I’m not gonna lie it’s been a rough week. I’ve missed my friends and family so much over the week. It was the first year that I missed thanksgiving with my family. Though I have my ship family it’s just not the same, but it’s been worth it. Over all I would say it’s probably been the hardest week both work wise and missing home. My days have been spent working and rehearsing (I’m in a puppet show! That’s blacklight so that’s fun…sometimes) and making new friends and seeing new things on ship! I hopefully get to see the acrobatic show this week… I saw the high diving show this week it was amazing! I can’t wait to tell you all of the places and people I’ve met! Well time to finish thanksgiving lunch with friends! I may be in Florida and all over the Caribbean last week but heart was definitely in Carolina! I’ll be home soon… in like 3 months…
Time for a bit of a more detailed update. It’s been about a month and half since I’ve joined ship, and it’s been amazing! Sure it’s been hard and there are days where that’s an understatement. In the last week alone I have grown so much, and learned a new skill of *very amateur* puppetering! It has been some very long days and sometimes one week feels like it should be two or three weeks. There has been blood sweat and tears (especially in the last week) but all in all it has been so worth it! I’ve met so many amazing people that I’m so glad I get to call my friends! I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places, the whitest sand and the bluest waters! The days are very long at times and the nights too short but all in all I’m so happy to be on this adventure. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
That’s right friends I’m writing this in margaritaville in Jamaica! It’s been an amazing first 3.5 weeks. I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the bluest waters I’ve ever seen! I think my favorite place is Cozumel, Mexico which is our next stop! The best way to explain the last few weeks is a mix of living at college and being at NOC. It’s been amazing. Some days are really long and others are short but it’s so worth it. I’ve met so many amazing people! I’m having fun and traveling to all these awesome places with all these new friends.
“Let’s not say goodbye I hate the way it sounds. So let’s just say for now I’ll see you when I see you”
Today was a bitter sweet day. Today I left the life I’ve known for the last 58 weeks. Today was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new. Tears of joy and sadness were shed. The last year hasn’t been easy, but it’s had a ton of growth- physically, mentally, and spiritually. I knew coming back here was just a “pit stop” in life, but it was a pretty great one. When I came back to the Gorge it really was like coming home, friends greeted me with hugs and laughs and how’s it going. There’s something about being able to live and work by the river- and it’s amazing except for 11:30, 1:00, and 2:00 gotta love that train. But in all seriousness, I couldn’t of asked for a better year. For better friends, who threw going away parties and have you all confused and even throw in some pretty good surprises at the surprise party. It was a year of leaning who I AM, not who people want me to be, or what my past may say I am- but who Tiffany Ray really is. I’ve made friendships here over the last four years- friendships that stood the test of time, acquaintances that turned into best friends, and new friends that are now like old friends. It was a day full of bittersweet moments. Passing on keys that, as corny as it sounds, I have cherished for the last 8 months. It was giving some of the last hugs, it was not saying goodbye but see you later. So here I sit, happy, sad, excited, and missing the adventures that were still left to be had. But I also hold onto the memories of the memories made and that the Nanty still has one good run in it.
So thank you NOC for teaching me how to go from a shy 21 year old who knew little about life and love, to a 25 year old ready to take on the world. Thank you for the laughs, the friends, the falls on the AT, for the river runs (and swims). I’ll forever be thankful for all you taught me. So I’ll see you when I see you another time another place- you’ll always be my home.
Three weeks, that’s how long I have left in the mountains. It seems like yesterday I was moving back up here. I still remember the day I walked into Stonehouse for the first time in 2 years. I knew from that moment it was going to be a good time. From the first day I got back the adventures, laughs, and memories have not stopped. Though there have been hard days it has been worth it. I’m so ever thankful for the friends that have come out of this pit stop in life. I have to give a huge shout out to my Boss. In most places one would not think that a boss would become one of your closest friends, but that’s not the case here. From day one Katy has been there for me both as a boss and friend. She has been there for me as I learn what it means to be a Floor Manager- Katy has helped me to grow in more ways than one and I will forever be thankful for her friendship. She has been my number one supporter though this whole process: encouraging me to go for it, telling me not to stress or worry when it was weeks before I heard anything, and the first to give me a hug and tell me Congratulations. I’m sad that my time in Stonehouse is quickly coming to an end, but I know that the friendships made will not end.
