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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cruising with the Crew - LJ Part 2

It's Cruise Ship Saturday! Today is part two of the rough draft on LJ, a cruise ship crew member.

Part 1 of the chapter on LJ, a cruise ship crew member, can be found on June 23.

When you are young you enjoy working on the ship. If you are coming from a country that is poor, you are excited to work at your first cruise ship job for $500 or $600 a month. But when you are 40 with a daughter who is growing up and a wife who misses you? For LJ, with those 13 years of experience, his $1,000 a month job doesn’t pay for fixing the house and supporting a wife and child – and future children - from afar. 

At what age do you decide that enough is enough? That it is more important to be home with your wife and eight year old daughter than fold pool towels for passengers who are just going to dirty them in a few minutes anyway? Is it worth your time having to be kind to those passengers who are nothing but disrespectful to you, the ones that treat the crew members like they aren’t humans but animals? Isn’t it more important to provide a life for a family who doesn’t get to spend enough time with you than cleaning up the dirty cups kids threw into the pool? 

Ship life chews you up and spits you out. We’ve seen it again and again. Long hours, little pay, pain-in-the-rump adults and kids with no manners wear you down. At some point you have to move on. It’s not a decision that comes easily for LJ. 

There are things he will miss about ship life. For a poor boy from Honduras the opportunity to travel is something he never expected he’d get to do. Seeing the world is something he definitely will miss. But at his age, there isn’t much else. He’s more than happy to get away from those supervisors who are not kind to their crew. And the luggage. Oh, the luggage. On every cruise, crew members deliver each and every piece of passenger luggage to their cabins. On a ship with 3,000 passengers there could be 10,000 pieces of luggage that have to be delivered within the first day. Heavy, bulky luggage. Too much luggage. 

LJ is ready to say goodbye to it all. He has just a few months left on his contract and then he’ll head back home to be with his wife and daughter for good. Plans are being made but financial concerns loom heavy on his mind. But he knows he has to do it. For his family.