Tag Archives: Cruise ships


23 Mar


Sabbatical –

  •  Webster’s Dictionary: any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.
  •  Urban Dictionary: The time a businessman spends passed out on the hotel lobby floor after consuming too much alcohol at a business event.

Whatever your definition, that’s where I am. I quit. Resigned. Retired. Left the Company. Removed myself from the situation. I’m on sabbatical!

Wait, you left your job without having another? Uh oh, did you feel that? That shaking of the earth was my father rolling over in his grave. Okay, let me explain.

For the past two years I’ve worked between 75 and 82 hours per week. No days (or nights) off for 3-4 months at a time.  Still, I believed I could make a difference. Make magic. So why leave, you say? Well, even codeine has an expiration date. After a while, its magic gets to be more like a parlor trick and it gives you less of a high.

I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing my life. I’ve never really explained here what it was I’ve been doing for the past two years. Yes, I believe I quite generally stated that I worked on a cruise ship. But I never specifically said which one or what I did. So here goes – my name is Carole and I worked for Disney Cruise Line. I was Manager of Youth Activities. Yes folks, I was in charge of the children. That statement will either make you very scared or it will make you laugh uncontrollably while saying, “yup, that makes sense.”


Me and some Friends

What did I love about my job? Oh lots. I loved seeing new places (well, as much as I could see in the 2-3 hours off I had. And new places? Not so many new ones unless you consider that sparkly slot machine at Atlantis a new place), meeting new people, learning more about leadership, dreaming with Imagineers (I used to have Imaginary friends, now I have Imagineer friends), having Captain Hook wave to me as he walked past my office, knowing princesses (Cinderella’s my favorite and I always wanted to go shoe shopping with her) and generally, making magic for children. Oh, and sparkles! I loved taking a break from reports and E-mails to do arts and crafts where I would invariably end up covered in sparkles.

Why did I leave, you ask? Oh, those reasons are more complicated. You see, this was never meant to be long term. If you recall, in the year preceding these last two, things were, shall we say, a bit tough financially. Oh, who am I kidding, I was so broke I couldn’t even pay attention (any further questions on this please refer to, ‘I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help’ or, ‘Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification.’).

This wasn’t just about the money (okay, at the time it was mostly about the money). I never had any intention of going back to my previous life working on board cruise ships (add over five years to these past two). I was truly ready to leave the past in the past. It’s a bit like going to live in the college dorm, only I was in my 40’s. But the job presented itself and, as my house was due to go on the auction block in a month, I wouldn’t have anywhere to live anyway.

So now, here I am. The situation is much different now. I was able to pay off some bills, save some money and even have a lovely vacation in England (yes, you can read about the unplanned adventures beginning with “On a Wing and a Prayer”). And another benefit, I have The Walt Disney Company on my resume (or my c/v if you’re from Europe).

The decision to leave certainly wasn’t like buying that Snickers bar at the grocery checkout. It was definitely not an impulse buy. Last year I spoke with my manager about transitioning off ships and into a land based position with the company. One big challenge, I won’t live in Florida. Nothing against Florida       but. . . okay, sorry but I do have something against Florida. Tried it, hated it. In order not to outrage any of my Florida followers I will leave it at that (so unlike me).

So, you want to work for Disney and not live in Florida? Believe it or not, it can be done. California, England, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, the list goes on. Still, I was told that it may need to be a lateral move (fine by me) or even a downgrade (not so fine). I’m not twenty-two years old anymore (I know from my photo you find that hard to believe). I have made certain advances in my career by gaining knowledge and working really hard. Going backwards is not in the plan. I did a lot of networking (much with the PR and Marketing departments) but I was also open to outside opportunities. After all, I keep getting told how great it is to have Disney on a resume. Well, let’s just see if Uncle Walt has some influence outside his own company.

Sure enough, this summer I was approached by a company who found me on LinkedIn (yes, it is a valuable tool if used correctly). You can read about the exploits of my interview process at, “Kuwait Just a Minute.” And while I was hoping they had continued interest in me for their Russia location, Kuwait seems to be far behind schedule so Russia? As they say in Russian, “Не звоните нам, мы тебе позвоню.” Still, I continue to stalk this company as they have franchises worldwide and I believe they cannot live without me (confident, aren’t I?)

