Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who was considering leaving this land life and running back out to sea. We all know I’ve had these thoughts – my blog is full of them. If you loved your time on ships, you’ve likely had a moment of weakness. Whether it’s while reminiscing with your old crew friends, envisioning a Caribbean beach during a cold car ride to work or simply seeing a Carnival commercial during Monday Night Football, something inevitably triggers a feeling of rose-colored nostalgia pushing you to check out current onboard openings.
As I slowly approach the big 3-0, however, I’ve started thinking about what it would really be like if I went back onboard now.
These are the things I told my friend. So the next time you, or your friend, is irrationally considering leaving it all behind for the alluring cruise ship life, consider these questions:
1) Do you really want to go back to living in a 6×9 cabin?
I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying having a walk-in closet and a full kitchen for baking. After three years on land, I can’t imagine trying to cram my life back into a teensy cabin. I love my queen size bed, fireplace and high speed internet. How about you?
2) Can your body handle the hours?
On any given night you would find me in the staff/crew bar. We’d party into the night, get up at the butt crack of dawn, work all day and then do it all over again… for six straight months. Everyone’s motto was, “you can sleep on your vacation.” Everyone gets by on four or five hours of sleep. Sure, you can say you won’t spend all your time at the bar this time around, but take a second to think about that. I tried that one contract. I spent all my time working and watching Mad Men DVDs in my cabin. That lasted a month. I had no friends, and you’ll never maintain your sanity for six months with no friends.
3) Can your liver handle the partying?
Do you guys remember how much we drink onboard? I do… mostly. I don’t remember every night thanks to the six packs of Heineken I put away almost nightly. At 23, I was able to do this and hop out of bed the next morning like a freaking Disney princess. Today? I have more than two cocktails and I spend the next two days resembling something from The Walking Dead.
4) What are your relationship goals?
Because if they’re to find a nice guy/gal and settle down, you might want to stay on land. This is not to say that real love is not found onboard. It is. However, it’s rare. More often than not, ships are full of fleeting affairs and secrets. They’re whirlwind relationships that end when someone signs off. Plus, consider the dating pool. If you’re like me, you’re searching for an eligible man in his 30s. How many unmarried, unattached, straight men in their 30s do your remember onboard? Now consider your dating preferences. If you’re into 20-year-old dancers, by all means head back out to sea. Otherwise, think twice.
5) Do you really want to start all over again?
I’ve made a comfortable life for myself in three years. Like I said before: kitchen, walk-in closet, internet, cat, etc. I also have a job I love in a city surrounded by family and a growing number of wonderful friends. It by no means happened over night. In fact, as you all know those first couple of years were rough. I worked hard to move out of Florida and then Greensboro to finally find a place I like calling home. I am not ready to give that all up just to start over again in another year or two. Sure, I could put everything in storage and quit my job for the call of the waves, but I’d get sick of it after three contracts, come home and be stuck at square one.
The draw of the past is always in the back of your mind. I still have mornings where I wish I was waking up in Alaska, or nights where I know the dull rocking of the ship will put me to sleep faster than my queen size bed. For a fleeting moment I think of escaping everything for another 6 months at sea…
Then I smile and shrug it off.