My second overseas trip (leg 4)

The next part of our trip was the longest one and the most relaxing one.  It was the part where we actually crossed the Atlantic, en route to New York.

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This was pretty much what we saw for several days.  Just open blue waters.

If my memory serves me right, we spent about 12 days on the open seas, where all you could see around the ship was open ocean, and great sunrises and sunsets.

This was the part of the trip where I really formed an appreciation for the work that each and every crew member does on the ship, and what it means to be a Disney Cruise Line employee.  I also appreciated the hard work each and every one of them do, and began to form an idea of what it means to be on the waters for extended periods of time.

With each day that passed, the ship really started running more and more like the well oiled machine it was bound to be.  Keep in mind that many of the crew were new, it was a brand new ship, and although the operations were not running at 100% capacity as yet, there was a lot of hard work being done behind the scenes to get her ready for her full capacity cruise.

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Of course I couldn’t resist another photo op with my favourite Disney character.

We spent our days lounging around in the sun, enjoying the on board entertainment, making friends, and eating.  It sometimes feels like all we did was the latter, but there were some other fun times in between.

Allow me to take some time on the food:  It was everything and more one could ever imagine!  From breakfast, to lunch, to supper, and all the snacks and things between, “Every Meal was a Moment”, as we often said as we took pictures of the wonderful and delicious food that was available or served to us.  At some point, and I can’t exactly remember when, all we wanted was just a plain old home cooked meal!

Just a few of the many lovely dishes we were served.

Apart from the food, there was some great entertainment too.  I fondly remember the nights that we spent in the “Adult club” area, dancing and drinking the night away.  The best nights were those nights that we moved an hour on, as we were crossing different time lines.  On such nights, the bars would stay open an hour longer, and the crew would all go to bed an hour later, as they could get up an hour later the next morning.  There was a certain untold excitement each night that the clock moved an hour on, which you could feel in the air, and subtly see in the behaviour of every crew and passenger.

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Many of the days now seem like a blur, although we were “busy” all the time…

The seas started becoming rougher as we went along, and I remember one day, standing at the aft of the ship, looking forward, on one of the top decks.  Although one could not feel it, the ship was moving quite substantially.  One moment, looking towards the bow, you would just see sky, and no horizon.  The next moment, as the bow of the ship ducked down, more than half of your view would be ocean, and the rest the horizon.  This ship is so big, that if one didn’t see that, you wouldn’t believe how much the ship was actually moving.

One other moment where I realised just how rough the waters were, was one night, where I went outside on the fourth deck to have a smoke, and the sea spray from the bow hitting the swells came up all the way to where the smokers were standing.  That, together with the strong winds, made it nearly impossible to get a cigarette lit, never mind smoke it.

Like I said, those days were a blur, however, it was during these blurry days that I realised something again (and this was not blur at all, it was clear as daylight): I knew I wanted to come back to this ship, but not as a passenger, as a CREW MEMBER!  That dream has not yet come to fruition, but, I am working on that, now more than ever, to make that dream come true.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing some of our adventures in New York.

 

The answer

I have been told by recruiters and in prospective job interviews (both recently and a few years ago) that I had too many interests listed on my CV or résumé.

It’s been a question I have been asking myself for many years, even when I was at school, as I couldn’t decide what I wanted to become one day or what career path I should take.  I think my parents would attest to this more than anyone else, as I think I have let them down a couple of times in my life, especially when I quit my university studies in my second year of Mechanical Engineering.

I was then going through some of my posts I shared on LinkedIn, and found this one which I posted a while ago, and only now did it really dawn on me that his was the answer to that question I have been struggling with for so long:

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And who other was holding the answer to my question than Walt Disney himself?

The risk with having so many interests, however, is that you become the proverbial Jack of all trades… (master of none).

I have decisions to make, on my future and on my career, and on making my dream to work for Disney Cruise Line a reality: which trade am I going to choose, and become a master in? (Or am I already a master in at least one?)…

My second overseas trip (leg 3)

Our first port of call on the Disney Fantasy after leaving Bremerhaven was Ponta Delgada.  I thought it was an island itself, but it turns out it is a municipality on the Sao Miguel island, a Portuguese Island North West of Africa, and to the West of Portugal.

