Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Carnival’s Eli Sharplin

Carnival Spirit’s resident cruise director is used to living and breathing travel. Currently back home in New Zealand and with his fiancée halfway across the world in the UK, Travel Weekly spoke with Eli Sharplin to see what he’s been up to during the pandemic.

What are you reading?

I’ve been hard-pressed for time lately with my waking hours dedicated to building my new home. Although I do love a good book, by the time the sun goes down, I’m ready to crash. When I do have the time, it’s usually something about adventure like Edmund Hillary – A Biography: The Extraordinary Life of the Beekeeper who Climbed Everest.’

What are you watching?

It has got nothing on Carnival’s live stage performances, but like most people, I’ve been making the most out of my Netflix subscription. I am also trying to become an expert at everything by watching YouTube videos, and my latest venture is learning how to play the guitar.

If I could make a recommendation, I would highly suggest giving Vikings a watch.

What are you listening to?

My taste in music is all over the place, so I just put on Apple radio and roll with whatever comes on. Currently, Apple’s ‘Backyard BBQ’ playlist is coming through my headphones.

What are you cooking?

Now that I’m back home in New Zealand, a lot of fish and seafood is on the menu. I love to cook and live off the land, so all of my meals incorporate lots of fresh local ingredients.

However, I miss being able to go grab a burger from Guy’s Burger Joint onboard Carnival Spirit. Flavour Town is towards the top of my destination list!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I absolutely miss my Carnival Spirit family. However, I enjoy my own company too, so the seven months of isolation hasn’t been too bad. I love building, so I’m usually moving about in my workshop, which keeps me both mentally and physically active.

I usually only eat once a day, which helps keep any extra weight from creeping up on me, and walking and swimming when I can find the time is always good too.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

There have been so many good things that have happened this past year. I know a lot of people that have welcomed little ones to the family in recent months (and I’m pretty sure babies will outnumber all of us adults pretty soon!).

It was also amazing to see friends of mine get married last year, but I think this is the only time in history a wedding with masks will be considered normal.

My time off from travelling around the world has also shown me how much I took travel for granted and what I have to look forward to. Carnival even conducted research on this, which showed that two-thirds of Aussies feel the same.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I have learned to have a smaller glass. That way it’s always full.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

Talk to people about anything that troubles you and find joy in the little things. We’re all in this together after all, and travel will come back with a boom.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

There are so many great destinations here in New Zealand, but hiking in the Bay of Islands is hard to beat.

Back in Oz, however, I always recommend people check out Airlie Beach. Its white sand and crystal-clear water make it the perfect spot to relax. I even proposed to my fiancée there!

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

Anywhere I have travelled with my girl. I was fortunate enough to visit her in the UK recently, which was very special.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

I would like to head to Iceland for a road trip. From seeing the Northern Lights to hiking the glaciers, it sounds just like just my kind of adventure.


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