If I’ve given you the impression that Enrichment Voyages is solely an educational cruise and nothing more, then I have done you a disservice. The Semester at Sea voyage is so much going on than just lectures: You’ll find people doing Zumba, people working on their tans, people practicing their Spanish, people making lifelong connections with other participants, people playing instruments and (plenty of) people at one of the ship’s three bars at any given time. There are about as varied activities as one could want for being on a floating vessel in the middle of the sea.
But what’s an average day at sea like, you may wonder? Well, no two days mimic one another, but as I gave you a glimpse into my life working in the field office for Semester at Sea, I figured I’d allow you a peek into my day as Communications Coordinator for Enrichment Voyages.
7am. Wake up. Throw on my uniform. On SAS, I wear whatever I wanted. On EV, it’s our staff polos and khakis. Yes, this means I wear the same thing every day for nearly three weeks. Yes, I had my laundry done (uh, three times). Yes, it is pretty awesome never have to figure out what to wear. Now I see why my friends who went to private school as kids loved it so much.
7:35am. Arrive at staff meeting a wee bit late after grabbing coffee and a pastry from the Garden Lounge. Unlike Semester at Sea, during which we had one staff meeting the entire voyage after we set sail, on EV we have one each morning. While I’m not an early riser, I love our morning meetings as it’s the one time all day that the staff is guaranteed to be in the same place at once. Our intrepid director, Nathan, quickly runs us through the list of today’s events, which is outlined in the Daily Explorer (the newsletter that goes out to all cabins). Then, we break and, much like professional boxers, disperse into our designated corners of the ring (or rather, ship).
8am. I pay a quick visit to the Media Lab. On SAS, there are three members of the communications team: the Comms Coordinator, the Photographer and the Videographer (plus a half dozen “work study students,” or well-paid interns). On EV, there’s just me. Which means, not only is the Media Lab incredibly lonesome once ISE marketing rock star Lauren returns to base camp in Virginia—resulting in me working on my laptop 90 percent of the time—but that really, I need to be in three places at once. I quickly back up all my photos from the previous day on the oversize iMacs we work on, throw all my camera gear into my bag and head to the first lecture. My job is awesome because I’m my own boss more or less and get to choose what I want to cover (i.e. every journalist’s dream). The problem: I want to attend it all! (Not physically, possible, it turns out.)
9:15am. The Media Lab is attached to the Union, the ship’s main lecture hall of sorts, so it’s easy to slip in and out of talks. One of my favorite speakers, Dr. Allan A. Schoenherr, waxes poetic about one of my favorite subjects: whales and other wildlife we may see in Central America.
10am. Off to get my art on—or rather, watch others do just that. Our Artist-in-Resident, Ciel Duke, teaches different classes daily, from watercolor to corn husk doll-making.
12pm. Lunch time! I try to eat outdoors when it’s not too unbearably hot, as this might be the only hour of sun I steal.
1pm. Dance class! I’m thrilled—and surprised—to see a wide range of ages present. I stay long enough to snap a few shots and then am off to my next activity.
1:30pm. I catch the second half of Dr. Louis Patler’s session on drum-hunting, a hobby he picked up in the early 1970s after visiting Sierra Leone as faculty with Semester at Sea. Prior to this trip on the ship, I can’t say I even knew drum-hunting was a “thing!” The crowd gets quite into it, particularly when he busts out the instruments for all to play.
2:30pm. Our keynote speakers Marjorie Margolies (former Congresswoman) and Valerie Biden-Owens (campaign manager to/sister of Vice President Joe Biden) take the stage in the Union and educate the shipboard community on the influence of political ads. Everyone turns out to listen to what they have to say. They’re great speakers and interesting women with whom I later get to spend some time in the Galapagos Islands.
3pm. Up to Glazer Lounge once more for wine-tasting. This time, not only do I take pictures and notes, but I partake, as well (obviously!). We have a certified oenophile, Susan Wiechers formerly of Robert Mondavi Winery, on hand to teach everyone the ropes on proper tasting technique and etiquette. Only, we never spit, only consume. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
3:45pm. Back to the Media Lab for a quick data dump, then out to the pool for a quick break and a spot of sun. When I get there, some of the Semester at Sea alums who are sailing on this voyage are mingling with the Exchange, a cappella group from the NBC show, The Sing-Off. It winds up being a great impromptu singalong, and I never do get that coveted pool time because I’m in full-blown shutterbug mode but that’s OK.
4:30pm. Just as I’m about to head back to the cabin for some R&R, my pint-sized ship friends show up for pool time, so I inevitably stick around. I’m a sucker for fair-haired, freckled, rosy-cheeked bathing beauties.
5:15pm. After I leave my pint-sized pals behind, it’s a quick visit to Glazer Lounge for happy hour—and to see Samantha, one of my best friends from home and my ship guest for the voyage, and Chris, our intrepid field office dude.
6:30pm. Then back to the dining room for dinner with the Mariants, some of my most favorite people. Rachael is just 9 and Riley only 7, and yet both girls have been on four voyages on the ship—and will be back for a full semester this fall. We eat ice cream for the second time of the day—a benefit of an Enrichment Voyage: the food is great and there is always ice cream!—and claim that it’s our “vitamins” (calcium, people).
7:15pm. The first lull period in the day, so Sam, Chris and I head to the Union early to grab a good seat and set up my camera equipment for the evening’s main event.
8pm. The nighttime entertainment starts at this time every night in the Union. Tonight, renowned British magician Keith Fields is dazzling us with his comic chops and artistry, but first, “cruise director” Roy Yates charms us with his wit.
9pm. I return to Media Lab. Transcribe notes. Upload photos. Edit photos. Pull together some shots to send to headquarters in Virginia. Throw together a quick iMovie. Update the Facebook page (which I have been doing every hour or so all day via my laptop). Check in with SVV via email for the first time all day. Post something witty to the Twitter account. Add a post to the EV blog. Tend to my own personal work back home. Plan to go to bed “early” but…
11pm. …I make the mistake of stopping by Glazer Lounge to say good-night to Samantha. She’s not only ever the socialite, but always persuasive. She buys me the cocktail of the day, a Mai Tai or some other deliciously fruity treat, and I get to catch up with her and my ship friends who I’ve seen very little of throughout the day.
Someone starts a line dance routine—my money’s on those Northern Oklahoma Community College kids; they’re always lobbying for crowd involvement—and pretty soon, the whole lounge is cutting a rug. Bedtime is not in my near future, I realize.
1am. Now it really is time to hit the sack! We arrive at port at 6am tomorrow morning, so it’s going to be another early one. Still, I go to bed beaming from all the fun I’ve had that day. Not a night passes on this Enrichment Voyage when I’m not filled with joy just for getting the privilege to be here—and that’s the honest truth!