Well I have finally finished my contract on the Volendam. What started as an 8 month contract ended as a 9 1/2 month contract. I enjoyed almost all of it and really got to see a lot of great things. Asia, Alaska, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand ain’t bad for one contract, and now I’m in London. There are new photos in my photo gallery of New Zealand.
For my vacation I’m chilling out at Niamh’s house. We took a 9 hour flight from Sydney to Hong Kong and then a 13 hour flight from Hong Kong to London. I think that’s farther than I’ve ever flown, including going from China to the States. Needless to say I’m battling jet lag just a bit.
Our initial plans for the 6 week vacation that we have is just to sleep and eat and try to recuperate from an insane contract, but we do have some more interesting plans as well. We’re going to visit Ireland because Niamh is half Irish and has family there. We’re going to visit Scotland because it sounds awesome and Niamh hasn’t even been there. If we have time and money we may take the train to Paris. Also some highlights in the UK are Big Ben, (which Niamh loves making fun of me for wanting to see) Stonehenge, the hop-on hop-off bus in London, and any other various things we want to do. Yesterday I had the pleasure of going on the Underground.
I just bought myself a new camera, the Nikon D700. I had my previous camera stolen on the Volendam and happily Holland America reimbursed me for it, so I get to upgrade now. The shipping in the UK is insanely fast because I just bought the camera yesterday and the guy sent me an email with the tracking information saying it is supposed to be delivered today before 1pm. I guess I’m going to have to start enjoying it very soon! 😀
My next ship is going to be the Ryndam. It’s kinda crazy how over 3 contracts I will have only been on 2 ships. Most people do 2 ships in their first contract. Well I wouldn’t say most but a large majority of people get transferred at least a couple times and I have yet to have that happen in the middle of a contract. I will join the Ryndam in Tampa and do 2 or 3 cruises down there before the ship relocates to Europe where I will spend the rest of the contract. It’s going to be doing a lot of cruises in Norway, going up extremely north. I guess it’s gonna be even colder than Alaska there. We’re also going to go to England, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, France, Italy and quite a few other places. As you might tell I’m VERY excited about this next contract. I hear it’s a struggle as far as making money goes, but I’m not really in it for the money this time around, I wanna see Europe!
The last month since I’ve posted on here has been an incredible experience in many ways. The begin with, our printer continued to have a lot of electrical problems which has prevented us from doing any printing. We had Fuji service technicians come on board 4 times before they actually got it fixed. The first time they came and replaced some parts but the main issue wasn’t fixed. This happened a couple more times before finally a technician came and actually sailed on the ship with us from Melbourne to Sydney. He figured out that the problem was that there was a large static buildup between the printer and the computer and it was continually frying the firewire cards. We have installed a properly grounded static matt which has prevented the static from harming our equipment. So now the machine works, but we still need to figure out why there is a static build up in the first place.
So that whole situation has been taking up a lot of my time and energy. Several times I spent almost the entire night staying up late printing everything that I hadn’t been able to print so that we would have something to sell. Aside from this our ratings on the ship haven’t been the best either so Ocean Images sent out the S & R class operations manager to give our team some advise and pointers on what we can do to improve customer ratings at the end of each cruise. It has helped a lot and we are doing some things differently now. Ratings are improving so that’s always positive.
One of my photographers on the team is finishing his contract after next cruise, so he’ll be going home on January 4th. Then Niamh and I are finishing our contract on January 17th, so there will be a lot of changes in the near future.
Next cruise Niamh and I plan to go to Hobbiton, which is the place where they filmed the Shire in Lord of the Rings. Originally they had to tear the whole set down, however it has now been rebuilt because they are filming The Hobbit there. So it’s going to be pretty cool to see the set how it really should look. I’ve heard from other people who have been there that we’re not really supposed to post photos of it, but I’ll see what the rules are when I get there. I might be able to post a photo of a Hobbit hole or two.
Next cruise is also the Christmas and New Years cruise for us. I will be in Dunedin, New Zealand for Christmas and Auckland for New Years Eve. We’ll be at sea when the new year actually arrives.
