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I'm on a Boat!

My next week had an explosive start… Literally. I went to the seafarers training academy to put all of the things I learned in the classroom to use. We safely entered and exited a life raft, properly used a life jacket, and tried an immersion suit. We also navigated our way through a two-story, zero-visibility maze. The best part of the day was fire fighting! We were given a full fire fighter suit. We learned how to put it on properly and use our air tanks, then it was off to the fire zone. Our first test was putting out a small fire with a fire extinguisher. That was easy enough. Then, we were put into teams, given a real fire hose, and put face to face with a massive fire! The suit weighed approximately 40 pounds, and the hose was super heavy too. I got to be in the front and lead my team straight into the fire. It was a total blast. After learning all of these life saving techniques, I feel like my name tag should read “super hero” instead of “photographer.”

As soon as we got back I headed to the photo lab for my first schedule and to meet the other photographers. There are eight of us total right now I went back to my room after the meeting to find that my roommate had left, and they did not assign a replacement so I had the room to myself. I was able to do a little reorganizing and decorating to make the room more “Melissa."

For the first few days of the week I was an official photographer shadow. Kevin was assigned to show me the ropes and let me watch his every move at work. It is a lot of information, and very different than what I expected, but I am catching on. On Sunday, I met the captain of the ship. His name in Buzz. (My little sisters will be thrilled to find out I know a real life Buzz!) After work on Sunday, Jaclyn, three of the photographers and I went out for sushi. I was very excited to find out that the photographers have a weekly sushi ritual, and I was already invited to join in the fun! Monday, Mariah, one of the photographers, was assigned to move into my room, so I have a roommate again. The week continued with lots of shadowing. Thursday was Thanksgiving. The 80 degree weather has really thrown me off, and it did not feel like Thanksgiving at all. We all ate our Thanksgiving meal in the Liberty Restaurant. The head honchos and officers served us. They had some amazing food displays, and made lots of flowers and animals out of fruits and vegetables That evening I attended my first luau! Dressed in my luau attire, I headed to the luau with some of the other photographers. It was just like the movies with hula dancers, totem poles, and a pig roasting underground. I shot photos for the first time. I was nervous, but I think it went well. Afterwards, I went out on the town with some friends. We danced the night away, and headed back to the ship for a little rest before Friday.

On Friday, the photography department was super busy. We offered lots of black Friday sales and specials. I was sent out on my own for the first time. I went to each of the restaurants and shot photos of couples and families at dinner. One man came to the photo gallery after my photos were printed and told me his wife said to buy the photo I took of them no matter what it looked like because she liked me and wanted me to look good! Luckily it was a good photo.

Saturday I had some free time so my friend Katelyn and I went to the mall in Honolulu. We shopped a little before work, then headed back to the ship. It was a fairly easy afternoon, and I got to give embarkation photos a try. We shot everyone as they were boarding the ship. Afterwards I needed to do some laundry. I ran into some security guards that I had become friends with earlier in the week. Not only did they show me where the best washing machines were, and they gave me peanut m&ms. I think I am going to be hanging out with them more often!

Tuesday and Wednesday I took pictures of characters in the morning, and shot our professional portraits on the stairs in the evening. I was super nervous to do this, because stairs portraits are our biggest sellers. That was a lot of pressure considering I did not have a lot of experience with indoor portraits. Apparently I did well, because they scheduled me there again the second night. I hung out with Alex, Will, Katelyn, and Adrienne after work both nights as well. We have really developed quite the regular after work hang out session. Tuesday night, the girls and I got our pictures taken by some of the photographers for Christmas cards. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. After posing for our Christmas cards we looked way too cute to just go to bed, so a dance party was in order. We met up with our friends Paul, Karlo, and Carl, and Will came along too. Our new goal is to get all the guys out on the dance floor. This time, Paul was the only one that joined us, but we will work on the others.

Sunday I took pictures of one of our characters in the morning, then shot photos in the restaurants that evening. I am starting to get the hang of capturing these photos. That night, I watched a movie with Katelyn and Adrienne. They are super fun to hang out with and the three of us have become quite the trio. Katelyn grew up in Kodiak, Alaska where my grandparents were missionaries. I have visited Kodiak so it is fun to talk to her about her experiences there. After the movie, I met up with Alex and Will and they took me to a bonfire on the beach. Apparently there are some locals that live very close to where our ship ports on Maui. They host a bonfire each week right on the beach for anyone that wants to attend. I just enjoyed all the stargazing that there was to do, and the mountains and ocean just constantly remind me that I am not in Kansas anymore!

Monday they put me in the Photo Gallery all by myself. Luckily I knew the answers to all the questions that were asked of me and I was able to sell several things. Afterwards, Alex, Will, Adrienne, Katelyn and I went up to the top deck of the ship. Alex has an app on his phone that tells you what constellations are visible. We were able to find several. We then headed down to my room for some movie watching. Will ended up bailing, but Alex stuck around with us girls. We tried to convince him to let us have a girly night and paint nails and stuff, but he wasn’t interested!

Thursday I got a super easy schedule, which was much needed considering I had worked ALL day Wednesday. I slept in and hung out with Jaclyn a bit. It seems like our schedules are very conflicting, so we don’t get to hang out nearly as much as we would like, but we managed to squeeze in some catch up time. We went down to the beach to meet up with Megan, Goran, and Will. We all laid out while taking in the gorgeous view of ocean and mountains, and then we dove right in for a swim in the crystal clear water. Goran and Will are both from Florida, so they gave Jaclyn and I a hard time about being able to swim since there are no oceans in Kansas and Missouri. I raced back from the beach and got ready just in time for the luau. Goran and Will were waiters at the luau, and I took pictures of everyone eating. We came back from the luau to print photos and prepare for the crowd of people in the gallery to purchase their photos. Afterwards we all got together for a night on the town. Since we were staying in Kauai overnight, we were able to do some late night exploring on the island. On our walk home, we found ourselves in the middle of a torrential down pour, but that did not stop us from making the most of our night and dancing in the rain!


Friday I slept in and worked all day, then went straight to bed so I could be early to rise on Saturday. We bid the guests farewell, and prepared for my third week of cruising. Time is flying so fast. After working all day Saturday, our supervisor gave Matt and I the night off so we went and ate in one of the nicer restaurants on the ship, and made it to the comedy show as well! It was hilarious. After laughing out loud for a couple hours, I headed to bed and woke up in Maui. We all went to sushi after work that night. I love how fresh everything is here.On Monday, Will, Jaclyn, and I spent the afternoon at the beach. We splashed around in the water and even did some cartwheels! Then it was back to work. I took pictures in the restaurants all night with Matt. I even met a couple who have become my little buddies for the week. They are in their 70s, from Texas, and full of life! It is so much fun to run into them around the ship.

Today has been busy with drill, captains meeting, and stocking the gallery for tonight. I am shooting green screen portraits tonight. We take pictures of everyone in front of a green screen, then during editing we make it look like they are surfing, riding dolphins, and riding turtles. Passengers get a kick out of these photos and I think they are pretty fun too!
Feel free to leave questions, comments, and snide remarks in the comment spot below! And for those of you interested in sending a little something this way, I would love to hear from you. Here is my address:

Melissa McDonald, Photographer
NCLA- Ms Pride of America
PO Box 135035
Honolulu, HI 96801-5035

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