Two down, seven to go.
Months, that is. It’s been a journey since embarking on my 4th ship (technically 6th, but my 4th contract). Regardless, I loved it immediately. I’ve deemed the Celebrity Eclipse as the best ship I’ve ever worked on since the Pacific Jewel* (with my first cruise line).
*Nothing will ever beat my first ship contract. Experience of a lifetime. And hey ho, P&O, thanks for introducing me to my gem of a boyfriend!
I’m so fortunate to be on this ship – with this specific itinerary – and I count my lucky stars every day. After some of the most draining, dark months earlier this year (circle back to my July post), it’s really nice to have formed such a solid circle of friends on this ship.
The worldwide itinerary makes my time here absolutely worthwhile. And every time I get weighed down by difficult people, I just have to keep reminding myself of all the perks in my role. Most notably, I’ll be hitting three different regions of the world in this contract. All travel, food, and accommodation taken care of. Yes, it’s practically a 9-month contract on my request – but it’ll be so worth all the memories and experiences.
My parents finally cruised with me for our Greek Isles/Spain/Italy/Malta itinerary as well. It was lovely having a piece of home with me and finally showing them what I do for work. Coincidentally, getting Joe back as a guest entertainer was also perfect – my parents finally met the best teammate I’ve ever had, and they were in awe of his incredible magic skills.
Plus Jayne Curry and Oli Nez – talk about a perfect guest entertainer lineup. We were just missing December ’63 and Just John & Paul…
Yet, I’ve had to strive really hard to think positively on this contract rather than meddle in my mistakes or things I should have done better. I’m currently in a state of “anxiety-perfectionism-AUUUGH/let me just get by and stop breathing down my neck” onboard. That’s probably not an ideal way to live, but I’m surviving. And it helps to have a solid best friend (Kat Kat!) who has literally been my rock whenever I’ve cried, vented, doubted myself, or felt like giving up.
One of my close friends gave me the best advice that serves as a post-it in the middle of my mirror: “Get all your negativity and toss it overboard, because none of that matters at the end of the day.”
As I noted in my last entry, I’ve also never been more self-aware than I am now because of ships. Whereas most others rush to crew bar after work, I’ve made a concentrated effort not to hang as much – because my partying days are over (once again, thank you, P&O – best months of my life to date). I feel (and am getting) old*. My feet and back hurt after an entire day of running around ports, and I’m not as sprightly as I was when I was 23 and fresh to travelling.
I’m one of the “older” ones in our age group, and my body can’t handle wild nights like it used to. I’d be lying to myself if I said that I wanted to still be on ships in the next five years. I want to be hiking, exploring the outdoors, bungy jumping – not behind a microphone, putting on a type of “act” every day. It was really fun at first, but now that I’m approaching three years with this industry, I’m looking forward to future change.
My job is to talk to people and always be around people – so after work, sometimes (all the time), I just prefer to be left alone. I’m still, and probably always will be, a hardcore introvert. Passengers have even come up to me when I’m stuffing my face in Mykonos, yelling, “It’s the trivia girl!” I can’t catch a break anywhere, and it’s one of the main things I miss about backpacking and being truly free.
Many crewmembers, including me, tend to keep taking ship contracts because the lifestyle here is so easy – it’s so “safe.” There’s really no easier way to travel the world and get paid to do it – so you build savings inevitably. I’m so thankful to have the job that I have. People cook for us, we have a free gym onboard, we don’t have to commute in traffic to get to a shift, accommodation is provided. And most importantly, my cell phone works in my cabin when we port. Words cannot explain how important this is, especially when your boyfriend is over 6,000 miles away in a different time zone.
But how much longer do I want to keep playing it safe if I know in my heart what my true passion is?
I know it’s time for change. The exhilaration and absolute happiness I felt while driving in Iceland on my own – that just can’t be found on ships. Not for me, at least. I crave freedom. I crave the outdoors, the ability to go wherever I want without worrying about missing the ship, and exploring new territories.
Still, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in such a long time. I was beginning to fear that I lost the ability to genuinely laugh and smile ever since mid-2017. But now, I have every reason to count my blessings and love and laugh every part of my life.
I delved into a long-distance relationship with one of my best friends of several years, and while that terrified me at first, it’s also never felt so right. And it’s so easy. It’s the first relationship I’ve ever had where I feel like I can envision a future with him, no matter where in the world we are. Most importantly, our future goals align as well – being digital nomads (fancy talk for “working remotely”) is something we’re both interested in, and something that I’ve wanted for myself for ages now.
I have the most eagerly anticipated vacation planned, and it’s absolutely incredible to have that as the light at the end of my tunnel after 9 months at sea. It’ll be so rejuvenating to revisit Australia and New Zealand – and to travel with someone I love for the first time ever.
While I was on vacation in August, I also realised just how many stories I have – and just how much more I’ve experienced than the average human. That doesn’t make me any better than anyone else – the only difference is that I haven’t followed the status quo. I still prefer traveling alone (even when I get time ashore in ports). I enjoy experiencing new places, eating new foods, meeting new people, and hiking the most beautiful landscapes. And I just prefer sightseeing rather than sitting at a mediocre bar in a gorgeous port.
I want to share my travel mishaps with the world and make that into a career – the misadventures of Debbi, the quirky adrenaline junkie who has 8 tattoos (5 of which are geek-related) and been to 67+ countries. The girl who everyone mistakes for being 23 when she’s actually 28. The girl who falls into a bush taking photos on a tripod.
I absolutely love to travel, hike, bungy jump, play with cute animals, eat great local food, and most importantly, meet people and exchange anecdotes all over the world. I want to be a storyteller. Annie Franchesci, you’re my utmost inspiration.
I want to pursue my love of writing (thank you, Ms. Langevin) and someday write a book that documents all of my experiences and life lessons learned. And because I’ve had so much help and great knowledge imparted on me from past leaders, mentors, and colleagues, I want to pay it forward and do the same for any young professional interested in travel, teaching English abroad, working for Disney, going to UCSB, working on cruise ships, doing working holiday visas, and just about anything else in the past years of my crazy life.
Because, yes, I don’t have a traditional story. I’ve suffered, struggled, cried, been beat down, and felt like I hit rock bottom several times. But most importantly, I’ve learned to pick myself up and carry on. No one’s story is going to be the same as yours – and that’s the beauty in telling your own story.
So here’s to seven more months at sea. They’ll be the most challenging, but with an absolutely worthwhile reward waiting for me.
All opinions are my own and do not reflect the ideas of my company.