Working on a cruise ship is one of those truly unique experiences of life. Like studying abroad or working for the Peace Corps; It’s one of those things that enough people have experienced that you have someone to relate to, but that’s so different and unique that it’s still this random thing that seems completely elite. Working on a cruise ship becomes this new lifestyle, and when you think about your old, normal lifestyle, some sense of nostalgia is natural. There’s so many simple things that you miss and desire. And when I say simple things, I mean really simple. Things you don’t even think about in your everyday life, you find yourself longing for when you’re living in the middle of the ocean. Here’s a little insight, and a short list of some things I miss and/or can’t wait to return to when I rejoin the rest of the world shore-side. *disclaimer: this is in no way a statement of things I dislike about my employment; simply a reflection of things left behind*
1. Naturally, one of the major things missed is friends and family. Living on a ship, you miss birthdays, weddings, births, and an endless list of special events in your loved ones’ lives. However, you also miss the random fits of laughter at an inside joke you can experience with close friends. You find yourself telling entire stories to your current crew-friends so that they’ll understand why a book title or movie reference reminds you of your siblings. You look at things and wish your significant other or best friend was there to share them with you because you know exactly what they would say or do in the situation. All in all, you really miss your family and friends.
2. Another thing you miss is DAYS OFF. There is literally always something to do or participate in. I haven’t had a day off since March. I’m a natural busy body, so this one doesn’t bother me that much. However, when I realize that I haven’t had a single day to just sit with myself and unwind or just goof off, it’s like….woah! Which brings me to my next item….
3. TV. I’m not a huge tv watcher when I’m at home, but the fact that I don’t have regular network stations, and I have to download episodes of the few tv shows I actually do watch is a bit much. I clearly took for granted just walking into my living room and pressing a button to have endless visual entertainment and on-demand at my disposal. SCANDAL is one of the 3 major television shows I’m obsessed with. I saw the season finale about 3 weeks after everyone else. That was torture.
4. Cellphone service and Wifi. Of course there is cell phone service in the ocean. This is 2014! Duh! However, it’s definitely roaming. So that means unless you have money to spare for months on end, there is no cell phone service. I have to actually schedule phone calls with my loved ones. There is the option to use wifi, but if you have ever enjoyed a cruise vacation, you know that it is NOT free. That goes for crew as well. I purchase wifi packages to keep in contact with my family and friends. It isn’t the end of the world. It’s no big deal actually, but I vaguely remember the days when I could send a text anytime I wanted and make a call anytime I pleased at no additional charges. Ahh… simpler times.
5. Basic groceries. Because everyone’s health and well being is always a number one priority (as it should be) there are a number of grocery items not allowed. It’s for safety reasons so I’m not mad about it and completely appreciate it, but I miss being able to just go to Giant and buy fruit or cereal or peanut butter.
6. Cooking and Baking. I grew up in the house with my grandmother; which means I had basic baking and cooking skills by age 8. I haven’t prepared a meal for myself… since December!!!! Some might see that as luxury, but I can’t wait to get home and make some pancakes or fry some chicken or bake anything! I miss homemade pie ya’ll!! I love to make a good pie. I made an apple pie in February… I miss my own kitchen.
7. Driving and my car. I don’t even like driving!!!! I do, however, miss being able to take myself wherever I want to go whenever I want to go there. Plus, I just bought a new car in September and I haven’t seen her since January. I miss my Ruby! (yes, my car is named Ruby.)
8. HAPPY HOUR. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a huge fan of clubbing or intense partying, however I do appreciate a good drink at your local bar’s happy hour. There’s nothing like the laughter and good conversation that comes over drinks between the hours of 4pm and 8pm.
9. Nature. I grew up in the Midwest and then moved to Maryland. I miss walks in park (yes I actually do this) and conversations on the porch or stoop enjoying the breeze of a nice day. I miss trees and birds and squirrels and the changing of 4 distinct seasons and the beauty of the sun streaming through curtains in the morning. There are no windows in my cabin. 9 am looks like 2am which looks like 4pm which looks like 11pm. You can’t see the change in the day! Turn my lights off at any point in time and it’s pitch black!
10. I miss beauty supply stores, and chicken boxes, and Hip Hop Chicken, and a good half and half, and living five minutes away from my alma mater, and Toby and TOBY’S and ArtsCentric and all my dear friends associated with both, and the harbor, and Lexington Market runs, and York Rd, and Walmart in Cockeysville, and Towson, and Rita’s, and Central/Hippo/Lil Dickey’s/Green Turtle, and $1 crabs followed immediately by medication because I’m slightly allergic, and the lightrail, and MY APARTMENT [Baltimore specific]. [Detroit specific] —-> Plus I miss Coney Island and coneys!! I miss L’George’s, and living 5 minutes away from my high school alma mater, and Little Ceasar’s, and BetterMade and Vernos, and my personal batcave bka my basement, and serious thunderstorms, and Christland Missionary Baptist Chruch, and 6 mile, and Southfield, and Star Theaters, and Dearborn, and Fairland and Northland, and Borders, and casinos, and cigar bars, and Windsor, and my Fii ( yes Fii), and expressways, my little cousins, and my mom in her bed, my grandma on the porch and my grandpa in his back room…
The point is, living on a ship and travelling the world is so extremely awesome, but it is definitely a lifestyle adjustment. You don’t realize how important some things are to you until you don’t have them anymore.
Sometimes the loss of certain factors in your life force you to look at yourself and your priorities, and that’s a good thing and a healthy thing. Living on the sea has ultimately changed me for the better, and I’m eternally grateful. My homecoming, however, is going to be one to remember! I can’t wait! Detroit and Baltimore, GET READY!!!