A Year of #Shiplife.

So what’s changed?

A lot.

Mostly perspective. And plenty of soul. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places I’ve never dreamed of and the best people you can ever meet.

And the worst. The absolute *f*kin* worst. (Excuse my language). You have the ones that lift you and support you through your good and bad times and the ones that cheat, used and abused you.

I don’t let my experience stop me from going on with my life. Yes, I find myself wary of new relationships, second guessing people and their kindness. But I don’t and I won’t let these experiences change the person I am. I’m not really spiritual nor religious but the Light will always shine through the Darkness. And of course, I believe in Karma.

I know I’m digressing from the topic but right now I’m in a pretty broken and angry place. I’m not mental, hell no. But I am broken. But the broken pieces made me and that’s how I shall embrace it.

#Shiplife sounds pretty scary eh? It’s super fun, really. I love to be on the ship. Certain parts I don’t enjoy that much but I can tolerate but overall, I can see myself doing this for a little while – until I figure out what to do back home. Just an advice – trust but trust your gut the most. Love but love yourself first.

 

 

 

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Goodbye to you.

It’s as if you died.

I don’t know how to mourn for you. Should I be sad? Should I be angry? 

I know we most probably will never meet again. But there’s just a tiny ray of hope that maybe, someday.

Someday I could finally understand your feelings.

First vs. Second Contract

The most obvious difference was definitely the itineraries and the number of days / hours we worked (like seriously you have no idea). On my first contract, the itinerary was amazing – the Baltic, lots of port days (which meant less working hours, waking up at whenever and staying up ’til whenever because why not?). On this recent contract though, let’s say that it is not made for the weak. One whole cruise to Hawaii on the ship I was on consisted of 15 days from LA – 4 sea days on the way with 4 Hawaiian ports and a painful 5 sea days back with one last port in Mexico. Like what?! That goes to say, I didn’t spend that much time sightseeing in Hawaii because I was so burned out. Great thing however was that we only work until 9pm because we had so many sea days.

There was also a difference in the number of people working with me. We had a bigger team on the Regal so the workload pretty much spread out. On the Star however, we were  juggling half of the pie per jeweler so definitely more to do. I don’t mind at all – it kept me super busy everyday and made the time pass super fast. Also, the commission that we received were only split two ways instead of five so that was a bonus.

As for  #shiplife, I think I became a little wiser. Still pretty new to what goes round the ship but I did pick up some shiplife hacks from my previous contract. For one, I finally got myself a cabin steward which is pretty much unofficial “mafia”  business. For a small fee you can get someone to clean your room and make your bed, change your sheets, bring you your uniforms and towels and take the trash out. You totally get to arrange what you want and what you do not want and how much you’re paying. Rico the guy that we hire was lovely – he made the long working hours so much more bearable by sparing us the need to throw our garbage and vacuuming the night before crew rounds. Thanks Rico 🙂

I’m also pretty good at snagging a washing machine for my laundry and pacing myself so that nobody comes by and takes my stuff out from the wash or the dryer (I hate that). So I’ll put my stuff into the dryer, turn it on 60 minutes and go check every 15 minutes to have it turned back to 60 minutes. If there’s somebody looking for a dryer, they’re most likely to take the stuff out from the dryers with shorter time left on it which made sure nobody takes my stuff out. Genius.

Still lots to share but my brain is like mush right now.

 

Home at last!

Finally home from my second contract! Right now I’m still recuperating from jet lag and ship fatigue (if that’s even a valid word) but I’ll bounce right back to blogging and creating more informative content about shiplife!

Meanwhile I’m really enjoying my time doing nothing and not having alarms after alarms and having to run off to the next “must do” on my list – utter bliss! I finally managed to get my grubby hands on my laptop after leaving it home for 5.5  months – just wanna say that there is nothing as amazing as the feeling of a keyboard compared to using a cell phone for internet. NOTHING COMPARES!!!

Anyway, I’m just busy deleting e-mails from 5 months back (just arrived home like 4 days ago so bear with me!) so do stay around for more stories and updates!

Cheers!

It’s been a bittersweet contract so far…

…painfully long days at sea..lots of hard work in between but the rewards that come with it are worth it.

2.5 more months to go til home, another 5 more Hawaiian cruises! To be honest I haven’t seen anything in Hawaii as of yet because I feel tired most of the time and would rather spend it relaxing with a coffee and a nice lunch.

