CRUISE – Lisbon, Photographic Embarkation

27 Apr

Today I am to start my new job as cruise photographer aboard the ABC RypMeOff. Like all of life’s adventures I approach this job with an open mind, and empty pockets. Upon boarding the ship I am greeted by a lone security officer who escorts five newcomers to a cargo room under deck. We leave our baggage there, and continue our journey to the Crew Bar, an illustrious place where nearly fifty crew members fight over bottled water and sandwiches. Before I can set up my camera to film the mayhem a middle-aged Rumanian introduces himself as Robyn, and pulls me aside.

ABC RypMeOff

That bloody cruise ship I worked on.

Apparently Robyn is the Assistant Photo Manager, and identified my association with his department by the size of my photo bag. He introduces me to half a dozen other lunatics who also belong to the photo team, but since I am still focused on the food battles, I don’t actually pay attention to those poor souls. I congratulate myself on that decision when one of the other guys starts to present video and audio clips of sexual encounters. I can find my own porn; thank you very much!

Alas, all fun must end. After a long wait in front of the purser’s office I have the great pleasure of arguing in broken English over the validity of my various documents. Upon agreement that my papers might be in a state that some authorities might call valid, the purser stashes my passport, and prints me my very own cabin card. The photo on that card, taken with a web cam from the late nineties, barely resembles a human being, but considering my own state of hunger I don’t feel the urge to protest the issue.

ABC RypMeOff - crew cabin

My shared cabin aboard the ABC RypMeOff

Onward we venture, through the gray hallways of the cruise ship, until we arrive at my cabin, a shared luxury cubicle with nearly six square metres of living space. Robyn informs me that the cabin is supposed to look a bit tidier than what I see in front of me. I appreciate that sentiment, because at the moment it is filled with garbage and piles of clothes. As an artist I applaud the frivolity and boldness behind the state of the cabin, yet as someone who supposedly must rest and live in this space I have to put the intentions of the artist into question. Well, quite likely I will meet with my cabin mate Pancho later, and we may discuss the extent of his art exhibition.

Most of the rest of the day consists with me standing in the photo gallery, and trying to fake interest in everybody’s names. It looks like almost everybody in the photo department is a lunatic, so I feel quite at home already. According to Robyn I must ask many questions, and learn fast, so as to become a valued member of the photo team. An exciting outlook, considering that I have literally no idea of what is happening here, and still require the physical assistance of other crew members to even locate food and bathroom areas. We shall see how fast a learner I can be. Not that I would really stress myself out on this matter.

Lisbon, port view

A port view of Lisbon. Sights like these make most cruise troubles worthwhile.

A bit after midnight I finally meet my cabin mate in my shared cabin (and modern arts exhibition), and already his first question puts me off the journey – “Do you mind if I smoke in the bathroom?” Apparently Pancho has been an ABC photographer for over a year, so I should not have to inform him that smoking is prohibited in the cabins, and that the fire and smoke detectors are likely to take note of his unhealthy habit. To my great despair he has found a way to smoke in the bathroom without setting off the smoke detectors, and he is set on abusing that feature. Realizing that I am not a smoker he says: “OK, we try it once, and if you don’t like, we find something else.”

What a bloody great start into the contract! My cabin is a crammed exhibition of abstract art, my bathroom is a smoking parlour, and my team mates are nearly as crazy as me.

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