Been a While - But I'm still Traveling!!
Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
17Trip End Sep 17, 2011
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What I did
Well almost! It has been a while since I have posted due to ACTUALLY having to work quite more than expected. We have been short staffed by about 5 team members so my hours have been increased. To add insult to injury I had to take part in an advanced safety and emergency course on the Norwegian Jade. This course is also on all cruise ships on all large vacation fleets. The reason why we have this course is the reason that these cruise ships are a like a small city. There are many areas and situations that can cause harm to guests and crew fairly easily and quickly. It is not, by all means, the safest place to work. Now the reason why I tell you this is because I recently took part in an advance safety course for this ship, which took 2 weeks and incorporated personal awareness, advanced first aid for ships, firefighting, and open sea life boat/raft training. Now unlike the other lecture training sessions I bitched about, this was very practical and a lot of fun. There were many reasons for this.
First and foremost, I do have to admit that the advanced first aid wasn't the best course for first aid I have been in. Life guarding courses I took when I was 16 were more thorough. Yet, I guess the reason for that is due to the fact that it has to be generalized to cover all the different departments on the ship, and there are many. So for those two days of the course, I must have been nearly asleep for the entire section. One thing all of the class had a good laugh about was the fact that we actually had to put our lips on those disgusting mannequins that you know have had millions of lips on them. If we did not, we would not pass the practical. All I have to say is thank the high heavens for disinfectant/alcohol swabs. I had to go first for the CPR demo and I swear my victim would have died by the time I actually stopped laughing and gave it two breaths due to the awkwardness of putting my lips on the mannequin. The rest of the first aid was a cinch, leaving little out but just an over all skim of the proper procedures.
Now like I said I had enjoyed sections of this massive course quite a lot. Those simply were the firefighting and lifeboat/raft survival. For the firefighting we obviously went through the theory of all the methods and practices of what to do in various situations around the ship if a fire were to break out. The second day we spent nearly 4 hours in full firefighting gear. We then took a tour of the engine room with all of the gear on, including the 35lb. 02 tank. ----- Just a side note, when I put on all the gear, the head firefighter mentioned how perfect the gear fit on me. I told him there's no chance I'm becoming part of the firefighting team on the ship -- I work with the kids. Thank god for that, firefighting team is the worst. ----- So the engine room, hot as hell down there, but it was a really cool sight. Our ship has 5 engines that are approx. 15m x 20m x 5m or 1500 square meters. We also got to see the waste collection site on the ship and the water filtration. It was cool and a neat opportunity to see all that. Mind you I was sweating more than Moses walking through the desert. After the tour we had to perform a search in full gear with the 'smoke diver' mask on and O2 being pumped in to breath. We did this in the crew gym on the ship. Now what they had did was rearranged a few things in the gym to keep it a challenge to get through properly and find the way out safely. Now the gym was filled with simulation smoke aka fog. It just wasn't hazy in the room like I thought it would have been. Instead it was a white blanket being placed over your eyes. I could not see a foot in front me, my hands would almost fully disappear if I had placed them in front of me, o the experience was quite unique. After that we got to simulate putting out a fire with the water hoses that are on ship. This also was wicked cool, something I took advantage of and got to sneak some pictures in as well. If it was not for the training's that I had partaken in, I can honestly say I would have been slave driven and bored off my rocker.
I would also like to mention that since the training we have received new staff which in turn gets me the daytime off more than not, so I only have to work the night shift. Thank the high heavens for the new staff. It has been a huge relief these past two weeks, getting off the ship and finding the adventure in the days that was once lost temporarily. We have two runs, each 7 day cruises as I may have mentioned before, one involving Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, Athens, and also Izmir Turkey. The second run solely consisting of Greece and its Islands: Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Katakolon. Both runs offer a lot to do if you wish to go out and do it.
