Tag Archives: cruise photography

Cruise Photography Aftermath

6 Jul Globe Monument at the North Cape, Norway

It is Thursday, and I have to re-adapt to a world where this (and the time of day) are meaningful information. The first novelty after returning home was the simple fact that the day consists of three meals, and none of them is rushed. And when I require additional sustenance, I can simply grab a snack item or a glass of water from the kitchen. And when I need to sit down, I sit down, and continue working. Things that are so normal for most folks, and are usual even for employees in any sweat shop or burger parlour, these things are virtually impossible during work hours with ABC Cruises.

A sceneic view of Molde Fjord, Norway

Cruise advertisement is usually full of blue skies and greeen lanscapes. The actual job, however, is not.

I am happy to leave ABC Cruises behind, not just my position as cruise photographer, but the entire ordeal of working for a company that puts financial profit above everything else, be it physical health, public perception, or simple integrity. I worked for one of the biggest cruise companies worldwide, and probably the fastest growing one. Their impact on sea tourism is beyond measure, yet they seem to lack the basic ethical responsibilities necessary to take a leading role for the market. The officers are almost exclusively Italian, indicating that it is nearly impossible to acquire a high-ranking position without kissing ass. You can think of that what you like, but I doubt that being a great kisser qualifies anyone to lead the fate of a multi-Billion Dollar company, and particularly that of its hundreds of thousands of employees.

Now, why am I even writing this blog? (Why do you keep reading is the more interesting question, but that’s none I can answer.) My motivations are three-fold: 1) I use writing as a way of stress-relief; 2) I want to warn people who are toying with the thought of becoming a cruise photographer about the actual perils involved in the job; 3) there is a slim chance that someone at ABC Cruises will read this, and improve working conditions for their crew, as well as care for their paying guests.

To date I wrote more than sixty blog posts about my experience as cruise photographer, over eighty pages of text contemplating my existence, and that of my chosen path. It was an interesting ride, but I am glad that it’s over. In order to provide a comprehensive overview over the reasons for my decision to stop working for ABC Cruises I hereby provide you with my complete list of pros and cons for signing off.

Spitsbergen is not actually THAT cold in spring. But tensions aborad the ABC RypMeOff chill most photographers to the bone.

The working climate aboard the ABC RypMeOff was often frosty

Reasons to sign off

  1. The pay is inadequate to my work load and stress, and much lower than promised (I am paid about one quarter of the original figure).
  2. The food is of mediocre quality. Too often the healthy vegetarian choices are limited to options such as rice and fruit, which lack the nutrients and minerals that I need to sustain a healthy body.
  3. Spare time is often scattered throughout the day, due to training sessions, buffet times, drills, laundry visits, and other small jobs that require my attention, and are badly synchronised with one another.
  4. Job time, however, is filled with boredom, as I stand in my photo studio for hours, waiting for hotel guests who don’t even want their photo taken.
  5. Similarly, I am sleep-deprived, because I go to bed after midnight snack time (2 A.M.), but get up around 7 A.M. to enjoy port time, or get ready for work.
  6. Overall, I lack exercise, physically and mentally. I spend six-hour blocks standing in a portrait studio, only interrupted by two short food breaks. My knees hurt really badly as soon as I try to actually bend them. After six weeks my legs joined that club of complainers, because I don’t get to stretch and exercise them often enough.
  7. Internet access is so bad that I rarely get to successfully send an e-mail, particularly when I try to send attachments. It’s also expensive. Which I understand, because otherwise crew would likely abuse the narrow bandwidth provided by the satellite dish; but there are other ways to limit bandwidth that would not make the web experience ridiculously slow and unreliable.
  8. The crew predominantly converses in Italian, Portuguese, or any Balkan language. Barely anyone speaks the Queen’s English, making it difficult to communicate, or at least have a halfway pleasant conversation.
MSC Preciosa 72

Behind all the glamour with ABC Cruises there are rather dirty work practices.

