Well I’ve now been too all the ports that I’m going to go to here in Alaska. Juneau and Haines are really the only places that have good internet. I suppose Vancouver will too but I’ve only been there the once that I came in. So my updates are going to be about once a week.
I got paid last week, and it was an exciting $500! My roommate decided that he wanted to buy an xbox 360 slim but he doesn’t have a credit card, so he asked me to buy it and he’d pay me cash. So he gave me $200 and I put it in my pocket. Well unfortunately I don’t have a wallet and when I pulled my iphone out of my pocket later, the $200 fell out and I didn’t realize it until it was way too late. So My nice $500 paycheck has turned into $300. Ah well. It sucks to lose $200 but it’s not the end of the world.
All of the Holland America ships end in dam. The ship I’m on now is the Ryndam. The ship I had my interview on in Florida was the Noordam. There is also the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and about 10 other dam ships. So they make t-shirts, sweaters, umbrellas and a lot of other accessories that say “dam ships” on them. It’s pretty funny and throughout the cruise people refer to them as the dam ships.
Our printer has been having colossal problems this week. Apparently it’s been having issues for about a month and Ocean Images has been delaying sending out someone to repair it. Well it’s a very expensive piece of equipment and we need it in order to make any money since we sell prints. Well it broke down the first day of this cruise and wouldn’t print anything for a few days. My photo manager has been spending all night every night trying to get it fixed. He’s been able to get it to work intermittently, but after printing 200 photos or so it overheats and we have to wait. This is obviously really bad for revenue. We’re hoping that Ocean Images will send a technician to fix it for us.
I’ve been getting to know the other people on the ship pretty well and very fast. It’s amazing how quickly we get to know each other. I would say that nearly half the crew are Indonesian and the other half are from all over the world. I am a huge minority as an American. My friends are from Sweden, South Africa, Romania, England, Indonesia, Ireland, America, and many other places. A couple nights ago as I was hanging out in the officers bar, one of the guys who is a shop ambassador, (which means he helps people figure out where to spend their money on the ship) told me that there is a huge need for someone to help translate for the Chinese people who come on board. Apparently they are usually very rich and spend up to $100k on diamonds and watches. He said that simply for referring these people to the shops and doing a little bit of translation, he would tip me about 1% of what they spend. I think growing up in China might turn out to be useful.
Well Sunday started out my journey into this mind blowing experience that I will call home for the next 8 months. After a couple flights from Indianapolis to Vancouver, Canada, I made my way to Canada Place, the dock in Vancouver for the cruise ships. After I made it through customs as I was about to board the ship, there were about 4 photographers waiting for everyone who came on board. These photographers were diligently making sure that they captured each and every person. When it was my turn I introduced myself and they all seemed surprised that I was not Asian. Apparently they had been discussing among themselves over the last week what the new photographer would look like. I suppose “Kee” sounds Asian and they all had their different ideas on what I would look like, how tall I would be, and even my personality.
So I got right to work signing some papers that needed to be signed in order for me to work on board. There was actually a sheet that I needed to get about 9 signatures from different people in different departments. In order for them to give me their signatures I had to watch various videos and make sure I was up to date on all the ship’s security and safety stuff. So it took about 48 hours to get all of that sorted. Other than that, the first day I was actually put to work photographing and helping set up the photo gallery. I put in about 8 hours of work the first day. Everyone else did about 13 because they had been working since the morning when I was traveling.
Come to find out, 13 or 14 hour days are quite regular! Monday was formal night and so everyone dressed up for dinner and we set up special backgrounds to take photos of everyone. I got up at 8 to start work at 9 and we worked all day until 11 PM. Tuesday I got up at 6 to shoot gangway photos of passengers getting off the ship at Ketchikan. We shot until about 10:30 and then had a break till 3. At 3 we worked until 11 PM again. Today I got up at 7 to shoot photos of passengers getting off the ship here in Juneau. I get a break from 10 until 5:30 and then we’ll work until 11. So I get pretty long days.
The food is excellent. I get as much as I want and it’s free. I have no worries about gaining weight however. This ship has at least 12 levels and we go all around the entire ship and it’s really tiring going up and down so many stairs. There are elevators of course but stairs are often quicker and we need to get places in a hurry. This ship has room for 1,350 passengers and about 800 crew. It’s a giant ship and yet it’s the 2nd smallest ship in the fleet. The largest has 6,000 passengers.
Internet costs 10 cents a minute so I do not get internet access on the ship. I am unwilling to pay that much. I will simply have to wait until we are in a port to access the internet, which is about 4 times a week. We stop at Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau and Seward. I also don’t get cell phone service unless I am at an American port, which are all the ports I just mentioned except for Vancouver.
This week I am not really doing much exploring of the ports as I am just getting in and I’m really tired from all the work and the stress of trying to learn the ship and not get lost. That was a real problem the first day and a half. I have a much better grasp of it now and can make my way around pretty well. I will in the coming weeks do much more exploration and should have fun photos to post. I will also be uploading some photos of the ship and my work areas soon.
That’s about all I’m going to bore you with right now. It’s about time for lunch for me and I feel a nap would be a great thing while I have the chance before work starts this evening.
Don’t know when I’ll be back again! Actually it’s an 8 month contract that I sign with a concession company that sends me to work on cruise ships as a photographer. I don’t work directly for a cruise ship. The company I work with is called Ocean Images. They have several different cruise lines as clients, and I’ll be assigned to one ship. They said that if I want to change ships over the course of my 8 month contract, that is definitely possible.
So for the summer season I’ll be in Alaska. Once it gets too cold there, my ship will go somewhere else, most likely the Caribbean but I’m not 100% positive about where exactly it will go.
I leave on June 20th, 2010 for Vancouver to meet my ship, the Ryndam. I’m super excited about this and I just have a few more things to get finished here in Indiana before I leave. Namely, today I am driving down to Kentucky to shoot a wedding for a couple of my college friends, then next week my sister is getting married, and the following week I’m driving out to Nebraska to shoot another wedding for another college friend. I also have to sell my car before I leave, so if you need a car, I’ve got a good one at a good price.
That’s about all for now. Please subscribe to the RSS feed if you’re interested in keeping up to date with me, or just feel free to come back and visit. Whenever I get sweet shots of glaciers and whatever other interesting things, I’ll be posting those in the photo gallery. There is a link to that on the right.