Definitely have to work harder to get myself out and about!

Happy 2018!

Extremely worn out this time round. Sorry for the lack of updates, shiplife is definitely not a place for loads of “metime”, trust me. Whatever free time I had left after work was used for sleeping in, eating out, laundry and the bar. I brought my laptop with me during my first contract and used it only for a record of two times within 5.5 months, haha. This time I got wiser and left it at home. 

Anyway, another 6 Hawaiian cruises to go before I head home! Technically there’s still 3 months but well, time does fly on the ship! Looking forward to going home, time to skimp and start saving money! 

Still haven’t had the luxury of time to look at accommodation for my trip to Spain, blergh! I know there’s no quality writing in this blog post but there’s not much you can do when you’re using a phone and not having time to think, haha. 

Happy New Year everyone! 

#Shiplife Series: 1.5 months into my second contract!

Officially went into dry dock yesterday & I’m currently working as a key runner with the contractors again, the same as what I did in the Regal. It’s been mayhem since last cruise as the boutiques were going on major refurbishment me thinks and every piece of merchandise and tools were packed away. Imagine the hours we spent doing that!

Overall I had less time outside than I did when I was in Regal, mostly due to the itinerary of the ship. I had 8 port days out of 11 in the Baltic which was amazing, we could sleep in on most of the ports and had ample time to go explore the vicinity. With the Star, we have 4 sea days on the way to Hawaii and 5 sea days back which was excruciating but we are definitely able to make more money for the boutiques. 

Currently docked in Victoria, Canada for around 10 days with 3 degree Celcius weather conditions, yippie. I love cold weather but it’s a pain to bundle up just to go out. Not complaining but probably need to get a scarf and gloves. 

Blessed…

…is the word that keeps coming to my mind for the past few months. Well for the past year really. People say that we attract the things we feel (you know, Law of Attraction & The Secret and all that stuff) and I truly believe it to be a real fact. I’m an optimist most of the time and by staying that way, the Universe has somehow given me back the same positive energy I’ve given to it. There are some days when I feel like shit but by constantly reminding myself of all the good things that has happened – I manage to pull myself through the bad moments and focus on creating happy ones. It does take some practice and some sheer willpower when you first start but it’s pretty automatic once you set your mind to it.

So, back to feeling this way. I guess I never really practiced it until one major moment in my life. Well, nothing super major but it was enough to impact the way I think. I have just returned from working in Singapore and was looking for a job back home. I’ve tried  applying to the hotels in my hometown but none were able to match the salary I was asking for and I didn’t really have anything else I want to do in Penang (the bulk of the workforce lies in manufacturing, banking and hospitality). What I did then was to also apply for jobs in the city and lo and behold, I managed to get myself a job with one prestigious beauty brand – I was completely over the moon when I received the call!

Since then, there has been many instances when I feel completely lucky and blessed – especially when I received news that I have been accepted to work on the cruise ship. It wasn’t a lifelong dream plus there really aren’t many seafarers in Malaysia but I’ve always wanted to travel the world and trying to apply for it is already hard enough. It’s really a lucky moment for me if I say so myself.

Fast track few months later, I was traveling to places I’ve never thought I’ll ever see. It might feel like nothing for some but for me coming from a little country on the Equator this felt like a once in a lifetime thing. The best thing is, there were so many once in the lifetime moments that I kept thinking to myself, “I’m so blessed”. So blessed to be here, so blessed to be able to experience this, so blessed to be alive.

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My first time in the Caribbean and off the ship in Regal, beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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I only had one chance to visit Cozumel, Mexico as it was the last cruise before the crossing but having Mexican food by the sea was an incredible experience. 

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Sailing on a catamaran and drinking rum punch at St. Thomas after we snorkeled with sea turtles. First time trying rum punch, first time on a catamaran, first time snorkeling! Sadly, St. Thomas was hit by Hurricane Irma recently…

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We had around 10 days of dry dock in Hamburg, which is also another city I love. So many things going on here and it was a blessing to have so much time to explore the city!

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Also seen snow for the first time in Sweden! I was ecstatic!

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Like,  look at me! Haha!

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And who can forget beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia? This church is my favorite part of  the city, by the way.

