Today I welcome L C Hayden to Terry's Place. Ever wanted to take a cruise? Ever wanted to do it for free? L C tells us how she does it. Welcome, L C.
On May 28 my husband and I will embark the Ruby Princess in Barcelona, Spain, and set sail on a twelve-day Grand Mediterranean cruise. The ports we will visit includes Monaco, Greece, Turkey (Turkey?) and Italy.
Naturally, my husband and I won’t be the only cruise passengers. We’ll be in a ship that holds thousands of people. What than makes this cruise so unique? The simple fact that the cruise for me is a working cruise and that makes it free.
This is the part where people’s ears normally perk up. How did I manage to get a free cruise? I am lucky enough to have been selected for the Author-in-Residence Program or whatever name the cruise line adopts. One day I received a call from the cruise people offering me a free cruise provided I did presentations during the days at sea. The interview took over two hours. When it was over, plans were made for me to go on a short trial cruise to the Caribbean.
While at the cruise, the captain, cruise director, and several other officers evaluated my ability to do the presentations and watched me as I mingled with the passengers. At the end of the cruise, the passengers were also asked for their opinions.
I passed the test and my reward was a longer Caribbean cruise. Since then, Princess Cruise Lines and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have sent me to the Mexican Riviera (twice,) Hawaii (twice) and now the Grand Mediterranean Cruise. Even though I have already established my reputation, I still go through the rigorous evaluations each time.
As an Author in Residence, I’m not considered a “real” employee of the cruise line, but I’m also not a “normal” passenger. I fall somewhere between the two. That means I have a lot of free time to enjoy myself, but at the same time, I’m expected to follow employees rules. Fortunately, they’re nothing more than simple guidelines such as no drinking in the bar, no short-shorts, and similar items.
During the time at sea, I’m expected to give a power point presentation about writing or my books. It lasts about thirty minutes followed by a fifteen-minute question and answer period. When that’s over, I sign books which the ship’s store carries. Prior to sailing, the cruise’s central office approves the titles and assigns each title its own individual number. That enters the book into their system and the ship’s stores are able to handle the books’ sales.
I am not allowed to sell books or any other item on my own. The passengers can, however, purchase books directly from me provided I use the purchase order form the cruise ship provides. All I have to do is have the passenger sign his name and write down his cabin number. I jot down the name and price of the book and turn it in to the ship’s main store.
The number of times I’m required make a presentation depends on the sailing schedule. I’ve done it as little as three times (when I sailed to the Mexican Riviera and when I did a seven day cruise to the Caribbean.) The most I’ve done it is eight times and that was on a sixteen day cruise to Hawaii.
Once during a Royal Caribbean cruise and once in a Princess Cruise, I was asked to hold a formal book signing where I sat down, people formed a line, and purchased the books which I signed. Other than that, the rest of the time is mine to do as I please. I take advantage of the ship’s facilities, enjoy the excursions that allows me to visit the points-of-interest at the various ports-of-call, and mingle with the passengers.
Many of them have become my readers and friends. They’ve signed up to receive my newsletter, purchased my latest mystery release Why Casey Had to Die as well as some of my back list titles. They’ve told me that they plan to purchase my future releases. Some have even pre-ordered my non-mystery young adult novelette Bell Shaped Flowers and that won’t be released until sometime later this month (February.)
When the cruise lines call, I always try to be available. However, life happens and I had to turn them down for back-to-back cruises to Alaska. My son was getting married at the end of the first cruise and at the beginning of the next. When I told them I was not available, I thought that would mark the end of my super job, but fortunately, they called me back later and offered me a cruise to Hawaii.
I’m lucky to have landed this “job”—but hey, somebody’s got to do it!
For more about L C Hayden, visit her website at http://lchayden.com. Or you can reach her via email at lchauthor(at)yahoo.com