Halfway through a six-month contract as a show band singer on a cruise ship, Emily Brodzik of La Salle found herself huddling in the middle of the ship with her friends and coworkers, with pillows and blankets, trying to avoid getting sick as the boat rocked to the beating of Hurricane Sandy.
“The mist from the waves was coming up, hitting the navigational bridge,” Brodzik said, noting that the bridge is located on deck 10, several stories above the usual water level. “The boat was bobbing up and down like a toy — this huge, hundred thousand ton ship was bobbing up and down like a toy.”
Brodzik, whose performance experience includes musicals and variety shows at Stage 212 in La Salle, said while the experience was scary at times, it doesn’t scare her away from life on the sea.
The cruise ship “Glory” was scheduled for an overnight trip to theBahamasas part of the cruise. Brodzik was to sing with a live band, mostly Top 40 hits from the ’50s and ‘60s through the early ‘90s, depending on the age of the crowd. She also led live karaoke, when cruise guests could sing with the band.
But during that visit to theBahamas, it became apparent that the ship would not be able to avoid the path of the growing hurricane. Instead of spending the night, the boat turned around 8 p.m. and made for its homeport of Norfolk, Va.
“We had to let the guests off because the storm was right behind us. It was following us, more or less,” Brodzik said.
It was determined that staff would be safer on board the ship, and so they set sail forFort Lauderdale, Fla. Brodzik said they spent six days on board during the storm.
“We just had to get as far away from it as possible, while going through it,” she said.
“My room is near the front of the ship. Every time the waves were hitting and crashing against the ship, it sounded like somebody was hitting huge base drums,” she continued. “You couldn’t walk in a straight line, it was so rocky. When we were eating, the waves would knock and it would knock the dishes off the table — you had to hold onto them.”
Sometimes, the ship would list deeply to one side or another, and Brodzik admitted to being scared.
“Honestly, at times I was, but the captain kept guaranteeing us that we were 100 percent safe,” she said.
With the experience behind her, Brodzik said she’s happy to have the story to tell.
“It’s like the end of hurricane season right now. There are hurricanes out there. We happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Brodzik said.
During the storm, the ship’s last scheduled cruise of the season was canceled. “Glory” will be taken into dry dock for scheduled, routine maintenance, and Brodzik is soon to be transferred to another ship, “Inspiration,” which is based in Long Beach, California — “No hurricanes there,” she said.