Thursday, February 23, 2012


As many of you that follow my blog know when I am emailed and asked questions I post those questions and answer them on my blog. I do this for the simple reason other may have the same questions and hopefully will benefit from my answers. Again I do not have all the answers and some other that work as acupuncturists may have different opinions. I do however answer honestly as to what I have experienced for now a little over a year or working on ships.

Also some might find the answers they are looking for already posted in my blog. I know there is over a years material there but hopefully you will not only find what you are looking for but enjoy other aspects of the blog as well.

I’ve also been asked to call to discuss my experiences but to be honest I really don’t have the time and it would be very expensive. Remember I am on a ship somewhere in the world and probably a long ways from where you live. Even skyping would be expensive for the most part either from the ship or just from my free time when in port. Also in port there really are not a lot of places that have a really fast connection.

I know that might sound rough and I am sorry but I have other things to do in port then syke with people. I really would like to post more then I do also. I initially wanted to post every week but I find it hard enough finding time to write and post what I do as it is. I hope those that have asked me to call them understand.

I’d like to state also that some have said that they have read reports from others how hard it is on you. That you may have a tough manager, and believe me I’ve heard the stories to and they do exist. Luckily I have had some really good managers and some not so good. Bottom line is you find that anywhere in any job you have in your life. The upside here is generally speaking managers come and go. You also come and go from ships. So you have to put up with an ass for a manager every now and then.

I also read a few things from people on how hard it is working the Steiner and on ships. Well first it is not for everyone. But to be honest on in particular made me laugh as he stated how tough his manager was, that we had to sell herbs and that he had to give seminars and generally market himself. I you come across this post I wrote him back stating “welcome to the real world”. Don’t you think you do that when you open up your practice? People do not flock to you just because you now have an office. You have to do all of this yourself or at least I did and every acupuncturist I know that is successful has done this and continues to do this to keep their practice going. I just felt this was from a person that just got out of school and/or just starting working for the first time in the real world. They call ir “work” for a reason…it’s work.

Before I started on ships I dealt with one for 15 years at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was the only game in town so I put up with it even though everyone I worked with knew the guy did not like me at all. And from what I have heard from friends that are still working there he still has no clue how to run a spa. Well he is still there and I am traveling the world…

               Schedule & keeping boundaries of 52 hours
For the most part it has been my experience that as an acupuncturist you make your own schedule. The only time this doesn’t happen is maybe the first week or two when you first get to your ship. Then you follow the schedule that the acupuncturist before laid out. This is actually to your advantage as he/she already knows the ropes on that particular ship. As long ass you make your revenue I have found the managers pretty much leave you alone to “do your thing”. I have now had five managers and found this to be true with each one.

               Best boats/ tours
This is absolutely subjective. It is all about what you are looking for and what you want out of your contract. I am in a moneymaking mode. I want to be as busy as I can be and right now the travel is a bonus. Also I personally like smaller ships as compared to bigger. The Rhapsody has around 2,300 guests and I would not mind maybe another 1,000 but I really do not want a ship like the Dream that had over 5,000 guests. I just find the smaller spa crew fits me better.

As far as tours I want to see it all. On the Carnival Dream I did the Caribbean and saw Cozumel, Costa Maya, St Thomas, St Maarten and Roatan, which I really liked. We also saw Belize and Nassau, which I was not a big fan.

Here on the Rhapsody I have spent time in Alaska, Hawaii, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and next stop in 4 days is Bali where I end my contract and go on vacation before returning to the Rhapsody again for another contract. Some places I liked better then others but overall I really liked this ship and the places we have gone.

As of now I am confirmed on the Freedom in September/October. We will go to the Caribbean and visit my favorite places there and a few places I have not been yet.  The only thing that might change is when the Liberty becomes available. I do not want a lot of time off and if it fits my schedule I might choose it instead of the Freedom.

At some point I will travel everywhere I hope. I want to go to South America, the Mediterranean, the Baltic’s…everywhere. It all depends what ships are available as to where I go at any given point in time.

Now on that subject you are able to choose what ship you want to go on for the most part. Stephanie Kimber is in charge of this and will let you know what is available. She will also use her experience as far as what ship she thinks may be a better fit for you and your experience.