Bre and me in Alaska

Bre and me in Alaska

I should also mention something else that happened this past summer. My friend BreAnn took a break in her chemo. and cruised with me in Alaska. At the end of the trip she commented, “They don’t pay you enough. I don’t know what they pay you but it’s not  enough.” When I arrived home after this latest contract and received the call that Bre wasn’t doing well, I went over to her house. I climbed into bed with her, held her hand and told her I was quitting. At this point she wasn’t responding to much. She opened her eyes and looked at me and said, “Good, you need to.” Well, there you go. Promise your dying friend something and changing your mind is not an option.

In the meantime, I’m on sabbatical. Surgery and other issues done,


My Weed Garden

it’s time to enjoy it for a bit. Okay, still setting up my life again. Getting my taxes done, securing health insurance, getting internet for my house and attempting to kill my newly acquired weed garden (it turns out that, as much as they may look like herbs, you cannot cook any sort of edible chicken with them). Also, a little time to enjoy riding my new bike, doing yoga, reestablishing friendships that I have (unwillingly) had to ignore for the past two years, a bit of traveling (beautiful, exotic Chicago) and hot bubble baths with scotch and candles (wait, not bathing in scotch – water in the tub, scotch in a glass).

Windows-WineOh, and another thing I get to do on a regular basis now – write. And while I enjoy being a bit cliché and sitting at the coffee bar drinking a latte or espresso while writing, it turns out I am just as inspired sitting in the park drinking a bottle of wine.

Stand by while I find some new adventures or perhaps, just make fun of the world in general. And, if you’re looking to hire me, well, I’m not cheap but I can be had.

Aaahhhh. . . Sabbatical


Hello, I Must Be Going

15 Oct

Hello friends. As you know, I work on board a cruise ship and, although I am in the Entertainment Department, I don’t find it a very creative place. That, combined with the 70+ hours per week that I work and the slow and expensive internet (don’t get me started) and, well, you can usually tell when I’m on vacation because that’s when I look at the world in a more snarky way and decide to share it with you. So welcome to my vacation (hoping you’re buying the drinks).

For the past three months I pretty much lived every Phoenician’s dream. I fled the burning furnace that is Phoenix in the summer to spend time in Alaska. Most people who work on ships like to go to the Caribbean so they can use their Facebook status as a tool to make their friends at home jealous by sharing photos of themselves on a beautiful beach and bragging about the 85 degree temperature in the middle of February. I enjoy taking photos of snow-capped mountains on rainy days and bragging about the 55 degree weather. To each his own.

Tracy Arm

The adventures were also fabulous. Hiking up a mountain and running into a bear is much more exciting than walking on the beach and running into a lady who wants to braid my hair (Really? I have no desire to have a bead chip my tooth every time I turn my head too quickly). Whales? Yep, hung out with them.

What’s the difference between and Orca and a Bear? about 200 feet.

Glaciers? With all that ice falling you’d think they’d be fine with me collecting just a bit for my margarita (not so much). 

Then more bears, this time three of them crossing the road (assuming they did it for the same reason the chicken did). 

After a summer of adventure and trying to make people happy (vacationers as well as my staff and bosses), I need a bit of a rest. So, after four days of rest, I’m sitting on an airplane headed to Kuwait . . . wait what????!!! Let me explain.

After my last vacation I decided that I wanted to move to England (by the way, if you haven’t read about that adventure you can start at “On a Wing and a Prayer”). So, I began following some UK job websites on Twitter and nosing around the internet. I applied for a few jobs explaining that, while I don’t currently hold a visa to work there, I would have no trouble obtaining one due to my lack of any criminal record (I’m pretty sure that fell off by now). Still, it seems that most companies want me to get that pesky visa before they’ll hire me. I also saw an ad for a House Manager for the Queen. As I had just recently walked up her front walk and spent some time on her lawn I was sure she’d remember me. I completed the application (formality, of course she’ll want me!) and waited for her invitation to tea. Not only did I not receive an invitation to tea, but I received a rejection E-mail. Is it possible she doesn’t remember me? Or perhaps she does.

