#Cruiselife2018 with Lucky May
Updated: Dec 7, 2018
By Ema Barton
In April 2018, we got the chance to form a trio and start working as guest musicians on #ThePacificJewel with P&O Cruise lines travelling around the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
And what an experience we've had so far.
This has given us the unique opportunity to travel, perform and make a buck, whilst meeting so many amazing people from around the globe, living the #cruiselife and expanding our repertoire as a new 3 piece band #luckymaytrio
What’s it like?
There is something extremely exciting about boarding a giant cruise ship for the first time. It’s like living in a mobile hotel-city or massive mall complex. There are over 13 levels on the Jewel, with bars, cafes, restaurants, a theatre, swimming pools, rock climbing walls, casinos, gaming rooms, beauty salons, duty free shops, galleries, gyms, accomodation...you name it, the list just goes on. It's truly surprising what you can find on board and the wide range of activities, tours and seminars guests can get involved in. From ‘Pacific Idol' competitions, whisky tasting to botox treatments and talks on how to invest in precious metals, there really is something for everybody! It is definitely fun getting to see how both worlds work above deck for the guests and the hustle and bustle of the crew making things happen below. I was especially fascinated with going below deck and learning about the life of the sailors and the resident crew. #shiplife for life. There is something very special about being completely surrounded by the big deep blue, and in the pacific ocean it truly can look like the bluest, bluey blue as thick as vivid oil paint and the sunsets…..magical. I love the idea of my Polynesian ancestor’s navigating through this vast openness in small vessels with only their knowledge of the sea and stars to guide them. It’s overwhelming.
The most dangerous thing we found on board, was trying not to go too crazy at the all-you-eat food court (this is included in your ticket), the main eatery is like an international food court serving indian, roasts, salads, pasta etc. It takes a long time for the novelty to wear off and say NO to dessert 4 times a day. Let’s just say it’s a good idea to book in gym time whilst on board.
Every night we would get a new schedule for the sets we would perform the following day and where; between 3 - 5 sets a day rotating around 4 live music venues. There would be themed nights spread out amongst the cruise including cocktail nights, Black or White Parties, Great Gatsby and Back To School Nights. Occasionally we might be encouraged to put together a themed set such as a Beatles, Motown or Blues line-up. It was a great challenge learning so many new songs as we had to expand our set lists to cater for the longer cruises and guest requests. I can imagine how boring it must get for the audience if they have to listen to the same songs night after night, let alone for our own sanity, so we would try our best not to repeat songs too soon depending on the vibe of course. I mean if the audience want to hear ‘Under The Board Walk’ every night, who are we to deny them? Cruislings are an interesting audience. In most cases the guests would sit facing you and ‘watch your performance’, it’s not what I would have expected. On land we would usually do a one off gig and leave, but on cruises you see your audience every day and start to recognise and get to know people. This was a new kind of work environment, it was nice to see your regulars, be a part of their holiday journey and develop as a little community.
WHERE WE WENT
New Caledonia (Noumea, Mare, Lifou ) and Vanuatu (Port Vila, Mystery Island)
These ports were definitely a highlight on our adventures. Just the beautiful mish-mash of cultures, colours and languages. It is still a novelty hearing locals speaking French in the South Pacific. The beaches and coral reefs we explored were breath-taking and having a snorkel set is a very good thing. Drinking a coconut whilst sitting on the crystal white sand of #YejeleBeach, listening to the local music playing and looking out over the clear turquoise ocean to the deep lavender blue skies on the horizon - this scene will always be high up there on my mental list of #topmomentsinparadise. After having some serious FOMO hearing of other crew and guests randomly swimming with turtles, we were delighted to see some cute turtles cruising around the coast in #Lefou.
#PortVila is one of the best places to buy duty free in the world and the local markets had some of the most amazing looking fruits and vegetables I’ve ever come across. Another highlight of this trip was getting the chance to explore a local village on an island not far from Port Vila that just happened to be the home of the beloved P&O worker (and famous on the boat) Bruno. It was a lovely little adventure for us getting a behind the scenes glimpse into the real ways of life in Vanuatu.