Once you are doing a contract it has been my experience about 2 month before you finish Stephanie will contact you and as k you if you would like to do another contract. She will also let you know what ships are available. It is also important for you to know that the ships you may or may not get depend on how you do during your contract. If you are doing well and making revenue the better the chance of getting the ship you want. It only stands to reason and you cannot fault the company. The most productive acupuncturists go on the ships that have a tendency to be the money producers. After all Steiner is a business. If you are doing poorly and not making any revenue then I am guessing you get a ship that may not be one of the top producers. Or maybe if this type of work is something you are just not cut out for you will not be offered another ship. Fortunately I do not fall into this category and I have been able to get each ship I have requested so far.

               Biggest challenges
The biggest challenge for me was making a switch from teaching seminars to giving seminars. For years I have taught seminars to students and those needing CEU’s but teaching seminars for the specific purpose of booking appointments is different.

Now would say it is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy interacting with the guests. I like the challenge of getting guests to become patients. And believe me at times it is a challenge. I’m sure there are those out there on ships that are much better at doing this then I am but I am learning and continuing to do my best. Some days I get a lot of guests, other days I don’t. Some times I get a lot of bookings, some times I don’t. So luck also plays into it a bit.

A good friend of mine who taught college once to me the secret to teaching is first know what you are talking, second be prepared and third make them laugh. That way they are always paying attention and waiting to see what you have to say next. I’ll add be yourself, be genuine and honest. They can tell in a heartbeat if you are in it just for the money and trying to “bs” them.

               Best take away / learning 
See the above answer. But I will add that I have made some great friends on the ships I have been on, some for life. I have traveled to some beautiful places and seen other cultures…all that and I am being paid to do so.

I’ve spoken about a past shipmate in my blog, James. He left the ship about a month ago and just finished playing in Rio for Carnival. I remember more then once we would be hanging out say at the pool in Vila or on the beach on Bora Bora or fishing on the Great Barrier Reef and we would look at each other and say…”and we get paid to be here”. On that note I have saved more money working on ships then in private practice too. So that qualifies and a “best take away”.

               Male vs female—as employee, for superiors, safety concerns
To me none of this matters at all. No matter where you go, what company you work for etc this is going to be in your life. I get along with anyone for the most part. There are good managers and there are bad mangers, there are good coworkers and there are bad coworkers. Just try and stay above the drama that happens in any work place and you will be fine. As far as safety being on a ship is probably the safest place you will ever work. Everyone knows that if you cause a problem in any manner you could loose your job. It really does not seem to be a problem from what I have seen.

               Spa workers/ colleagues—friend or foe?
Again see the above answers. It is all up to you. If you have a problem with a certain person just stay away. If it become a real problem talk to the manager about it. This happens in any life situation. Just stay above any drama, be professional. Everyone has their group of “friends” just like anywhere but I will say for the most part I have seen very few problems and even fewer turn into a big problem.

               Food and extras – how much $ to budget for 1st month and thereafter
That really all depends on you and your wants and desires. I have come onto the ship with very little in my pocket or my bank account. You will have cash in your pocket at the end of every cruise with your tips. Many people live on their tips alone and do not even touch your paychecks. On board your room and food are taken care of as part of you contract. You do have to pay $10 a week to you cabin steward. But he/she cleans your room, makes your bed and cleans your bathroom. Here on the Rhapsody it is about every 2-3 days. On the Dream I was spoiled, it was everyday and he would even take my laundry to be clean and pressed. Which is also free as far as you uniforms go. Your “regular” clothes you do yourself and here the use of the washers and dryers are free.

The Internet on the Rhapsody is expensive for wifi. It runs in a prepaid package $.18 per minute and on the Dream it was $.10 per minute. In the crew internet it is $.06 per minute. Other then that there are places to buy munchies etc. and beer at the crew bar is around $1 a beer.

               Health management and time
I’m not sure what you mean by this. There are two doctors on every ship and your healthcare is provided while under contract. Other then that you health really has a lot to do with you as a person doesn’t it?