So, while I was busy working at my job cruising Alaska while looking for a job in England, others seemed have different ideas. I received an E-mail from a company based in Kuwait letting me know of their interest in me and requesting my C/V (that’s a resume for all of you Americans). I forwarded it as, you never know, they may be friends with the Queen. Next thing I know they want to talk to me on the phone. I offer up a choice of times to them as, logistically, this seems like a real challenge. Nine hours’ time difference if we do it while I’m in Seattle, 10 hours if we do it from Alaska, we’re not in port very long and it’s way too expensive calling from the ship. Logistical nightmare. With the call time agreed upon I wait for my phone to ring. Nothing. It turns out I wasn’t the only one confused. They got their time conversion wrong. Try number two resulted in a 90 minute phone call between Ketchikan, Alaska and Kuwait City.

Next thing I know I’m shortlisted and they want me to fly out. As I was in the middle of a contract and the only person on board who does my job, my current employers were not so keen on me taking a few days off to fly to Kuwait to go interview with another company. Go figure. Some people are so inflexible.

This brings me to where I sit now. Seat 23B, fighting over the armrest with the kid next to me who doesn’t understand the unwritten rule that, whoever is in the middle seat gets the armrest. The flights add up to 22 hours going there and 28 hours returning. I will be in Kuwait for exactly 49 hours. During that time I will have 4 interviews (one a cultural interview), do 1 presentation and have a tour of Kuwait City. I have come with a carry-on suitcase (which United Airlines threatened to check. Uh, I don’t think so), a Kindle, an iPad (redundant?) and some Ambien. Coming up next, the flights in I’ve Got Baggage.

Social Media – How Tweet It Is

21 Aug

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, My Space, Four Square, Google Groups, it’s amazing that we actually know how to shake hands anymore.  Social media is seemingly unavoidable and, I admit it, I’ve given up avoiding it.

For someone with ridiculously slow and expensive internet while working on a ship, I participate in quite a bit of social media.  I’ve tried limiting which sites I use but, as I use them for different reasons, I keep many of them in business (no addiction here, nu-uh, not me).  How did the attraction begin (again, not an addiction)?  It all started when my sister tried to sell me on the internet.

The internet was new and my sister had purchased her first computer.  I was working on cruise ships at the time (déjà vu? No, see Everything Old is New Again) and was on vacation visiting her in Florida.  We had heard about this new thing called the internet, so we had to play.  She was married and decided to have some fun.  The ad was titled, “Sister for Sale.”  Now, all you have to say is, “she works on a cruise ship,” and the male fantasies begin.  She and I decided to take a road trip and when we returned a couple of days later there were over 100 responses.  Sad to say, I did go out with one or two of these men and well, that’s a whole other story.

So now I’ve evolved.  I joined Facebook a few years ago.  Unlike many people, I actually know all 300 of my friends (well, except for those few that have 29 friends in common with me but I’m too embarrassed to ask who they are.  Oh, like you don’t do the same thing).  Yes, I’m friends with my kindergarten gym teacher.  But I use Facebook for personal connections.  I’ve had clients try to Facebook me (notice the use of it as a noun or verb, very versatile) and I’ve had to explain that I only use it for personal use.  I mean really, how am I supposed to complain about clients on Facebook when they’re my “friends?”

And now the latest Facebook challenge – my staff.  Yes, many of my 23-year-old staff members keep trying to “friend me.”  Like my mother used to say, “I’m your mother, not your friend.” Ok, I’m their boss but often feel like their mother.  I have chosen not to accept the request.  But now they’ve found me, on LinkedIn.

Yes, this is my professional networking site.  But each time one of my staff invites me to “Link-up,” they ask for a recommendation.  Hhmmmm, I’m currently driving across the country, writing two different blogs/columns, interviewing people and about to board a ship where I’ll work 80 hours per week.  And now you want me to start writing recommendations?

