. So far it’s been a great experience and I’m having a blast. My parents are coming on a cruise in 3 weeks and I’m so excited to see some family! Even though it’s hard to be away from home, I’m definitely interested in the possibility of another contract. The people are awesome, cast and crew alike, and it’s such a good deal it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to travel the world, perform, and get paid to have a good time.

The picture above is from Holland America's private island, Half Moon Cay. I'm on the far left, if you can't tell. haha. If you have any questions or want to see more pictures check out Facebook or e-mail me. I’ll try to send another update not as late in the game!