               Prep prior to boarding—what to pack, types of shoes & outfits  
Here you are going to have to do some research. I’ve covered this a few times. Generally speaking bring as little as you can get away with as you can always by more usually for less. Go through the blog and you will find a breakdown probably towards the beginning of the blog. I will at this point state to make sure you have comfortable shoes. You will be standing on steel 10 hours a day. A lot of the spa girls including myself where “crocs”. There are some that look just like work/dress shoes. You will have to find them in a “Croc Store”. I just bought a new pair in Brisbane and they are extremely comfortable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


After this cruise we head to Singapore for dry dock. After dry dock we will sail to Sydney for our last time and then head back to the States. On the way we will visit some of the same ports one last time and another new port Samoa.

I’ll be leaving the ship early in Bali for vacation. After 4 days in Bali I fly to Singapore for one night then catch a plane to Vietnam. I’ll be spending 2.5 weeks in Vietnam visiting Hanoi, Cat Ba Island, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Ming City and Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. After that I will fly to the Philippines for 10 days to visit one of my closest friends, Dean Sberna and his family that will be on vacation there from the states. After the Philippines I will again join the Rhapsody for another contract of 4-5 months.

Now on to exploring Vila. Today instead of going straight to the “Vila Hideout” that James and I did every time we were in port I decided it was time to explore a bit of Vila.

So some of the spa girls, Jamie, Charlotte, Caroline, Hailey and I hired a driver to take us around the island. We got a new air-conditioned van with David as a driver and were off for a 5-hour trek for $140.

Our first stop was the “Blue Lagoon”. This is a natural freshwater spring that is located very near the ocean about 30 minutes from the ship. In fact the freshwater mixes with the saltwater of the ocean and creates an unusual blue color. We didn’t really notice it much as it was an overcast day in the morning. However the water was very clear, just a touch cool and very inviting.

Blue Lagoon - Vila, Vanuatu

The “lagoon” is fairly large and even has a rope swing which all of us enjoyed. We even noticed a couple small fish along with a sea snake. What was also very nice is there were very few people there. On and off maybe 4-5 people would show up and then leave only after a few minutes. We stayed maybe for 45 minutes and took our time. Upon leaving there is a 300 vatu charge, about $3.

Charolette on the swing and Jamie and I in the drink

Sea Snake

Our next stop was the Vila Waterfall. It was the opposite direction then the Blue Lagoon location so we had to backtrack 35km to Vila and then it was another 20 minutes further to the trailhead for the falls. Here there is a 1500 vatu or $20 charge.

Off we went up the trail for about 20 minutes. Parts of the trail are very steep with steps cut into stone. Other parts are flat and still others you cross the small stream several times. At first glance the fall look “okay” until you get a bit higher. They are maybe 200 - 300 feet high, maybe a bit more and empty into a pool that you can sit in having the water rush behind you or onto your head. You can even get behind a small section of the falls and be in one of nature’s showers.

Trail to the Vila Falls

Bamboo Tree on the Falls Trail

Hailey, Jamie and Charolette at a stream crossing

We all enjoyed the falls but as you would guess there were a lot of people there. Obviously it would have been nice to have it all to ourselves but that seemed impossible. So after about 30 minutes at the falls we headed back down the trail to the van to go back into town for lunch.

Vila Waterfalls

Group shot at the falls

The Girls at the base of the Falls

Self Indulgence

Next stop The Hideout. As mentioned in my last post Caroline has been there but it was new to the other girls. Of course they all wanted to know why I had not told them of the place before and this too was explained in previous posts.

 Charolette and Jamie at "The Hideout"

So the five of us ate lunch, drank strawberry daiquiris and swam in the pool for about an hour before heading back to the ship. Vila was one of my favorite places on this cruise/contract. However I will have one last visit here on the crossing back to the States in April.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


My running mate for the majority of the cruise, James, left the ship ending his contract...

But not before I could cause him some pain!

Now both of my running mates have left the ship

Both Irish and James are in Brazil for Carnival!


