You know how when you’re younger, you’re always wishing to be older, but then when you’re older, you wish you were younger? I feel like working on a cruise ship is kind of like that in some ways. Before I decided to work full-time on a moving vessel, I didn’t think about all of the things I would be leaving behind apart from the bills I would no longer have to pay, like rent and electricity, and then people that I would be missing so much. I had tunnel vision when it came to thinking about my new lifestyle. I was focused on the fact that I would get free room and board, free food and essentially be getting paid to travel. Now that I’m a little more than a month into my travels, I’ve found myself longing for the most random things.
Every time we get off the ship, we have to take off our shoes and get our bags scanned, just like you do at an airport. The security team will bring a drug dog through, and when it happens, it not only makes me miss my sweet Molly so much (RIP), but it also just makes me miss dogs in general. I love dogs, and ever since Molly passed, I took every opportunity possible to love on all of the dogs that my friends have. Since dogs aren’t permitted onto cruise ships unless they’re service dogs, I’ve found myself missing their slobbery kisses, needy nose nudges and puppy love.
It may surprise some people to know that even crew workers have to pay for WiFi on a cruise ship. While we do get discounts compared to what the guests pay, purchasing WiFi can add up pretty quickly. If I were to consistently buy the social media package, I would probably be paying equivalent to a cable and internet bill at home, possibly even more. And that’s only the social media package, which allows you to access the popular social media apps on your phone for 24 hours. That doesn’t even include being able to browse the internet, read the news or publish a blog post. Not to mention, sometimes the internet doesn’t even work, so it’s basically just wasted time.
Now I take advantage of my time in port to get free WiFi. Anytime we’re at the home port in Jacksonville, I get out of airplane mode to call and text family and friends to catch up. I’ll use 4G to browse articles I’ve been wanting to read, download and listen to songs on Spotify, catch up on the videos of my favorite YouTubers, post on social media and, of course, call Joe on WhatsApp. Most restaurants in Nassau also have free WiFi or some just require you to purchase something for the password.
On the other side of that, it’s nice to be able to put my phone away and really live in the moment. It’s the best being able to make genuine connections with people and actually speak to them to get to know them rather than having a mini stalk sesh on Facebook.
Okay, if you know me then you know that I actually hate driving unless it’s long distance driving. I enjoy a nice, long drive with an audiobook or a throwback CD, but when it comes to stop and go traffic, I’ll never be the first to volunteer my vehicle.
When I say I miss driving, what I really miss is the freedom to be able to go where I want when I want. On the ship, if I run out of something or have a late night craving, I can’t just hop in my car to get some shampoo or get a smoothie (the smoothie is a real life example because I’ve been wanting one so bad for the past few days). Instead, I have to plan out when I’m going to be in port in Jacksonville, and if I’m going to be able to get off the ship and what time and do I have money for the cab and blah blah blah. It’s a big chore. When I get off the ship, I want to be able to enjoy myself. I don’t want to have to think about the logistics or do chores. The other day I went to Wal-Mart for the first time, and I was so excited, which doesn’t make sense because I don’t actually even like Wal-Mart.
I never thought I’d be excited to go to Walmart, but today, I was proven wrong. #cruiselife
— Tiffany Khyla (@tiffanykhyla) November 14, 2016
REGULAR WORK SCHEDULE
When I was working at home, I worked 8:30 am – 5 pm Monday – Friday, and it was nice because I was able to get into a routine. My work schedule rarely ever changed, and it was nice. Now, my schedule changes every cruise, which can get confusing. Mind you, it’s a small price to pay, because I actually really love my job now, and if that means having an unpredictable schedule, so be it.
The youth staff has become like my family on the ship, and they’re incredible. I wish I could sit here and gush about each and every single one of them, but no one but them would appreciate that blog post, so I digress.
One of the questions I got frequently when I first got this job was about whether I would be living alone or not. I live with a roommate, which I don’t mind at all, but it makes it hard to find time for myself. If y’all know anything about me, you know I love being around people, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to spend time by myself.
Right now, I’m typing this blog post from my favorite place on the ship, which is the non-smoking area for crew members. It’s at the back of the ship, and I like to face the water and watch as the ship moves through the ocean. Sometimes, I can see dolphins swimming. It’s my favorite place to watch the sunset. It’s the perfect place for some alone time. The only downside is have to travel such a long way to get here (#firstworldproblems – Actually this entire blog post is first world problems).
There are few things that frustrate me more than going to get my laundry out of the dryer and my clothes still being wet. This happens often, so I’m trying to do smaller loads of laundry more frequently rather than waiting until the last minute. I’ve also tried splitting my clothes between two dryers so they dry faster, but no trick works 100% of the time. The first time I tried to do laundry, the washer didn’t even work, so I had to put my clothes into another one. Then my clothes didn’t dry, and I had to leave them in there for another 45-minute cycle and my roommate had to get them out for me (again #firstworldproblems). I just miss having dryers that are actually reliable.
BEING ON LAND
Sometimes it almost feels weird to step onto land because I no longer feel the swaying sensation that comes with being on a moving ship 24-hours a day. I never thought being on land would be something that I miss, but every time I step off the ship, I get excited, regardless of what I’m about to go do.
Even though I definitely miss these things (and more) about being on land, none of it is enough to deter me from working on a cruise ship. Like I mentioned, I love my job, and I want to keep doing it for as long as it brings me joy.