Four seasons at NOC have taught me so much. I’ve learned the true meaning friendship, that just because you leave for a season or two does not mean you have been forgotten. I’ve learned just how tough I am, that when I fall down I can lie there or I can get back up. I chose to get back up. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sun sets and sun rises up at fire tower- and hopefully will see one or two more.
Here’s to three more weeks! To get in those last adventures, the last few trivia nights, the late night laughs, and early morning workouts. To one chapter ending and another beginning.
“There are times in life when you gotta crawl lose your grip, trip and fall; when you can’t lean on no-one else that’s when you find yourself. I’ve been around and I’ve noticed that walking’s easy when the road is flat, them danged ol’ hills’ll get you every time. Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains so we could learn how to climb.” Lonestar (Mountains)
Well friends, I just spent the last 4 days on a cruise ship testing the waters (literally) on if I would like working on a cruise ship. The answer to that is very easy… I loved it!!! And there was no sea sickness! Half the time I couldn’t even tell we were moving 😂
I was like a little kid in a candy store Friday morning as we were boarding the ship. I wish there was video of it! I was so excited and giddy. As soon as I stepped on I turned to my friend and was like I’m on a boat!!
Friday was a pretty chill day. We got on about 11:30 am and we explored the ship. We ate in the Windjammer Café. After that we went up to the pool deck and enjoyed some Virgin Margaritas and some sunshine. We then found our state room. Though all of the research I’ve done preparing for this job the biggest down size has been the size of the shower. So that was the first thing I took a look at. I walked in and I said hmm it’s not that small I can stretch my arms out. My friend turns to me and goes oh hunny you’ve lived in staff housing… this is small. After a short nap (as our flight had been at 6:30 am) we changed and went back up to the pool deck for the Cast Off Party! I have to say that was one of my favorite parts of the day. After that we explored some more and then had dinner. After dinner we went to the welcome aboard comedy show! This guy was hilarious!! I couldn’t stop laughing! Then the day was done as we prepared for our day in Nassau.
Day 2: Nassau
We started out our day at sea as we didn’t dock until about noon. We had a really yummy lunch on ship and then prepared to disembark and go on our excursion! We were going snorkeling and sailing! This was my first time snorkeling and wow! It was a little more difficult than I thought it was going to be but at the same time it was so fun and we saw so many fishy!!! When we were ready to head back to shore they put up the sails to the boat so that was cool- though I took a nap on the way back and didn’t experience the whole thing. After partaking in the “official rinse off party” aka it rained. We went and explored Nassau a bit. Let me tell you I loved the whole not paying taxes! We then got back on and enjoyed formal night. Then to celebrate vacation we got massages! That was legit the best massage I think I’ve ever had!!
Day 3: Coco Cay
This was kinda our relax day. We got up and went to breakfast and then headed down to get a ride on a tinder to go the island. When we got there we enjoyed some Shirley Temples and some time in a hammock. But it was HOT so we didn’t stay too long. When we got back on ship we ate some lunch and took at nap. We then enjoyed some Harry Potter and Disney trivia before heading to our last dinner in the dinning room. Now here’s my favorite part of the trip! The international flag parade. I’ve watched this online but like most things it’s 1000xs better in person!! Basically what this is- is every country that is represented on ship is announced along with how many crew members and some countries do something that is popular in their country. Wow!! I was in awe the whole time. I’ve known since I started this process that Americans are a minority on cruise ships but I didn’t realize just how much until now. Out of just under the 900 crew members on the Enchantment there were only 10 Americans! Wow!!
