Why I Quit Disney…

Hey all,

So I’ve been toying with the idea of this post for a while now, but I think it’s time I breached the subject. So stay tuned and read on for why I left Disney.

So I officially stopped working for Disney Cruise Line January 8th 2016. I has decided I was not going back to the ship about 2 months into my last contract. This is largely because I didn’t like who I became while I was working/living there.

Working on a ship;

My life while working on the ship became eat sleep work. This is not so different to life on land, but the main difference is you are mostly trapped on board. You can’t just pop to the shop or get delivery pizza or basically feel like you left work at all. You are stuck 2 mins from your work with a group of people who are on board for a bunch of different reasons and you don’t always like or get along with them either. You are never off duty.

I worked an average of 70 hours or more, most often more just to try and punch my pay check up. Your average day is in 2 or 3 large chunks. With between half an hour and 4/5 hours break between the chunks of work time.

I loved my job, if I could do the job but on land and for 40 hours per week would do it in a heartbeat. It is literally customer service at its finest. You met amazing and inspirational people from all over the world. You get a new challenge with each new person and it teaches you problem solving, empathy, and resilience. One of the things working for Disney had taught me is to be yelled at all day (in multiple languages) and still be able to sleep at night because I don’t take it personally.

While you are at work you are expected to give 110% on day one and more and more everyday while you get less and less sleep and with no further incentives. You start to play roulette with yourself to see what is more important to keep you sane.

On my first ever day on aboard my training officer told me I would give up food for sleep and I laughed, I LOVE food I wouldn’t give it up for anything!! Oh no she was so right on a good day I would have at least 1 meal in the crew mess. Most days however consisted of various amounts of coffee and sugar and n real food because I could find the energy to go to the mess when instead I could eat the snacks in my room and then pass out for 3 hours till my next shift.

The pay;

I didn’t realise when I agreed to the job at just what I was agreeing to. 70 hours’ minimum per week, over time is paid out at like $5 per hour. In America I know that this is maybe more than the average waitperson gets paid, but I was unable to accept tips to buffer this amount of money.

In New Zealand when left minimum wage was $13.50 it is now almost $15, I was earning about half working twice if not three times as hard.

However, I will mention while you are on aboard your food, board, uniforms and their cleaning and utilities are covered. The only things which you need to pay for yourself are: internet around $20 for 500mbs, any snacks or alcoholic or speciality beverages read drinkable coffee.

Life on aboard;

When you work in guest services you are one of the only departments, and the only one guest facing that is open 24/7. This means you very rarely can get time off in port, you often find yourself unable to go to the crew events because you’re working. So you start to decide what is more important rested and getting enough sleep to function at work or stay up late to have a few drinks with your friends and let off some steam so you can stay sane while trapped on a hunk of metal in the middle of the ocean for 6 months at a time.

For my first contract for the first 3 months I cried in my cabin at night, I txt my mum and told her how miserable I was. I had no friends I was working way to hard and I had no energy.

I eventually made friends and started going to the crew bar, but the fun and joy I had of spending time with people was also met with a bitter lack sleep and early mornings. There is little to no balance in this life style and you have to work very hard to find time to remember why you are or find someone to make you feel wanted and appreciated because you don’t get it anywhere else.

Extras;

On top of working 11-13 hours per day at top speed, you are also expected to be willing to save the ship and sacrifice your own life for the good of the guests and other crew. I was a first responder while on board, this consisted of weekly drills which no matter your shift when the alarm sounded you had to be fully dressed and presentable and at work to answer phones and help at the desk. Every second week was a full drill this meant muster stations and pretend evacuations.

So when I was on night shift I would work 10pm – 9am with no breaks, then at 10 the alarm would sound and I would have to go back to work for an hour finally at 11am the day was done.

My decision

At the end of my first contract I looked at why I wanted to go back

  • 1 year at Disney Cruise Line on my CV
  • Experience a dry dock
  • Try and get a step up position
  • Friends

All of these reasons pooled together into my decision to return to the Disney Dream.

