Pregnant in Paradise
Hola friends! It's time to be real with you and talk about my experience working as a musician on a cruise ship. I can't even count the number of people that have asked John and I about our trip, and us giving the same "it was awesome!" rehearsed response. Here's the deal.....some of it WAS awesome, but some of it was not. For those of you reading this that don't really know us or our story, let me give you a little background. I'm Jessie, a 25-year-old singer/songwriter (yes, one of those) living in Nashville, TN with my singer/songwriter boyfriend John Meyer (no, not Mayer). We met a little over 2 years ago when we were thrown together to play an acoustic show at Tootsie's, and have been performing as a duo (John + Jessie) ever since. In December of 2016, we signed a contract with Carnival Cruise Line to be the 'country duo' onboard the Carnival Valor ship from March 30th-July 6th of 2017. Being beach lovers and overly-obsessed with the water, this was really a dream come true for us. Playing music every day on a ship in the middle of the Caribbean? What could be better? Little did we know, only a few days into our journey, we were about to get the BIGGEST news of our lives.
The night we left for Galveston, TX - our home port - was such a blur. We knew Carnival was putting us on a plane that week to fly us down to Texas, but we didn't know when. All we could do was wait for our agent to call us with our flight plan, and have our bags packed and ready to go. Finally, on Wednesday, March 29th, we got a phone call telling us that our flight plan was sent to our email, and that we needed to be ready to go within the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, I'm running around like a maniac trying to make sure I have everything crammed into my suitcases, and John is freaking out about getting on a plane for the first time. We finally decided to take a look at our tickets and guess what? They put us on SEPARATE FLIGHTS with SEPARATE AIRLINES. Both with layovers in different states. Let me tell you how excited I was to walk through the airport alone with 2 suitcases, a carry on, and a guitar strapped to my body.
So anyways, a 2am trip to Waffle House, 4 cups of coffee, and 20 "did you grab your passport?"s later, we made it to BNA. John boarded his flight at 5am, I boarded mine at 7am, he had a layover in Atlanta, I had a layover in Dallas, and we met back up at the Houston Airport around 2pm. Next on our agenda, we needed to find the shuttle that we were told will take us to our ship's port. We managed to cram down some Starbucks & Subway while waiting on the next shuttle to arrive, when a man informed us that there actually were no more shuttles that day, and Carnival would be sending us a driver. Lucky for us, our driver, with the most italian name ever that I can't seem to remember, the movie quality Italian accent and top notch cologne showed up in his black luxury town car to drive us from Houston to Galveston in style. We were so excited to see our new home for the next 3 months and even though we had only slept for about an hour, we were running on adrenaline and were anxious to start our journey. After about an hour and half drive to Galveston, we made it to the port and there it was: The Carnival Valor. Holy Ship. This thing was HUGE. All John and I could do was grab each other's hand and walk up that ramp with the confidence we somehow managed to channel through all the nerves.
As soon as we got on board, we went through customs, and immediately had to go to the MSA office to get our name tags (yeah, we had to wear those), and our room keys. Our music director met us in the office to welcome us aboard and took us to our room. Oh man....the room. I'm not gonna go into too much detail, because I'll be saving that one for another day, but I'll just tell you they were SMALL. Have you ever been on a cruise? Most of the time when you talk to someone who has, they will tell you that the rooms were tiny. But I'm here to tell you that those "tiny rooms" you stay in on your cruise look like suites compared to the crew cabins.
After we got into our room, we did a quick tour of the ship, and had to go right back to our cabin to get ready because our first show was in 2 hours. With enough dry shampoo to degrease a pan of bacon, and a heavy layer of makeup coated over my leftover makeup from the day before, I was ready. We hopped on the elevator and made it to the lobby with 30 min to spare before our first show on the ship. We finished playing around midnight, and I'm pretty sure we crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillow. Night one - success. But everything was about to change, and we had NO idea what we were getting into.
There is so much from this adventure that I want to share with you all, so I've decided to break up our journey into a series of stories, and I'll be sharing a new post once a week from now until October 6th. Be sure to follow my blog - Jess Beachin - to stay connected to our journey, and hear the truth behind our struggles & successes.
Sea ya soon!