Sunset from the Ship – Norwegian Gem January 2014
Sunsets from the sea afford some of the best views that one will see. Here are a few of mine from January.
All images and text copyright Travelxena.com © 2014
Tony Fitzsimmons Food and Beverage Director on the Jewel of the seas
From Liverpool England.
If you ever have the chance to meet up with cheerful Tony Fitzsimmons on a Royal Caribbean ship. Ask him about his encounter with Elizabeth Taylor and the blue dress. While I promised I wouldn’t share that hilarious tid bit on my blog I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t suggest you ask him about it 😉
More importantly stop whatever you’re doing and chat. He’s one of the most delightful personalities you’ll come across and will be someone that you hope to meet again. Along with having a chance to interview him my friends and I along with only a few others were invited to his table to dine with him. (Photo of him and head Chef Ashley Duff below). There and at his presentation about 55 years of life at sea we had the chance to learn more about his fascinating life and career. He took the time to share some of his thoughts on how he feels about what he does. The interview is below.
What made you go into this line of work?
Well Liverpool during that period when I was starting to grow up was a very large seaport. And more or less every family had a member of the family going to sea. So I thought I’d like to do it, and that’s what made me go to sea.
So is it something that you thought you’d do as a kid?
Yes. My father went to sea, and my uncle, both my uncle and my father died at sea. That was during the war, but yes I thought I’d like to go to sea.
So what do you enjoy most about your job?
Meeting people (it’s) very important, listening to people is also very important. And once you go into food and beverage you very seldom come away from it.
What’s your favorite port to leave from and to visit?
I’ve no favorite ports in particular. It’s a voyage. At the end of my contract yes that’s my favorite port of call. (laughs) To go the airport…(smile) If I were to look back I liked Valapariso, Bunos Aires, Santos Uruguay, Montevideo. …South American Ports, only because of Che Guevarra the revolutionist…
Me: So it was something exciting.
Tony: Yeah. (Laughs)
So if a young person says to you. I want to do what you do — I want to work on a ship too. What would you tell them what would you encourage them to do?
I’d tell them (about) sometimes the heartache of being away from home if anything happens. And the actual blessing that you’re going to be amongst people of good nature and good character and all working together for one particular aim and that’s to make the guests happy.
Speaking of guest if a guest comes up to you and say Tony this is the first time I’ve been on a cruise, what should I do to have a good time?
Well first off I’d say…well okay you’ve got your cruise compass. That’s your Bible sort of this week, you’ve got one printed every day. Not what seating are you on? Are you first or second sitting, and if they ask me if I can change it I would change it for them. Just as long as they’re happy. Do a follow up call to make sure they’re okay. And that’s exactly what I’d do.
This might be another tough question like the ports but do you have a favorite ship?
Well really from a seamans point of view they sort of say your favorite ship is your last one. And yes I like this one, I like this class of ship. This class of ship suits me and the way she’s built she has some nice bells and whistles in her. I think so.
Is there anything in particular that you just want to share with people?
About the company Royal Caribbean, they like to take expertise over age. I should have retired six years ago at the age of 65, but no no I kept going. You’re not (sic) pressured. … I can go anytime but it’s my choice to be here. There’s no pressure coming down the pipeline …”well you know Tony you are 71 don’t you think you should (laughs) well that’s what I do like and I’ve been here going on 28 years. And yet they’ve looked after me as much as I’ve looked after them, and I would recommend this company out of all the companies out there. Even though I’ve sailed all the world with Cunard — that was 4 classes which wasn’t very nice. Segregation. I didn’t like the people unable to mix. Now they’ve opened the ship up to the neighbor next door … they save their pennies and then they come. That’s what I like about today’s guests. It’s a vast cross section of the public, whereas before you saw people dressed up for dinner you saw people dressed up every evening for dinner the bow ties, the tails…everything.
So it’s one of the biggest differences between back then and today.
