We survived our first night on the ship! Waking up that first morning still felt a little weird. Are we seriously waking up in the middle of the Caribbean right now? Crazy. We had a little bit of hesitation at first, not gonna lie. Apparently life at sea is a lot more complex than what it sounds. We woke up bright and early that first morning to a phone call to our room (each room had its own phone, kinda like a hotel, and you just had to dial the room # to call people). It was our boss, telling us our first training class was coming up and we needed to start reading our safety packet. Some of that stuff still feel likes such a blur to me, so I'll spare you all of the details of what each class entailed. All I remember is by the end of our contract, we had probably attended around 15-20 "training sessions", taken about 15 different tests, watched a handful of ship safety videos, and I still couldn't tell you a damn thing about what it takes to run a ship. But anyways, we were the amateurs, the new kids on the block that looked like 2 little lost puppies to all the other crew members, and we were NOT aware that we would have to go through all of this strict training and early morning meetings. Yup, we thought when we got hired to play music that we were just gonna play music and use the rest of our spare time to do whatever we felt like doing. LOL YEAH RIGHT. We learned realllll fast that it doesn't work that way.
So the first week was weird. And when I say first week I don't actually mean 7 days. We basically kept track of time by what number cruise we were on. Our contract stated that we would be on board for 24 cruises (a bunch of 4 day and 5 day cruises), so we just kind of considered each "cruise" as a "week" on board, if that makes sense. Our schedules were written out for 4 days and 5 days at a time, so after a while you start to have a different sense of time, and most days you really don't even know what day of the week it is. Because it doesn't really matter. So yeah, the first week was this weird transition period for us. Getting to know our surroundings, meeting some of the other crew members, figuring out where to eat, all that fun stuff. We actually didn't even have any cell service for the first few days because we were so caught up in the culture shock and figuring everything out that it just took us THAT long to finally sit down and figure out how to even get wifi in the first place. It's funny, I actually remember going 3 full days without charging my phone, and it still stayed at like 90%. That neverrrrr happens. On day 3, we finally sat down and decided to purchase the ship wifi, which by the way, a lot of guests asked us if as crew members we had our own wifi and the answer is no. We were offered the same packages that everyone else had, and we had to pay the same prices as the guests. The wifi we ended up using 99.9% of the time was a $4 package that allowed us to use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. No google, or regular internet, just social media. That's $4 PER DAY. Our contract was for 100 days. That's $400 EACH in just social media data, $800 between the two of us. Luckily we were able to purchase it daily though rather than just buying it all at once, so we could decide if we really wanted it that day or not. I still bought it most days though, because that was my only way of communicating with my family. We were fortunate though to have cell service at all of the ports because Sprint allows you to add "International service" to your plan for no extra charge.
Back to that first week......IT. WAS. ROUGH. The shows were great! We played 4 hours per night (usually either a 6p-10p or a 7p-11p) and our shows were broken up into 4 sets, so our 15 min. breaks were already built-in for us. We had a lot of fun getting to play for a new set of fans each cruise and meeting so many amazing people, but I'll go into more detail about that in another blog!
One question we were asked a lot while at sea was "how often do you cruise?" "Do you get breaks in Texas in between cruises?" The answer, is we never really stopped cruising. The Carnival Valor was on a sailing schedule that consisted of 4 and 5 day cruises. So basically, we did a 5 day, 5 day, 4 day, repeat. And when each cruise was over, debarkation started at around 9am, the new set of passengers would board at around 1pm, and we would sail away at around 4pm. This meant every 4 or 5 days (depending on which rotation we were on), we would be able to get off the ship in Galveston for about 5-6 hours. We always had to be back onboard by 3pm sharp because we had to prepare for the mandatory Emergency Drill that every cruise line requires before embarkation.
Our first cruise was a 4 day cruise, which meant we got to get off the ship in Texas for 5 hours on Monday, April 3rd. We were desperate to find the closest convenient store to pick up some decent shampoo, body wash, and some SNACKS. Luckily, we found out there was a Family Dollar a few blocks away, so we were able to walk there and grab a few things. While I was shopping for basic toiletries and shower necessities, I figured I better pick up some tampons so I don't need to drop $20 on a box in the ship gift shop when the time comes. But that got me thinking.....I should have needed those a week ago. I guess the stress of starting our new adventure just caused the 'delay'. But what the heck, I'll go ahead and buy the tampons, but I might as well buy a pregnancy test while I'm here. That way, the stress will go away and I'll start in the next day or two. We finished buying all of our necessities with a couple hours to spare, so we decided to hit up the Starbucks that was next to our port and have a coffee/use the wifi before we got back on board. With about 6 or 7 Family Dollar bags hanging off our arms, we managed to find a cozy couch under a palm tree on the Starbucks deck and made ourselves comfortable. I gulped down half of my vanilla bean iced coffee and decided to make a trip to the bathroom to get that stupid test out of the way. But as I was opening the box, I started to get a little nervous. I decided I didn't even wanna read it. So I didn't. I did my job, put the cap back on, and threw it in my purse. I decided that John was gonna be the one to read it first.
So I went back outside to our comfy little corner, sat my purse down (because John was on the phone) and proceeded to make a few phone calls myself to pay some bills while I still had phone service. About 30-45 min went by before we even remembered that I took the test. John was ready to see what it said, but let's be honest......I wasn't. I started getting nervous. I told him to look in my purse and let me know what it said, and before I could even ask, the answer was written all over his face. I'm pregnant. My heart was racing, my skin felt like it was on fire, and I instantly felt like a different person. I couldn't grasp what was happening. I couldn't even cry, because I was just THAT shocked. We picked up our bags and rushed back to the ship so that we could go straight to the ship medical center, and then the tears started flowing. FAST. I was so scared, and so shocked. We happened to walk into the medical center while all nurses and doctors were on break, but I was fortunate to have the sweetest nurse from India take my hand and somehow manage to calm me down. She checked my vitals, and gave me a second test (because ya know, family dollar tests can be questionable) and was able to confirm the pregnancy. Somehow, she was able to calm me down and snap me out of whatever panic attack I was having. It's so weird. I have ALWAYS known that I wanted kids in the future, but there is something about finding out you are carrying a child that FREAKS. YOU. OUT. No matter how much you want a baby. It's scary. Especially when it wasn't planned. So John and I decided to go to our room, process our news, and talk through our excitement/fear. Next thing we knew, we were already picturing our little family, and our hearts were overflowing with happiness. But then the fear set back in when we quickly remembered that our lives weren't confined to that ship. We needed to tell our families.
Oh man......do any of you remember that feeling you had in high school when you had to confess to your parents something you thought was going to literally be the end of the world? Well this is nothing like that. But for some reason as I began to dial their phone #s, I instantly felt like I was 16 again and felt a huge lump in my throat, like I was about to tell them I robbed a bank or got expelled from school. I have blended families, and lots of siblings, so between John and I , we had a lot of people on our list to call. I went first, calling my parents (with TERRIBLE service by the way. I mean, we WERE in the middle of the ocean) and between the cell service (or lack of) and my annoying cry-voice, it took about 10 times of me saying "I'm pregnant" or "I'm having a baby" before they were able to catch on. Every single person in our family was overjoyed with the news, and that completely put us at ease. The love our families show us is exactly what makes us so excited to start our own. BUT.....regardless of how excited we were about having a baby, nothing could have prepared us for the crazy ride we were in for on the Carnival Valor! Stay tuned, next week I'll be getting more personal with some of our crazy experiences onboard! Xoxo / Jessie