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.

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

Vacation!!!

Hey Wanderers

My First Official Contract with Disney Cruise Line finished on March 30th 2015. I had extended my contract by 3 days so that  could stop working on a Castaway Cay day, which means I boarded the dream in a foreign port and re-board the dream on my tourist visa instead of my work visa.

I did this as one of my on-board friends and I went on a 1 week vacation to Orlando/ Disney world!!!!!!!

Cue 1 week of shopping and seeing friends and eating!!!

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We caught up with some friends, we shopped and slept and tanned at Mickeys Retreat. It was a great end to a contract.

After Orlando I flew home to New Zealand where I spent a wonderful 10 days seeing friends and catching up on sleep and snuggling my favourite animal.

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I then flew to Australia to visit my friend from the college program, we were proper tourists we visited museums and art galleries. Walked through botanical gardens. Drove to the gold coast and of course bummed around at home.

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After Australia I flew home and visited my mum who has a new favourite animal as unfortunately Mary Jane had to be put down in March.

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RIP Mary Jane

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Welcome Lily

I had 7 weeks’ vacation all up. I finished up my time at home spending as much time as I could with friends and family, doing driving lessons and slowly packing my bags and counting down the days till I flew back to Florida.

Bye for Now

Xx

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

The waiting game

So with everything I choose to do in my life I love to play the waiting game. This is not true. I am the most impatient person I know. However I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world and be paid for it. I want to live for the experiences and enjoy life to the fullest.

So I have constantly found ways to reach these goals and fulfil my wanderlust and lack of money.

So if you guys have been following me for a little while you’ll know that since I finished my Disney International College Program I have been trying to get on to the Disney Cruise Line. Last time we talked I was mid-way through my application process.

I have filled in the application, which was pretty straight forward … Upload resume….. Now type out resume in the following screens. I found having a reference from within Disney was really beneficial here, even an old manager.

I had a phone interview which lasted around an hour – hour and a half. In which my recruiter a lovely lady by the name of Jan talked to me about my job, my resume, my time at Disney, why I felt I was right for the team, working on a cruise ship and of course my next steps. Have a look at my post “applying for the DCL” for more hints on the interview and this process.

After the interview I had to get a medical check-up which consisted of lots of blood work and immunisation history as well as an eye test and a hearing test. To start with I did have some trouble with this as I was not provided the information for the medical tests until I had already had the meeting with my doctor. This was a very expensive part of the application. This cost me $25o for the first appointment and blood work. After I was provided the correct paperwork I had to get more blood tests done which was an extra $70. I then had to try and track down immunisation records and ended up having another blood test to see if I was immune to chicken pox. Turns out I am, I believe I was immunised as a child but there were no records of it. I also had to go for a hearing test which was slated to cost another $80. Luckily enough it was free in the end.

I also had more information to fill in online, passports, flight availability, marital status etc.

During all this run around I had also booked my visa appointment at the only consulate in New Zealand which is in Auckland. I did however go on the wrong day the first time and felt like a complete dick. So I went back on the right day. Dressed up all professionally I took;

  • Both my passports,
  • My receipts of the interview
  • Confirmation of the DS-160
  • Letter of employment
  • American Passport photo (5cmx5cm)

Once I waited in line and it was finally my turn I handed all the paper work and my New Zealand passport over and went to sit until they called me for my interview. When they called me up to the second window, they asked

  • What I was applying for? A c1/d visa
  • Why I was applying for this? Because I had a job with Disney on the cruise line
  • What had I done before? Worked as a concierge for Walt Disney world.

The interviewer then told me that I should know what I was doing and advised me that my visa had been accepted and that I would receive my passport by courier within the next week. I was over the moon!!! I did receive my passport 2 days later and I found that my visa was valid for 5 years!!!!

So I uploaded a copy of the visa to the documents website, I am now just waiting on the last of my medical records to be finalised.

So I spent the better part of a week going stir crazy waiting for that call to say they wanted me right now!! I even sent a message to one of the Disney reps to see what my hire status was, and she replied that they would do their best to get me a job by December. DECEMBER!!! Omg I was momentarily devastated. I didn’t want to wait that long. I was going crazy with nothing to do at home, I have had no luck in finding a part time job since I’ve been back.

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Finally on September 30th I received an email with the news id been waiting for!

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I of course accepted straight away.

I then received a second email.

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And now I’m just waiting on confirmation of flights.

23 days to go!

Applying to the DCL

So I have wanted to do a more in depth post for you guys on how I applied for the Disney cruise line. Something more in line with the how to posts that I did for the ICP at the start of my blog.

So here goes

The Application:

Ok so first steps first: find the application you want to apply for

Do this by going to www.DCLjobs.com, then choose search jobs, browse jobs and choose Disney cruise line. This will give you the full list of all applications open at the moment.

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I was applying for Guest service hostess. The next screen will give you all the information, some of them even given you videos to watch that will tell you about the role and its importance on board.

