Two days ago I and about 500 other crew and cast members moved onto the Disney Dream cruise ship in port in Bremerhaven, Germany. Living on a ship that is still under construction is like living in an ant hill – everyone is scurrying about, old paths close and new ones open daily – except there are dozens of queens. I finally found how to get to one part of the ship this morning only to find that way is blocked this afternoon. Remember the scene from Spinal Tap where they can’t find their way onto the stage – that’s pretty much what it’s like every day here. The air carries the most varied of aromas – paint, glue, curry, snow, oil, new carpet – to name just a few. Every surface is covered in plastic as if the ship belonged to someone’s grandmother. I know they just want to keep it as clean as possible until actual guests come on board but it’s hard to get comfortable when sitting on bubble wrap.
The best part is the people. Everyone is working 14-16 hour days to get the work done. Plumbers are working around painters who are working around carpet layers and in the midst of it all we’re trying to get monitors hooked up, software installed and some shows up and running. The crew hails from all over the world and the languages you hear spoken range from Germany (to be expected as we are after all working in Germany), Italian, Dutch, French and others I can’t identify. English is spoken with so many different accents it hardly sounds like the same language.
The cold temperatures outside – 4 below as of last report – is keeping everyone who can be inside the ship inside and we feel for those whose jobs require them to work on deck. Just walking past the open doors from the decks is enough to freeze your fingers and nose.
Luckily the food is absolutely delicious though calculating when to arrive to avoid extremely long food lines has become something of an art. Arrive too early and the food isn’t out yet. Arrive too late and you’ll be in line for a good half hour. Arrive really too late and you’ll find the counters closed except for the around the clock hamburgers and hotdogs.
Sleeping has become a bit of a challenge. Last night for example was the questionably named “blackout test” which involved having the emergency lights in all the rooms come on just after mid-night. The sudden brightness of the emergency light was enough to wake me. At 2am, just as I was managing to get back to sleep despite the light being on, the test ended with the emergency light going off and every other light in the room going on! Needless to say, that put back any sleep efforts another good hour. Then work begins on deck at 5am. No need for an alarm at least.
Still, it’s not often one gets to see these early stages of a cruise ship so despite the challenges, it’s been fun.