I don’t think anyone really goes into an experience like working on cruise ship with any expectations. I looked for blog posts, I watched YouTube videos, I sought advice from fellow bloggers who had previously worked on ships, but nothing could prepare me for what I was walking into.
When you’re working on a ship, it’s like working with a huge extended family. Most of them won’t know your name, and you won’t know theirs, but you’re all in this together, so you always say “hello.” Guests’ faces will start to blur together, but the longer you’re on the ship, the more you get to know the people you’re working and living with. People quickly go from being someone you’re taking an elevator ride with to someone you’re taking shots with in crew bar.
As I start preparing for my next contract on the Carnival Sunshine, I can’t help but think about the amazing memories and even more amazing people I met during my first contract. When I walked onto the Carnival Elation, I was like a lost puppy. I knew no one (and nothing), but I can honestly say there was never a point in the seven months I spent on the ship that I felt lonely. I’m especially grateful for every person I met while working in Camp Carnival. No, I didn’t become best friends with everyone I worked with, but they all touched my heart in some way.
When I was new, they stepped up to teach me everything – the dances for the Sail Away party, how to use tablets, how to run activities, where to do laundry and basically everything I needed to know about #shiplife.
When I turned 27-years-old, they came out to celebrate with me.
When my relationship ended while I was on the ship, they were there to comfort me and were so patient with me when I cried. They got me “out of the house” and distracted me with adventures. One of my co-workers even surprised me with a rose and a sweet note.
When I spent the holidays away from my family, we became each other’s families and celebrated together.
Life on a cruise ship isn’t something anyone can really understand unless they’ve experienced it themselves. In seven short months, 1000+ people went from strangers to co-workers, from co-workers to friends, and some from friends to family. I made many mistakes, got my heart broken and got into trouble. I went on some epic adventures, tried to learn everyone’s names and supported my ship family as best as I could. I learned the value of a good nap, savored the rarity of alone time and took way too many pictures. I learned some hard lessons and my heart grew with every connection I made.
I didn’t think I was going to step away from the ship different in any way, other than having been to the Bahamas a time or two, but a lot can happen in seven months. Every day was a challenge. I developed more patience. I pushed myself further than I ever had before. I spread joy to others as much as I could. I grew emotionally. I had so much fun, and I created some unforgettable memories.
I love that the Elation was my first contract because everything about it was so ideal, but it makes me so nervous to work on another ship because I’m afraid that no ship will be able to compare. But honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better first assignment. As en ESFJ, I have a huge love for people, and I felt so lucky to be surrounded by people from all over the world who shaped my life in their own little (and some not so little) ways.
I’ve always had trouble with good-byes, but leaving the Elation and all of the people I fell in love with on the ship was so especially difficult. It may seem like seven months is a short amount of time, but when you see and spend time with the same people every single day, in retrospect, seven months feels so much longer. I have no doubt that I’ll love living life on the Sunshine, but the Elation and everyone I met during my first contract will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you to everyone who made my first contract so special:
Dann, my ship bestie and partner-in-crime. I wouldn’t have survived my break-up and so many other tragic situations without you. You saw a lot of tears, my friend. I was so grateful to have someone like you who wanted to adventure and make the most out of our time on and off the ship. I loved having someone who enjoyed wandering the ship with me and showing love to all of our co-workers. #dannfanny will live on forever, and I’ll see you when we dock together for another brewery tour, I’m sure.
Lauren, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to start my contract with. You have a heart of gold, and so many of my memories with you are full of laughter.
Nono and Koko, I’m so happy that we were neighbors. I loved every conversation we had when I stopped in the hall because your door was always open. Both of you were so full of incredible advice, and after y’all left, everything got crazy because I didn’t have y’all to help keep my head on straight. I’m so happy I’ve already gotten to see both of you after your contracts on the Elation ended, and I hope so much that our paths cross again.
Paige, my fellow savage. I feel like you understood me more than anyone else on the ship. I’m so grateful that we got to room together even if it was for such a short amount of time. We made a lot of memories and had some crazy times in the month that you were on the ship. Our day at Atlantis was one of my favorites, and I’m so happy we got to spend that together. I have no doubt that we’ll meet again.
To everyone I worked with in Camp Carnival (sorry, I can’t sit here and name everyone, but know that I love love love you!), thanks for getting me through the tears and loving me even though I’m a crazy mess. Y’all will always be like family to me, and I would be happy to work with any of y’all again.
Azamat, you are one of the most fun people I’ve ever met. You’re always up for anything. Some of my favorite memories on the ship involve game nights with you and all of our crazy friends (I’ll never forget that night when you made the best/worst rule during King’s Cup and made us rotate our drinks!). You have such a big heart, and I’ll forever be grateful for our friendship.
Holli and Sharene, “y’all from Shreveport?” Thanks for loving me even though I’m crazy and make horrible decisions. I’ll always be grateful for our random conversations about all the craziness of the ship. Holli, it was amazing having a fellow Louisianian on the ship, and I’m glad we could bond over a mutual love of Tony’s. Sharene, one of my favorite memories on the ship is swimming with dolphins, and I’m so grateful we got to make those memories together.
There’s honestly too many people to name in one post, so I’ll leave you with a bunch of pictures with all of these crazy people I love: