Arrested in Alaska and mugged in Manaus just a few of my mishaps over the years as a Senior Bar Stewardess. Read on for my Top 5!
Many of you who have ever read my blog know that in the early 1990’s I worked at sea for several years but I bet none of you knew the mischief that you can get up to working on a cruise ship.
Mishap 1 – Mugged in Manaus
Manaus is a city built along the Amazon and became more affluent due to European settlers moving there during the boom for rubber from its many plantations. Today it is a cosmopolitan city but like many cities still has a great deal of people who live there who are less fortunate than others. On the day in question I had decided to visit the local market to see if I could purchase another suitcase as I was due to fly home shortly and was at the end of my contract. I had gone alone to the market and was set upon by two young men who pushed me to the ground and tried to grab my purse off me which I was not going to give up as I had only bought it the week before! As I laid on top of it a policeman who was no more than 20 feet away just looked the other way and in the end it was one of the stall holders, a lady in her late 70’s, who rescued me by hitting the muggers and telling me to run. As soon as I got back to the ship I called my mum to tell her I had been mugged and caused a few more months of unnecessary worry for her as there was nothing she could do in Lancashire.
Mishap 2 – Missed the ship in Juneau
Juneau is one of the ports you visit in Alaska and is famous for its Red Dog Saloon and Amber Beer! The Amber Beer has a lot to answer for as it forced itself into my throat and caused me to miss the ship departing!! My only saving grace was that i was dating one of the officers at the time who was also in the bar and he was notified on the radio that they were leaving and that we would have to catch the ship up by pilot boat! Have you ever tried climbing up a swinging rope ladder whilst jumping from one moving object to another. My indiscretion on this occasion caused me to lose a weeks ashore privileges.
Mishap 3 – Whale watch!
On my first day at work we were sailing from Vancouver via the Inside Passage and several announcements were made if any of the local wildlife was seen, so I did not think it was an odd request to report to the Bridge for “Whale Watch”! Upon arrival I was given a yellow mac and hat plus binoculars and told to stay on the port bridge wing for 15 minutes before moving to the starboard bridge wing for 15 minutes and if I saw any wildlife to let them know. You can imagine my fury and embarrassment when, after 2 hours, I turned to see the Deputy Captain and several officers crying with laughter as they watched me traipse back and forth on this elaborate but funny (i had to admit it was) windup but I was told I had been a good sport.
Mishap 4 – Hospitalised in Recife
Recife is in Brazil and we frequently had an overnight here on the ship which meant as soon as you had finished your shift (anywhere between 10 pm and midnight or later if on disco shift) then you could go ashore. In Recife there was an open air nightclub where Samba was the order of the day. The atmosphere here was extremely lively probably helped by consuming copious amounts of Caipirinha. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime. After several hours I decided to head back to ship and along the way due to the pitch blackness and alcohol fell into a ditch that was lined with barbed wire. After several minutes I remember climbing out and dusting myself down and setting back off walking to the ship. Upon arrival at the gangway I fell several times on my way up and wondered why the young officer started shouting into his radio for a medical team as he saw me approach. Within minutes the Ship’s Doctor and Nurse were at my side putting me in a wheelchair and when they asked me what had happened I was so worried by their reaction and that I would get into trouble I told them I had been mugged. I was rushed to the hospital ward on board where I was cleaned up and put on a drip as I was dehydrated and my wounds were dressed. I had several cuts and abrasions where I had rolled in the ditch and I remember over hearing them discussing how lucky I had been when I was attacked that I became more complicit in my lie! The next day and every day after that I was visited by the Captains wife who brought me a small gift every time she visited. She became a very good friend and it was only when I no longer worked at sea that I owned up and apologised for my actions.
Mishap 5 – Arrested in Whittier
During the Alaska season the ship I was on sailed on seven night itineraries from Vancouver to Whittier and vice versa. Whittier was located in a small bay and had just over 200 inhabitants. Passengers here were disembarked from the ship in the early morning and taken by train to Anchorage and new passengers did not arrive until the following morning from Anchorage by train so after we had cleaned the ship ready for the following morning we were free to do whatever we wanted. Sometimes we would borrow a life boat and go fishing in the fjord or we would go hiking in the hills or more often than not we would sleep ready for the night ahead. Unbelievably for such a small town there were several bars in Whittier of which the favourite for crew was the Sportsman. The only problem was to get there you were supposed to walk half a mile to the level crossing, cross and then walk half a mile back. This was okay at the end of the season or early in the season but mid season caused problems as the bears used to come out of the hills looking for food so we used to just run across the track. It was one particular night that I was heading back to the ship around 4 am in the morning and I was just over half way when the headlights from a State Troopers car hit me. He got out of his car and proceeded to arrest me by reading me my rights and handcuffing me whilst telling me he was sick of the crew flouting the laws of the land. As I began sobbing that I was really sorry and that I was scared of the bears and I promised I would never do it again he escorted me back to the ship and marched me up the gangway. Once at the top he demanded that the officer called someone in charge. Within minutes the Deputy Captain was there assuring the State Trooper that I would be severely reprimanded for my actions and at this point I was released from the handcuffs and handed over. Once the State Trooper had driven off in his car the Deputy Captain turned to me and said, ” What have I told you about bringing strange men on board my ship and finished it by telling me I owed him a drink next time he was off duty”.
I would just like to finish by saying if any of my children read this then please ensure that you always do as I say not as I do!!