Lets take a look at New Years Eve on the Rhapsody

Ground Zero...the Centrum

Spa Staff

And the rest of the pictures are on the "Backdeck" crew bar

Maureen and I 

James and I

Charolette, Jamie, Carolina and Hailey



Just a few shots of Sydney. James, Carolina and I decided to climb to the top of the Sydney Bridge Towers to take in the view

The Rhapsody and Sydney Harbor
from the top of the tower

Top of the Sydney Bridge Tower
with the Sydney Opera House in the background

Sail Away 10pm that night


For the most part most of us were disappointed in Fiji. We port in Suva and to get away we rented a car and drove around 200 miles round trip. The island was beautiful but really no beaches to speak of. In order to go to the beaches you have to pay $100 - $150 to get to the outer islands. That is what you see when you see commrcials or vacation pictures of Fiji. Around the main island and ports the water is not clear and there are beaches.

Arriving in Suva, Fiji


Some of the places James, Carolina and I found on our drive

And we found a great place to eat
The Lakeside Cafe

The next day we were in Denauru and we did find a place to hang out though and enjoyted teh pool and cold beers for a awhile.

Kat, Jessica and Dana

James, David, Dan and Dana

On the way back to the ship I did do a little shopping and watched a the local dancers perform

Portside local dancers


Well it has been some time since my last post and it is time to catch up. First let me wish everyone a happy new year and thank those of you that are following my blog for your support.

We have been seeing the same ports over and over like a lot of us do working on ships. I will say that for towns Cairns, Australia and Noumea, New Caledonia have been my favorites with Cairns topping the list. Although I found a great place in Noumea called Rimba Juice for chicken quesadillas right across the street from the beach and I eat there every time we are in port. The down side is that being a French island everything is very expensive. For a great quesadilla and a couple beers it is $30US.

Rimba Juice in Noumea, New Caledonia

I’d also have to add Vila, Vanuatu as favorites as well. James and I found a great place to hang out and hide from the rest of the crew on the ship. Neither of us has told anyone because if a lot of crew show up the owners of this hideaway will not let us use the pool etc. as their “paying” guest might get upset. It is located right on the water, has an infinity pool, great food with a $10 lunch special and beers are $3 a piece. So the name of the “hideout” place is the Casino Hotel Just keep it for yourself or chance not being able to go there at all.

Hangin' at the "Hideout" in Vila

The Hideout Pool

From the Hideout

In fact the last time we were in Vila we took someone with us, Caroline. It was hilarious as James and I prodded her saying “I wonder what this place is” as we drove by. We had the taxi driver stop and we read the sign outside “$10 lunch” and we said let give it a try. So we walked in like we had never bee there before and walked straight out to the pool. We sat where we have sat a half dozen times before underneath a veranda right next to the pool. Caroline said, “let go in the pool.” So of course James and I replied, “maybe we should see if it is okay, it might be just for hotel guests” although we have swam in it numerous times. Next James spoke out “I wonder if Samson is working today?” Samson was the usual waiter that took great care of us never letting us run out of cold beer. Eventually Caroline caught on and James and I had a great laugh. She would say, “how do you guys know the name of the waiter?” Later she stated that everyone was always asking where we disappeared to in Vila. Well now one person knows.

After we let Caroline in on the joke....

The next time I am in Vila I’m hiring a driver to take some of the spa girls and myself around the island. We are going to the waterfalls and the blue lagoon. I’ve heard great things about these places and will of course post the pictures I take. James has left the ship as his contract is up and he is with Irish in Brazil for Carnival.

We are also visiting many places that there is really nothing but beach. That is the case with Mystery Island, Vanuatu, Isle of Pines and Lifou in the Loyality Islands in the Coral Sea. These are great places to just relax and enjoy the beach. There is real not much to do there other then lie on the beach and of course snorkel.

The local drink on the way to snorkeling

The backsidie of the island in Lifou
where you snorkel

I have been having a great time snorkeling and my favorite place is Lifou by far. The water is extremely clear and so many fish you would think you are in an aquarium. It really is amazing and so very beautiful.

I even followed this school of tangs
for about 15 - 20 mintues

On the subject of snorkeling I would advise you to buy at least a very good mask and snorkel before you board the ship. I didn’t do this but was lucky to find a great dive shop in Cairns that was having a huge sale and I bought around $400 in top of the line gear including a great pair of fins for around $200. You don’t need to go all out like I did but do make sure that the mask fits perfectly or you will have problems and get discouraged.

