In true cruise ship fashion, my cello/violin duo, Sound Harbor, got a contract offer for one week with only a week before embarking the ship. Long nights of overseas communication resulted in one week on the Carnival Sunshine. Flights were received the day before and on the way back Earle received his flight the day we left the ship while we were on the way to the airport thank to the help of our on board friends! Nothing like last minute....
|Ship was complete with outdoor stadium theater lounge seating, three water slides, a ropes course, a mini golf course, basketball court, and more.|
|Pre contract excited/exhausted selfie. I had just flown from Kiev and Earle didn't sleep the night before....not that you could tell lol!!|
I flew from Kiev to Vienna to JFK and spent the night in a nice Raddisson hotel room. The next morning I joined the bus to the port an hour away and waited several hours for Earle's flight to arrive and for him to get to the port. I'm glad I did because there was no crew when he arrived other than me waiting for him and this was Earle's very first time on a ship ever!! We went through the security and got on the ship. Last time I did this I didn't have a room until night time. This cruise it was better by a few hours lol. A lot better!! I was given a nice guest passenger cabin for the entire week....even though I didn't actually get my room until early evening (last time it was almost midnight). Boy was that cabin nice :) What a treat from the usual bunk bed shoe box I was expecting. Earle was also given his own passenger cabin although on a lower deck so not as nice. The stewards were fantastic and gave me towel animals and turn down service every day! My favorite towel "animal" was the very last night when they had made a heart for me <3<3<3
|With Carnival Sunshine with LOVE|
|Puppy Cuteness <3|
We sailed to Bermuda for two overnights! That was a first for me. I've never overnighted in a port more than one night. I was so excited since I had just been to Bermuda in May and remembered a little of my way around. Turned out I was so busy that the first evening was the only time I left the ship. That, and instead of docking in Hamilton, the ship docked at the furthermost point on the west/north tip of the island. Walked around the area for a couple of hours failing to find free wifi, but seeing the usual Diamond's International and tourist shops/bars. The next day Earle and I ended up practicing all day instead of going into Hamilton. The last day we were supposed to leave Bermuda at 5 pm but with the hurricane picking up velocity, we left at noon so we didn't get off the ship that day either. The ship was plenty big enough to keep us occupied however. Even after a week we didn't see all the music bands and only saw one and a half production shows and hadn't even walked to every deck area. We did walk and walk and walk though up and down the stairs with our instruments and our stands and chairs. Come to find out, Carnival Sunshine doesn't have stage hands so we (mostly Earle) had to haul all our stuff around from each location all day. Several days we played in three different places so we were always moving stuff and at the end of the night it had to be moved to our cabins so no one else would decide to use it.
|This is the best picture I could find of the entirety of the Ocean Plaza. Standing from the pub in the corner looking across the Plaza to the Alchemy Bar on the far side.|
Carnival is very different from the other cruise lines I've worked for in the past. We didn't have a lounge and the first day we played in the atrium. I've played in atriums before but this one was a pillar of emptiness with a minuscule stage on the second level. No one could hear us and we couldn't hear ourselves. We did end up getting a microphone but to get the soft parts we played it was turned up so loud the feedback was extremely touchy and any other sound nearby was amplified within a 5 foot radius at least. We also played for tea time in the dining room twice. We enjoyed it the most even though there is no stage there so we just set up in a spot with a little extra space. The other venue we played in was called Ocean Plaza. It was an open venue with an enclosed pub at one corner and the "Alchemy Bar" at the other. The biggest difficulty was listening to the background music from the other bar while we were playing. It was still the best place for us as we could hear each other and people could sit and watch. We played all different times of day and for different hours. We even.....had a day off.... I say this whispering that it won't get taken away... The second day off I've ever had in over 7 years of on and off cruising.
|Fuzzy picture but the small outcropping on the right was our "stage". Our chairs stuck out into the stairway.|
The people were great and the ship was very relaxed for the most part. A couple of times something surprising happened. The most outstanding for me was returning from land to the ship when security asked me to remove my nice sandal flats. The floor was disgusting so I didn't want to put my feet back in my shoes. I was and still am quite miffed about this regulation. Otherwise, I learned that my dress casual is Carnival formal wear. I learned we're not supposed to eat in the Lido for breakfast or lunch although I did anyway and no one said anything. I learned nobody pays much attention to your sets. I learned no one cares much about the email verification protocol to eat in the specialty restaurants. Speaking of specialty restaurants....there was a nice Steakhouse, a sushi bar, Asian and Italian restaurants as well as two dining rooms. Earle and I tried each and every one. Our favorite was the Asian restaurant so we went twice. Steakhouse was ok and the rest not worth the bother. We found the crew bar which was at the front of the ship so had bow access but they'd turned the bow into a mini smoking lounge so I was highly disappointed. I walked out and walked back inside as fast as I could. One nice thing is that the bar isn't segregated as on other ships. Any crew member can come drink, play pool and video games or chit chat. That was awesome! I took Earle every night but one and helped intoxicate him every night as every good band leader should :-)
|Absolutely delicious pork belly with gorgonzola cheese and some sort of bean curd and sauce. Unbelievable!|
|Other big favorite was the short rib. Melt in your mouth tastiness :-O|
Even though it was only for a week, we made some quick friends that we are sad to leave and hope to see again. We had a good chat with ship management about the possible future of classical music for Carnival. Time will tell what happens. Playing as a duo is fun but exhausting. The repertoire that is available is small and mostly either bad arrangements or difficult concert pieces. Would be great to get back to string quartets or even trios. These ideas are possible over the next couple of years as I continue to work and move forward with a guest entertainer show I hope to make my career in the future.
For now, it's back to Kyiv to see my Ukrainian momma and sister for a week. Lots and lots of practice to do together while we still have the chance!