This beautiful island is a little piece of paradise in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  The ship was welcomed into port with the water canons celebrating her arrival, we got to do some retail therapy during our day on the island, and got some really nice photo opportunities.

We did a day excursion with a bus which first took us through the narrow streets of the town, then up to the pineapple farms just outside of town.

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The tour continued up the mountain, where we also got to see some fantastic views of the island, the harbour (where the beautiful Disney Fantasy was docked) and some other scenic views.  After a short walk into the forest, we arrived at a natural sulphur hot spring.  The sulphuric fumes could be smelled long before we got to see the spring, and it felt as if we were walking through a tropic paradise.

I don’t know where the time went that day, but before we knew it, we were due back onto the ship before it departed for the 12 day journey crossing the Atlantic.  We stood in that line to get onto the ship, and as my friendly fondly reminded me this morning, made it just in time.  We were ready for the long sea days, and nowhere to go but somewhere on the ship, for 12 days!

More about our sea days and adventures on the ship in the next post.

 

My second overseas trip (leg 2)

I was so excited about yesterday’s post, that I almost lost track of the journey, but allow me to continue…

The second leg of our trip found us flying from Paris to Hamburg, Germany, via Scandinavia with a connecting flight.  We literally flew right over Hamburg to Scandinavia and then back to Hamburg!

We arrived in Hamburg late in the afternoon, and were picked up from the airport by my cousin to travel back to Bremerhaven to join the Disney Fantasy where she was in port.

What I can remember of this journey from Hamburg was that it was quite cold, but I had my first experience on the Autobahn, I saw a wind turbine for the first time, and I was surprised to see porn magazines and DVD’s being sold at the rest stops next to the highway.

 

We arrived in Bremerhaven and saw the Disney Fantasy, in all her glory, for the first time.  Once again, that little “thing” inside me was stirred, that butterfly feeling inside your stomach which you cannot control or explain.

That evening we went to “The Last Bar Before new York”, where we had German beer and a lovely dinner.  It’s a small little restaurant/pub in the harbor at Bremerhaven, one that I am sure that the crew of the Disney Fantasy frequently visited during the time that the ship was being prepared for its maiden voyage from Bremerhaven.

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The next day my friend and I explored the shops in Bremerhaven a little.  There wasn’t much to explore, but it was great to experience a different culture and language again for the first time.

If my memory serves me correctly, we sailed away on the maiden voyage of the Disney Fantasy later that afternoon.  A 14 day journey crossing the Atlantic was about to begin, and you could feel the magic and the excitement in the air, especially on the ship!  Although the ship was not full, there were still a lot of guests sailing, many of them land-based Disney employees, and some who I had the pleasure to meet and get to know over the next few days.

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This was on the Disney Fantasy while still in Bremerhaven. It was wet and it was cold!  Mind the ladder in the background, the ship was still receiving touch ups.

The ship was still not 100% complete during this journey, as there were still finishing touches being made as we sailed, and even though many of the crew were new, we were treated in a way only Disney can.  The food was tremendous, crew where ever you went were friendly and helpful, and it still was a truly Disney Magical experience.

Our first port of call on this Journey was a couple days later, on a Portuguese Island called Ponta Delgada, but more of that in the next post…

Please follow, share and comment!  More to follow soon.  Thank you to everyone who do read my posts 🙂

I couldn’t wait to get home to write this!

Between last night and today I was attending a conference for our department at my current workplace.

Last night the department manager (and she will probably read this), asked me whether I was looking for an opportunity to work on ship.  I answered honestly and said that I was, but also that it is still a process in the making, and that it will probably take a couple of months at least before I will be able to make such a move.

Then at today’s conference, there was a guest speaker, and there were two points which he made which really hit a nerve with me.  I couldn’t wait to get home to write about this before I forgot most of it, but more than that: I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! Please allow me to explain:

The first point he made was that if you are in a job or position that you are not happy with, you are doing the company, your department, your customers, your managers, and especially yourself, a disservice.  This brings me to the second point he made, which is a little more complex, and I was more surprised at my own thoughts than what he was actually saying.

He asked us a couple of questions, and although my recollection might not be 100% verbatim as he said it, you’ll get the just of the matter.

I’m going to list the questions he asked, and then what my thought patterns on each of the questions were afterwards.

Question 1: Do you believe in your company’s brand?

