Aktualisiert: Feb 23
For the second part of my new blog series, I have decided to focus on another port very close to my heart. But to this one, I have even fewer calls than to the port of Le Havre. The island and port that I am talking about is the town of St. Georges on the Caribbean island of Grenada.
I had my first call here much later in my career when I worked as the Activities Manager, a team leader and organizer of the biking, diving, and hiking guides. I was the manager of a team of twenty people and cooperation with the Tours Excursion Department on all the regular excursions you would expect to find on a cruise ship. This job was almost entirely a desk job and an incredibly stressful one at that. Between communicating with my shoreside partners, invoicing, scheduling my team, handling guest complaints and being there for my employees, I was pulling between ten and fourteen hours every single day of the week. On many days during our two-week cruises, I pretty much only left the ship for the excursion dispatch in the morning. There I was working together with the Tours Manager to get some 1000 guests out of the boat. But not only that, but they would also need to be guided into the correct busses for their excursions in the space of about three hours and get all of our Activities Excursions started well.
These were the most stressful hours of the day, requiring plenty of split-second decisions, the ability to talk and listen to a walky-talky while at the same time having passengers, port employees, custom officials and bus drivers scream at your face. Also, the necessity to track the movements of thirty employees all over the ship, pier, and parking lot while solving complex equations in your head and in general having everybody want some information from you right now, and you dropping all the other balls your juggling to answer their question. And on many days of our cruise, those three or so hours were the only time I was ever able to leave my windowless office in the depth of the ship and get some sun and fresh air. And in fact, on some of the Caribbean ports, I went to the workload was so high that I not even once during the entire season found time to venture outside of the actual port and beyond the ever same avenue of duty-free shops you seem to find wherever you go in the world.
And while it might be difficult to understand from this description, I absolutely loved the job as Activities Manager. For sure, it was not all sunshine and flowers, but the job had its great moments. And on thing is clear: The rarity of the occasions on which I was able to spend time shore side made me cherish those occasions even more.
On this particular occasion, I actually want to talk about the first call I ever had in Grenada. Like every call to come, it started with a dispatch interrupted by short bursts of torrential rains. It was probably not even that noticeable for most guest, as the shower was always quick enough to run for cover and emerge again a few minutes later with the sun. But for me, it was a little bit of a different story. If I had to walk here and there between the dispatch, there was no postponing it, and if it was raining at that time, then I had to go out and get drenched. And after quite some time, with the white officers uniform, it became some wired kind of wet t-shirt contest between me, and the other officers on the pier, although we made quite a show of it, much to the enjoyment of our passengers.
Once the dispatch was finished, it was time to go inside and get changed. A weather event like this would usually require quite a bit of break from me, get a clean uniform from the tailor, shower, and style the hair again to look nice and proper again. However, on this occasion, I changed to my biking uniform and went outside. I had realized the chance for a three-hour break after the dispatch, and I had arranged for two of our ships bikes to be brought out. I planned to follow our biking excursion's track, to get to some lovely beach a little bit away from the ship. And I had arranged for two bikes since my now ex-girlfriend was coming with me. And while this sounds like a nice three-hour vacation, it was not totally of work. After all, I was not familiar with the biking excursion we offered on the island and had an excellent opportunity to get to know this tour and spent some quality time.
I had a mountain bike, and for my girlfriend, I had an E-bike brought out. My girlfriend was not happy with that apparent lack of trust in her fitness level and let me know quite clearly. In fact, during our tour, she reminded me at every possible occasion of my bad judgement. Since the road we took through the Jungles of Grenada was quite steep in places, and I had maybe overestimated how much my fitness had degraded since I had been working as a biking guide, there were plenty of such opportunities. Every few kilometres, my girl got the chance to shoot up and down the steep climbs, always giving a scolding remark when she passed me.
Luckily, however, she always waited for me at the top of the mountains, where we had great views all over the east and west coast as well as the jungle in between. It did not take us long to our intended destination: The Morne Rouge Beach. If you are a little familiar with Grenada, you might be thrown off by the name. After all, the island is famous for a different beach, the Grand Anse. While this one is undoubtedly a fantastic beach, it suffers from its notoriety and is, on many days, filled to the brim with tourists and all the bad thing those tourists bring with them in large numbers. Moren Rouge is basically the little brother to the Grande Anse, located just a few hundred meters over a mountain, one cove to the south. It is equally as beautiful, far less crowded, and offers less in terms of food and beverages. But enough to satisfy two hungry cyclists, who in this case mainly looked for a swim and a cold beer to cool down after the strenuous tour to get there.
We found a little beach bar in the shadow of some trees, where we drank two Carib. Afterwards, we went swimming in the warm and calm Caribbean Sea, and with white sand, under our feet, we brought our towels beneath the shadow of a palm tree to have a short nap or talk about this and that. After one hour had passed, we had to end our vacation and return to the ship. On the route back, I also got my revenge. The coastal road we were using now was on a soft incline, allowing me to keep my speed over the 25 km/h the e-bike is limited to. Now it was my girlfriend who had to fight to stay close to me. We made one more stop, opposite to the ship on a small hill, to take some pictures and after that, we returned.
But the day was not over for me. There was a lot of work waiting, but despite the fact the rest of the day was far more stressful since I had now less time than usual to complete all my tasks, I would not have liked to miss this experience. And I often think back to this day. It might not have been the most spectacular, action-packed, challenging day I ever had on the job, and might even sound boring if you compare it to other stories I will tell in this series. But for me, it was one of the best days I ever had in my life. And that is what counts for me on the ship, that between all those days of chaos and stress, you are still able to create memories you can cherish for years to come.