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Plus I also tried this very pretty and yummy breakfast at Grand Hotel Stockholm –  paid a pretty hefty price but well, moments matter.

Another 3 more weeks to go towards my next adventure! I know some of you are curious to know where I’m going next so I’m going to talk about it in my next entry. ‘Til then, safe travels!

#Shiplife Series: Counting Down & Things to Pack!

Hey ya’ll!

Just came back from my little family vacation to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and ready to start counting down to life on-board again. Still haven’t gotten rid of my night owl syndrome – it’s almost 2 a.m. here and I’m craving for another cup of Vietnamese coffee, yum. In another 24 days, I’ll be embarking my ship and starting another 5.5 months at sea so updates will most likely be scarce – if not non-existent. I’m not really planning on bringing my laptop with me this time 1) Because the battery is dead and needs replacing, 2) I’ve only used my laptop for a record breaking 2 times during my last contract. Trust me, I’m such a tech addict that I’m constantly glued to my cell & my laptop most of the time but no, I wasn’t because it was such a chore to set up and I didn’t want my laptop to suck up all my data with its’ updates. So nope, most likely laptop stays at home.

Since it’s almost time to pack and leave and say goodbye I figured I might as well plan the stuff that I need to buy / pack before I forget and screw everything up. This time, I’m upgrading to a larger suitcase instead of bring 2 medium sized ones. Haven’t bought the large suitcase yet though so yes, that’s on my list too.

  1. New uniforms – Like what happened to the old ones? I still have a couple of the white shirts with me but planning to get me some new ones to go with. New blazers, new pants as well because some of them were worn so bad. Maybe a skirt?
  2. Shoes – I’m actually contemplating on this. Like I have a pair that I was wearing which was still fine but maybe I should get another pair. IDK.
  3. Sanitary pads, panadol actifast, medicated oil – Literally the most important for my survival. Must remember to bring 6 months’ worth. Oh yes and some watermelon seed powder for those annoying canker sores.
  4. Snacks – I totally didn’t bring any previously and was fine but it’ll be nice to at least bring some coffee. I plan on bringing instant coffee (and my Vietnamese ones with the fancy drip), these super yummy Vietnamese chili salt thingie to sprinkle on when food is tasteless AF, instant rice vermicelli (PAMA brand from Thailand), MILO (would be lifesaver) & Nestum (also another lifesaver).
  5. Toiletries – Will need to buy shampoo & shower gel. Also need to stock up on my Innisfree face masks when I visit the city – those masks are amazing and pretty cheap, around $1 for a piece. Might want to buy some eye shadow as I dropped my backpack on my way back and some of  the colors of my old palette did not survive.
  6. Socks, stockings, undies. Self explanatory
  7. I actually need winter wear but I probably can buy them when in port so nah…
  8. Chopsticks. I think I lost a part of myself back then as I  was eating noodles with a fork, like seriously?!
  9. All my useless essentials – very ironic. My hair dryer and curling iron, garment steamer, gel nail kit, electric jug kettle.
  10. Perhaps a mug and a bowl.

Like seriously, what about the other more important stuff?! Well those I don’t usually forget, like my clothes and flip flops but the rest might get forgotten especially if I keep the packing ’til the last minute.

Ah, life.

 

 

#Shiplife Series: Life as a Crew Member on-board a Cruise Ship.

So what happens on a cruise ship? How does life on-board differ to life on land?  It really depends on what kind of lifestyle you were living in prior to being on the ship and I’ll help you answer some stuff you’re wondering about based on my experience!

Travel time to work

A little background story before I start. Your girl here has been living by herself for a while, even before starting work on the ship. I moved to the city when I was 20 years’ old to study and I’ve been living by myself ever since. Well technically I shared the house with my housemates but everything I do on my own. When I started studying I didn’t have a car so I relied on my own two feet and a lot of public transport to get around and even when after I bought a car I still prefer to drive to the train station and take the the train to the city. So that being said, the biggest difference for me  when  comparing life on-board vs. life on land is not really the distance.  Like yeah, I used to visit family every 2 months or so for maybe, 3 days and drive back to the city vs. only being able to go back home every 6 months but staying on for 2 months (they’re all sick of me now I think) but really, the time and distance to go to your workplace is huggeee.