Fiji (Suva, Port Denarau, Dravuni Island)
If you’re into lounging around at tropical resorts, #Denarau is the place for you. You can catch the #BulaBus which takes you on a circuit of the all the major resorts, which is nice if you want to relax in a pool and have lunch or a beer in lux style. One time we splashed out and did one of the tours to #tefajekmudpool, it was great to get out of the main port and see some of the Nadi countryside and you definitely have to coat your whole body in mineral rich mud and have some hot pool, massage therapy at least once in your life. The first time we ported at #Suva on a Sunday, almost everything was closed except a local expat told us about a #RockMarket 10 minutes walk from the centre and it was very cute with local products, plants, food with live music and was quite charming. The prices are cheaper than the malls and I got some lovely fake flowers for my hair which has turned into a bit of a new collecting obsession.
Tonga (Vava’u, Nuku Alofa)
We went for a long walk around the Island in the hopes of making it to a beach which turned out to be further than expected, we ended up getting chased by dogs and had to catch a taxi back to town quick smart but the walk was pretty awesome otherwise. We did have the most refreshing coconut of all time back in town before jumping off the dock in #Vavau.
What can I say. Apia is the birth place of my mother so will always feel like a piece of home to me. We only had one day here on our 15day cruise but we were lucky enough to have one of my cousins pick us up and take us around for the day. I literally almost cried when we had to leave as there is so much to see and I wish I could have spent more time with the family but this was simply a taste and has given us great incentive to plan a longer trip with the band another time. We went to one of the cultural shows in the township which provided an insight into local cooking, coconut harvesting, carving and tattoo customs presented with a good dash of Samoan humour.
We drove around an hour out of Apia, past beautifully manicured gardens and lush jungle to #ToSuaOceanTrench. This place is utterly jaw dropping with tropical awesomeness. There are immaculate gardens, fale to lounge in, lava rock pools a stunning view of thrashing waves of the beach. And of course the Ocean trench itself with luminous water and lush greenery. Jump on in and enjoy.
Samoa has plenty of fresh water pools along the coast and #piulacavepool is one of the best. Diving into a fresh water pool is the best way to cool off, the fish are surprising friendly swimming around and the view of the water looking out of the cave is truly serene. We had just enough time to stop off at #womeninbusiness Development Inc. to get some top quality organic coconut oil, soaps and fetau oil to take home before jumping back on board the ship. Until next time, fa'afetai and fa!
The beautiful Islands of the South Pacific have treated us very well and we look forward to our next adventure.
3 DAY COMEDY CRUISE
These crowds were definitely here to party and were quite different to the laid back family vibes of the island cruises. Short and sweet little out-at-sea getaways with some laughs. I can see how this would be great for a hens or stag weekend, or just a fun trip with friends or family. It was very cool meeting some of the comedians and catching a cheeky show or two. A highlight of one of these trips was getting the chance to see #whiteisland near The Bay of Islands. This active volcano is epic!
THINGS I LEARNT ALONG THE WAY
Vocal stamina and better memory. These cruises really are demanding, just in terms of the amount of hours we were performing everyday, but I am happy I was able to stay reasonably healthy and not lose my voice along the way. I got used to drinking lots of water, teas and #steaming at the end of the night and being more strategic when performing songs that required more vocal punch. #Vocalzones were definitely our friend and if my throat felt at all scratchy, I would gargle some #BetadineThroatGargle which would sort it out quick smart. As a band we prefer to be off book so this was a stretch when performing songs that had similar chord progressions or lyrics. I’m grateful for the amount of stage time we had to perfect various songs and just train my brain not to panic, just channel the song, trust myself or not be afraid to improvise if things get foggy!
Don’t pack so much stuff. From our first contract to our latest - there has been some progress in terms of down sizing and packing less, just taking the necessities. You can always wash your clothes or just buy more if needed. But be sure to take some good books, games, a snorkel set and things to work on. There is a lot of down time and the internet comes and goes.
Gratitude. It has been a blast meeting the other multi-talented entertainers and staff on board from all walks of life and getting to see some truly amazing places. We were very lucky to get the best of both worlds as guest entertainers and have the privilege to do most things the guests could do along with having short and sweet contracts. Most of the other crew were on for a minimum of 3 - 8 months and I can imagine it's a completely different challenge having to deal with such long periods on board away from normal life. We are interested in doing a long contract in the future, but it would definitely have to be some where we really want to explore or would not get the chance to go normally. South America, Europe...Australia perhaps? We’ll see. Thanks #pandocruises for the adventures so far.