On the way to Isle of Pine after a day in Lifou

Even the Isle of Pines had good snorkeling, though nowhere near that of Lifou

Sailboat at the Island of Pines

Once you have all your gear then it is “free” in every port you visit to go snorkeling and enjoy yourself. Even if you only have a few hours off it is well worth a trip to the beach and to relax in the water swimming with the fish. It really is one the best investments that I made.

The other is an underwater camera. Some of you know I used to be a professional photojournalist so I did a lot of research to get the best underwater camera for the money without spending a lot of cash. I also wanted something small enough to carry around with me because at times I don’t want to carry my Canon D60. Also I wanted something that I could use kayaking etc. I chose the Lumix TS3, which has a Leica lens and can be used 40 feet below the surface without a case. The picture quality speaks for itself. I found the camera at Amazon for $250 plus shipping.

So that is it for ‘play hard” and now I should spend a little time writing about a few things that I have discovered along the way as far as work goes.

Well it has been a bit different then I hoped this last month. I’ve always heard that over Christmas it was extremely busy. This was not the case at least on this ship. I did stay busy but nowhere near the numbers I hoped for and/or heard of happening at this time of year.

Also we had a Greek Charter Cruise since my last post and it was absolutely horrible. Hardly anyone showed for seminars, very few booked and nobody at all rebooked. I also did not sell even one thing for retail and I am usually #1 in all of Steiner for retail. I’ve been very honest with all of you and told you some of my highs so I’ll be consistent and tell you my low, which was the Greek Cruise where I did 9 patients for around $1300 for the entire cruise. The next week, this cruise things went right back to a good week and I stated out with $1100 on the first sea day and $3200 in the second sea day. It just goes to show that some people will not come to at all and this was the case for my worst cruise ever. I ended the cruise right around $8000.

I can’t remember if I have touched on this before but it helps me a great deal for seminars. Have a box with everything you need for your presentation. I know all I have to do is gave it and go and everything I need is there.

In mine I have 4 bottles of herbs included are Why Weight, Sweet Enough, Back and Knee and the Joint Remedy. I include a bottle of Super Soak and Instant Refreshing Gel. I also have a clean needle surface, Serin needles, alcohol pads, cotton balls and handouts such as the Herb Brochure. I also carry the adapter, cord and remote that I need for the projector. I bought the box I use from Staples. It looks professional and holds everything I need.

I also have a clipboard that has a pencil/pen box on the bottom and an inside compartment. I use this to sign patients up and when doing so give them an intake form to fill out and bring back to the appointment.

I like to sign patients up right after the seminar and not leading them out to the computer for a couple reasons. One being they may change there mind out to the desk and the other being peer pressure. If they see a number of people signing up for appointments they are more likely to do so. It is just human nature not to be left out of anything. I do see the difference in the number of people making appointments when I use this method verse when I didn’t sign patients up right in the room. I am lucky enough that I usually have a fairly high sign up rate after my seminars and I believe this is one reason. The fitness trainer also confirmed this and it is the way he signs people up as well.

So I guess that is it for now. I’ll post again after Vila taking pictures around the island.

Thanks again for all the interest and your questions. I hope you have found my answers to be helpful



Okay I have not had time to post the above so here is an update to my update. I am now on my second to last cruise. I am also leaving a few days earlier then expected. What does this mean? I have to spend 4 days in Bali before flying to Singapore where I was initially suppose to debark. I know poor me, 4 day in Bali…

After that I am on vacation and flying to Vietnam for 2.5 weeks. This is a bit strange as being a Vietnam Era Vet 40 years ago I was doing everything I could to stay away from Vietnam, now I am going on vacation there. Now it is also very important to me to clarify something at this point. I stated that I was a Vietnam “Era” Vet. That means I was in the service, actually the US Navy” during the time of the Vietnam War but I do not go “in country”. I would never take anything away for those that served in country, they are Vietnam Vets.

Okay now that is cleared up. I am going to Hanoi, Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon) and Ben Tre and My Tho in the Mekong Delta. After that I am joining one of my closest friends and his family in the Philippines for 10 days.

Then I will return to the Rhapsody for another contract. After the $65 million refit in dry dock we take one last cruise through Australia and then head back to Alaska. Stopping first in Samoa, French Polynesia and Hawaii on the way.