A few days ago I went on a tour in Wellington to the coast and got a chance to see some amazing landscapes and some seals. We rode in some heavy duty 4 wheel drive Toyotas. The path that we took was off-road and very rough. You can see here the path that we took on the beach. The vehicle pictured is one of three that were in our group. There were only about 5 seals that I saw, I guess because in the summer they go other places. The winter is when they are here in large numbers. If you’re a little confused, it’s because it is currently summer in New Zealand, as we are south of the equator. December 1st was the first day of summer.
Back when I was still in Alaska, as you might remember I rented a car and drove up to Emerald Lake in Canada. My internet at the time wasn’t working very well and so I wasn’t able to upload photos. Here you can see Niamh at Emerald Lake. It was very beautiful, reminds me of hot springs that have really weird vibrant colors. There’s actually some of those places around here in New Zealand which I might try to go to before my contract is over.
Also, here’s a photo of me on the back deck of the Volendam in Auckland during the final match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. There were several huge outdoor TVs setup on the docks around where the ship was and there were thousands of people watching. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the actual stadium.
In other news, life here on the Volendam is going well. We had a bit of a hiccup last cruise when our printer had major issues and stopped working for a few days. There is a huge problem with static electricity in the lab and it fried a few firewire cards in the computer and the printer and it caused it to not work. So that was fixed in Sydney by a couple Fuji technicians, but then it got fried again about 2 hours after they left. When we got to Melbourne another tech came on board and replaced the firewire cards again, and suggested that I also replace the actual firewire cable, and get a static mat to go under the computer. It seems that one or both of those two things has fixed the problem as we are still up and running several days later. I have my fingers crossed that it won’t happen again.
I’m also starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only the remainder of this cruise and four more cruises until the end of my contract. That means just about 2 months left. I’ll be leaving on the 17th of January. It’s been a super contract so far but I’m also very ready for vacation. Who knows where I’ll be next, but I’m hoping for a ship in Europe.
So it’s been like a month since I’ve written anything on here, so here’s the low-down on my life recently.
Been to Hawaii.
Visited my cousin Heather in Hawaii.
Been to 5 country islands in the South Pacific.
Been to Australia and New Zealand.
Visited Jael, friend from post college, in Auckland, New Zealand. Twice.
Planning to visit Chris Loh in Melbourne, friend from high school.
Taken over as photo manager of the Volendam.
Been to glow worm caves in Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
Bought snacks in a convenience store from an extremely happy Egyptian who loves speaking to Americans. He gave us free gifts.
Witnessed New Zealand madness during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Learned that my contract will be finishing on January 17. Niamh and I will be flying to London.
Uploaded more photos to my photo gallery.
Well that’s a pretty good list of what’s happened in the last month and a half. Please check out the photo gallery for a few photos that I took. All of the square photos were taken in Fiji and the other 4 were taken in New Zealand.
I’ve been having a lot of fun in Alaska, but I’m so glad it’s over now. Yesterday was our last embarkation in Vancouver and we are currently somewhere along the coast of Oregon. We’re on our way down to LA, where we will embark a few hundred more guests, and from there we’ll make our way over to Hawaii. We’re gonna have 5 days at sea straight, so it’s gonna be a little boring. I think I’ll be able to catch up on a bit of sleep. After that It’s Australia and New Zealand for the next 3 months or so until the end of my contract.
My last week in Alaska was quite nice. Niamh and I rented a car in Skagway and drove up to a place in Canada called Emerald Lake. It was gorgeous. The lake is a very pleasant green color, I suppose this is why they call it Emerald Lake. Because Emerald Lake is in Canada, we needed our passports in order to get there. The ship always holds crew members’ passports though, so I had to get the Hotel Manager to sign a request form in order for me to get my passport out for the day.
I’ve been promoted to Photo Manager, and I’ll be taking over those duties on Saturday when the ship ports in LA. Tino, the current manager is going to be leaving then, and I’ll be on my own for the Australia season. Should be fun! I’ll be posting plenty of photos from the South Pacific, I’m really excited about all the new places I’m gonna get to see.