However, I accomplished all of these in my second contract, I became the guest services coordinator, I hated dry dock with a passion. I lost respect for a lot of my managers and I watched perfectly amazing people lose sight of who they were under the mounting pressure of not being enough to fill the gaping needs of the company.

When it came time to look at whether I wanted to return for a 3rd contract there was only 1 reason which was friends, all the step positions had been filled for the next 6 months which basically mean there would be no opportunities in my next contract, I would be stepping down and losing everything that made the rest of my last contract bearable. I had stuck it out for a year and now had 2 years at Disney under my belt. Id decided that for my own sense of self I would not be returning to the Disney corporation.

The aftermath;

Personally my feeling is Disney is a great place to vacation, they treat guests better than any company I’ve ever experienced. The magic is truly real when you are a visitor, but that does not extend to working there.

It’s been a couple of months since I was supposed to go back to Disney, I miss my friends like crazy they are spread around the world and every time I see them on Facebook I feel like I left a piece of me with them. But I would be so unhappy to still be there working alongside them.

I have since moved home, and while I can’t say I’ve found the perfect job, I have definitely found a new challenge and this one is only a 37.5-hour week and treats me (mostly) like a human and not a machine.

I don’t regret my time working on the ship, but it definitely wasn’t what I had dreamed about. So I am once again adrift looking for my next dream and trying to accomplish everything I set my mind to in the mean time.

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Trip Disaster

Hey Wanderers

So my trip back to Florida has been eventful and stressful couple of days. 

On May 20th I was up at 3am to have breakfast and coffee, finish packing and say goodbye to my grandfather. My dad and I drove out to the airport where I checked in for my 3 flights which would take me to Orlando, FL.

Everything was pretty smooth that morning, dad and I had coffee at the airport and then I headed on through security to pick up bottle of water and find my gate. My dad headed off to work. My first flight of the day was Auckland to Sydney 7:35am NZ time landing at 9:30am AUS time. 

We landed in Sydney and I got through transit customs in record time. I checked the flight boards and saw that my Sydney to Dallas was scheduled for a 1:00pm. I ended up at McDonalds as it was really the only thing worth eating at 10am and there was strong free Wi-Fi. I stayed there until 12:15 when I picked up a bottle of water and some jols and headed to my gate. I had been there no more than 15 minutes when an announcement came across that there was a problem with the plane and there was currently a 2 hour delay to our service. The staff were very nice and issued everyone a $20 food voucher for the delay. 

2 hours later however they announced that the challenge was still being fixed and we were now “hoping” that the flight would be ready by 4pm. no compensation was offered at this time.  

Around 3:30pm the captain announced that the flight would “hopefully” be on time for a 6pm departure and boarding should commence at 5:30pm. By this time I was getting super ancy and annoyed. This was only flight 2 of my trip and I had now missed my connection due to the delay. I talked to the attendant at the counter who advised that at this point we may have to overnight in Sydney if they can’t fix it by 6pm. 

So I email DCL and let them know what’s happening just in case. But fortunately we boarded the plane in record time at 5:30pm and were in the air by 7pm. the flight was smooth and the crew were amazing. I enjoy flying Qantas long haul as they feed you a lot you get 2 meals as well as alcohol and ice creams. 

We landed in Dallas at 6:30pm USA time, as I exited I was handed a new connection ticket for an 8:15pm flight. I headed straight to the passport control desk and was in line for 1.5 hours as they had only 4 people on and 2 huge international flights had landed at the same time. Eventually they started to move us to different lines to try and get us through faster. 

After passport control I ran to customs picked up my bags cleared them and re checked them (read as: threw them to the luggage guys shouted Orlando and took off running to security). After security I had to catch a tram from terminal D to terminal A. I made it to the gate as they were calling for boarding. I had no time to grab any food or any water and internal American flights you have to buy everything if you want it. In frantically updating Facebook and texting my parents to say I made it to Dallas and heading straight to Orlando. We land in Orlando right on midnight. So three flights and a 6 hour delay and its only just changing days. Yay time zones!!!