Reasons to remain with ABC Cruises

  1. More trips to Iceland are coming. (With many repetitive Norway cruises in between.)
  2. I could go spot some whales with Stefanie. (But only if I am actually allowed to leave the ship, and spend more than two consecutive hours outside, which there is absolutely no guarantee for.)
  3. Maya Buffet is really tasty, and offers a great choice of unhealthy food items. (But hugely interrupts the flow of the day, because to me it is only available on port days, and only for a narrow time window.)
  4. I learned some interesting things about portrait photography, and would undoubtedly learn more. (But rarely get the opportunity to practice those skills.)
  5. See the world (and watch it through a cubby hole, because we are not allowed to show ourselves aboard the ship when we are not working.)

 

As you can see the list of reasons for staying with ABC Cruises is not only much shorter than the leave-list, it also features hidden obstacles in every positive argument. I am a realistic person, so you would naturally expect a certain degree of negativity, but ABC Cruises really seems to be bent on making you labour and suffer for every positive experience. I just have too many good alternatives to consider any cruise job that is not labelled “musician”. In Germany I could flip burgers full-time, and not only make more money than I did with this multi-Billion-dollar tourism trap, but also have more time for myself, AND spend that time any way I please. The concept of individuality seems so foreign to my former bosses that one wonders if any of them ever was descended from a human being, or whether cruise managers are cultivated in a special lab in Geneva. Given these ludicrous working conditions I made the executive decision to leave ABC Cruises behind.

Invergordon via MSC 2-31

Cruise Photography is dead to me. But maybe it still sounds like a challenging work place to you.

According to our more seasoned colleagues the working conditions aboard this vessel are particularly dreadful, and previous contracts featured better management as well as more spare time. Thus, there is hope that things might improve, if one was to skip ships. Mateja actually has similar doubts about her occupation as I, but she first wants to try a transfer to a different ship before quitting the job completely. I had that option as well, but leaving the ABC RypMeOff was relatively easy for me, compared to other vessels of the same company. Their other ships cruise around the Pacific, or the Atlantic, or make five-day cruises around Japan. That would be interesting to see, but ABC Cruises demands that every employee who terminates their own contract should pay for their own trip home. In Germany that cost is a €50 train ticket. In Japan that would be a €1,000 flight. That means, pulling out early was way cheaper than trying to fumble my way through the peculiarities of a different ship, with a different team and manager.

I have little doubts that this was my last encounter with ABC Cruises, because I put little faith into my application as cruise musician. For the moment, I am just glad to be back home, where I am able to eat and live a healthy life. And photos I take only for pleasure. My own pleasure.

Farewell Cruise Photography

5 Jul low tide at the port of Invergordon, Scotland

I awake from dreamless slumber, knowing about the pleasures that this day holds for me: sweet release from heavily monetised tourism. I try to sneak out of the cabin in order to let the lab technician sleep. However, sneak options are limited, considering that I have to pack up my residual belongings that are scattered throughout this cell, while I also have a pile of laundry that needs to be returned to the Pakistani towel mafia.

First things first – let’s storm the staff mess! Being a clever lad, I bring my camera bag, and fill myself two plastic bags with bred rolls and fruit, and also fill up my water bottle with the apple juice substitute that the buffet personnel provides. Breakfast is as short as ever, for as always the buffet is lacking green vegetables or tasteful marmades. Bread and tea it is, for the last time in a long time.

Vegan breakfast for cruise crew

Farewell weirdly restircted choice of food items!

While I brush my teeth I simultaneously pack up my last things, and cram them into side pockets of coat and bag. I’d love to stuff them into my suitcase, but the latter was sealed shut by security last night, and reopening it would mean another long security check. And so my last little pile of personal belongings has to go into a shopping bag, and I am once more glad to leave the ship in Hamburg, from where I can take the train home, and don’t have to answer intriguing security questions at an airport.

ABC RypMeOff - crew cabin

Farewell tiny cubby!