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Once you have decided to apply you will need to create a log in. I never have any luck with this I can never log in twice in a row without resetting my password and/or forgetting my log in name.

Once you have logged in however you can upload your resume, specifically one tailored to the position. The application is really frustrating you basically upload a resume and a cover letter and then spend the next hour writing it out again. Also for this application they want to know actual dates of employment and phone numbers and emails of references.

I generally just copied and pasted my resume into the appropriate places of the application.

 Resume tips:

My resume is by no means perfect, however ill share a few things with you as I had help from an actual officer on board the Disney cruise line in the managerial position.

Mine is set out like this

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Use buzzwords like

  • Self-motivated
  • Guest service
  • Exceeding
  • Dynamic
  • Exceptional
  • Challenging
  • High volume
  • Flexibility
  • Satisfaction
  • Responsible
  • Communication
  • Performing

You don’t have to use all of these words and there are a huge amount of websites online designated to buzz words and resumes.

I was also told try not to use “I” in your resume, utilize bullet points and keep everything to a one sentence maximum except for your objective.

For Disney specifically always how your Disney history/experience first. This is the most relevant for them and show that you have history with the company and know the standards that are expected.

Also say references on request rather than having a list of top 5 references. But keep their info close at hand for whenever a future employer asks for it.

Documents:

Later in the afternoon of the day I submitted the application I received an email saying welcome and that they needed further information to be provided via a documents website. They wanted things like my passports, availability, address verification, they wanted a safety certificate list, and I also had to apply for an American back ground check as I had lived there for a year. I did my best to update and submit the information as soon as possible.

Now remember my application process was helped along by having my manager pass my resume along in the first place so my time line may be different for others. For example my friend applied online and weeks later has now got an interview set up for next week, so her time line may be more suited to a realistic time frame.

The Interview:

Later that week I received an email setting up a time for a skype interview. Because I live in New Zealand and the recruitment office is located in Orlando Florida this caused some problems with the time zones.

We agreed on 7:30am my time and 3pm her time. Now as you may have noticed from my pictures since early august a large portion of my hair is purple!!!! Arrrgh!! There was much drama about how I would conceal this as it’s really not Disney look. However luck was in my favour and the morning of the interview Jan’s skype wouldn’t work and we had a phone interview instead.

The phone interview lasted around an hour or so. My best advice for the interview would be to be yourself, maybe a more professional version of yourself. Do your hair and makeup, be very professional from the shoulders up. If you have ear piercings take them out etc. reference the Disney look guidelines and see what they are expecting for you and adhere to that as strictly as you can.

I would recommend having a few things on hand:

  • Maybe have a copy of your resume on hand so you know what they are referencing.
  • Have a cup of tea or water just off camera at easy arms reach.
  • Paper and a pen.
  • Be somewhere quiet and comfortable so you won’t get distracted or restless.
  • Have a few questions about the life on board/ job on hand to ask so you appear informed and enthused about really having this job.

The interview started out as a bit of a chat about what I knew about the Disney cruise line, the we moved on to my resume and application. Be very honest in this area they can see both, don’t lie about what you’ve put down. However this is your chance to make yourself seem like the stand out star. Spin each job, have a great story about a guest situation you turned around or a fellow employee who you sorted a problem with. NEVER HAVE A PROBLME WITH A MANAGER! THIS MAKE YOU SEEM LIKE A TROUBLE MAKER AND THEY WONT WANT TO HIRE YOU.

A question I was asked was what is one of the problems/challenges you had while working for Disney? I said the American money system. I have a reprimand on my record for money handling she can see this, so I owned up to it and spun it my way. I was able to say I had trouble with the money at first because it is so different from the money at home. But I OVERCAME this difficulty with practise and hard work and I no longer find this a struggle.

Some other thing you could use are: disgruntled guests, the environment, checklists, safety requirements, etc. choose something you can spin in your favour. Don’t choose something that ends with you in a bad light.

We next talked about my previous employment history, and then about the job. With this being for the cruise line they are very insistent that you are aware of the job and the living conditions. The fact that it will be 6 months on and 2 months off. That you will be sharing a cabin with another person and you will be in close quarters with the 2000 crew members for the duration of your contract.

Showing that you’ve done your research and that you fully understand this is really helpful. I said something along the lines of I understand it will be hard and cramped and that it is entirely different from anything else I’ve ever experienced however I am really excited to experience this and I am hoping that I will thrive in this environment as part of the team.

At the end of the interview I asked what the process from here was. I was told that they have a pool of around 13 people at any one time waiting for a position or in various stages of readiness. That you would be contacted with an offer of employment and then take the net steps from there. At this point I asked if there was anything I could do to ensure that I got that next call and I was pleasantly surprised to be offered the position then and there to which I heartily accepted on the spot.

The Next Steps:

I then received several emails detailing the next steps of my journey. These are

  • A criminal back ground check
  • A medical check
  • Obtaining a C1/D visa
  • Filling out more documents online

I’ll do another post soon outlining these next steps

TTFN

Nutmeg