Once in Orlando I head to pick up my luggage which surprise surprise isn’t there. So I head over to the counter and log a lost luggage form. They say it’s on the first flight from Dallas in the morning and I’ll get the next afternoon at the hotel. 

I then call for a pick up from the hotel but get lost trying to find the pickup point and end up asking my friend to pick me up some food and then me and take me to the hotel. 

The Next Day

The next day I wake up super sick. I am violently ill for the entire day. I drag my ass out of bed and my friend takes me out to Walgreens and me down some Pepto-Bismol on the way to Walmart. That’s where I hit rock bottom. I throw up in Walmart. After which we checked out and headed back to the hotel where I contacted DCL medical and was given an extra 3 days at the hotel to recover before joining the dream on Monday. 

All in all one of the worst travel stories I’ve had yet. 

 

Bye for now

Xx

My 1st Contract in Review

Hey wanderers

I know it’s been forever since I last posted. This is due to several things the least of them being my contract with DCL.

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My contract started on October 27th 2014 and ended on March 30th 2015. It was originally supposed to be March 27th but I pushed out my contract by 3 days in order to have a vacation in Orlando before flying home.

What can I say about my contract? It was a steep and severe learning curve for me and also a complete and utter culture shock. The college program did almost nothing to prepare you for what life on board is like.

My first month on board was the hardest time of my life. I felt completely useless and unwanted most of the time. I messed up everything there were living challenges as well as working challenges. Managers who won’t back you no matter what and being so exhausted you don’t know which way is up. You are thrust into a completely new environment and in the guest services position you have to know everything about the ship, the itineraries and also what’s on offer in each port. This of course gets easier with time and one of the ways I learnt about the ship was my trainer used to tour me around the ship after work. We would go for walks and find all the places. She would fill me in on handy hints and common questions and answers.

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At the end of my first month I was ready to quit. I was so tired I had no friends, internet on board was a crazy $20 for less than 500mbs. Because of this I felt like I couldn’t talk to my friends and family. I cried while texting my mum and dad but ultimately decided not to quit as this was a dream I had been working towards for so long.

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Months 2 thru 5 were a lot easier, to start with our management team changed and I found a lot of support I didn’t realise I was missing. Our team got stronger and stronger and soon we were bringing in results that 3 and 4 day cruises had never seen. Due to this my team earned first a half day off and then at the end of contract a whole day off!!!! This in itself was amazing. I also came 3rd top Guest Services Hostess twice which is an amazing confidence booster.

Some Notable Moments:

  • Swam with Dolphins and stingrays
  • Living in America mean free shipping on online shopping which then equals mail!!
  • Making new friends from all over the world
  • Breaking Disney records for friendliness and problem resolution
  • Captains recognition parties, my favourites being the dessert gala and St Patrick’s Day in the guest nightclub area.

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Earlier I mentioned I had extended m contract by three days, this was due to not being able to exit the ship on my B1/2 visa at the end of my contract unless I finished work in a Bahamian port. So this took a long time and a lot of frustration before it was finally resolved and sorted. Basically in the end my manager approved the 3 day extension and the crew office approved a flight delay. This ensured that I could spend a week in Orlando before flying home.

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By the end of my contract I had decided that I would be returning. My end of contract review was outstanding and I am hoping to explore a couple different roles once I get back on board.

If you guys have any questions in regards to life on board or of my experience on board leave a comment below.

Bye for now

xx

Flying to America 2014

So I began my trip at 2am on Mondays the 27th of October. We had to ER up early so I could finish packing and coffee before leaving the house at 3:45am to get to the airport by 5am.

Said my goodbyes to my grandfather and my cat and then we were on our way. We got to the airport super early cos surprise! There is no traffic at 4 am. So we decided to have a McDonald’s breakfast a wee waited for check in to open.

Once it opened I went to check my bag and get my boarding passed for my 3 flights of the day. It took a while because she was really interested in what I do and why I was going. I also had a question about luggage that wasn’t easily answered. My question was on my itinerary it said baggage limit: 4 pieces. And that was it no actual information on weight or size also there no helpful information on the help pages. Tash had to ring 2 different places to find out and the answer that came back was it is 4 pieces of 23kgs each!!!! Holy crap that’s a lot of luggage. I checked one bag that weighed a grand total of 16kgs.

