I chose the photo above to encapsulate this blog entry with a visual example. The photo is of a part of Bali, Indonesia. Sailing along between Australia and Brunei, we passed right through Indonesia – and Philippines in the further distance.
And I think that captures the concept of what I was hinting at in my previous entry concerning spending limited amounts of time exploring fascinating parts of the world.
Two really good descriptions that I heard from fellow crew when discussing the reality of traveling the world on a cruise ship:
1. It’s the world in fast-forward. As a young, energetic, “world is my oyster,” wide-eyed/bushy-tailed first-time world traveller I’m wanting very much to make the most of it all, soaking in every experience, trying for the best pictures, trying to see all the highlights. Sometimes, all within the timeframe of as little as an hour. And even in the cases where we’re in a port overnight, I don’t slow down my pace at all…I’m still always walking super-fast trying to take it all in, or going out with other crew members to “experience” all there is to experience. The world in fast forward: trying to make the most of every precious second.
I am realizing right now that I have a slight advantage to world traveling from having lived in Toronto for four years. That, I feel, was where I cut my teeth as an urban explorer. Very many times, long-time Torontonians would ask me (a newcomer) how to get places. My favorite thing to do in Toronto was always to just hop on the transit and explore some place new. So, now, being thrown into a completely new urban adventure literally every other day or so…I’m finding that I’m quite comfortable spatially and within the bustle of a busy place. Of course, keeping myself safe and being self-aware…but also being comfortable setting out and seeing. I’ve also gained a good sense of direction overall.
2. I think that this concept/metaphor hit the nail square on the head: seeing the world as a cruise ship employee is like taking the very best travel guide book with all the very best world destinations that you always dream of seeing…and then taking your two thumbs and flipping the pages like you would a cartoon drawing book.
It’s a trade-off. Four months, 108 days…eight cruise segments (and I’m already half-way done, not that I’m counting). My god is goes quickly, though. So it’s a short period of time, and a lot within that time period. No other way in hell would I ever get to see as much as I am right now.
So, it’s high on volume, that’s for sure.
But you only get so much depth. Of course, as I mentioned, I maximize every second ashore…and I’d say that I am getting a VERY good taste and seeing most of what I could ever want to see.
There’s also something to be said of the fact that it’s not entirely quantity over quality. Maybe, in a way, when there’s just so very much quantity, that in and of itself becomes a form of quality!
Because you start taking in the whole overall experience. And you move beyond simply looking at each city or town. You look at it as a whole: that it’s one big incredible experience of growth and learning and adventure.
This isn’t just a blog of entries about individual destinations. Rather, it’s a site about living the dream.
Okay, I’m getting way too deep. Let’s move on.
The other thing that is worth mentioning is that when I have a limited amount of time to explore a city (or if, like in Sydney, I have to spend most of the day on board because of In-Port Manning duty), it’s not always a complete disappointment. Sydney, for example, being on a cruise ship gave us the coveted advantage of being parked for the day at the most ideal vantage of the city you could ask for. So, just sitting there, I got to see and photograph all that I had ever wanted to see of the city.
Furthermore, this might sound a little weird and almost like I’m taking for granted stopping at so many great cities…but ultimately one Western-world metropolis is the same as the next. Each has its own unique character, certainly, and its unique architecture that you simply have to see, or the unique shops and public spaces. But once you’ve seen them, as a traveller you can’t really get much more, because it’s really the same feeling as any other city unless you spend an extended period of time, or if you meet and spend time with local people, or if you actually MOVE there. Then you get to feel the real pulse of what makes the destination unique. Otherwise, it’s just another Western city with different buildings.
I don’t want to sound jaded at all with my previous paragraph, or like a soured traveller who’s taking it for granted. I think my point is just that it’s not completely disappointing when you only get a few hours in a city. And, to see this much of the world by age 26! I get to spend the rest of my life merely filling in the holes!
One last concept for this introspective blog entry – and that’s about a situation that started to make me recognize the outer world that I’m exploring as opposed to the somewhat sheltered environment you can sometimes be fooled into thinking you’re living in (especially when you’re on a luxury cruise ship).
Sailing from Australia to Brunei around Indonesia, we actually had to revise our original path and take a different route. Why?
Pirates! No joke. Like actual terrorist activity that targets vessels around Timor and other areas around the Philippines. Our revised route was supposedly quite safe.
But then that concept made me think a little bit about the greater world that I’m seeing.
Like when I was watching a movie in my room late at night and noticed some extremely bright lights out the window. Momentarily, there was the thought of pirates coming at us (it was just fishing ships with their giant spotlights attracting fish towards them).
I also thought about some of the countries that we pass by, or some that we see that are wrapped in poverty (or various human rights situations such as communist Vietnam, or Myanmar.)
Of course, some of the guests on board go into these fascinating places oblivious to what’s going on – sheltered as tourists.
But then, even being on a luxury cruise ship, I sometimes have to pause and reflect on the fact that we are literally on a ship in the middle of the wide open ocean…and that our world isn’t full of safety and luxury.
And, a story to elaborate on the realities of the ocean: Crystal Serenity has occasionally been involved in at-sea rescues of downed vessels, and there have been fires on board or guests who have jumped off. No drama like that during my time on board.
But it makes you reflect. It’s a big world, and definitely a dramatic one.
I’m happy to be exploring it.
P.S. I just found out that my passport (which I don’t carry with me…we just use our crew cards to get ashore) isn’t being stamped at each country I visit. Darn, I always wanted one of those well-travelled highly-stamped passports.