Back at it again with the Roundups! Thank you all for your patience as I play catch-up on this years monthly retrospects! January 2017 was entirely spent working onboard a cruise ship with limited wifi and connections. I visited a lot of neat destinations this month, and had a lot of ups and downs!
Read on if you’d like to hear all about some challenging cruise staff encounters, a major bar fight, and the best birthday news ever!
Auckland, NZ — 2 days
Tauranga, NZ — 2 days
Wellington, NZ — 1 day
Dunedin, NZ — 2 days
Melbourne, AUS — 3 days
Port Arthur, Tasmania, AUS — 1 day
Hobart, Tasmania, AUS — 2 days
Phillip Island, AUS — 1 day
MY LOCAL LEAVE WAS APPROVED! “Local leave” (or “shore leave”) is cruise crew slang for the ability to stay in whatever country you end your contract in for a certain number of days or weeks. While you travel around, you pay for all your own lodging and food and whatnot, but your flight back home is still paid for by the cruise line. The whole reason I had asked for an Australia contract was in hopes of getting this local leave approved, so that I could fly to Brisbane. There, I would finally tour my possible future grad school, and meet a professor who’s highly regarded in the science world!
One of the most memorable nights this month was our overnight in Hobart, Tasmania. My coworkers and I finished work at 10pm, ran to our cabins to get changed, and all met up at the gangway — ready to take this little town over! A taco truck had parked near the ship, giving out 2 free tacos per crew member! Our next stop was a favorite local pub called Jack Greene. As more cruise crew started piling in, the music got louder and the energy was perfect. People were dancing on a bench, singing at the top of their lungs, and talking and laughing. A much more fun and carefree vibe than our next stop (found in the Lows section).
Definitely one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen were the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves outside of Auckland. No photos were allowed in the cave, but I took the picture below of a book cover to show you all what it was like!
Our manager onboard threw an early birthday party for a few of us and a going away party for us seasonals. She bought us Dunkin Donuts and wine! We all met up at the Chinese New Year disco in the crew bar after, for some crazy-dancing! Such a great way to end this AWESOME contract.
I went to the gangway to get my laminex (your ship crew ID card) and go ashore. As I’ve done on nearly every other ship. But the security supervisor was instantly annoyed with me and told me I should’ve picked it up during one of the scheduled times that this ship apparently had. I had no idea that there was a certain time and place to pick it up at! The next one wouldn’t be for another few days, meaning I’d miss out on going ashore and I’d be stuck onboard until then! My manager somehow fixed it and I was able to pick it up at the gangway, but the security supervisor told me I “owed him” something. Typical ship drama and power plays.
More irritating cruise crew encounters included a weird Cabin Steward creeper. He always tried to hold my hand as I walked by (like a handshake thing but lingered) and asked me random questions all the time. He also kept trying to give me chocolates he had on his cart. I took one to get him to shut up and kept walking down the hall but he saw I had it in my hand and called out “Put it in your mouth!” I whipped my head around to stare at him as I threw it in the trash nearby — and started going to work a different way to avoid him.
Also, the cruise director (our bosses boss) was not a fan of the youth department. There seemed to be a lot of incorrect tattling on this ship (because people don’t have anything better to do and they get so wrapped up in ship life). He once briefly saw us on the crew deck in the hot tub with some of the dancers and later reported back to our manager. “Oh yeh, our youth staff are soooo busy. They’re in the hot tub drinking beer!” First of all, we didn’t have beer. The dancers had soda cans. We had an insanely large tub of Nutella. And excuse us for enjoying ourselves and making the most of our very short break!
This month, my rent check bounced (still not sure why!) and I wasn’t able to communicate about it since I had limited ship wifi. Frustrating! And of course then my bank sent out a notice saying they were having issues with their shared branching for over a week, which meant nothing could be done about our now-late rent. It’s never a good feeling when crap happens and you’re abroad in the middle of the ocean on a ship with little contact to home.
Our overnight in Hobart ended with the worst experiences. We had moved on to the Observatory Bar and Nightclub and it was disgusting. The floors were sticky, there were way too many people shoulder to shoulder, the music sucked, and everyone was acting like idiots. On our way out, we witnessed the worst street fight I’ve ever seen. A group of young guys and girls were clearly drunk and started fist fighting. One of the girls tried to break it up but a guy shoved her so hard she landed on her back a few feet away! One guy wound up being knocked unconscious in the middle of the road. The cops finally came but it was all so scary to see — and not be able to do anything about!
I found out that my boyfriend would be going with his work to Hawaii for their project there! So exciting! But I had thought that it’d only be for a couple weeks. Turned out that it would be for about 6 weeks and that he was leaving before I come home. So we just doubled our long distance time.
January was overloaded with great food! It started with a visit to the quirky Shaky Isles Coffee Co. in Auckland with their Purple Comfort Smoothie. I met up in Wellington with the well-known travel and food blogger, Expat Edna, for my first Flat White (a popular espresso drink, claimed to have originated in NZ) at the Memphis Belle. We then grabbed some excellent Asian Fusion at Chow.
Also memorable was the prosciutto balsamic arugula wood-fired pizza and Australian Coldstream Pale Ale I had on Phillip Island. It was served on the side of the road from a cute caravan called Chill, with a giant Connect 4 game and picnic tables next to it. I got talking to a few friendly locals about life and travel while eating there, and it became one of those fond travel memories you recall in the future — looking back on it with a smile without really knowing why. It was a nice moment.
And finally, probably the best scones I’ve ever had. Not that I’ve had many, but still. They were perfect and the jam and cream on top were perfect and the location was perfect. You can’t beat scones in the ballroom of the Larnach Castle in Dunedin!
On January 31st, I disembarked the cruise ship at the end of my contract. Thanks to my local leave being approved, I was able to spend the next few days in Australia. From the ship, I caught a taxi to the Greenhouse Backpackers Hostel in Melbourne for a night. Its location couldn’t have been better! The entrance of the hostel building was also a currency exchange place, and it was incredibly close to the famed Degraves Street and Hosier Lane. They hosted a free pasta and salad dinner that night too!
Best Wildlife Shots
If you didn’t get a photo of a koala and a kangaroo, did you even really go to Australia? I visited a few wildlife conservation centers and sanctuaries on my days off, and got to witness some pretty amazing animals! Tuataras, echidnas, swamp wallabies, tasmanian devils, skinks, parrots, and more!
Most Popular Instagram Shot
This was taken on the crew deck of the ship while sailing through Milford Sound, New Zealand. The Crew Club set up a table of free hot chocolate and truffles on sticks for all the crew to enjoy while taking in the views. I had a couple hours of free time to chill (literally — it was COLD on that deck!) and photograph the waterfalls of the Fiordlands National Park before heading back to work.
I’m STOKED to be spending my 28th birthday in Australia next month! I’ll be touring one of the top 2 grad schools that I’ve been considering for a few years now — finally able to see what it’s like in person and hopefully even track down a professor I’ve always wanted to meet! After my short time traveling Australia solo, I’ll head back home to Sacramento, CA to start dogsitting for Rover again! My boyfriend will still be in Hawaii for his job’s project, so I planned on attending a Galentine’s Day event to avoid missing him.
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