When working aboard a cruise ship, you take any opportunity you can to escape work for a few hours. While a lot of us do enjoy our jobs – we work a lot of hours, so any break is appreciated. I had a friend say “If you can still see the ship, you’re not doing it right”, which is how we like to plan our few hours off.
Generally, the ship will make port sometime in the morning, and it will take you an hour or two before you can disembark. Either from the “passengers first” rule, or the one-too-many beers you had last night, you’re probably not getting off at the crack of dawn.
The mistake that most crew make when leaving the ship is that they search for Internet. Don’t get me wrong; I love being online as much as the next bloke, but trying to cram a week’s worth of Internet into one hour at a restaurant isn’t the greatest. It’s easy to sit down, order some food, a few drinks, and watch the hours tick by as you scroll through your news feed; don’t fall into this trap.
How best can you spend your port days then? To truly make the most of your experience, you want to make sure every day is an adventure. Here are my tips for making that happen.
1. Don’t do anything twice
It’s easy to fall into a routine when visiting a familiar place. Certain restaurants have good WiFi, or maybe there’s a really good bar in the CBD, but routine is going to make your days seem shorter, and your memories run together. Try to find something new to do every time. Some days will be better than others – but every day will be a new adventure.
2. Set an alarm on your watch
You’re constantly going to be worrying about what time you’ve got to be back to the ship. Make note of the time you need to be back on board, and set your watch an hour ahead of that to give you time to make your way back. You can have fun all day, and when the alarm goes off, it’s time to head back to work – no need to keep looking at it all the time.
3. Get Lost
Here’s a big hint: The best part of the city you’re visiting is not going to be within 100 meters of the ship. Stray away from the beaten path, and find something that’s just yours – or just yours and a few of your friends. Some of my best adventures have started with dark alleyways.
4. Take only what you need
Different ports have different levels of safety, but why take the risk at all. The only thing you need is your ship card, some cash, and maybe a phone/camera to take photos. Don’t bother bringing your laptop, full wallet, and the kitchen sink – you’re not going to need them. As an added benefit, without a backpack or bag, you’ll look less like a tourist.
5. Take somebody new
Your friends aren’t always going to have the same schedule as you – so meet some new ones, and invite them out. It’s a great way to meet other people aboard, and get to know some other faces besides the ones you directly work with. Plus, your new friends might have a few secret places of their own that they can show you.
Of course, as always, this isn’t going to apply to everyone. Some days you just need to sit in a café and catch up on the digital world. Do whatever you think is best – but remember, you’re not always going to be in the place you’re in.