- Countries Visited: 15 give or take
- Travel Wishlist: Japan, South Africa, Iceland
- Locked down in: Port Franks, Ontario, Canada
“we were told that the next set of passengers would not be boarding, we (the crew) would not be getting off, and we would be left adrift off the East coast of the United States for 30 days”
Welcoming in 2021 and being hopeful for where this year may go has brought on a lot of reflection of the past year. The start of 2020 feels like a fever dream at this point. I was working as an entertainer on a cruise ship in the Bahamas, being paid to have fun, spread joy and positivity, and go on adventure after adventure. My days consisted of anything from hosting dance parties, game shows, and cooking shows to things like playing a dead body in ‘Clue’ or dancing for my life in ‘Lip Sync Battle’. My entertainment team felt like family, and I loved every minute I spent with each of them.
The news of COVID-19 became a part of our on-board reality almost immediately. Fear began to set in for passengers and crew alike as news of other ships being completely locked down with confirmed cases on board spread like wildfire. We were unsure what this meant for us, but were hopeful we could continue as normal. Within a few weeks, we were told that the next set of passengers would not be boarding, we (the crew) would not be getting off, and we would be left adrift off the East coast of the United States for 30 days. This will go down as one of the strangest times of my life. We ended up somewhere off the coast of Miami, with nothing but water and other ships in the same situation as us in sight (it truly looked like something out of an apocalyptic film). During this time, we laughed together, cried together, and tried to make the very strange living situation feel normal. After weeks of not knowing our fates, the entire entertainment staff was gathered in a room and told we would be sent home; this ship was our home, and for some of us, our only home. Some people were relived, some were devastated.
Those of us from North America and Asia were being flown home, where most of those from Europe were to be sailed home across the Atlantic. Because of this, there were new goodbyes to say every day until it was eventually your time to leave the ship behind. At this time, we did not have access to masks or PPE so my Survivor Buff worked as my face covering during travel.
Upon returning to Canada, I went immediately into self-isolation for two weeks, where I gradually came to terms with what the ‘new normal’ would be; however, it took me much longer to really understand that I’d need to reroute myself completely. I’m the type of person who never likes to let a moment go to waste, and I can never sit still; so, I found it very cathartic (and necessary) to make a list of goals to work on. Ultimately, I have been very grateful for this time as I’ve accomplished so many things I’ve always want to do. I became a certified fitness instructor specialist, certified personal training specialist, licenced Ontario private investigator, and took up tons of new hobbies.
I learned how to read tarot cards, spent some time sketching and creating ‘Survivor’ challenge ideas, hand crafted a wooden chess set, learned to pick locks, read a fat stack of books, and took a course on negotiations from Yale. Next up is leather crafting, resin art and basic robotics engineering… anything to keep me busy and keep me progressing, I’m on board!
My personal takeaway from everything has been to not let your environment define you and to make the best of each situation. My friend and I have a saying we use all the time, “do it now, in case of a meteor striking the world and it all being over”. Essentially, it’s our little reminder that the next moment is never a given, so take advantage of each moment in the present. Do that weird thing you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been putting off for whatever reason. I never want to live with regrets. I’m hopeful that 2021 will bring new opportunities and inspire me with new goals to achieve.
What are the current restrictions where you are?
We’re currently in a provincial “state of emergency”. We are asked to only leave our homes for essential trips to the grocery store or doctor, or for outdoor exercise. All stores are closed by 8pm and social gatherings of any size indoors are not permitted. Our neighboring province Quebec has imposed a strict 8pm curfew.
How bad has the virus been in Ontario?
We were doing quite well in terms of cases from about July to October, but the second wave has hit us quite hard. It’s been frustrating to see peers act as though they are above the restrictions but I’m hopeful that the cold Canadian winter will keep people in their homes for the time being.
What’s the outlook for 2021 in Canada?
It appears that our future will depend on how responsible we as a country are in terms of following restrictions. The vaccine rollout has begun and things have the potential to get back to ‘normal’. I am optimistic that within a few months we will be on the upswing of positive change.