If you have been reading and following my blog for a while, you have probably noticed that I work for a cruise line in their entertainment department. I have many posts about traveling and the wonderful ups and downs of ship life. Even though I am currently at home waiting for a ship assignment, I seem to be in a little bit of a funk. I think this "funk" is the part of ship life that no one really talks about.
Your contract is anywhere from 6-9 months and during that time, you work, eat, sleep and breathe with hundreds/thousands of people from around the world. You share a room with someone, you eat all your meals with them, you party after work with them ... you're never alone, bottom line. For the duration of your contract, you are ALWAYS on the go. You don't have a day off and on the hours that you have off, you're either laying on the beach or exploring your port of call, OR catching up on sleep or laundry. These people that you're with become your family and they will know more about you than your actual family does.
The end of your contract is always the most difficult because it means saying goodbye to people who you more than likely will never see again. That thought is actually more terrifying than it sounds. I am lucky, however, that I still keep in touch with many people I have met and they continue to be my close friends. The part that no one really talks about is trying to adjust to home life. Everyone is excited you're home and you feel like a celebrity for maybe a week and then once all the "welcome home" parties are done, everyone goes back to their day to day lives and then ... there's you.
It's difficult to talk to people about your experience because the majority of it is "you had to be there". They won't understand a word of what you're saying and unless they have lived the ship life themselves, they never get it. Adjusting to being home was easy the first few times, but here I am, a little over a year later, and I am not adjusted, AT ALL. I still find it difficult to sleep with the ship rocking me to sleep, I still CANNOT get used to the 9-5 jobs and I am longing for the feel of salt water and sand. I think that's why I'm in the funk that I am in ... I'm still not adjusted.
I have thought about going back and right now, I am waiting for a ship assignment. But when that time comes to pack up and leave again, can I actually do it? To everyone it seems like such an easy decision to make, especially with winter right around the corner, but like I said, if you haven't done it, you don't understand.
Everyone thinks working and living on "vacation" is fun and glamorous, but no one ever really talks about the struggle of afterwards - trying to make home feel like home again.