There’s an old ship joke that goes
“That’s ships for you!”
This is sometimes said, (usually only by particularly cynical people) when someone leaves a ship. This highlights the attitude that the person may soon be forgotten by most of the people on the ship and fades into oblivion and rarely read Facebook status updates.
Well, I’m here to tell you I don’t like that. And I don’t agree with it.
I’d like to tell you a little story about my first friend on my very first ship.
His name was Christian, and he was in entertainment, like me, and he is from Chile. He was the very first person on my very first ship to make an effort for me, and make me feel welcome. He took me under his wing. He just decided I was his new friend, and he took me everywhere with him like I was his new tiny pet Chihuahua.
To breakfast, lunch and dinner we went, and he taught me how easy it can be to socialize with crew and guests, and showed me the ropes of the job. He even made bingo fun! He was my first ship best friend. It wasn’t a romantic relationship, as being a girl I’m not his type. But we were inseparable.
I had my first genuine close friend, upon whom I could depend, and who really showed me what #shiplife meant. We’d go to the bar after work to chat, where Christian introduced me to all his friends around the ship so I got to know everyone. We went dancing together at crew parties and Latin nights. In one of the lounges we’d sing along to backing tracks of duets from musicals when no one was there, singing our little hearts out until after 2am, even though we had to be up again at 7am to greet people on the gangway on their way out to port for the day. We sang together so much, we ended up creating and performing our own cabaret show singing duets from musicals, for the guests, which went down a treat. I was Christine to his Raoul, he was Chris to my Kim, and (my favorite) I was Eponine to his Marius.
After my glorious first six weeks, Christian’s contract was finished, and he was going home. I was devastated. So was he. When we sobbed goodbye as I hugged him onto the bus to the airport. As the coach pulled away full of happy crew on their way home, (all except for just that one), I bawled my way back up the gangway and flashed my ID to the security guard to go back on the ship. He laughed loudly at me and said
“Ha-ha! You’re new! You’ll get over it!”
His words were so callous, and I seethed through my tears as I hissed back
“You know what? I hope I don’t!”
And I’m proud to say I never have.
I’m not saying that I cry like a baby on the gangway every time anyone leaves. That would be a bit much. Even for me. What I mean is that I still get attached to people, 13 years on. And I still get sad, and still cry when my favorite ones leave. The reason for that is, you often never know if or when you’ll ever see the person again, actually in real life. Christian and I still talk every couple of months, and he’s still there in the background of my life, but we have never actually been in the same place at the same time since.
However, I will never forget the kindness he showed me, taking me in like that.
Basically what I want to say is that all you need to succeed on ships is that: just one good real friend. One person that you know you can count on if you’re going through hell; if you’re in trouble at work, if your relationship on the ship or at home ended, if you’re having family troubles at home, or whatever it is. If you have one person on each contract you’re on that you know you can call at 3am and cry and tell it all to if you need to, that they will be there for you.
Find yourself one good friend on each contract, and you’ll be set. You’ll have more regular friends, and still more acquaintances, but its very pleasant and reassuring having a few that you know you can rely on.
If you have one really good one, then you’re golden. That’s all you need.
Do you remember your first ship friend?
Do you still keep in touch with them?
Share your story below in the comments if you like 🙂