Thursday, June 10, 2004

(Kontiki Party Boat)

I have to start out by apologizing for not posting the journal last week (and this is the only entry for this week). We just installed a new system called FunTime last week. Until now, no one here had to punch a clock. They have completely gone the other way now, making everyone (including salaried people and people who don't even work directly for Carnival) punch a clock. We had to put these systems everywhere. They are really old touch-screen point-of-sale systems (aptly named POS's), and it was a bit of a nightmare to get it all working. Combined with the fact that I am one of the people in charge of the activities this month, I really didn't end up with any time to go ashore to post. A large number of my weeknights have been spent on the activities, and they days were completely filled with working on the new system. I tried to go ashore on Friday, then on Sunday, and again on Monday, but never had the opportunity to get off of the boat. I had a shore tour Monday afternoon, and just didn't have the time in the morning before.

I'd also like to apologize to anyone who experienced problems getting to the site last week. I moved my site to a hosting company that has MUCH better service than the one that I was using (I was using Yahoo!, and am now using Digihost). Yahoo!'s free site hosting isn't bad, but the pay hosting is really crummy if you are not a first-time user. The other nice thing is that I can actually get to the site tools and such, as the Yahoo! free sites are blocked here. I haven't figured out how to make the journal sub-domain work here yet, so more apologies to people who tried to go directly to the journal but couldn't (you still can if you want by going to

Enough apologies, and on to the week. This week's entry will be a bit short, as I only went ashore once (on Monday), and only for an afternoon. I was too busy to go ashore Tuesday in Dominica, and even though Mihai offered to let me go ashore Wednesday afternoon, I was busy and it was rainy all day. The one interesting thing is that we got to Dominica over an hour late, as one of the engines was having a problem. I was a bit surprised that they admitted this to the passengers, I figured that they would make up some sort of weather problem or something (most of the guests don't realize that we don't just drive full-steam to each port, I think that they tend to think that we tend to just barely arrive in each port on time). They fixed it while we were there. I felt a little bad about this, as I feel like I misled some of the passengers a bit. I had been to the comedy show the night before, and had sat with some of the people that work here in the piano bar afterwards. As we left, a couple of passengers asked me about good tours to take in Dominica, and I had talked about pulling up right to the city (as we had the week before, and apparently as we are normally supposed to do) and about the Wacky Rollers tour. As it turns out, all of the tours were already sold out, and to save time we pulled up to the port a half-mile from the city.

Monday, however, was a gorgeous day. I spent the morning doing all of the insane amount of paperwork and lines to send stuff home. I vaguely understand the reasoning behind having to clear customs to ship things from other countries. After all, you don't want someone to unfairly get around taxes and import laws. However, in these kinds of quantities, it would be tough for someone to make much of a living at it. In my case, it is more insane. I am on a U.S. ship, in a U.S. port, shipping things directly to the U.S. I really just don't feel that I should have to go through the customs paperwork! Sorry, I digress . . . 

I decided (pretty much because it was the only free tour that hadn't been snapped up yet) to take the Kontiki party boat. To get a free tour you have to sign up on a sheet. There are 1,050 employees on the boat, and there are around 5 two-person spots per day. The boat actually pulls right up to the pier, so it is very convenient. It is not an attractive boat (I'm sorry, I forgot to get a picture of it), it looks kind of like a two-story bait shop mounted on a barge. It actually has a tin roof around the outside, it is perfectly rectangular, and has two ladders that come off of the back. It is just made to be a party boat. They also advertise it as a glass-bottom boat. It is definitely a fun and inexpensive excursion to take.

As they drive out, you get a brief history of the islands and the captain points out various points of interest. As we were pulling away, I got a picture of the Destiny (of course), sandwiched between two other ships. The one in front (which is around the same size as ours) is the one that I have shown you before that has the raised disco room. As you can see, the one behind us is quite a bit larger than ours. I have mentioned before that mine used to be the largest in the world, but each year they continually get larger. In fact, we have one in the works right now that is significantly larger than the Queen Mary II, which is 1.5 times larger than mine. I also got a picture of another Destiny, just because I thought that it was ironic.

They also try very hard to get you to drink large amounts of rum punch. It is all free, but since it is billed as a party boat, they want to live up to the reputation. It is funny, they say that they put 151-proof rum in the punch rather than the standard 80-proof. What they don't tell you is that they put about one shot for every five gallons (from what I can tell). I tried one glass, and it tasted just like Cool-Aid. The girls sitting across from me had 9 glasses each, and weren't any more buzzed than I was. I think that excessive urination will probably be the only side-effects that they have, just from drinking that much liquid. There were a number of gorgeous personal catamarans there, this was one of my favorites (you can even see a black sailboat to the right of it, which is unusual). I also happened to see the smallest pontoon boat that I have ever seen. It is funny, it was still tied up out will all of the sailboats, even though it was smaller than a dingy. The water here must be awfully calm.

The glass-bottom part was interesting. Instead of spending the money designing a glass-bottom boat, this boat is just a gigantic pontoon boat. There are wooden sections in the middle that they fold open, and they lower wooden boxes with glass panels into the water when they get to an area that they want people to see. There was quite a bit of nice coral and fish around, but I was too far away from the glass to be able to take pictures of the things below. There were a lot of fish next to the boat also, but the pictures just didn't really do it justice so I left them out.

They brought us to a private beach that was very nice. The water was really warm, there were no waves, and you could walk a long ways out. We stayed there for an hour, then headed back to the ship (we leave St. Thomas every week at 5, so it doesn't leave a lot of time). They took us right back up to the ship, where I thought that I would be able to hop right on. When we got onto the pier, the line to get on the ship was unbelievably long. I stood in line, talking to some of the guests that had been on the Kontiki, and noticed that the line wasn't moving at all. It turns out that there was a fire in the trash separation room. It wasn't that serious, as there isn't too much on the ship that is flammable, but we tend to be extremely cautious after a fire on another Carnival ship caused everyone to have to get off the ship a couple of years ago. Several of the women were complaining because it was formal night and they had early seating in the dining room. There was only going to be an hour to get ready as it was, and here we were in a non-moving line. However, they got it cleared up, and opened both gangways (and ran a bit lax on security) to get everyone on board quickly. I'm sure that it looked bad that an ambulance and stretcher coming up in front of everyone slowed down boarding even more, but it turned out not to have anything to do with the fire. There was an employee who was just really sick. Of course, they also didn't volunteer to the passengers that there had been a fire. Interestingly enough, they didn't tell anything to the guests, so they were a bit irritated but took it in stride.

Tuesday night was a crew party. There are two a month, the first is just a dance party and the second has a theme. We decided to play salsa for part of this one, since there are a lot of Latino employees. It went over pretty well, and ended up going an hour later than normal. I sat with the pursers, as I end up doing a few things with them and because they are part of the entertainment committee this month also (the gift shop is the third department in the committee this month).

Well, that brings me up to Friday morning, and I am already an hour late posting this, so off to the internet I go.