#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. 

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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.

 

 

Finally back from my first contract!

I did it! Finished one contract on-board a cruise ship, now what can you pessimists say about that?

I didn’t exactly manage to complete my  6 months. I did  5.5, around 2 weeks of training and exactly 5 months on the Regal. I had to go, mainly because Dad was really, really sick. He passed exactly the day I was going to fly home to see him – either way I’m having mixed feelings about this outcome but what can I do except move on right?

There’s just tons to share but many more that’s hard to explain – the sights, the sounds, the feeling…it’s just like being in a little world of your own sometimes, with nobody to understand you except those that have been on the ship before. It’s just complicated.

So what have I been doing since my return?  Nothing much really, I spent some  time catching up with friends and staying home to recuperate – imagine watching seasons of Game of Thrones nonstop and that would be me. Eat, sleep and repeat.

I’ll be posting some stuff once I organize my bearings!

#Shiplife Series: The Halfway Mark.

This is it.

The halfway mark of my first contract onboard a cruise ship. I left home on 27 February 2017 and today is 20 July 2017.

Its been 5 months.

Initially I was supposed to disembark on 26 August 2017 but was requested to extend until 23 September 2017. So 2 more months to go ’til home!

There’s just so much to share but also so much most people would not understand about life onboard until you’ve been there. The ship is our workplace, our home, our playground, our city, our country. We eat, live and breathe the ship and its people, so much that strong friendships are formed even without intention. One day feels like one week on the ship which is why you feel like you know each other forever even when it is just a few months of being together.

Which is why people fall in love onboard or hate someone with such passion. Who wouldn’t when they’re faced with them 24/7? 

I really can’t explain too much right now. I will need some quiet time to collect my thoughts and some time to reflect on them before I can do a better job at blogging. The whole experience has been enriching and I love being on the ships and sailing across oceans. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Right now the body has started to tire and energy to falter. But the heart feels eternally grateful for that one opportunity which changed everything.

The countdown begins for home now.

Hello June, where is summer?!

Currently docked at Copenhagen with another turnaround. Yep, that’s pretty much what the whole itinerary is going to be like for Baltic season.

Copenhagen – Oslo – Sea day – Warnemunde – Sea day – Talinn – St. Petersburg – St. Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Sea day – Copenhagen

Eat.Rest.Repeat. I’m currently having a good time enjoying the beauty of Scandinavia but it is still too cold. 11 degrees in June?! I want to wear dresses and not be in pants all the time 😧

Anyway I’m beginning to feel a little jaded. Can’t wait to have proper Malaysian food or at least some spicy Asian food (*hint Tomyam!) when I get back. I know it’s ungrateful for me to feel this way but hey, we’re only human. I don’t particularly miss going back to the humidity and the heat but there are some things which I miss like lazy weekends and catching up with family and friends. There’s just so much you can do onboard. 

Still, I’m having lots of fun. Can’t wait to be home but also still have lots to explore.

Til then, signing off!

#Shiplife Series: 1.5 months onboard & Drydock

We’re docked now in Hamburg & I’m currently on standby as a keyrunner for the contractors. Overall the boutiques have a rather relaxing schedule during this period of 10 days but hey, weather is pretty harsh with a temperature of 6 degrees Celsius.

Life onboard has been pretty amazing. Crazy, fast and furious. Work hard, play hard. That’s what it is. There rules on the ship – the official & non official ones, some which are hard to elaborate and understand unless you’ve been there.

The amazing part is, I’ve travelled to around 10 different countries in just a month. I’ve done some stuff I’ll never do. Snorkeling with sea turtles in U.S. Virgin Islands. Kayaking across the Carribean sea. Dancing under the stars. Challenging my comfort zone. Challenging my potential. And honestly the world never failed to amaze me. So different yet so alike.

I’m still expanding my horizons. And I’m so blessed especially to be able to travel to Europe. Crazy, crazy, crazy. I still have 4 months after drydock, I’m pretty sure that will be amazing as well.

#Shiplife Series: Training on the Ship.

It’s been 12 days since I’ve left Malaysia to join the ship. Time has passed so quickly that I was just living in the moment, one day at a time and everything seemed so vivid yet so blurry that I’m beginning to question the reality of things, haha. I guess that’s how I will sum up shiplife at the moment. You live in the reality and your reality is your life onboard the ship. Everything else outside is somewhat irrelevant.

The company has been really lovely to us and took care of our needs pretty well. We had a pickup from the hotel in Honolulu to the ship and there were people at the immigration point waiting for us to bring us to the ship. We got to the crew office and the managers from our department took us to our rooms and once  everyone arrived we were handed over to our trainer.

It was a complete  whirlwind from that point onwards – getting our uniforms,  going for training, getting lost around the ship, getting our crew IDs, flu shots…it was really nice of the company to  organize the training for us, especially those who are new to ships. We learnt our emergency signals, what to do during a fire or when we feel sick as well as stuff about the company. We also made plenty of friends and it was really nice to find people you have things in common with. Kinda sad that we’re all transhipped to different ships now, some of them are still together but well,  not me.

