After a short layover in Denver, I boarded my second plane, destination Hawaii! I found my seat and wondered who God had in store as my fellow companion for the 7 hour flight to Honolulu. Much to my surprise, it was just the person I needed to meet. After his college graduation, he had purchased a one way ticket to Hawaii, and now, 15 years later, he still loves the decision he made. It was such a relief to see the success of someone who had taken the same leap of faith I was on. He filled me in on some tips and things I would need to know to spare me some culture shock moments. Before I knew it, we had reached our destination, and beauty did not begin to describe what I saw.
My new friend from the plane got me where I needed to go to board the ship. Although I had been traveling for over more than 12 hours, it was only 1:00pm in Hawaii, so my day was just beginning. First things first, paperwork. After filling out tons of forms, I got lost multiple times trying to find my room and the offices I was assigned to get information from. My confusion was due to the fact that all of the hallways looked the same, I had no map, and I was reaching the point of exhaustion. I finally located my room and began to unpack. My shower is one of the tiniest showers I have ever seen, but I have tons of closet space so I can forfeit shower! I have one roommate, but her contract ends tomorrow, so I will only get to know her for a week before getting a new roommate. Much to my surprise, the beds are plenty long and comfy. Also… my entire room is magnetic. Yep, that’s right, the walls and ceiling are all metal. I need to start a collection of magnets for hanging pictures and things on the walls.
Once everything was under control, I stepped outside just in time to see my first Hawaiian sunset over the ocean. It was one of those moments that you stand in awe of God’s magnificent creativity. After I regained composure of my jaw that had previously hit the floor, I headed back inside for my first new crew orientation meeting. Truth be told, at that point I had been awake for a full 24 hours, so I do not recall a single thing that was said in the meeting, and keeping my eyes open was the most difficult task I was facing. Finally, they set us free and I headed straight for my bed. The movement of the boat on the water is like being rocked to sleep, and I am getting some of the best sleep of my life.
Day 2 began with basic safety training. We learned everything there is to know about CPR, saving someone who is choking, and treating those who are hurt, injured, or have a broken bone. (Andy Nail will want to keep me around more when he finds out I have acquired these skills!) After class, a few of my classmates and I took off to do a little exploring in Maui. We wandered to some of the local hot spots. While walking by a fast food joint, a live chicken was walking on the sidewalk next to us. Either it escaped it’s intended purpose as a fresh chicken nugget meal, or that is a common thing to see in Maui. Either way, I found it very entertaining. We then walked down to the beach. It may have been pitch black outside, but feeling the sand and water between my toes as we ran and danced along the shore line was the moment I realized I had arrived in Hawaii. We rinsed off our feet and stopped in a little sushi house where I tried a fresh slab of octopus. It is a bit rubbery, and not something I am going to place in my favorite foods list, but I can now check it off the list of things to try. Another classmate from Washington had never tried sushi before, but we talked him into trying it out. He decided he didn’t like it, and much to our surprise, he liked the fish, but confessed that vegetables don’t settle well with him!
The following days were spent on the ship. We had several training sessions over codes, symbols, safety gear, and even performed a simulated emergency drill. Second City, the comedy improv troupe from Chicago, is performing on the boat, so I found myself laughing out loud at one of their live shows. One evening I headed to the top deck of the ship to catch a glimpse of the stars and moon reflecting over the miles of ocean that surrounded us. I also got to be on deck to watch as we passed the only active volcano in Hawaii. The views I have here sure beat the panoramic view of the concrete plant outside my windows in Pittsburg. (Sorry Jane Crain!)
On my fifth day at sea, I only had 30 minutes of training! My new friend Jaclyn and I decided to explore Kona. (Jaclyn is from Wichita, Kansas. She started on the same day as me, and we have discovered we have a lot of mutual friends. What are the odds?!?) We did a little shopping and then headed back to the boat. After dinner, I was in the crew game area and played foosball with some fellow classmates. One is a kind older man from Italy I am fascinated by all of his stories about life and travel. He teamed up with me for foosball and we were unstoppable. No one could beat us! I must say, the movement of the ship can definitely change the game play and make it extra challenging. I then went back to Jaclyn’s room and we watched movies before going to bed.
Yesterday was said to be the toughest day of the week. We had a 50 question test over fire fighting procedures and terminology. Scoring less than 70% meant immediate termination. A perfect score is near impossible to achieve, and when it is, the test is destroyed world wide and a new one is written. I only missed two questions! That was the highest score in my class and such a relief. To celebrate passing the class, several of us wandered around Kauai. We met up with the second city crew and spent some time with them before heading to free bowling night.
NCL rented out the local bowling alley and provided free pizza and soda all night. I usually get psyched out by the Nintendo Wii and think I am a good bowler then embarrass myself at the bowling alley. This time however, I was rolling one strike after another and I won! My victory was celebrated by going straight to bed because I had class at 6am the next morning.
Today I was in class all day and we are now headed back to Honolulu. We left Kauai and saw some amazing mountains and sunset. I have survived my first week of ship life, so far so good! We will see what happens in the following months!