img_1536A rough draft of below article had sat patiently in my ‘blog queue’ for some time and I’ve never got around to really whip it into shape.  So I thought today is the perfect opportunity to tell you what happened this morning and sprinkle in the contribution that was meant to have been made months ago!

With the US visa I’m currently holding, I’m required to present myself to the US immigration officers every embarkation day.  On some ships, this is after all the guests have left the vessel, on others it’s just after the ship has arrived in port – at an inappropriate time like 6:30 AM.  Having just come off a “6:30 AM”-ship I had sailed on plenty of times before, I had hoped that the Carnival Inspiration was a late ship and I could snooze for a bit longer. ‘Tough luck, Miss Kat, please be at the disco by 6:30 AM’.  Bummer!

Not being the most energetic person in the early morning and requiring three alarm clocks to actually convince me to rise and shine, I was awake enough to realize that something was wrong.  I hadn’t noticed the thrusters, and the ship was still madly rocking like it did all day yesterday due to bad weather around Cuba.

They wouldn’t make announcements in crew areas so we’re always a bit blindsided when it comes to exciting things happenening on the ship.  So… What was happening ? I could call the bridge.  Well, better not.  I could check the map and camera channels on TV!  Great idea!  The camera channel showed a pitch-black picture it was well before sunrise.  The map channel flipped through the various zoom levels of geographic maps and it was hard to make out where exactly we were located.  In one view it looked like we were right in Tampa, in another view it looked as if we hadn’t even entered the bay yet.  The statistics showed 0.5 kts (knots) and no course. Mysterious! There was a ship location website my stalking mum had once sent me:

That one showed we were indeed outside Tampa Bay and nowhere close to  docking!

The first thought was that we had engine problems.  The second thought was that we were waiting for the pilot who guides each ship into the port.  The third thought was that I’m misinterpreting what I saw and that I’ll be late for immigration.

I was just about to grab my mug to get a cup of tea on Lido deck and scout out what the situation is, when the Assistant IS Manager Tim contacted me via chat (which is funny because if we each stand in our doors we can shake hands) telling me that we won’t arrive until 10:30 AM because the port of Tampa is closed.  We will yet have to find out why.

Well, I thought it’d be good to use the newly found time to publish the blog contribution I had on hold for like ever…

Being of German nationality on a ship, you are somewhat of an exotic person and – let’s be honest – a bit popular.  Americans classically like Germans, Romanians and Eastern Europeans with certainty (in particularly those who have learnt German at school), Indians kinda do too, and also Filipinos and Indonesians especially when they happened to have worked on an Aida ship in the past – quite amusing to hear a ‘Guten Morgen, mein Fraeulein’ from your
Balinese cabin steward.

If we DO happen to be two or even three Germans on board, we are usually quite friendly with each other and occasionally meet in the crew bar for a drink or two.  Classically and because it’s a patriotic act so far away from home, we have a bottle of Piesporter Michelsberg, a German white wine they offer in the Crew Bar (the fact that it’s the cheapest on the list makes it popular for everyone).

Just now on the Carnival Sensation, I was reunited with Chef Jörg Schneider whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few months ago on the Inspiration.  JP, a German Maitre d’ whom I’ve also known for quite some time, completed our German trio.

Here’s the thing about Jörg: He’s always appropriately dressed in his white Chef jacket with embroidered name tag – “Jörg” is missing the umlaut which is why everyone calls him ‘George’.  He’s got a thing for buttons and as he told me, he has an extensive collection too, depicting food-related items. I can’t remember which ones I’ve seen so far but it seems to me that there were pig’s heads, oranges, cows, pretzels and such – always prompting for admiration and something to talk about.

Jörg takes culinary pride in spoiling us Germans and some of the ship’s F&B Management with German lunches at every opportunity.  There’s Sauerbraten, Sausages of all kinds, Rouladen, Red Cabbage, Sauerkraut, Head Cheese, Roast Potatoes, Potato Dumplings, Apple Strudel, and much more – just like home and much better as the fact that you’re so far away from home makes it somewhat exotic.  You see, we’re creating our own little world thousands of kilometers away in the Caribbean…

Back to reality.   By now I’ve had breakfast and ran into one of the Bridge Officers whom I’ve boldly asked what’s going on.  The port is closed due to strong winds until further notice.  Happy days…