I’ve now joined the world of Twitter.  Yes, I resisted for quite some time and truly only joined to spread the word about Rebel-With-A-Cause (yes, please read and share it).  But now I’m having too much fun on it.  I’m a news addict and every news outlet in the world is on there.  And you can also converse with people you would never be able to in real life.  Anderson Cooper actually Tweeted me.  And I’ve joked with Steve Martin.  Uh oh, I sense another addiction coming (not an addiction, just a useful tool).

So, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, join me @rblcause.  If you’d like to friend me on Facebook, “I’m your writer, not your friend (sorry, it’s how I roll)”.  And if you’d like to Link-up with me, depends, do you need me to write a recommendation?  Because I really just don’t have the time.  Or you could just keep reading here, subscribe and comment.  Oh and share this and Rebel-With-A-Cause on your social media.  Just don’t try to put me up for sale.

The Joys of Colored Underwear

16 Jul

Now that I’m home for two months I am feeling a bit like one of those LWL’s (Ladies Who Lunch, for those with real jobs). You see, when I was so under-employed and poor, I didn’t shop. Heck, I couldn’t even afford the gas it took to get me to the store, let alone the actual purchase price of an item (even with discounts and coupons because, after all, I am a Jewish girl). So now, it’s time to play catch up.

First item on my shopping list – lingerie. To be more specific white bra’s and white panties. I hear ya, sounds uh, sexy. Let me explain. I am an officer on the ship I work on. That means that this redhead who loves color must wear white – all the time. Yes, white pants, white skirt, white shirt (with very impressive gold stripes), white belt and white shoes. And while they don’t specify what my under-garment color should be, it’s generally accepted that well, you don’t wear your purple underpants with the word “Juicy” written across the back.

Now let me first say, I see nothing wrong with this. We all know that people wear underwear (well most do anyway – and if you’re wearing white pants, you really should). So why is it such a problem if people see them? I’m not talking about VPL’s (Guys – that’s Visible Panty Lines). The look should be smooth, but colorful, yes? Apparently I’m out voted. So, in the interest of soaking my unmentionables (another phrase regarding underwear I don’t understand. Why not mention them?) in Woolite in my bathtub a few less times, I went shopping for white bras and panties.

I scavenged through the racks of bras. There were lace, satin, cotton, sports, underwire, T-shirt bra’s (what is that?), T-back, strapless, push-up, miracle, wonder (these last two cause me to think that the next big craze in bra’s will be called Yowza!). I grabbed whatever white, off-white and nude colored (doesn’t that imply see-thru?) bra’s I could find. I tried them all on. Only one word came to mind – blah. While I know my uniform does nothing to show that I actually have breasts (and mighty fine ones at that), I want to at least feel like a girl underneath.

This seems like a good time to mention a few pet peeves regarding bra shopping; why do bra-makers insist on adjusting the straps to the shortest possible spot so that when you put it on, the cups are around your ears and you can’t lower your arms (my ears, by the way are a B-cup)? And why do stores insist on putting the plastic string thing that holds the tags (I’m sure they have a proper name) through the strap so you can’t adjust it without ripping off the tag?

I spend 10 minutes painstakingly placing the vast whiteness lying on the bench in front of me back onto their individual hangers. And while we’re speaking of this, one more pet peeve – hangers. Not like Mommy Dearest wire hangers, but the plastic ones that never, ever hold a bra in the same manner in which it was original placed on it during the manufacturing process. It’s like a Christmas present that doesn’t fit back in the box it came in, no matter how hard you try. So I walk out of the fitting room with my head held high muttering something about tags and hangers. I cannot bring myself to purchase any of the snow-white, nude or beige models I have tried. I’m a woman of color after all (no, I’m definitely a white girl but, give me a purple, red or bright blue anything and I’m halfway to the check-out line).

