It’s Good to Be Back!

It’s been over a year since I’ve been out at sea, and it’s good to be back. Being new to any ship is like the first day in high school, and it takes a few weeks to find your way around, to know if you get to sit at the “cool kids” table or make YOUR table the “cool kids” table, and to try and get the school running your way. Although, as I figured out in high school, things don’t always run “your way,” but you take what you can get. On this ship, which will remain nameless, not only don’t I get to the “cool kids” table … I don’t even get to eat with in the same mess (nautical for “dining room”.) I must eat with the passengers to represent the cruise line as the “perfect host.” Nothing wrong with eating with guests, and I’ve met some really neat people that way. But … when I was with another cruise line they used to assign me to host an “officer’s table.” Folks would always assume the were going to eat with the captain … then ended up with me. But as the perfect host I could at least buy wine for the table and charge it to the cruise line. Well it’s no longer that way with that particular cruise line, or this one. Whatever! Everyone is pinching pennies … including me.

But I’m enjoying it, glad to be back and meeting a lot of interesting folks. And I’m adjusting. To succeed in shipboard life you have to learn to “go with the flow” and always have a plan “B” and “C”, and after ten years as an expat in Panama, I’m an expert on going with the flow and having multiple plans. It’s a great retirement job and, like I’ve always told the cruise lines, “when it’s no longer fun, I’m outta here!”

Sometimes on land this job sounds so glamorous to folks that they make comments like, “They must give you a suite or a pretty nice cabin on board!” If they only knew. Crew live differently than guests … because we are working. I actually have a very nice cabin, at the back of the ship, but I adjust nicely to the constant sound of the engines and when they shift I’m instantly awake and primed for action. (They never really shift unless we are coming into port or there is a problem.) I live on a hall with singers and fly-on fly-off entertainers who go from ship to ship. Compared to most crew members I have a fantastic cabin … all to myself. It’s called a “fleet officer cabin” and I’ve got two portholes … portholes which for some unknown reason get closed when we go into the Canal. Maybe they are expecting pirates or the Embera Indians to attack: who knows? All the passenger cabins on this deck have huge picture windows and it seems if anyone was going to attack they’d aim for the picture window and not the tiny porthole! But many things on board ship you don’t try to figure out or understand. What I like about a “fleet officer cabin” … kind of an exaggerated name … is that I have a seven foot desk, so it is designed for work. Guest cabins have “desks” which double as make up tables and are too small for actual work.

So here’s my cabin … decorated for the holidays!

Fleet Officer Cabin

So far there is no hint of Christmas, or Chanukah. I’ve been on ships with lavish four story trees and artificial snow floating down from deck 8, huge menorahs, and I’ve been on ships where the Christmas decorations were dying poinsettias and blow-up Santas from Wal Mart, with a tiny menorah probably picked up at a garage sale … so we shall see.

Unfortunately, universally on all ships, Internet is expensive and slow, so that impacts my ability to keep the blogs coming. Today I’m in the Renaissance Hotel Starbucks in Aruba. Good coffee and good Internet.

But the reviews and comments are in and the guests like me and found the talks enhanced their cruise experience which is what is important.

“We have really enjoyed all the presentations by Richard Detrich. [They even spelled my name right!] His talks have been entertaining and informative and helped us to get more out of our cruise. His enthusiasm and love of Panama and surrounding areas really brings the subject to life.” Cante B316

“Outstanding local knowledge – excellent presentation – very approachable” M/M LW D234

“Dr. Detrich did an amazing job as the Port Lecturer and we never missed one of his very interesting and informative talks. His broad knowledge and witty commentary always kept you riveted and he was a highlight of our sea days to look forward to.” Glenn & Tammy D210

“Richard the Port Lecturer enhanced our cruise. Excellent.” Janet & Michael C518

“Excellent presentations! Knowledgeable, entertaining and great delivery! Well traveled!” Richard A516

“Very informative lectures maximizing our understanding of the history of the Canal and related factors encompassing the entire experience. We totally appreciated his input, books and humor.” Shaun & Susan E224

“Very interesting. Enjoyed very much.” Virginia B347

“His port lectures were informative and made the visits more enjoyable. His knowledge of the area enhanced the voyage.” Patricia A328

“Went to all six lectures and found them very useful, informative and humorous!” Kenneth C527

“Extremely informative and interesting lectures – we learned a great deal” Robin B324

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