Victory celebrations are cut short by my mandatory visit to the main office. Even though I am third in line it takes nearly an hour until I finally get to exchange my signed paperwork against my passport and sign-off note. It’s not that complicated a process, but it actually takes some fifty minutes until someone finally feels responsible for the growing line-up of crew members that block the hallway nearly halfway down the length of the corridor. Most of these people have a flight to catch, and it would be in the best interest of ABC personnel to move things along fairly quickly, but apparently nobody planned for this grand departure. In order to maintain order and happiness we decide to stage a hallway party, loudly celebrating our victory over fraudulent job advertisement by yodeling Irish drinking songs and stomping the appropriate rhythm into the metal floor. Since few of my crew members appears to have any positive relationship with rhythmic movement, we quickly have a scene at hand that looks like a friendly gathering, and sounds like a war zone. The terminal result is astonishing, and after nearly an hour of pointless waiting we all get processed fairly quickly.

My last conversation to any regular crew occurs on the gangway, where I meet one of the tourist managers, a mid-aged woman from Germany, whose accent is so thick that I expect her to wear a dirndl made from sausage and pretzels underneath her creased uniform. One of the Brazilian girls actually knuckles into our conversation, and says that she finds it funny to hear us talk in English, when in fact we are both German. The rebuke of my new manager friend includes words like “respect”, and “disgrace”, which are also words that I always thought of employing when talking about those Portuguese and Spanish conversations onboard, but always refrained from, because most of ABC personnel would just refuse comprehension.

I don’t care anymore. All the officers converse mostly in Italian. Most of the managers talk Rumanian. And the crew rarely speaks anything but Macedonian or Purtuguese, which pretty much excludes me from most conversations aboard. A bloody disgrace, if you recall that we are an international tourist hotel, and supposedly converse in English with the majority of our guests. As usual it is up to the Germans to teach the rest of the crew respect. And it’s up to the crew to refuse that lesson.

A good book and nurishing food . great travel combination

A good book and nurishing food . great travel combination

While I sit on a cold bench on the lowest level of Hamburg Central Station, a stiff breeze fluffing my hair, I feel the warmth of freedom and homeland slowly filling my lungs, and spreading out to my hands that grab another muffin from my stuffed photo bag. The two pears and a bag full of chocolate buns are the last physical reminder of this photo adventure. Most of the remaining baggage is emotional, so at this point it would be worthwhile to address everyone’s concerns about me deciding to leave a lucrative job. But I’m not going to; that’s a subject for tomorrow.

Today I celebrate my freedom. With a long train ride home. A good book in one hand, and the other in my bag, searching for more food that I retained from the ABC Staff Mess. Over the past two months I have tried myself on an almost regular job. But no matter how much certain individuals have tried to make my life aboard more comfortable, this adventure was cut short by the daily trudge, the corruption, and the general work attitude of ABC Cruises that values profit over people. This is not a healthy work environment; it’s not a job that I could embrace full time, and certainly not something that makes me happy. Considering what tiny value the company attributed to me, I made the executive decision to leave this job behind.

Mountains of Alesund, Norway

These views are something I will miss. But I am just not willing to pay the ABC Cruise Price for it.

I am German, Academic, Artist, skilled with my hands and my mind. I have other options to acquire money than by grinding my way through a tourist-powered mill, and I pity the people who don’t have my options. My search for employment continues, and if I ever return to the business of cruises, it will be as musician. Tomorrow I will wrap up this whole two-month ordeal with a blog post concerning my deeper considerations of staying or leaving, so that others might benefit from my process of thought. Or just laugh about it. Whatever you prefer.

But today: we celebrate. I’ll make a big Hullabaloo upon returning to my homestead. (My parents have no idea I am on my way home five months early.) I will play with the family dog, eat green vegetables, look out the window, take a nap when I feel sleepy, sit down where other people can see me, and not be bothered by any cruise officer insisting that I should not behave like a human being.

So long people, see you tomorrow for the final summary!

Almost free of cruise jobs

4 Jul Jurassic Park - A Fallen Kingdom

Even on our very last day the managers won’t give us time to breathe between photos. Granted, with four photographers leaving the ship there is a distinctive pressure on this department. We can’t uphold regular services with one quarter of the team packing their bags. Still, security will stop offering pre-checks around midnight, so we actually need to get packing very soon, if we don’t want to spend the next day in port, waiting for two of the security lads to come around checking our bags.