As I’m walking out of the lingerie department, dejected and partly snow-blinded from all of the white I’ve just experienced, I see it. It’s lace, it’s aqua (or maybe turquoise, I can never tell the difference), it’s beautiful. I must try it on! After I get the cups down from my ears, I look in the mirror. Oh, you had me at aqua. It’s lovely. Just the right amount of lift. The black trim and lace add just a touch of naughtiness. My girls are thrilled – and so am I. I don’t even bother messing with the dreaded hanger. She’s mine, all mine. While I’m at it, I pick up that pretty black Wonder-Bra that makes my girls look even more impressive and head for the check-out line.

Next week I will put on my beautiful aqua and black lace bra along with my black underwear and head out to the store to, once again, shop for white lingerie.

45 Is The New 70

6 Jul

Well, hello. Yes it’s been a while and I’ve missed you. I’m hoping you missed me just a bit. That being said, let’s get on with it.

When last we spoke, I was just about to start my new job working on board a cruise ship. While there could be an entire book based on that, I will not be writing it here. As you can appreciate from my past writings, I am happy to have a job and would prefer top keep it for the time being. As my writing involves my life in so many ways, my job will of course be reflected in some of my writings, but names and such will be changed to protect. . .well me. So, here goes. . .

I celebrated my latest birthday on the ship. In order to honor my special day, I only worked 11 hours. What’s funny is that I was only on board for 5 months (on vacation now – yay!), but I seemed to have aged 25 years. That actually happened in the first 3 days of training before I boarded. I like to compare it to how a new car suddenly loses its value the minute you walk out of the showroom with the keys. That car immediately becomes a year older. That’s about as quick as my value dropped.

You see, I had taken 15 years off from the cruise industry. As you may know from my past writings, things got pretty desperate when it came to the job situation and well, pardon the pun but, any port in a storm. Or should I say, hope floats.

Anyway, my ship had come in (ok, really, that’s the last one). When I arrived at my training it was clear that the youngins didn’t know what to make of me. One kept poking me in the ribs and saying, “Aren’t you excited?!!” While she was excited about the whole ship and adventure stuff, I was just excited to have a job. You see I’ve done the whole ship thing before. I know that it’s a job (Her adventure ended within a couple of months. I think she was too excited to actually think about her ability to do the job).

Anyway, while the twenty-somethings in my training class went out and played on a free day (while still trying to “figure me out”), I was in my hotel room working to clean up my old life – house, writing clients, meeting planning clients, financial stuff and, oh yes, the infamous mortgage modification (got it!). I E-mailed my friend Stewart for advice as I was feeling very antsy about my new role and Stewart had done the whole off/on ship thing before. His insights provided me with a bit of perspective – “Well. . . some of them will calm down. You, you will remain a novelty to many for quite a while.” As I had become used to being called many things throughout my trials and tribulations these past few years – snarky, scrappy, quirky and Elvis (long story) are a few that come to mind – “a novelty” was now added to that list.

Once I boarded the ship I’m sure there was talk. There were certainly looks. I decided to embrace my new found geriatric life. I became the mysterious and wise older woman. OK, maybe that was just in my head. My staff called me Grandma. Really? In the spirit of my newly embraced older-woman identity, I decided to comment to a staff member celebrating his 23 birthday – “Hey Frankie, in June I will be exactly twice as old as you.” His cute 23 year old grin made me think the proverbial Cougar might not be a bad thing to be.

I was a bit taken aback when my staff decided to throw an 80’s party – the decade in which most were born (one could have been my child if my 1983 prom date hadn’t turned out to be gay). One had a T-shirt that read, “I remember the 80’s. . . all 10 days I was there.” Ouch, waiter, some Metamucil please.

So now I am on vacation. I will enjoy times with my friends – both younger and older – while not being concerned about a number. After all, I’m still 28 in my head.