After checking we headed up stairs to get coffee and spend my last 2 hours in the gateway lounge. It was really tough leaving my dad but I found it a whole lot easier than last time when my best friends and family were there. Besides I knew I’d be back in April so it’s not like in going forever.

I bought a magazine, a bottle of water and for some money changed in to Australian dollars and some into American, I used the notes in my wallet making the most of my immediate resources. I boarded the plane to Sydney and it was tiny I felt like I had no space in my seat, I was also seated next to a giant man who took up all the room without trying. The flight took 3 hours or so. I think we landed a little late. I then had to go through transfer security where they made me throw out my water. I then spent the next 4 hours wandering through the airport, I found an Asian noodle place for lunch which was delicious and I felt much better after that. But the free Wi-Fi refused to work on my phone which sucked

The plane was late leaving Sydney. It was a 14 hour flight to Dallas, Texas. It was actually a really nice flight I enjoyed the food and the staff were friendly, it was just way to long. Speaking haha of food there was a tonne of it haha with dinner which was a honey chicken salad and fruit bowl I had a Bloody Mary and then a vodka ginger beer. In the middle of the night we got ice cream and sliders. And then scrambled eggs and beans for breakfast. They also had a serve yourself snack station as well.

We arrived late into Dallas, where I had to go through customs, passport control and bag pick up and re check. Then back through security and then find out I was in the wrong terminal all while my flight was boarding. After running through the airport for half an hour I finally get to the desk to discover my flight has already left and I had been rebooked on to a 7pm flight. So I spent 4 hours in Dallas, sitting in TGI Fridays drinking cocktails till I felt better about life.

This last flight was killer. I was so over flying g and being cramped in tiny planes. Luckily this flight was only three hours but it seemed to drag on forever. Once I got to Orlando I picked up my bag and wound my way to the Disney ground transportation and caught a Disney magical express to pop century.

Once I arrived at Pop I discovered once again the frustration of knowing how to do that persons job better than them but not being able to. So I went up to my room and met my roommate. Larissa 50 years Old Russian from Australia. She will be in merchandise on board the Dream.

And so ended my long Monday I left New Zealand at 8 am on the 27th and arrived 35 hours later I arrived in Orlando Florida 10pm on the 27th of October.

 

Flights, Flights, Flights

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So I finally got my flight details and my sign on paper work!

I now know for sure when I am arriving in Orlando!!!!

However before we all celebrate and throw our sassy hats in the air, I have some details about my flights you may all be interested in.

The Dream Flights:

October 27th

2am – wake up, breakfast, finish packing, freak-out. ETC.

4am – Leave for the airport, cue dad complaining about it being “the middle of the night” and “do you really have to leave?”

5:15am – check in for my first of many flights in one 24 hours period

8:15am – depart Auckland City for Sydney

Spend 3 hours on a plane

9:45am – Arrive in Sydney

Spend 4.5 hours at Sydney airport

2:25pm – depart Sydney for Dallas, Texas.

Spend 18 hours on a plane

1:45pm arrive in Dallas, Texas

(At this point I would like to note that it will still be the 27th of October)

3:25pm – depart Dallas for my final destination of the day ORLANDO, FLORIDA!

7:00pm – arrive in Orlando, be sick of planes. B excited for friends and Disney!!

7:30pm – catch a bus to Walt Disney World pop century resort!!!

8:30pm – meet roommate! Hope like hell my friends love me and are coming to visit, also txt mum and dad let them know I’m alive!!!

October 28th

As far as I am aware I should have this day off (Food and wine any one???)

October 29th

Contract signing and schedule review

October 30th

Disney Cruise Line traditions and training

October 31st

4:30am – roll outta bed and check hotel room for items that belong to self

5:00am – get on the bus for the Dream.

(Side note if you miss this bus you have to get yourself to the port at your own cost)

11am – begin living the Dream!!!

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So now there are only 9 DAYS TO GO. I have to get my A in G quick fast.