I used to wake up at 6.45 a.m. and leave my house around 8 a.m. to drive to the train station. I arrive to work at 9.15 a.m. On the ship, I can wake up at 7.45 a.m. and be at the crew mess to eat at 8.30 a.m. and at work by 8.50 a.m. There was once when I was living alone in the cabin that I overslept and woke up at 8.40 a.m. I was in the morning briefing by 8.50 a.m., lol. So yes, your workplace is literally 5 minutes away when you’re on the ship vs. an hour away or something ridiculous like that. My roomie and I would complain that the crew mess is TOO FAR when really, it’s just a 5 minutes’ walk, haha.

 

Food choices

When I was working at home, I used to eat really badly because one, I was alone and too lazy to cook for one person, the better, more nutritional  meals were expensive and sometimes it is more convenient to just order fast food. I would buy nasi lemak (traditional Malaysian food consisting of coconut milk cooked rice and condiments) for breakfast, have Mamak for lunch (mostly rice, curry,  fried chicken and salted egg) and something simple like noodles for dinner. Some days I’ll scratch my head thinking about what to eat which right now doesn’t happen anymore because everything is done for you! We’re so spoiled, haha. The crew gets wholesome  food on board and while sometimes the food gets repetitive, it’s healthy  enough (if you want it to be). There’s always fruit and salad bar, we get soups (usually Filipino sabaw or some random Ukrainian/Serbian fare), rice and other stuff like fish, chicken, beef, sandwiches etc. We also get a pizza parlour everyday but not on every ship so if you like being pizzas, it’s a treat!

Activities on-board

The comments that I received before I left was either I  was going to “drink seawater and starve” or that I was going to “get so fat” but well. For those of you who are worried that you might not lead the same healthy lifestyle you had before you left, fear not! There’s the crew gym and also the passenger gym (for those of you with deck privileges) plus there’s always crew health initiatives on-board (eg. yoga, zumba, etc.)

We also have TV in our cabins so we don’t exactly “die of  boredom” on the ship not to mention lots of crew activities! There were crew bingo, karaoke nights, wine and cheese nights, latin disco nights, etc. plenty of stuff to keep you occupied. Back home, most activities calls for money, except maybe walks in the park and stuff.

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Chores

Like laundry and cleaning your room. I  used to do the same when I was living alone but heck, I only cleaned my room when I feel like it. As for the ship, we have crew rounds every week which meant that the room will have to be spick and span when the inspectors come around. The space is small and you do share the load of cleaning with your roommate so it’s not much but still. Apart from that, you don’t do much cleaning – you don’t even need to clean your plate after you eat.

Free time

Perhaps this is a little more substantial when comparing life on the ship and at home. I used to work a 5 day week and have weekends off to just chill and be lazy. On the ship, free time is a luxury and even a 30 minute nap is Godsend. Privacy would be another thing I would like to talk about. You get to be alone most of the time at home if you’re living alone but on the ship, you’re likely to be sharing the cabin with another colleague. Your space is also their space and while there’s always curtains around your bed to give you a little privacy, you basically most of  the time together.

Relationships

You go to work and at most spend around maybe 60 hours a week with your colleagues but when you’re on the ship, you literally see each other all the time. You work everyday together, probably live together, eat together, party together, you get the gist. There’s definitely groups of people who hang out more often together but you can’t escape the fact that you need to live if not co-exist with the same people for long periods of time. You tend to make really close friends and sometimes enemies for others but oh well, people come and people go – if you really can’t stand someone, just remember that they  will leave too. Can’t say that for your colleagues working on land though, you just don’t know when they will leave, haha. Culture and upbringing are also a whole lot diverse on the ship as we are most of the time exposed to only the majority of  the locals where we come from but nope, it’s like a huge melting pot on-board. There’s so much to learn from each other and as long as everyone is considerate and respectful it’s easy to get along.

The little extras

When you live  with such a huge community there’s bound to be some unwritten rule or “mafia” business going on. Need a local SIM card? Looking for the noodle guy? It’s useful to ask around and know more people – it does help to have some connections on-board. As for going around the ports, did I mention shore excursion escorts? It’s basically a volunteer position which you can sign up for during your time off. If you’re selected, you  are able to go on shore excursions with the passengers – in exchange for a little bit of your time in helping out the shore-ex team. One of  the best ways to enjoy the ports as you literally go for free on the tours!