Three weeks ago, I woke up to cloudy sunshine peeking through my curtains and crisp fall air slipping through the window screen. Now I’m waking up to a black room, to my new roommate, with no concept of time, floors under the sea.
Three weeks ago, I would walk downstairs to see my mom every morning for breakfast, and now I’m walking upstairs into a crew cafeteria of thousands of the same strangers from all across the world.
I moved my life onto the Oasis of the Seas Cruise ship, where everyone was a stranger and my whole world was centered on a giant ship holding over 6,000 guests and 2,000 crew members all different from me.
Everyone has a different background, a unique story, and a specific reason for being here; whether that’s for money, travel, meeting new people, whatever floats their boat.
What do you imagine it would be like when you put thousands of people aboard a ship from all cultures and countries around the world having them eat, live, and socialize every day? Let me tell you, it’s quite a shock to the system.
I’m not going to lie; the first two weeks were extremely overwhelming. Not only was I getting used to this new lifestyle, trying make new friends and create a comfortable environment; but I was also sitting in hours of safety training topped with learning the whole Ice show. Almost every day the first two weeks started with safety trainings from about 8:00am to noon, then followed with on ice from around 2:00pm to 8:00pm. We’d quickly eat dinner, change and watch both ice shows that were performed that night from the previous ice cast; studying our character and track, watching the development, movement, transitions, and costume changes.
The first two weeks were dedicated to trainings, learning the show, and getting prepared to become the new ice cast on the Oasis of the Seas. We didn’t get off the ship, and we never had a full day off. The ten of us that make up the ice cast learned the whole show in five days. The first stumble through was on day six, and it was a bit of a disaster. Remembering the choreography isn’t the tough part, it’s getting up the stamina to perform for a straight 45 minutes.
Fast forward through the first two weeks, 19 run throughs, costume fittings, solo practices, and exhausted bodies; we had our opening night. It was such an incredible feeling being out there, putting on a show, creating a story, and hearing our names individually announced making up the new International Ice Cast.
Our show is a compilation of Hans Christian Anderson’s story books including The Snow Queen, The Red Shoes, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and the Emporer’s New Clothes. My track is The Red Shoes, a ballerina that puts on magical shoes and can’t stop dancing. More specifics on the show later, but thats a brief overview of what I’m out here doing.
Yesterday I watch a little girl have the time of her life when she was brought out onto the ice in my swan that I push around during “The Ugly Duckling” section of the show. Her face lit up, here smile was radiating from ear to ear – and that gave me the extra push I needed to know that what I am doing here far away from home was so worth it.
Now, our contract really begins. We’re finally able to get into our normal schedule of shows, drills, side jobs, and get off the ship to explore all of the different ports.
Lucky for us, our show days are scheduled for Day 1, Day 3, and Day 5. We have two shows each of those nights, and a 30 minute warm up ice that precedes it. We can get off at every port and have a good amount of free time to explore. We’re also a part of two parades each week- I’m Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon – I have a section waving around a ribbon on a floating bridge, so I’m living my best life there. We also help the dancers dress backstage for Cats the Musical, once a week, and help with All Public Skates about 3 times per week. Needless to say, life here is different, but I really can’t complain. More on all this later.
There’s so much more to say, but for that’s all for now! Until next time…I’ll be sailing.