Whirlwind: Days 1 and 2

Good morning.
Good morning.

What a whirlwind the last two days have been!  (At times, literally – quite the weather we had this morning.)  I am currently sailing up the Canadian coast towards Alaska, but let’s start with yesterday…

Seattle greeted us Sunday morning with warm, bright, and slightly overcast skies.  It was gorgeous, in other words.  Despite having visited Sea-Tac airport numerous times, I was taken aback to find that there was a whole section of the airport I didn’t know about, entirely devoted to cruise ship passengers!  Each of the several cruise ship companies that dock in Seattle had counters and buses and personnel to shepherd incoming and outgoing passengers via large coach bus shuttles to and from the docks on the northwestern edge of Seattle.

Once we got on the bus, I started to get excited.  Granted, I also started to get caught up in the book I was reading (the Outlander series – OMG), but right around Pike Place, something nudged me to pull my face out of the pages and start absorbing the beautiful coastline of downtown Seattle.  I can’t wait to stroll around it on embarkation days once a week for the next two and a half months!  What a fabulous city.

Finally, we pulled up to our ship.  I felt like I was in the middle of a Hollywood movie.  The ship just kept getting bigger and bigger out the window, and when we finally stepped off the bus, the scale of it just took my breath away.  Despite the fact that my husband and I can see every cruise ship that docks in New York, living over the Hudson River as we do, I’d never been next to one in person, and I guess it’s rare in my life to experience something that physically impressive.  I think “Southampton” from the Titanic soundtrack was playing in the back of my head at that point, but I’m not eager to invite the comparison.  (Though I did find out that the Titanic was considerably smaller than today’s cruise ships – but I don’t know if that’s comforting or not!)

Oh, look, there it is!
Oh, look, there it is!
Wow, that's a big ship.
Wow, that’s a big ship.
Oh.
Oh.

Next thing I knew, everything sped up.  We were ushered onto the ship, barely given a glance at our staterooms, and immediately hurried over to training.  Although, since our shuttle had been late, we got there right at the end of training and ended up jumping into a procession through the labyrinthine hallways to a demonstration of the three types of heavy-duty doors found on the ship (which reminded me so much of my father-in-law, who is currently teaching engineering on a maritime training vessel, the State of Maine).

The next seven hours were a blur of more training, inductions, tours of the ship, and costume fittings.  I felt almost shell-shocked, never having received so much “important” information at one time.  (Also, I never knew there were so many ways one could get seriously injured on a ship or in a theatre!)  Finally we were released, with a notice that our next rehearsal would be today at 3 pm, and I staggered my way to my room.

Only then was I able to take in my new home.  We singers have a small private hallway off on one of the lower decks, and we each have our own officer’s cabin.  I have so much space!  Too much, maybe – I feel guilty having empty drawers and shelves.  (Though I’m sure I’ll fill them all up over the duration of this contract…)  I’ll be able to do my yoga routines and Insanity workouts right in my room, I have a huge desk that will, with the eventual addition of a mirror, become my office/makeup station central in the mornings, and I have a luxuriously comfortable full-size bed.  Having slept on a single for the last month, I am quite smitten with my bed, I confess.  It’s so roomy!  I shudder to think what will happen when I go back to sharing a bed with my husband, hehe.

I unpacked all my suitcases over the space of an hour or so and found myself already starting a shopping list.  Tea, Post-It notes, hangers, detergent…it’s a pretty boring list.  I thought I’d thought of nearly everything, but there are quite a few things I still need.  Ironically, there aren’t any decorations on my shopping list, though I KNOW my room sorely needs them.  It was one of the things I didn’t even try to plan for, since I had no clue what to expect.  Even now, I think it will be best to live here for a few weeks until I know what I want.  I did think to pack a large navy throw from home, though, and I was quite delighted with how much of a difference it made on my bed.  Once it was spread out, the room changed from my room into My Home.  Funny how little it takes to connect with a space.

Home sweet home.
Home sweet home.

Not long after that, I crashed into bed and a deep, heavy sleep.  I did wake up in the middle of the night to someone knocking on my door, but when I answered it, there wasn’t anyone there, and I realized it was just one of the many noises the ship makes.  One of the others is this occasional sound that is EXACTLY like my phone’s vibration notification, which is very confusing, to say the least.

To my annoyance, I woke up at 7 am and could not go back to sleep.  Granted, I was fully rested and refreshed, but it’s time to get back onto my nocturnal timeline!  I want to move my body clock towards the midnight-9 am sleep rhythm.  But it is very firmly set on 10 pm -7 am, which I’d carefully maintained while rehearsing in California, given how much I needed to get done in the mornings before rehearsal.  Enough!  Move back into night owl mode!  However, I just found out that I have rehearsal at 9 am tomorrow morning, so…maybe not just yet.  Guess my body knows better than me.

I had a very relaxing morning.  Here’s to that becoming the norm!  (Some people say I’m not very good at relaxing…)  Some Bible study first thing, then a shower, and then leisurely running some errands, including breakfast with some passengers.  It’s fun to be put you at a table with seven people you don’t know.  I loved hearing about their different lives and jobs – one woman was an athletic director at a school outside of Cairo, Egypt!  (Hopefully I was a good advertisement for the show.)

Right about then was when I began to feel the movement of the ship.  I’m not sure if we hit rougher waters (it looked pretty windy) or if it took that long for my body to notice that it’s on a moving vehicle (is a boat a vehicle?), but I was acutely aware of the ship’s swaying and pitching for most of the rest of today (especially odd while doing choreography on a stage, finding myself almost falling over time and time again).   So after lunch, I took some time to come back to my room and read quietly.  It definitely helped, either because my bed is my new best friend or because my room is so much closer to the water and doesn’t get as much movement.  I even napped a little, though I’ve no clue why I was sleepy.  (Actually, it’s 8 pm right now and I’m already tired.  Here we go again!)

At 3 pm, we singers had our first rehearsal on the stage.  As will probably often be the case over the next two weeks of rehearsals, we were working around another act’s set.  But that was alright, as we were primarily focused on sound check.  We will use two different mics, a body mic or a handheld depending on the show, and so we worked with the sound guy, Johndy, for about an hour to check levels on both and to get a feel for the stage.

At 4:30 pm, we ran through the whole “Stardust” show with half of the live band.  That was when we discovered how different those mic levels can be with other instruments!  I’m excited to add costumes, lights, and a set tomorrow, plus the rest of the band.  It will probably feel completely different yet again.

However, that was also the moment when it hit me – that for the next seven months, I will be singing on a stage in front of hundreds of people, just the way I dreamed of doing when I was a child.  I am literally living my dream.  Not gonna lie, my eyes welled up, and I cried of joy for a minute or so, right there on stage, in the middle of “Unforgettable.”

At times over the past two days, I’ve felt quietly guilty over this opportunity.  How am I so lucky to get to PLAY both night and day, with wonderful castmates that I love hanging out with, on a floating hotel with amazing food (oh, the desserts…), travelling to some of the most beautiful places on earth?

And then I remember how long it’s taken.  All the hours spent catering and temping and running in circles to try to get to auditions, and the nights of despair, and the tears, and the shows I didn’t tell anyone about because I was embarrassed to be seen in them, and the thousands of dollars in training that I’ve spent since graduating college.  And I remember that it is not because of luck that I’m here.  It’s because of years of hard work and God’s unceasing love.

And I am so very grateful.

So, with the sun shining into my porthole off the port bow, I am going to sign off.  Tomorrow will be spent entirely in the theatre (literally 9 am to 11 pm), as we open our first show tomorrow night, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share in a couple days.  See you then!

Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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