To Do List:

  • Buy black flats (Sunday!!!!!)
  • Buy white socks
  • Get my hair cut and coloured ……….. Professionally (Tuesday!!!)
  • Pack my bags
  • Get my “original medical papers” back from the doctors
  • Have a margarita filled leaving dinner!!!!!!! (Friday!!!)

I’ll put up a packing list for you guys soonish….. Once I’ve finished deciding what I’m actually taking!

Visa Funtimes

So as you know last month I applied for and received the C1/D visa which is a transient visa / seaman visa for working on board cruise ships. Once I received this I though bam! I’m so in! time to start planning my vacation at the end of my first six month contract with the Disney Dream. However when u sent an email to the casting assistants asking for my travel dates and asking about how I would organise my return flights as I would love to spend a week at Disney World and a week traveling the states, they said I would need a different visa.

A DIFFERENT VISA!!!!! Are you kidding me?????

So I did some research and it turns out I needed to get the B1/2 visa at the same time. If I had applied for it at the same time it wouldn’t have cost me any extra either. But because I didn’t I had to cough up another $192 NZD to pay for the visa. Unfortunately it’s not really an option to not get it as I want to visit my friends in the states before coming home. So on Thursday morning I quickly filled in the required ds-160 and made an appointment for Wednesday the 15th of October. Now I have been through this process 3 times already. In 2009 I applied for and received a j1 visa for camp America. In 2013 I applied for the j1 visa for Walt Disney world and then again in 2014 I applied for a c1/d visa.

So I’m pretty smooth at filling in all the required information and making the appointment. This morning the only paperwork I needed was my confirmation of employment, confirmation of appointment and my ds160. When I went in there was no one in line but most of the seats in the interview waiting area was full. Now they only have 2 people conducting the interviews. So it took around an hour to get from paperwork to interview stage. They said that the employment paper made it really easy to approve the visa, as it proves income. The only questions I was asked this time around were “Are you ready for your holiday?” And “What did you do on your last visa?” And then he approved my visa for ten years!!!!!!

So even though it did cost (my dad) an extra $200 it is well worth it. However learn from my mistakes and apply all together 🙂 So now I’m looking at Contiki tours as I would love to travel a bit of the great US of A before heading back to glorious New Zealand.

Here’s a few tips about the B1/B2 visa I found useful;

  • B1 is the business part.
  • B2 is the tourism part.
  • The length of time you can stay in the USA for is 6 months at a time on the B2, but is subject to a case by case basis decided by your immigration/customs officer.
  • My visa is good for 10 years (!!!) but they can be issued for as little as 6 months. Though word on the web is that on second application you would then be issued with a 10 year one.
  • There is to be no working while on this visa. This is why I have combined mine with the c1/d
  • You do not need a certain amount of money in the bank to apply, but I was told that my employment papers made it easier to get as it made me financially stable.

Have any suggestions on what tours I should do? Leave me a comment below!!!

Story Time

All right my children it is story time

As you all know I have been working my way through the DCL recruitment plan since early august and it is now early September. The fun parts that stick out the most have been not getting the forms that are apparently time sensitive and necessary on time.

I have another chapter to add to that today ……YAY!

I recently go in touch with another lucky, wonderful Disney bound crew member who will also be joining me and countless other on board the Disney dream. Woot for making friends. However through our chat I discovered that she already had her flight information?!? I was quite shocked how did she get hers when I didn’t have mine? So as we were talking about it I email the dcl casting assistants to enquire when I could expect my flight details and they kindly informed me that they were waiting for me to complete a form……. Sigh….. Yet another form I hadn’t actually been provided.

So now I’m checking no on the boxes asking me if I have been to any countries with Ebola and signing and sending the form through to DCL and waiting hopefully, tentatively that at last I will receive my flight details soon!!!

Also a word of warning for all those getting a C1/D visa, at the same time you are applying make sure you get the B1/2 as well it doesn’t cost any extra and allows you to spend some time at the end of your contract travelling the united states before you fly home.

Only a short one today my lovelies

Xoxox

Nutmeg