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Even in the hot tub, pool or beach, I take my cruise ship reporting duties seriously

By John Toth

The Bulletin

You might think that when I take a cruise it is all fun and no work. It is a lot of fun, but I also work on cruises.

“You call that work?” you might ask, and rightly so. While I try to finish a lot of my production before we cruise, some things cannot be done in advance and have to be finished on the ship.

Also, I look for stories and column content on each cruise to bring our readers a taste of cruising life from my perspective and the perspective of those who we meet, whether passengers or crew members.

There are a lot of stories. They just have to be found and then committed to the laptop before they are forgotten because I had not written down memory joggers. It’s hard to write in a hot tub, but that’s no excuse.

I’m not the only one doing this on cruise ships. There are a lot of video bloggers. I do that also and upload the videos to our YouTube channel, “Wandering with John and Sharon.”

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a story by a staff writer they sent to some event on the Carnival Breeze. He didn’t cruise, just attended the event. The Breeze was our first cruise ship. We took it to Cozumel and back on a four-night cruise. That’s what made me decide that The Bulletin needs a cruise reporter and editor. I assigned myself and Sharon, my dry land editor and co-publisher, to this important task.

I’m writing this column on the fifth day of a seven-night cruise on the Carnival Jubilee, a magnificent new ship commissioned in 2023 and now home-porting in Galveston. I don’t know when the column will run, but I am working on it on my laptop while we’re cruising from Cozumel to Galveston.

We are still closer to Cozumel than Galveston, but the next day we’ll be packing up and getting ready to return to real life. Let’s not rush things. The cruise is still in progress. There is a lot of entertainment to be had on this giant ship. It’s not over until we wake up on the eighth morning and leave the ship. That is never fun.

There are a lot of benefits to working from a cruise-ship cabin. My only complaints are that the cabins have stools rather than office chairs, and I have to buy the most expensive internet package that allows me to do as much from here as in The Bulletin headquarters.

But I only buy one wifi package because it is too expensive. Sharon and I have to take turns using it. It’s not like our router at home that handles zillions of sign-ons at a time.

The ship’s Starlink wifi is really good, but if Sharon wants to get on it to check her emails, I have to transfer the plan over to her. When I need it, I have to transfer it back. Then, if the laptop needs it, I have to transfer it again.

“Why don’t you just get two wifi plans, John,” you might ask. Because John is cheap.

I’d rather put up with this inconvenience than pay twice. It’s a personal choice. I’m not complaining about it, but that’s how we do it on the ship - we keep transferring the plan between cellphones and the laptop.

Writing on the ship can also be tricky when the ship is rocking a lot. If you find some mistakes in my column, that’s why.

There are also too many diversions on a ship that eat into my time to work, which is why I try to do as much as I can ahead of a cruise. For example, too often I delay work until nighttime, but by the time we make it back to our cabin, we’re too tired, and it’s too late.

I don’t feel like doing anything but taking a shower and going to bed. I’ll do it the next day, I tell myself.

There are ports to visit during the day, and the work gets delayed again. But it has to be done eventually, so I stay up at night, whenever possible. It’s not all fun and games to be a cruise reporter, but I want to think that I am doing my best - even if I have to take mental notes in a hot tub.

Travel writing is not always a piece of cake, but finding rum cake outside of Cozumel in a Mexican port is even harder. I needed some Mexican rum cakes for my cat sitter; that’s the only payment he would accept.

I’ll continue the rum-cake story and other fun things we bumped into, in a subsequent column.


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