Since I already booked a train ride home, I am bound to a certain schedule, so the lack of diligence displayed by Manager Ash is unnerving me. Around 21:30 o’clock he finally judges that I bugged him often enough, and with a confused look on his face he sits me down to explain the ratings in his evaluation sheet. I don’t actually care what it says, because I will never return to this company as a phototgrapher. However, in order to maintain my hiring options with other departments I have to give him the impression of being deeply involved in the process.

Cruise Photography during embarkation

Oh, how I will miss this tristesse, the daily idiocy and chaucinism of the cruise …

With great delay I am released to return to my tiny cabin, where I pack up the photo gear that still needs to be returned and catalogued. Since I am a well-organised person, I simultaneously pack up my own luggage, despite being unable to pack some of the practical gear, such as my pyjama, or any of the food supplies. Those will all have to go into my carry-on luggage, not just because I still need that stuff, but because deep frowns will crease the faces of security personnel, if they find food, and several of the other items in my suitcase. Please recall that opened food packages or even fruit are not allowed in personal possession.

Anyway, about a quarter to midnight I manage to drag my suitcase down to the security hall, where personnel opens and deep-checks every bag we bring. Apparently they have plenty of comrades ready to work on my luggage, because I am one of very few crew members left. Most of the other departments gave their crew members considerably more time to pack & check than our photo manager. But I won’t hold that against him. Just note that once again the photo department draws the shortest straws possible.

After about ten minutes of searching I am released, which means I spend until half past midnight re-packing my suitcase. (The security goofs literally peaked into the tip of every shoe.) My family load of undergarment, shoes, and uniform pieces barely fits into this case, especially with all the add-ons that I had to purchase aboard. Finally all the hours that I spent on the lavatory pay off. Playing Tetris on my old Game Boy was an excellent preparation for this task. In any case, security is somewhat happy, and tapes my suitcase shut with some of the most sticky tape imaginable. The world would be free of mosquitoes, if you applied even one role of this guff to an African village.

View from deck of the ABC RypMeOff

I thought about pulling a “civilian prank” on my last day at work, and just launge on deck with the passengers. I did not have time for it, though.

And off we go – civilian Goemon is back on track, ready to take a last sleep in his funky old cabin, dreaming of freedom, and peace in our time. The ladies that are leaving our department are off to the Crew Disco, for a last night of smoking and drinking. I for my part am happy to never again having to fake interest in that smoke-filled mouse hole that all the sleep-deprived addicts seem to be so crazy about.

Stavanger, and a quality rain

3 Jul Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Life aboard has become much more enjoyable, now that I stopped caring about how the managers perceive my work attitude. Admittedly, their interest in me has also dropped dramatically, once they realised that this was my final cruise. They rarely bother me with their flatulent demands anymore, and even the South-African nut-job Henry has lost interest in “helping me” to fit in with the job.

Thus, I am more relaxed than usual when we arrive in Stavanger this morning. Even though it is raining quite heavily I have set out to enjoy my stay in this picturesque Norwegian town. After all, this is the final port along my journey as a cruise photographer. I told our managers that I hope to return to ABC Cruises in the foreseeable future, but as usual I concealed the greater truth from them. I simply don’t want them to write me a bad report, because I want to maintain the option of returning as a cruise musician. However, I have no intention whatsoever to return to this laughably stupid work as cruise photographer. The discussions I had during these past few days have only added to my conviction.

Photo Gallery aboard the ABC RypMeOff

This is a nice enough place to work at, but after two months I am really sick of this sight.

For example, a few days ago our managers discovered the topic of Image Counts. Well, more likely the topic was pressed upon them by the fleet managers, but nevertheless it is now a subject of great dispute. Image counts are now officially a measure of success. The overall image count per passenger is rather poor in our team, compared to that of other ships in the fleet. One reason might be that nobody in this team gives a shit anymore. The company treats us so poorly that even the veteran shooters have stopped spending any real effort in attracting passengers once they reached two hundred photos, which is pretty much the minimum requested by the bosses.