The Croatia, Greece Turkey run or as I call it the Gurkia run has two amazing ports out of the four. As you may guess I am talking about the Croatian cities of Dubrovnik and Split. To look at Dubrovnik from the ship it looks as though it has been through its fair share of battles and wars. A large fortress wall surrounds the main port entrance and its many entrances into the city. The city is quite unique as the whole tourist area has been built inside of its old fortress walls. The residential area is built along side of the mountain side decorating the city with white and beige housing. All the walking areas and pathways were built of stone which added to the uniqueness of the city. As with any tourist area, Dubrovnik's old town inside the walls is filled with restaurants and boutiques. Yet what I stumbled upon was something a little different: a bar with cliff jumping opportunities. The sum of these two together seems like a result of injury. Luckily enough I didn't drink at that bar, just another one for a few hours before finding this place. So I tossed down my bag looked around and without hesitation leaped off the rock beside the bar, about a 25 ft. drop into the water. The water in Croatia is chilly but definitely refreshing. As I was wading in the water another guy swam by me and was heading toward a cliff ledge not near the bar, about 100 meters to the right of the bar. Curious as to where he was going to jump off I caught up to him asked him if he could show me the path, and did. We made it to this one rock easy to exit the water from and after getting out I looked up to notice there was no clear path to get to the rock ledges. I suddenly realized that it was a proper rock climb to get to any of the ledges. As I have next to no experience I was only able to climb to the 40 ft. ledge as the other guy made it to the 60 ft. The rest of the climb that he did was wicked hard. It involved wedging bother your hands into a thin crack in the rock face and inching up the wall, a little tough to try for my first time. As well if I fell it was guaranteed mutilation. The "platform" in which I jumped on was very sharp and not rough and to make the jump safely a strong leap was what needed to be done. I repeated the climb and jump 4 or 5 mixing in a dive once just to test my nerves. Soon there after I returned back to the Jade to tell my closest ship mates what I found and how much fun it would be if a few of us went together. Two weeks have gone by since that day and I returned back to the place on this Sunday past, yet the ocean was creating waves so hard it was impossible to climb out of the water on the jumping cliffs away from the bar, so a few of us spent the day chilling in the sun and jumping in the water from the bar area, a much safer exit. We only hope now that in two weeks time the water is more still for some more fun and excitement. Luckily this is not the only port that has fun to offer, like Mykonos on the Greek Islands run.
Speaking of Mykonos, there is a PADI certified diving school there and I have signed up and payed for the PADI Open Water certification. This certification is for life and allows me to rent out diving gear anywhere in the world and go on planned dives with myself and a buddy with the same level of certification, no instructor needed. Now last week I already starter the course, completing confined dive one, and open water dive one. What the confined dive entailed was the practice of neutralizing your buoyancy, and what to do if you ran out of air, how to purge the regulator and share your tank with someone out of air with your 'octopus'. The open the water dive we just before lunch lasted about 20 minutes, focused on breathing techniques, always remembering never to hold your breath when diving. We took a quick tour around part of the reef leaving from shore. Now it was a little different then competitive swimming focusing your kicks to be slow and smooth with little to no arm movement. The aquatic life that I saw was a large variety of colourful fish as well as an octopus about 2 feet wide. I was more than impressed with what I saw. I can say that I am very glad to be doing this, as this time right now seems like an opportunity that should not be missed. After the day of diving I chill out with my buddy on the beach with a few Mythos', a Greek/ Hellenic beer. Also what adds to the great Mykonos days is the fact the beach is a 20 minute ATV ride away. Sum up all of these things and I am looking at continuous killer days in Mykonos.
There is much more to come in the next few months as the days are beginning to hit 30+ centigrade, sunny and sexy. As well all the staff are becoming more familiar with the cities we have been visiting so tips have been trading back and forth as to the hot spots. I would also like to apologize for the delay in my entries it has been a while but I will try to be more consistent to blog and inform everyone of my travels. Wishing everyone the best from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.