A cruise ship is a combination of floating resort and floating city. There’s a lot going on at any given time.
There are shore excursions at stops on the way. But there’s also plenty to do when the ship is in between ports.
Sophie is the ship’s only yoga instructor. They have her on a difficult schedule. She has classes all day, from early in the morning until just before dinner. She does have breaks, but they often are filled with private clients.
Even though she is in top physical condition, she has to pace herself. If she did that many hours of yoga a day full out, she couldn’t keep up the pace.
Working on a cruise ship is flat out, shifts are long, and there’s little time off. Keeping passengers happy isn’t easy. Especially when those passengers are determined to be miserable, as some are. That’s the reality. Turnaround day, when one set of passengers disembarks, and the new ones arrive, are even busier. Staff and crew work flat out during the voyage, without days off. They might have a meal break or a few hours off to sleep, but no days off.
Depending on the line, employees are rotated off after months (six, eight, or ten months, usually) for about six to eight weeks off.
On the Charisma, there are all kinds of activities. Yoga. Sophie sets up a meditation room. There’s a complete fitness center, with everything a high-end health club would have. A spa, with all of those amenities.
There’s a Youth Director to oversee activities for kids and teens (which gives the kids and their parents a break ). There’s a rock-climbing wall. There are all kinds of games, like shuffleboard, ping-pong, etc. I haven’t explored everything yet, but different aspects of activities will feature in different books, as serves the plot of a particular book.
The pool is a favorite spot, for both plot points and passengers!
The crew has their own pool, which is normal. On their few off hours, if they’re not sleeping, they can hang out by their own pool. Not with the passengers, but on their own. In fact, interaction between passengers and crew is not encouraged outside of activities. It is against regulations.
One of the running jokes in SAVASANA is how Sophie has to learn to call passengers “guests” as she settles in to her new job.
The casino is a big deal, although it’s only open when the ship is in international waters. The shows are a big part of the night’s activities, as is dancing in the Supper Club.
Passengers can shop at a variety of stores. There’s a library. Quite a few encounters in the books happen and will happen in the library. Because I am partial to libraries!
Food is a big deal on a cruise ship, but that’s getting its own post.
The ship has its own lecturer on arts and culture; there will also be guest lecturers, especially when there are cruises built around a specific theme. For instance, DAVY JONES DHARMA is built around the premise of a rich man buying out the ship for a floating party connected to a treasure hunt off the coast of Bermuda. The third book is built around a writer’s conference on board between New York and Southampton, England.
In other words, there’s a lot to do.
Yet people still get bored.
I’ve never understood boredom. The world is such an interesting place, and there’s so much going on. How can anyone be bored? My father (a chemist), always said, “Only boring people are bored.” I agree.
But boredom works to drive plot. Which sounds like a paradox. But bored people often make poor decisions. In context of a mystery, that gives me room to get them into trouble.
Sophie and I share the character trait of finding the world interesting, and, therefore, not getting bored. In fact, Sophie’s run ragged most of the time. As the series continues, she will go through periods of living in a state of perpetual exhaustion, and then leveling out for awhile, and then exhaustion.
She will be more than ready for her break.
Also, as a person who does not experience boredom, it’s interesting for me, as a writer, to explore it. How does it feel? What kind of sensations does it take in the body, and how are those communicated?
Because the books are in first person and Sophie doesn’t get bored, the reader can’t experience it through Sophie. But as Sophie helps people tackle various issues — including boredom — she will help them learn to communicate these sensations, even while they find solutions.
The variety of activities on the ship gives me all kinds of fun stuff to use, as a writer, as plot devices, red herrings, comic relief, and to communicate the busy daily-ness of shipboard life.
Some books will have more about certain activities than others. Because Sophie is the yoga instructor, all of the books will have a lot to do with her experience as both yoga teacher and practitioner, and how she walks her talk (that’s a post all on its own).
Cruise ships are busy places, teeming with life, love, and conflict — even as people try to “relax.” I hope you enjoy going on our various journeys.