This is just another kink in the penetrable armour of missing logic that surrounds ABC Cruises. Quantity over quality. I think Stavanger knows this already, and instead of greeting us with real quality weather, it gives us a quantity downpour. That is a bit disappointing, considering that even our passengers have barely twelve hours to inhale the beauty of our last Norwegian stop. But I guess Norwegian flowers need water, too, and so I endure the cold wetness of my socks without complaining.

Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger rewards me with some of the most beautiful parks and cemeteries in my memory. The lush green meadows are lined with rows of flowering shrubs and stout brown trees, which stands in stark contrast to the crowded rows of picketed houses. The inner city, in particular, shows little sign of greenery aside from the odd moss that infests the walls and cobblestone roads. The white houses stand back to back, with their front door on the sidewalk, and barely enough space between them to see the sky when you lean out the window. No wonder Norwegians are such a happy people – you can’t enjoy greenery without visiting the park. And because all the other townsfolk live with the same perilous lack of greenery in their non-existent back yard, people are bound to meet, socialise, and promise each other to not commit suicide over the extensive length of the dark winter. Since half the parks seem to be cemeteries this should also level people’s expectations towards death.

Anyway, even on a cold and rainy day Norway features plenty of fancy houses, cute ducks, and green lawns. If you don’t believe me: I got photographic evidence. Look at my photo album of Stavanger!

Invergordon, beautiful Scotland

9 May low tide at the port of Invergordon, Scotland

I have been aboard the ABC RypMeOff for nearly two weeks, and every day I like this journey a little less. The low quality of the food, cabins, and entertainment that ABC Cruises provides to the crew, combined with the great stress and the long work hours make for a terrible work experience. However, every port day shines a light on my job of cruise photographer, and today’s is as bright as any I’ve ever seen.

As a Folk musician and autumn enthusiast I have always been enthralled by Scotland’s land and people, even though I never actually visited England’s cold cousin. Today we landed in Invergordon, a pretty port town on the Western coast of Scotland, and despite the lack of snow and live music this stop has promptly reinvigorated my love for this beautiful country.

low tide at the port of Invergordon, Scotland

Invergordon unites industry, scenery, and shiny happy people.

The town itself is cute enough, with its cobblestone streets, the long rows of tile-roofed houses, and the genuine “Northern Village Feeling” that is spread by its inhabitants. Since the skies are blue and the air fresh I stride past the Medieval church and the flower-encased funeral home, and proceed towards the hills and fields that border the barely used roads of Invergordon.

The World-War Memorial is lined with old benches and a rusty dark iron fence. However, some of the flowers are fresh, and the Gaelic inscription is fairly legible. Bird calls in half a dozen dialects sound from the wild forest that lies beyond the grave of an unnamed number of soldiers – even in sight of the inhuman sacrifice of war life continues to shine in a multitude of colours. Only a knee-deep trench separates the old forest from the improvised road that measures barely two spans across. Deep and dense are the woods that stand mostly undisturbed for hundreds of years. No-one dares conquer the thick underbrush, none but the birds. Endless fields of a yellow crop spread over the unforested hills before me, only broken apart by an ancient system of narrow gullies and tree-lined roads.

yellow fields in Invergordon, Scotland

This is the landscape that has won my heart. I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to live.

The air smells of flowering rye and damp hay; a very welcome experience after the stale breath of the cruise ship. Every so often the wind carries the baritone rambles of white-gloved men towards me, but these are quickly swallowed by the sounds of chirping grasshoppers and their avian predators. Even the golf course seems to blend in with the hill-covered landscape; an oil painting of the suburban Celtic highlands that stands in wonderful harmony with itself. I am almost disappointed when the few Scots that I meet along the way greet me with a friendly “Ay Ay” or “Good Morrow”. The Scotsmen in my mind are scrawny, rude lumberjacks, and seeing them dispelled into these friendly fellows somehow betrays my prejudices.

