There are many posts out there about people missing cruising, the holidays, the itineraries, the ports and activities…but as someone who has pretty much been living on a ship for the past two years, and spent a lot of time on them as an employee for ten years prior to that, let me give you the lowdown on what missing cruising really means for me, and most other crew members.
Without a doubt, this is my number one. If you’ve ever cruised, I’m sure you’ll have noticed how amazing the crew on board are. They really are such a unique breed, outgoing, friendly, caring, adventurous and open-minded – I love that!
Teamwork is key on a cruise, you need to get on with everyone because you’re in a restricted space for a long time together. Life can be pretty lonely if you don’t go out of your way to make friends and have each other’s backs. Due to this, you quickly find that your co-workers become your family. You celebrate the special times together, and you commiserate the bad.
With every contract, I’ve met incredible people from all over the world. I miss them, their camaraderie , their laughter and the celebrations together, and being all over the world, means you never know when you’ll see them again.
Opening the port hole each day
There is nothing better than opening the port hole every morning to discover the excitement of what’s outside! Sometimes, it’s just a wall, or the underneath of a pontoon, (part of the ‘Russian roulette’ fun!) but sometimes its incredible fjords with snow on the top of the mountains, or it’s a gleaming beach on an island that guests are tendering to, or maybe its a cityscape…
I’ve been lucky to be in a position where I usually have free time when the ship is in port. When hosting groups, I would arrange their shore excursions, and then I was free until they returned. When travelling with my husband, I could manage my time as I wished, and as a guest entertainer, unless rehearsing, he would have this time free too.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always had portholes either. As an employee, more often I was either in a contractor bunk cabin below deck, or if I was lucky, I’d get a guest interior cabin. On these cruises, I’d turn the TV on to ‘Bridge Cam’ to see what was outside – it was still exciting!
Exploring new places
My husband and I aren’t all that great with ‘planning’ our adventures. We both love to just wander around new places, seeing where the wind takes us! Getting ‘lost’ and finding cute alleyways, local cafes, less-touristy villages is kinda our thing, and we absolutely love it!
When we are doing regular itineraries, we get to know cities pretty well and have our fave hang-outs to go to when in port. Another awesome thing about ship life is that with so many crew all out exploring, and having people from so many countries, means there’s never a shortage of recommendations of what to do or what to see. We often find the best cafe for hot chocolate or the best bar with views and strong internet because a crew member has told us about it, or taken us there. You literally never know what is in store for you, the minute you leave the ship. Missing cruising means missing this adventure!
Check out one of my favourite itineraries, Cruise The Baltics – Highlights of a Typical Itinerary
No day is ever the same
For most crew, the ‘unknown’ is the ‘norm’. Nothing is ever the same on board two days in a row. The guests change, the itineraries change (mostly), weather impacts operations… If you can’t deal with constant change, this isn’t the life for you.
This lack of routine is what crew thrive on. I get bored ridiculously fast, so this lifestyle is perfect for me.
On the flip side, being in lock down means every day is like Groundhog Day. We’ve become drawn into a routine, because there is little else we can do. As I’m sure most crew members can relate, despite being in the wide open country, I feel like I’m in a prison, as the days and the view never changes, we simply go through the motions…
Never having to cook
If you hate cooking, ship life is great! Every meal is prepared for you and you have a decent choice, depending on the cruise line and your position.
I’ve been fortunate that in my various roles I’ve always been able to choose between the crew mess or the guest dining areas. Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered to put an ‘appropriate’ outfit on and set the corporate ‘happy face’ and eat in public, sometimes you want to stay in your gym gear and enjoy burger day in the mess!
Other days, I’m fortunate enough to be eating in the best restaurant on the ship, hosting a group where money is no object, so the wine and champagne are flowing, and I’m eating melt-in-the-mouth steak with lobster on the side… I can’t lie, it’s pretty awesome and I am ALWAYS grateful for that privilege.
Plus, whichever meal option chosen, I know I’m not doing the cooking or washing up, and that’s something I definitely miss right now!
Hosting on Azamara
I’ve mentioned that on ships your co-workers become family, and these friendships are often made in the Crew Bar. Every ship has this area for the crew to kick-back and have a drink at heavily discounted rates (something else I miss!), along with cheap snacks and chocolate. If you hadn’t realised, crew work bloody hard, they don’t get a day off during their contracts, which can be up to 9 months long, so this ‘down-time’ is vitally important for them.
Each ship is different in what is provided, but there are generally various games (Jenga and Cards Against Humanity are a staple!), often X Box or similar, some kind of karaoke machine (you either love it or hate it…by the end of the night everyone loves it or leaves!) and even a pool table on the larger ships.
These are fun times, the real ‘let your hair down’ evenings, where anything goes, and strangers become your new besties. Plus for me, I was often working with clients for up to a year before their event on board, so even though the ‘kicking-back’ was much more civilized in guest bars, missing cruising means missing the client friendships built and the fun times enjoying the events we had worked so hard to create.
I miss seeing the ocean every day
I don’t know if it’s the Pisces in me, but seeing the ocean is what makes my soul truly happy. I love nothing more than to just stare out at the horizon, seeing only the sea. This is my happy place. It’s total freedom to me.
Ironically, when Covid-19 started and we were sailing for several weeks without docking anywhere (except for provisions), we felt like we were in this safe little bubble. We knew that everyone on board was healthy (we were tested regularly), the craziness on land didn’t affect us – we had plenty of toilet roll and pasta – and we could still hug each other and smell the sea air without a mask. It really wasn’t a bad place to be, and I know the guests felt the same by the buckets of tears shed when we were told we had to fly home before the airports closed.
If I could spend the rest of my days on a ship – I’d be totally ok with that.
So…being land-bound now for the longest time in over 12 years… Sigh. It’s killing me a little. We know we will return soon, somehow.
Cruises are starting up under new health and safety guidelines, it’s a slow process, but its a great start. The industry is a strong one, filled with incredibly resilient people who are desperate to go back to work, and rebuild their lives after so many months without an income. And fortunately, there are also so many cruise lovers who can’t wait to book their next vacation and fill the ships again (as much as permitted of course!).
Bring that on!
Thanks for reading – feel free to follow me on Instagram for more travel and cruise stories!
Wendy A x