Question 2: Do you believe that what your company sells or the products your company offers to customers is worth more in value than what the customer is paying?

Question 3: Do you believe that you are achieving your full potential in your current role at your current company?

and then, as part of a different discussion but in the same presentation, he asked another couple of questions (for the sake of the flow of this post, I’ll just continue numbering the questions).

Question 4: Is your company contributing to your success?

Question 5: Is your manager contributing to your success?

Question 6: Are your colleagues contributing to your success?

Question 7: How big a part of your success are YOU responsible for?

Now for the answers.

The presenter highlighted that we should answer for our current position and company.

Answer 1: Yes, mostly.

Answer 2: Not always.

Answer 3: Although I am extremely passionate about what I do, the answer is no.

Answer 4, 5 and 6: To a small extent, which was what everyone in the room, including myself, agreed on.

Answer 7: A HUGE resounding “the biggest part of it, in excess of 90%”.

The problem was, and this was the part that surprised me, was that I was not only answering these questions for my current company, position, role or job, but I couldn’t help putting myself in the shoes of when I will be working for Disney Cruise Line, and what my answers would be then.  The answers to questions 4, 5, 6 and 7 remained the same.  These were my answers on question 1, 2 and 3:

Answer 1: YES!  Without a doubt!

Answer 2: YES! Without a doubt!

Answer 3: I know that I will.  All I need is for a decision maker to give me that foot in the door, that opportunity, to see just how serious and passionate I am to work for DCL and how much I can and will make a success of it!

That said, there are things I need to do, things I need to get in place, and things I need to sort out, to make this happen.  Many of these things I have been putting off and procrastinating on.  I am now, more than ever, motivated and determined to do what I need to do to get my life in order, to align everything, to make this dream of mine a reality.

One last thing: The presenter ended off by holding a piece of paper in the air with just two fingers, and told the entire audience to imagine that the piece of paper will tear in half, just by the collective power of our minds.  Needless to say, it didn’t happen.  He then took the piece of paper in both his hands, and ripped it in half.  The point he made was that no dream will come true, unless you take action.  He took the action of tearing the paper.  I am taking the action to get my things in order, to make my dream of working for Disney Cruise Line, come true!

 

 

 

My second overseas trip

My previous post (available by clicking here) was an introduction to how it came about that I went on my second overseas trip.  This post, and over the next few, I’ll be going into a little more detail on that trip, and ultimately how I got to have my second Disney Magical experience, and how it affected me.

First leg of trip – Paris

The first leg of our trip (yes, our, as a very good friend of mine joined me on this trip of a lifetime) was Paris, France.

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We only stayed in Paris for three days, but man, the memories that were made in those three days are countless!  Some of my fondest memories are things like the night that we returned to the hotel, and before we went in I had a quick smoke.  While having a smoke, a couple of tiny snow flakes started falling, and my friend and I got ever so excited about the “snow”, only for it to stop after those initial few flakes, never to be seen again…

The next story is one of my favourites to tell:  It was February 14th, yes, Valentine’s Day, and here we were, in the “City of Love”.  My friend and I are merely friends, but we decided to take advantage of this day and booked a “romantic Valentines dinner” in a fancy French restaurant that evening, which was to be followed by a river boat cruise through the city on the River Seine.

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So after just about killing each other trying to find the place (we can laugh about it now, but it was quite serious at the time), eventually we got to the restaurant and were seated at a table about the size of a chess board.  On either side of us, the next table was about as far away as half a chess board, barely being able to squeeze a waiter or waitress past it.

So here we were, two staunch Afrikaans South African guys, in a foreign city, where everyone speaks a foreign language, on Valentine’s evening, surrounded by couples and lovers.  I think we were the only “same sex couple” in the restaurant, although we were not a couple at all, but nobody else would have known that.  We certainly got some strange stares from the people around us.

The best part is, when the menu was presented to us, we could not understand a single word from it.  So to make the stares even worse, we were both on our phones, trying to “Google Translate” the menu so that we just had an idea of what were about to order to eat.  Very romantic, isn’t it?