The idyllic hills beyond Invergordon are decorated with yellow fields, red-roofed houses, and the occasional green-brown forest. I begin to understand why the Celtic highlands have spawned so many poets. Despite the turmoil that the industrialised world finds itself in there are still places where men and nature are at ease with themselves. In sight of daily the struggle for survival aboard a cruise ship that neither recognizes my potential nor honours my efforts this brief trip into the heartlands is my little vacation.

CRUISE – More Sea Day Safety

8 May Vigo, Spain. A view of the port

Assistant manager Robyn keeps telling the “new guys” to rest often and rest well during these days, and he tells me to observe and ask the other members of the scattered team about the workings of this department. After all, we still have some spare time before the great summer season starts, with its four thousand passengers on their two-week cruises to Norway. He also asks me to pay attention during the safety briefings, because there is a written examination coming up.

A submarine in the port of Zeebrugge, Netherlands

Sadly I don’t work aboard a submarine. Knowing that suínking is natural would make my ship feel safer.

So far only about half of the safety briefings that were scheduled for me actually happened, and today’s meeting is no exception. I welcome the time off from my dull duties in the photo gallery, especially on the first sea day of the cruise, when all passengers are out for a stroll. But the hard chairs in the teaching room are not quite comfortable enough for a relaxing nap, and I am too tired to enjoy my read. (I always carry a novel with me now.) When it becomes clear that today’s safety briefing is not happening most of the other crew members just return to their jobs. I am certain the photo department will function without me for half an hour, though.

It slightly irritates me that our safety trainings culminate in an exam. I don’t know what happens if I fail it, but I would rather not repeat these empty meetings. On days like this, where the briefings add spare time to my schedule, I don’t really mind. However, sometimes they cut into my port exploration, and that needs to be avoided. Luckily I am left alone to rummage the scattered contents of the training room, and I actually find a copy of the official test paper among the many paper stacks decorating the shelves. It would be easier to have the answer key as well, but knowing the questions of that safety exam already helps a lot.

The exam contains few questions that are directly connected to safety and survival at sea. I did not expect anything else, not after the complete lack of dedication that ABC Cruises has granted this topic so far. The exam is even riddled with the typographical and grammatical errors that I have come to associate with my Italian masters. I don’t know what good it will do me to know the number of life rafts aboard this vessel, or how many people can go onto one overcapacity raft. But those are certainly among the numbers that I am going to study.

Tonight I am more relaxed as I beg the restaurant guests to pose for photos. No doubt our supervisor will scrutinise my photos as “shit” again, and will refuse to tell me what he finds wrong in them. But at least I can quit worrying about the safety procedures aboard. If our cruise ship ever gets into peril, I will stand on my safety position, and annoy passengers with useless ship trivia until they evacuate my realm. That might actually be a good way to get them off my back in the photo gallery as well.

CRUISE: Zeebrugge; internet access on cruise ships

4 May A submarine in the port of Zeebrugge, Netherlands

It’s a quiet day in the Dutch port of Zeebrugge, so I decided to get myself some internet access. It ain’t easy, because you need money on your cruise account to purchase web time, and the system does not operate on credit. So I paid the crew purser with a 10-Euro note to get myself some starting capital.

When you see documentaries about cruise ships you are often overwhelmed by panoramic sceneries, luxurious buffets, and high tech equipment. None of that is real, at least not for the regular crew. We spend most of our time inside, where we feed on low-quality meals, and utilize sub-standard equipment. And the myth that crew members spend half their spare time video-chatting with their family overseas – also inaccurate.

Zeebrugge, Netherlands

Zeebrugge is a pretty dutch town. Complete with funy roofing.

Firstly, it took me a week to receive internet access, because one needs a differently verified ID for just about anything one does aboard this ship. Thus, you walk some serious miles before you get anything done. Second, there are over one thousand crew members and more than four thousand passengers on this ship, and they all want to access the internet. Thus, the cruise company has to manage access to the limited bandwidth of this ship, lest everyone be waiting ten minutes to download one e-mail. But you cannot blame the Italians for being original, as ABC found a rather conventional solution to the problem; they ask huge amounts of money for access keys.

