Then he went through a door marked “Crew Only,” lowering his flag, but only to half-mast.
What’s on the schedule
Most of us follow a 9-to-5 clock that ticks loudly Monday through Friday and falls silent on the weekend. Traditional drones slip in two or three weeks’ vacation during the year, plus the odd holiday and — cough, cough — sick day.
Ricky’s calendar defies convention. He signs on for a two-month stint (although some of his contracts last four months), then receives two months off, which he splits between alone time at his home in Jamaica and social calls to friends and relatives around North America. Then repeat.
He also relocates offices more than most people change their water filter: Since 2008, he has labored aboard the Majesty of the Seas, the Navigator of the Seas and the Serenade of the Seas. He occupied the cruise director chair on Oasis of the Seas from March to June, filling in for another cruise director on holiday. As I write this, he’s sailing in the Mediterranean aboard the Serenade. Ciao, Ricky, come va?
On a micro level, his schedule is organized by daily destinations, including ones without land formations: Fort Lauderdale; at sea; Labadee, Haiti; at sea; Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel; at sea. The weekly diary tells him where he needs to be at a certain hour and what he will be doing — fraternizing with suite passengers and “Madagascar” characters, for example, or twirling like a whirling dervish at the Rockin Rhythm Nation Parade.
While he copy-edited the Cruise Compass, the shipboard newsletter, I eyeballed the sked: At 4 p.m. he needed to be in his office, on the microphone, alerting passengers to the emergency safety drill in 30 minutes; at 4:15, he’d deliver an updated 15-minute notice from the bridge. Before the onslaught of evening engagements from 8:55 to 11:30, he had a short recess, which he would spend working out, eating, showering and shimmying into a swank gray suit purchased for his sister’s wedding.
“Once the evening starts, I don’t have time to dine out,” he said, admitting that he often indulges the diet of the overworked: instant noodle soup. (I wasn’t allowed to visit staff quarters, but according to Ricky, his stateroom comes with cooking facilities. His other dining options include the crew cantina and the public restaurants, though he has to pay the same surcharges and menu prices as the passengers.)
If he stuck to the formal schedule, he’d call it a night at around 12 a.m., after wrapping up “office work where necessary.” But he strayed from the plan. At the stroke of midnight, Ricky was wowing the crowd with his fancy footwork at Blaze nightclub.