Day 104 | London | Be the Experience
Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.
As the taxi pulled away from the cruise terminal, an emptiness clouded my thoughts. The experience of four months on a cruise ship, seeing the world had met more than any expectations a person could dream up. All the riches of the world I had packed away in the safety of my heart. But that treasure chest of memories wasn’t full and I wanted more!
Ships are merely floating hotels that conquer the seas between docking port to port, beach to beach and wonderland after wonderland. Like a small city, cruise ships have their ups and downs that tie in with their own unique culture and personalities. But in reality, the ship is the destination as more time is spent on the ship than in port. The culture of a cruise ship is completely different than living on land. The inside knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes within the cruise ship’s culture one can only get by spending time living with her.
And that was my dream. A better understanding of how and why both crew members live their unusual lifestyle with extended periods of isolation, small living spaces and long hours of work as well as why passengers want a taste of that lifestyle a long cruise has to offer.
As I listened to story after story of how the cabin steward or a waiter or even some officers shared their adventures of home life, I began to understand ways of living unknown to me. If only the mother of a waiter knew that her son was sharing thoughts of her with passengers. And the officer who hadn’t put much thought into raising children with her ten-year relationship with her boyfriend back home. Or the head waiter who lived for watching movies staying up till dawn on his fourth movie of the night.
I will have to admit that watching the fire walkers take that first step into hot coals, talking with the Bedouin tribal lady after she took her veil off for me, smelling the frankincense burning in the castle of Oman, manipulating the Segway through the busy streets of Cartagena, photographing toucans within an arm’s reach, or hearing life’s lessons from Chris the tattooed Samoan tribal man were all life changing events that gave me a feeling of belonging to another place or time.
My passion in travel always goes back to searching for what is called cultural competence or the ability to interact with people of different cultures and economic backgrounds. Re-shaping my perceptions to be able to accept and look open-mindedly at the culture shock of other’s behaviors is the challenge. The ship gave me the opportunity to fulfill that need through the meeting of crew and passengers from all walks of life. Would I go back for more? In a heartbeat!
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