Carlos Chavez: One of our true original volunteers

November 27, 1998, still full after Thanksgiving dinner, I buckled my seat belt, leaving Orange County airport bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico. I planned a few days to drive around the country before I was to meet up with Dave McFarland to board Crystal Symphony.

On the plane I reflected on how I came to be so lucky. A few months earlier, some good friends had been traveling aboard Crystal Harmony and I was in Hawaii. Wow, I received an email from them telling me about the new computer service on the ship. After a few email ex-changes I asked them to look into the program; find out who was in charge and if they needed any help.

I had been involved with personal computers going back to the kits that predated the Apple. In 1984 I bought a 64K IBM PC and began to design Lotus spreadsheets for corporate clients. Most recently I was involved in software design and training. I felt this might qualify me for the program, so I whipped off an email to Dave in May of 1998. As many of you may be aware, time can tick away waiting to hear from Dave. I was on the verge of com-mitting to a bike ride through Turkey when I received the email from Dave – an interview and training session would be held in Palm Desert California the end of August. The bike ride would have to wait.

Around 25 of us met at Embassy Suites for two days of familiarization with the program. Dave and some of the experienced volunteers made it all sound so easy.

November 30 I was roaming the streets of San Juan, trying to find anyone who could advise me how to board (or even find) the ship the next day. I was in the offices of the local port agent when Dave called from the airport. Since I still had a rental car, I was off to meet Dave for only the second time. We boarded Symphony the next morning.

I had never sailed on a cruise ship be-fore. It all was so luxurious. Few of you involved today can imagine the program in its early days. Dave and I were the staff; there were no lab assistants. We alternated teaching and proctoring. Dave taught me how to connect to the satellite three times each day to bring in the email. We had no full time internet. Each night we ran reports and hand carried a floppy disk to the ship’s offices. Working with Dave was a real experience. He had developed all of the systems in use as well as the course materials – his pride in them showed. Since we were two bachelors at sea, we could work all the hours we wanted. And we did!

to run our reports or prepare the “turn around.” I was traveling with Dave when we interviewed some of the ship’s crew for the position of lab assistant. The young man that I helped interview, Jesse Moncatar, is still with Crystal Cruises, now in charge of their program on Serenity. My most recent cruise we had four HCS staff and two lab assistants- heaven compared to the pioneering times.

My software and consulting clients have been very understanding and supportive. This allowed me to travel on over 35 segments over the last few years. Dave would often call on me (on short notice) to help train a new dean. Often this would mean I would travel as the assistant, serving as a mentor to a dean on his first assign-ment (Sorry, ladies, I never had the opportunity to train a woman as “dean”). It got to the point where I pretty much had a suitcase packed with tux, toothbrush and passport waiting for the next assignment.

Dave gave me the opportunity to visit about 115 ports in 65 countries on 6 of the 7 continents (we did sail close to Antarctica!) on 3 cruise lines. I have lost track of how many “first-timers” I trained and/or worked with, but I feel a little spark of pride when I see their stories in these pages. Hopefully, all of you who traveled with me had fun. I know I did! I maintain a web page to remind me of my travels: Take a look!

Today, I still have a few software clients, but I am on to new business challenges outside the computer arena. In 2003 I had a cancerous kidney removed; I add this because I am proud to say I am a cancer survivor. Home is still Orange County, CA. I love travel as much as ever and my new business venture has taken me to Hong Kong and Bangkok. I plan to visit Singapore and Malaysia soon.

I still wait for the email from Dave asking, “Can you be in _______ (fill in the port) next week?”

Can you guess where this photo was taken? If you have ever been on this ship, you will never forget!

Carlos Chavez lost in the HCS class-room on the Mercury. The sculpture is called, “Envelope .”

Having spent 10 full days of on the job training (graduate school?) with Dave McFarland was a real treat. Over the next few years I had the opportunity to travel a few more times with Dave, but these times he let me play the “boss.” The “early days” were a true experience. As our program became more successful, the lab became busier. We did it all. There was no shore side support