I’ve been on the ship for a week now. Although this is my fifth contract, I’m still the new guy. With my position, I’m much more likely to go on a new ship, than to return to the same one. So although I’ve stuck with the same company, I’ve been on five different ships now.
Being the perpetual new guy can be exhausting. When you have 1000 crew on each ship and a whole fleet of ships, the probability that you will cross paths with a good friend from previous ships is pretty slim. Your odds are probably somewhere in between getting lucky in the crew bar and winning at crew Bingo.
And seeing that my job is a relatively reclusive one, I’m sure that I could be dead in my cabin for days, my body a rotting carcass, until someone’s porn breaks-down and Guest Relations realizes that they are unable to contact me in order to fix it.
Obviously there’s an upside too! I can be a different person on every ship and no one will know any better. This time round, I’m going to put on a Latin American accent to attract women and tell then I’m from a lost tribe of English-speaking people, living in the remote jungles of Argentina.
I’m totally kidding. The advantage obviously, is that I get to experience lots of different itineraries. I’ve been to the Caribbean, Alaska, South America and the Mediterranean, effectively for free. And that’s the whole reason why I work on cruise ships.
Looking back, I’ve changed dramatically as a person since the first days of working on cruise ships. I would say that most of those changes are good. Internally, I’m a stronger person but I’m not sure if that’s just attributed to getting older. Admittedly, I think socially I may have regressed. When I was active in the Couchsurfing community, I was very extroverted as I regularly organized social activities. I think somehow my job here has made me a more introverted person, after failing at my previous social experiments.
Perhaps what you do determines the personality you have. Or maybe working in a refrigerated, windowless office by yourself is not conducive towards the development of social-skills. All I know is, I’d find it difficult to organize a Free Hugs event today.
Anyway, I’ve made it a tradition to have New Contract resolutions. It’s just like New Year resolutions, except I get to do it twice a year. This contract, my resolution is to be more effective and productive with my free time. When you start having 2 naps a day, you know it’s time to re-examine the priorities in your life. (So far this resolution is going terribly. After having flown more than half-way round the world recently my body clock seems to be irreparably damaged; one half is on Thailand time and the half is on Caribbean time. My new sleep pattern seems to be 3am-7am then 5pm-9pm. At first I thought this was cool because it made me special, and that I still only slept 8ish hours a day. But then I realized that I’m pretty much drowsy for most of the day.)
I also want to spend more time offline. Internet on the ship costs loads. And using free internet while on an idyllic Caribbean island is like going to a strip club to read a book. (The lighting isn’t even good in there!) Just because you’re physically in an exotic place doesn’t automatically mean you’re traveling. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from crew members, it’s that you can travel to a place and still not see any of it.
Finally, I’m going to be more transparent about my finances. A pet peeve of mine is when people tell me that I have no expenses while working on cruise ships. Ok genius, tell that to my credit card company who wants payment for all my online activity. And it’s not like I’m buying porn! Another pet peeve is when people say something is “only $X” without factoring in tax and tip. (This tells me two things. One, I’m superior in mathematical intellect. And two, I’m more anal-retentive than I have previously thought). So I think the easiest way to settle this, is to just publish how much I’m actually spending each month.
Happy new contract!