Then there was the time that we found a small little restaurant in an alley close to Pont Neuf, where we tried frog legs, it being a traditional French dish.  Needless to say, I didn’t really enjoy it, but at least we tried.  The funniest thing was that they had these oil lamp burners on each table, and after taking a picture of one of the dishes we had, the camera’s strap somehow landed up on top of this burner, and we only noticed when it started burning!  In my mind’s eye I saw how we would be responsible for burning down an age old restaurant in the middle of Paris!  Thankfully it didn’t get to that, and we managed to extinguish the strap quickly and without incident.  We did, however, very quickly pay the bill and got out of there…

Then we went to the Virgin Music Store on Champs-Elysées, and when we exited the store, couldn’t understand why there were these hoards of people standing outside in between crowd control barriers.  We asked the one security officer what the hype was about (he could actually speak English), and he said that One Republic was to appear there later in the day.  It being 2012, neither my friend nor myself really knew who they were, and we didn’t think much of it.  If only we knew back then how famous they were to become!

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My last story from that leg of the trip was once again not such a pleasant one at the time, but we have a good laugh about it now when we think back about it:  When we first arrived in Paris, we took the train from the airport into the city, to where we though would be closest to our hotel.  Not understanding the language, it being cold, and the fact that my friend had a very uncomfortable and heavy suitcase that had to be carried around, we were so frustrated and lost, that we eventually hailed a taxi to try and get to the Hotel.  10 Euro’s later, and literally driving us around the block (that’s how close we were to where we needed to be), we reached our hotel and was able to check in.  We eventually ditched that suitcase much later in our trip, but as I believe, it somehow made its way back to South Africa some years later…

 

More on the next leg of our trip in my next post.  Thanks for following, and please feel free to leave comments!

She is 5 years old already!

The Disney Fantasy is in dry dock at the moment, for her 5 year dry dock.  How is this relevant to this blog?  Well, in 2012, I was again fortunate enough to do the cross-Atlantic on the Disney Fantasy on her unofficial maiden voyage, and witnessed her christening in New York at that time.

This was my second opportunity to experience the magic of Disney Cruise Line, and the one that had the biggest impact on me.

Remember how I told you about something inside me that was awakened during my first Disney Cruise Line experience?  Well, this feeling deep inside me was once again just strengthened and re-affirmed during this cruise.

Let’s start at the beginning, and I’ll tell you about this journey over a couple of posts.

It all started when my cousin was assigned to be part of the crew during the launch of Disney’s latest ship: the Disney Fantasy.  He was Cruise Director at the time if my memory serves me correctly, and he invited me as his guest to do the cross-Atlantic in 2012 from Bremerhaven, Germany, having a port day in Ponta Del Gada, a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa, and then to New York, where she was to be christened, before completing the journey to her home port: Port Canaveral, Florida.

As my friend who joined me on this journey fondly re-tells the story, it all started when we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant one evening with my cousin when he was visiting South Africa.  My cousin invited me to be his guest, and bring someone along.  My friend and I decided while we were travelling to Europe to join the ship, we might as well make it worth our while, and spend a few days in Paris before.  The planning started, and before I knew it, we had flights and hotels booked and counting down the days to go.  Over the months to follow until our trip started, excitement and anticipation grew within us, as we were to set upon a journey of a lifetime.

All of this excitement was great, but there was one thing I was looking forward to the most: to experience that Disney Magic again, and to see my friend experience it for the first time.

 

My first trip (continued)

In my last post I mentioned how something deep inside me was triggered during that first two cruises on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

This post is aimed at just telling you a bit more about that first overseas vacation I had, and how the Disney effect took a hold of me even more.

After completing the two back-to-back cruises on the Disney Wonder, I spent a weekend with my cousin and his partner in New York, and then spent about another week in Orlando visiting all the Disney theme parks, Universal Studios and the Kennedy Space Centre.

During my time at each Disney park, that little thing that was triggered inside me was just strengthened time after time.  That “magic” that has been awoken inside me started to grow.  Everywhere you went, whether on the ship or in the parks, the crew/cast/staff members were always friendly, always going the extra mile, and always acting in a professional manner.

There were always those little things to look out for which made it Disney.  Those things that go unnoticed to the pre-occupied, the non-observant or someone with little attention to detail.  But, if you train your eye, and concentrate, everywhere you go there is something to remind you of where you were.

I still didn’t realise, after visiting each Disney park, and after spending a week on the ship, that something inside of me has changed.  Something that would only be fully awakened several years later.