Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cruise Ship Librarian: Day 1

Day 1:
After a lovely night’s sleep in what is probably the swankiest hotel I have ever been in, I walked a block down the outer road in San Diego to get an amazingly quick breakfast at the local Denny’s. I always appreciate a server who is on his toes and this guy handled an entire dining room on his own like a champ.  About 20 employees of my new company, some new and most returnees, piled into shuttle vans to go to the ship.  Of course, the ship was massive!  Once we arrived, we all stood around for 15 minutes before being brought into the Port Authority building and go through a security check much like the one at the airport.  From there, we entered the ship on Deck B (aka the 3rd deck) but the lowest one that can be reached by elevator.  

Unlike everyone else, my “buddy” did not arrive right away, so one of the HR people came to show me my cabin.  It’s ridiculously small.  In fact, I was told that it might have been a storage closet at one time, and except for the bathroom inside, I would believe it. My roommate had the bottom bunk already so I psyched myself up for learning how to climb a ladder up to my bunk and how to climb down.  I’m actually scared of heights, although you wouldn’t know it since I have been up some pretty high places.  Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is one example.  Essentially, I have to psyche myself up for the challenge and then I can do it.  I won’t have to get too used to being up on the top bunk however, because my roommate will be leaving the ship in 2 weeks when we get to Florida.  The key is to wake up early that day and, as soon as she leaves, move my stuff down to the bottom bunk.  She’s taking up more drawers than her fair share, but that will change soon enough.

So, after a safety meeting, I was taken upstairs to my supervisor’s office by one of the entertainment staff.  I was only there for a couple of minutes before my buddy arrived.  Today was a crew inspection and immigration also boarded, presumably to make sure the staff is all well, not bringing anything into San Diego they shouldn’t, no stowaways, etc.  My ship just came back from a 28 day South Pacific cruise, so I suppose that sort of thing is necessary.  My buddy, as it turns out, is the current Librarian aboard the ship.  Her contract ends when we arrive in Florida.  Like me, she has her MLS degree, and so I’m really lucky to be trained by a real librarian for the first 2 weeks of my cruise.  When I told her I also had a degree, she hugged me.  Like I had figured, a lot of the librarians in our fleet have no degree and no real aspirations to be librarians.  However, she’s only been on this particular ship since January and she’ll be moving to a different ship after she leaves here.  That means she’s yet to get the library into the best shape it can be.  I hope to leave it in much better shape when my contract ends in September.

I still have some stuff I need to do on Day #2 including getting my nametag.  I have a badge/cabin key, but no nametag.  I also need to get my uniforms which were delivered, or so my supervisor said.  Finally, I need to get internet up and running ($40 for 460 minutes, which is much better than what passengers pay $55 for 100 minutes) and to be reimbursed by the purser for the meals I ate while in San Diego.  

There’s so much more I can say about what I did today.  It was extremely long and exhausting and all the back and forth between decks made my feet hurt horribly.  I don’t need to use the gym; I can get all the exercise I want simply by climbing all the stairs.  Tonight, I went with the other librarian to stand on the stage of the big Showroom and be introduced to all of the passengers who attended as the new librarian.  It looks like it’s a thing they do on every cruise, so I guess I’ll have to get used to being in the spotlight once in a while.  

I was in the library when the ship cast off and began to move.  I didn’t really feel it, however, until I went down to my room to get changed for dinner.  That’s when I got some major dizziness, but it passed eventually.  My stomach has held up pretty well with being at sea, kind of like I knew it would, but my head is a different matter.  Sometimes I lose my equilibrium, but I think that’s all part of gaining my sea legs.  In bed, I worried that the sway of the boat would cause me to fall out of the top bunk, but I was fine and I soon fell into a very deep sleep.

It is actually Day #2 now, about 6:20 in the morning and I am sitting in my library writing this and hoping I can get my internet going today so I can transmit this.  If nothing else, we will be in Puerto Vallarta on Monday, where there is supposedly a Wal-Mart within walking distance of the dock.  There are a million more things I could write about my first day, but it will have to wait.  I missed my boyfriend at least twice and hoped he was doing well.  I’ll write again soon. 

Sorry there's no pictures.  I haven't had the time but I promise to do so sometime next week.


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