127 DaysTHEATRICAL OPERATIONS
127 Days is the time that Theatrical Operations Manager, Franny Fernandez, spent onboard without touching land due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Franny has been working for NCL for six wonderful years. Starting as a Nickelodeon Cast Member, Franny’s drive, skills and motivation helped her navigate the exciting challenges that led her to a dream job: Theatrical Operations Manager.
Franny Fernandez, Theatrical Operations Manager
But her last T.O.M contract was a unique one. Everything started when Franny heard the news: “This is our last cruise until further notice. Entertainment, non-essential crew, will disembark as soon as possible. Let your entire team know immediately." Managing such a situation, when you are directly in charge of over 60 cast members, was, indeed, not an easy task and kept her busy night and day. From rules and regulations changing constantly, being quarantined, managing expectations of her cast members and liaising travel logistics with her shore side team, Franny was constantly faced with giving the crew more difficult news every day. Always trying to find the right words and the proper way of delivering the message to everyone, was highly important for her. Days went by, then weeks went by and one by one, her teammates were able to go home and reunite with their families, which was the highlight of each day. Being happy for her fellow co-workers was something that kept her going.
After her entire team successfully disembarked, Franny was left onboard with no choice, but to just wait for the unknown. As time passed and the restrictions of her home country, Dominican Republic, increased, Franny realized she was going to be onboard for a little longer. Three ships, 127 days...
She spent more than four months without touching land at all. This was enough to drive anyone insane! Franny said, “Coronavirus could be a curse and a blessing.” The days stuck onboard taught her a lot about time and she understood why there were limited clocks around the ships. She learned to live onboard without a schedule and without the rush and stress of her typical duties.
Franny Fernandez -“Coronavirus could be a curse and a blessing.”
From the Encore to the Epic and finally, the beautiful Oceania Marina, Franny got transferred, making each ship her home for this contract. As most of the airports around the world were restricted, the Company decided to have all the remaining crew from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean onboard the same vessel to sail to their respective countries, instead of waiting for air transportation clearance.
Life onboard was not easy, but Franny always appreciated every single effort that the Company made during the difficult and unprecedented time. With no gym access, social distancing and extremely high sanitation protocols, days were long. Having the exceptional privilege to a balcony cabin was a blessing. The beauty of nature was such a support for her. She learned to pause and look at how beautiful the ocean is. Franny states: “The ocean is a natural treasure that can either give you the most wonderful gift of an adventurous life or consume all your will power and break you down. It is huge and one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It changes color, it is rough, smooth, calm, and mysterious. It is never the same. That is just the ocean! Everything around us is the same way. Life is waiting for us to pause and soak it in. Once we do, our soul smiles. This, the ocean, taught me to soak life in.”
The last several months gave Franny new perspectives. She was reminded of what is most important. She was part of conversations with team members from all over the world. There were discussions of their families at home. Most of the topics were harsh as some crew members had families that got ill, or even passed. Others spoke about how sad it was to miss out on their sister’s or wife’s childbirth, due to being stuck onboard.
Franny Fernandez - “I started living for each magical thing I saw every day rather than what day of the calendar it was.”
“I started living for each magical thing I saw every day rather than what day of the calendar it was. Sometimes we need a big slap on the face to realize what we really want in life. I realized then how much I have been missing. Life is slapping me in the face and giving me a second chance. I am ready for change. I am ready for the next adventure but, this time, I am not wishing to reach the finish line as fast as possible. I am ready to enjoy the journey to my goal.”
Today, Franny is enjoying quality time with her family and loved ones and cannot wait for her next contract onboard one of the beautiful Norwegian Cruise Line vessels.