Through all of this I got to talk to multiple crew members both in the department I’ll be in as well as throughout ship. One person I talked to had been working as a youth staff for 10 years!! She has even worked on the ship I’m gonna be on! We talked for a good while and I was able to learn a lot of more about what I will be doing as well as what it’s like to live on ship. I have to say I was excited to go on this adventure before and now I’m just like I need the next 60 days to go a little bit faster! So stayed tuned because it’s gonna be here soon!
So I’m back on dry land just waiting for the next time I get to say #TiffsAhoy!!!
I heard this song today; it’s called Under the Rainbow by Emily James. This song hit close to home today part of the lyrics say “I live a simple life excited by the city lights, and how they shine and all I’ve ever wanted are all the places I can’t go. And what isn’t mine, and all I see is the same row of trees but I don’t wanna be another small town girl bound by her fear of the world. So I’m going to Italy I wanna see Rome and I’m going all over the world and then I’m coming home. I know where I came from but I don’t know where I’m going to go. Just need to find where I belong somewhere under the rainbow.” If this wan’t me right now.
I lived in what would defiantly be considered a Water Tower Town for 23 years. I tried living in the city for a year but it wasn’t for me, so I moved to another small town. Still like this song says I’ve wanted to go places I can’t, so I found a way to change that! I may not be going to Rome (yet) but I am going to the Caribbean for a bit. I still don’t know where I’m going but I do know where I came from. I’ve got my roots and my family, and I know at the end of the day that I’ll always be able to come back home. For now though, I need some adventure. Which is what I hope to experience in the next few months as I explore new places, and meet new people.
Some of you know, and now all of you do- Starting September 30th I’m going to be embarking on a new adventure. I will be starting a new job. I will be working for Royal Caribbean as a Youth Activity Counselor.
You are probably asking yourself “How did she come to this choice?” well I’m here to tell you the story.
The last two years have held a lot of firsts for me, some what ifs, heartbreak, and a ton of ups and downs. Through it all though I embraced the phrase “She believed she could so she did” I started my career as a teacher, but it didn’t last nearly as long as I thought it would. I quickly learned that teaching may not be for me; so I started looking for something else. One day while watching TV I saw a commercial for Disney (and if you know me you know I LOVE Disney) Cruise line as a Youth Activity Counselor. So I applied, and was quickly told no. I let it go not thinking about it much any more. July of 2017 I moved back to Bryson City and started back work at Nantahala Outdoor Center. Don’t get me wrong I have loved every minute of living by the River again, but I wanted something more. So I started looking into other jobs that I could do with a teaching degree. I then stumbled back upon cruise ship jobs, and I thought this looks like fun. So I stated doing research, I read so many blogs and watched vlogs about what it was like to live and work on ship. At the end of the day I thought it would be something that I would like to do so I took the plunge and applied to both Disney and Royal Caribbean.
Within a week of applying I had an interview with Royal Caribbean! That was a fun day. I left for work to have my interview (it was via Skype and I wanted to have reliable wifi). I get within a mile or so from NOC and cars are STOPPED! There was a down power line… it would be my luck right! I pulled into a parking lot and had my interview in my car (thank you extra data!). I thought that it had gone good but I wasn’t totally sure. The days drug by and I heard nothing! So I started thinking of something else I might want to do with my life. It was like fate- the day I wasn’t constantly checking my email was the day that it came. My acceptance email that I was progressing to the next step. Which basically just means they had to wait for an opening on a Ship. I started filling out my pre-employment paperwork, and there was so much of it! Well the day after my birthday I got an email from my On Boarding Supervisor asking if I would like to join the Oasis of the Seas! Of course I said yes!
Someday’s it still feels like a dream. I can’t believe that it is happening! So I’m off to new adventures along the eastern and western Caribbean. Do keep a look out as I’ll keep you updated about the places that I go and the people that I meet. It will be 21 weeks full of adventure: one that will hold many challenges, but at the same time one that will be very rewarding.
Thanks for joining me on this new adventure!
“The world is full of magic. You just have to believe in it. So make your wish. Do you have it? Good. Now believe in it with all your heart.”- One Tree Hill