When you’ve got one class everyone’s in the same boat. I like that. As I say from the company…(there’s) no pressure for retiring.
That says a lot about the company.
I think that it’s a good company to work for. People have their moans and groans about companies, but get over it. (Laughs)
Do you have a favorite cruise memory.
Only that one I told you about Elizabeth Taylor (laughs) don’t print that! (laughs) No not really…the greatest cruise memory I have is when I brought the ships out when you’re on board and the ships getting finished and she gets her first passenger on board and over night she comes alive, until such time she goes to breakers yard she’s alive every day.
Thank you Tony it was such a pleasure meeting you and I hope to see you again on a ship one of these days!
All Written Material and Photos Copyright © TravelXena.com 2013
Drew DeFour and Kin Curran Musicians on the Norwegian Breakaway
Along with Slam Allen, when I was on the Epic last year Drew and Kin rounded out my top three favorite musical acts on the ship. A husband and wife team that are very talented and very energetic, they’ll be sure to life your spirits up while playing dueling pianos at the Howl in The Moon venue Headliners bar whether on the Norwegian Epic or Breakaway.
After sitting down for a lovely and informative dinner with them we asked a few questions that they answered. Learn more about this talented duo in the video below.
When you have a chance to see them in person, don’t forget to request that Drew play one of his original songs. Keep a Light is my favorite and you can find that along with his new song The Man You Loved and others on their websites and on YouTube.
I’ll be adding some raw video taken with the high res camera.
Unless otherwise stated all Material Copyright © TravelXena.com 2013
Norwegian Breakaway Water Slides
One of the things that I look forward to most on a large cruise ship is the water slides. That’s the place where I get to let my inner child come out (along with available bars – juuuust kidding) and really have a ball. My only regret so far is that the place where I’ve had the change to enjoy it most was on the Norwegian Epic which my husband has not had the chance to enjoy. So when we both decided to spend the first day in Bermuda on the ship having fun on the water slides and ropes course instead of shore side it was one of the highlights of this cruise for me.
There are five water slides on the Norwegian Breakaway, out of the five, two sets of two mirror each other. The yellow and purple ones and the red and blue free fall set.
I’m just going to go into talking about the free fall slides. Before getting on them I noticed that there were these backpack type contraptions that are these soft foam boards you have to wear on you back. I simply didn’t know what they were used for. The attendant asked me if I wanted to go on the fast slide, and so of course I said “yes”. He proceeded to strap me in and told me to go to all the way to the top. I merrily walked up another 20 feet or so worth of steps, to see two men standing next to what turned out to be pods. I smiled at them all the wall ignoring the sign that said “free fall” and wondering just what kind of slide this was. I thought that perhaps the “pod” would sail through the tube.
It wasn’t until I stepped my first foot in that it hit me, — the floor was going to fall from under me and I was going to drop into what would feel like is the oblivion of nothingness, which of course was really the water slide. As the pod door closed around me and I leaned back with my arms crossed and thinking of the best way to maneuver my feet (flat against the back, a few inches up, toes pointing in…) the door slowly closed sealing me in and off all chances of “escape”. I gulped, remembered all of the good times I had in my relatively short life, and wondered how fast the medical team could revive me from cardiac arrest. Of course I’m being overly dramatic, but when the floor fell out from beneath me, I had the sudden urge to cry, laugh and scream all at the same time. I might have even accomplished it. My memory of the few seconds of swirling through the slide abyss now evade me. What I do remember is coming out into the water area below heart beating faster than an baby mouse on a treadmill and thinking “gee that was fun”… as hubby and I both walked up stairs to do it all over again.
What I call slides 3 and 4 and fun twisty ‘turny’ slides that come out about two levels below and the blue open top slide starts about 3 decks up and comes out near the pool area.
Note: All slides come out into a small water holding area with about 10 inches of water (just like the ones on the Epic) and not into a main pool. Which with my iffy swimming skills is just the way I like it.
Water slide video here:
All Material Copyright TravelXena.com 2013