My beau and I are getting back on a cruise ship in three days. We’ve had 5 weeks off between contracts, which is long enough to get some rest and recharge, but not completely deplete our bank accounts.
I have mixed feelings about going back. This will be my second contract, which I know will be different from my first.
Things I am not looking forward to:
Wearing a nametag. Having to dress a certain way to get some fresh air. Not being able to cook. Not being able to go home at the end of the day and get space from people I may not feel connected to. Tiny, uncomfortable bed. Potential sea sickness
Things I am looking forward to:
Singing with boyfriend every day. Seeing new places and ports. Meeting new people. Seeing some people from the last contract. Having New Orleans as a home port. Cozumel. Being in warm places in the middle of winter. Having the ship rock me to sleep. Best sleep I’ve had in years was on the ship, even if the beds were tiny. Not having access to good wifi.
I know that last one is weird, but I am on my phone a LOT, like any modern human of 2018. And it takes me hours sometimes to start my day because of the wormhole the is clicking and scrolling.
Anyway, I wanted share my overall general experience of my first contract. It is hard to share this in person because it’s hard to narrow down exactly how working on a cruise ship will be for every person. Some people love it, some hate it. I swung back and forth on the spectrum:
The first half of our contract was rough for me because I didn’t know how to express myself without a band behind me. I didn’t know how to move my body, I didn’t know how to be free within the same songs that we performed every single day. We both would go through phases of feeling energetic and free and being bored and tired. I felt like I’d stepped out of a life that I had built and enjoyed: teaching and singing and yoga– to some weird corporate musicians-are-slaves subject to judgment and ratings world. And I had my person with me, but I didn’t want to admit to him that I wasn’t happy with the gig. I was with him, so I should have been happy right?
I was, and I wasn’t. Lots of growing pains happened.
I really missed singing with a band while I was gone. I can’t tell you how different it is to sing with another voice and guitar versus feeling the vibrations of drums and bass and horns. But there is a different energy and creativity that came up when I allowed. My voice strengthened on that contract.
An energy shift happened halfway through our contract. We figured out a way I could pull some leadership into our duo. Ship people left, new people came. And there was love and light in the newness. I accepted that I was where I was, and I had chosen to be there. What I had left would still be there when I got back to land.
Our very last night on the ship was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever experienced. Almost all of the music department was in the pub and we sang and performed our hearts out with the band, and with the other duo on board. Afterwards we drank and ate and laughed and ran around the crew deck putting stickers on our friends’ doors.
When my boyfriend and I signed off the ship the next day, we had been on that ship for 23 weeks. Five months. We had worked together, practiced together, ate every meal together, shared a cabin, and literally shared all of our ups and downs together. We were hungover, had gotten two hours of sleep, felt backed up if you know what I mean, and we had to wait in line at immigration for two hours. We were delirious and laughable.
Boyfriend told me on the bus as we rode to the airport to come home that day that he was proud of me for leading the band through a song I had struggled with when we had first started rehearsing. He also said that it wasn’t just the new people that gave us energy, but that we had raised the vibrations on the ship so things could be better. We gave people energy, and they gave it back. Energy is a cycle. Real love moves freely in both directions. We allowed ourselves to be open to the change.
When I came back to Austin, I noticed the things that had changed and things that had stayed the same. I felt grounded. I’m sad to leave, but I’m excited to come back and see what growth will happen in the next few months.
I’m working on raising the vibe. Always. And I’ve got a wonderful partner-in-musical crime.