I’ve read some horror stories about the food in the crew mess and let me tell you, the food in my ship was amazing, at least to my  standards. I often have to fuss about what to eat and this is a nice change from having to settle my own meals  to being fed with yummy, proper food. I’m trying to take less portions as I am in danger of getting fatter and fatter.

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One of the meals I had in the staff mess.

The ship that I was in is relatively small and could hold about 2600 passengers. It wasn’t super hard to navigate once you know your way.

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The Wardroom or officer’s bar. Apparently staff are able to come here as well. I never went, only during our training.

 

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Some of the activities planned for the officer’s bar.There’s also a calendar of activities for the crew  recreation room which I didn’t take a photo of.
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Casual top which I probably will not be wearing in future as my role requires formal wear on a daily basis.

I’ll be going on my new ship tomorrow and I’m pretty nervous about it. What if I get a horrible cabin mate? What if everyone’s nasty? Well no point worrying plus the itinerary is going to be awesome. I’ll be doing Caribbean for 2 weeks and will be sailing off to the Baltics from April onwards! Perhaps I should focus on that thought…

#Shiplife Series: Flying to Honolulu!

This is going to be super backdated because I’ll most likely post this only by the time I get to my hotel in Miami, which is on the 10th of March, 11 days after I first got on the cruise ship.

You guys will just have to deal with it, haha. I will hardly get any internet unless I’m in port. Or if I spend $40 on 660 mb which I might someday.

So just an update here, I hopped on the plane on 27 February 2017 to get to Honolulu to meet my ship. Spent about a day just taking plane rides and waiting in transit – first one was Penang – Hong Kong which took about 3.5 hours, Hong Kong – Tokyo (around 4 hours) & Tokyo – Honolulu which took another 6 hours. Add in the waiting time during transit which took around 5-6 hours…it was crazy! I hate being on long flights especially the feeling of not being able to move around. Plus I can’t really sleep when I’m travelling especially without a bed so yeah, I was dead beat by the time I landed in Honolulu.

So I got detained. Well, sort of.

I walked into immigration at Honolulu and boy was I blown away by the number of Japanese tourists doing the same thing. Seriously, it was around 10 huge lines of just people queuing to get their passport stamped. I was kinda freaked out that I might miss the guy that was waiting to pick me up that when I saw one of the ushers I told her that I’m a seaman and whether I could go to the counter. She opened up the line for me but oh well, the lady at the immigration counter brought me into the holding room. Apparently, all seamen that flew in that day was also detained until we could get clearance.

It wasn’t something too serious as long as your name is on their list and you can answer their questions. Pretty straightforward stuff like which ship you’re joining, when you’re leaving the US – just to make sure you’re not planning on jumping ship, pun intended. I was good to go after spending about 30 minutes in the room.

I had a bit of a problem looking for the guy picking us up and asking the people around didn’t help at all. Finally located him standing outside and awhile later with an Indonesian uncle, we were finally shuttled off to our hotel.

Check in was prompt and immediate but to my utmost horror the lady at the reception said that I will be sharing the room with someone. I’ve read about room-sharing from crew stories so I wasn’t at all surprised, just a bit worried that my roommate will be a nasty one. She came a little after I showered and settled down and turned out to be a girl from China. If you know me well enough, my love for China ends at their “ma lat spicy fish” & dumplings. I don’t really care for their people as they scare me off. I was pretty horrified that I was placed with a Chinese girl for my Mandarin is atrocious but oh well, we all just have to wing it.

It was a tad awkward at first but we were so tired that we just sort of slept the day away. She went out to get some water and got me a bottle which was really sweet of her. We both missed lunch but had Bubba Gump Shrimp for dinner together. Little did I know it will be the first of the many dinners to come, haha. I thought I’ll just be stuck with her for a night but turns out, we’re roomies for the rest of the training. I’ll say more on that in the next blog post, catch you guys later!

 

#Shiplife Series: Applying for a Cruise Ship Job – Part Two

Hey lovelies!

10 more days to go til  #Shiplife! I’m super psyched yet super stressed out with all the packing I have to do! Haven’t done much but everything has to go! Plus I’ll  be working during the weekends to provide a handover to the girl that will be replacing my role. Sooo tired but sooo much to do and so many people to meet before I leave!

I’ll be having a farewell dinner with my colleagues later in the evening, followed by dinner & drinks with my uni mates on Saturday night. Plus another few dinners with friends on Sunday & Tuesday! Ending it all with a bang with our annual dinner on the 23rd – as well as my last working day!

So here’s the second part of my cruise job application experience!

 

I’m  feeling a little bit delirious thanks to the lack of sleep,  still plenty  to do and loads to buy. Cheerio & I’ll update again soon!