Everything Old is New Again

23 Jan

It’s amazing how your life can change in two-weeks.  A couple of months ago I was struggling.  Two and a half years of under-employment, working five jobs to barely keep my head above water, my house scheduled to be sold on the courthouse steps just before Christmas and yet I was still fighting (scrappy, ain’t I?).  Suddenly, two weeks in November changed my life.  I received a FedEx package from my mortgage company (check-out Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification).  “We would like to offer you a permanent mortgage modification, ” it read.  Sign me up!  The next day I received a call from a cruise line to which I had applied in October (you may recall that I have a background working on board cruise ships (read post A Pirate Looks at Forty-Something).  The following day I received a call from a tour company I had applied with and called two months ago (I’m a former Tour Manager also).  And later in the week I received a call from a hotel/casino I had applied to three months ago.  In the middle of it I received an E-mail from a friend who works on a ship on the South Pacific. His company was looking for a Finance Officer and he suggested me.  Seriously! So now my quest for reinvention has lead me back to my beginnings.

First, let me mention the mortgage modification.  After twenty months and five applications – I got it!  The real deal.  Not just a trial, but a permanent modification.  Yup, I’m the one!  And not  a minute too soon.  My house was due to be auctioned on the courthouse steps on month later.

Now, about the jobs.  I arranged a telephone interview with the HR person at the cruise line.  She called my cell phone at the designated time.  I answered and politely mentioned that I had asked that she call me on my home phone as the one place my cell doesn’t work very well is in my house (aahhh, technology).  About forty-five minutes of bragging about my accomplishments, asking appropriate questions and generally being my bad self, the line went dead!  Something I said?!  Suddenly, I had a terrible thought.  I ran outside (still in my PJ’s with my hair looking a bit like Medusa) and found the internet guy messing with the phone box (I had ordered new internet service but they said nothing about a man coming over and messing with my phone).  So there I am, in my pajamas, curls flying, holding a phone and screaming at him, “Did you cut off the phone?” His answer, “Just for a few minutes.” W*#!T%*^#!!!!!!

Thankfully, cruise line lady called me back on my cell phone.  She seemed understanding and amused by my story.  The rest of the interview goes well. Two days later I am speaking with another person at the company.  Gosh I am impressive.  The next thing I know, they have asked to fly me to Florida to interview in person.  Yay!  This means re-arranging an interview with the hotel/casino and playing a bit of phone tag with the tour company.  And on Thanksgiving I was on the phone interviewing with a woman in Tahiti.  Feast or famine.

I traveled to Florida and met with the Entertainment Director as the position would be within that department.  The position I was interviewing for was the head of the children’s activities department (wipe that look of shock off your face.  Believe it or not this is where my experience lies). Before I was even out of the parking lot my Blackberry vibrated.  It was an E-mail from the tour company asking me when I could talk.  Good thing I am the Queen of Multitasking.

The next day I headed over to the ship to meet with the Cruise Director and tour the ship all the while doing deep breathing exercises and trying to block out the flashbacks from my previous life.  The Cruise Director was wonderful to speak with and put my mind at ease.  It was a wonderful visit and very informative.  Still, much to consider.  I drove to the airport and headed straight to the bar.

Yesterday I spoke with the tour company.  Tour managing is what I love.  It was a great conversation.  Unfortunately, non-committal.  While she said she would definitely tell me if she didn’t want me, this was not the case.  She must however, look at what the upcoming season bookings look like, where they will place their existing employees and where in the world they will need people of various talents (And my talents are? Just imagine. . .).  And that won’t happen for a couple of months.  Unfortunately, decisions never come easy for me (I used to have to ask my cabin steward what shoes went best with my gown).  So, the question became the proverbial bird in the hand one.  I could have risked waiting for the tour company to be ready but I can’t really depend on my luck these days.  And the hotel/casino?  Not for me.  As for the ship in the South Pacific – I believe they are going with someone else but I also believe there may be another position there soon. Zowie!!

So, as this blog/column (yes, I am also a featured columnist for SundayNewScape) is about reinventing myself, what is to become of it now that I’ve reinvented myself for a while?  Well, perhaps just a bit of the cruise stuff.  Although I can’t risk the job by telling tales out of school.  As a news addict, I think that there might just be enough there to have a little fun with. I hope you’ll play along.

Finally, on a bit more of a serious note, I’m hoping to use my writing for good instead of snarkiness.  I plan to do some writing to help those who have no voice.  There will be more on that later.  Let’s simply say, there but for the grace of God go I.

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