As crew member I can chose between “Social Network Package” and “No Time Limit”. The Social Package grants access only to Facebook, Twitter, and a few other social networks; for $30 per month. That’s OK, I guess. If you don’t want to check e-mails, browse the web, or watch videos. By the way, passengers pay more than twice that much.

“No Time Limit” allows you to do all the interwebs; limited only by the amount of data you stream. The prepaid packs allow you to use 100 MB for $10, 400 MB for $30, 1.6 GB for $90, and so on. Since I need to write and receive electronic messages, this is the plan I chose. How long my prepaid 100 MB will last remains to be seen.

Obviously I have a cunning backup plan to stretch the duration of my internet usage. I will use Free WiFi in port cities. Turns out all other crew members had that plan before me. Thus, in every port you see ABC crew members huddling in packs along the walls of cafés and tourist information centers; silently browsing, like a herd of cows trying to dispel the breath of winter with community warmth. It is a lovely sight – service personnel from around the globe travelling the most beautiful ports of the North Sea, only to slump against the walls of public buildings, and scramble for WiFi access.

A submarine in the port of Zeebrugge, Netherlands

After less than two weeks aboard the initial magic of working as a cruise photographer has been sunk. Just like this submarine in the port of Zeebrugge, Netherlands

Here is another urban myth dispelled – cruise crew don’t spend two hours a day holding video chats with their extended family back home. We simply don’t have sufficient credits to spend that much time online. The situation has a positive side, I guess – the loss of free internet access gives me more time to focus on improving photography and sales tactics. Just what I always wanted!

 

PS.: I still went out to see Zeebrugge. Here are some pretty pictures.

CRUISE – Southampton

30 Apr Exterminate!

My work day starts with more safety training. Since I still don’t understand any of the procedures that a ship emergency carries with it, I have many questions for the Italian Mr. Sanders. Alas, this training is scheduled during our precious port time, meaning that any training time cuts into my port adventure. So, should I actually ask the scrawny Italian how to identify vertical and horizontal fire zones, and watch his body succumb to a four-minute charade with Italian subtitles and English sound effects? So far the educational value of those attempts at communication has never risen above the entertainment value of his exaggerated gestures.

Exterminate!

Dr. Who and his eviltons had a guest appearance in Southampton. Exterminate!

Alternatively I might just leave the ship, and enjoy light British rain and Victorian architecture in Southampton. Thus I opt for the easy way out; bottle up my safety questions, and see some city scape instead. In case of an emergency I can just stalk any of the other crew members, and hope that they fake understanding more easily than me.

Grand Glittery Stairs aboard ABC RypMeOff

The Grand Stairs are a photographic attraction on cruise ships. Often enough they were my photo studio.

During my evening shift our assistant manager shows me how to “catch” people on the stairs, and how to properly pose and shoot them. He has an aura of authority, I grant him that. When he shouts “Stop” at a random lady who descends the stairs, she halts in her tracks, and produces a face that vaguely resembles a smile; probably in the vain hope that he might let her continue walking. Once the first photo is made she attempts to flee. However, she did not prepare for the gruesome gaze of the Assistant Photo Manager, who, by the power of his eyes, freezes her once more.

The vague smile on her face has made way for lines of panic, and after the second photo she considers whether it might be safe to continue her journey. But no, the figure of authority that holds my camera is out for blood, although he now has to resort to hand gestures to keep the unlucky passenger on the stairs. Her third pose is one of discomfort and insecurity, not far from actual terror. After triggering the flash the Assistant Manager points at various portions of the digital photo that he made, and highlights its grandeur. Our female victim uses his drop of attention to flee the scene as fast as her short legs allow. Tonight she was lucky to escape with her life, and in the future she will know better than to walk the Grand Stairs alone at night.

 

You can view my photo gallery of Southampton here.