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Living on a ship is fabulous! says 26-year-old Louise. I would never have seen so many exotic places if I hadnt been on the ship, probably not in my whole lifetime!

I was born in Greece and grew up on a small island. I have always adored the sea but it never occurred to me that one day I would actually be at sea for a living. I was brought up to follow a career in Languages, and take over my parents business on the island. But things worked out in a different way. Many people make plans , but they can never know what the future will bring, can they?

After graduating from High school, I was sent to UK to study Modern Languages. I spent my time there studying hard and finally graduating successfully. Then I decided to go for an MA to complete my education. My life changed out of the blue just after getting my MA in Tourism Management. I was just one of the bunch of students of Middlessex University in UK, who was seeking a challenging job, not just an ordinary job to get by. I was lucky enough to find it soon , to my familys dismay who expected me to fly back to Greece.

It wasnt really hard finding a job. I contacted a job agency, in London. It would be my first job after graduating, and I was actually looking for a hotel based job...but it all happened by accident...

One day the agent left me a message about a new interview...I thought it would be about a hotel job, as the previous ones, so I met the person in charge on the same afternoon. It was during the interview that I realized we were talking about a ship! But I had to make up my mind promptly, so I grabbed the chance to try something more challenging than a hotel job. As soon as I left the interview the agent called me and said that Id got the job!

Many people ask me about the qualifications one needs to get a job like this. Well, it depends... . You could have a degree in Languages and Tourism or something relevant to it. Ive got an MA in Tourism Management and I speak five languages, but there is a variety of posts on board according to the qualifications one has got.

At the beginning I worked as a crew purser...that means that I was responsible for a lot of paperwork concerning crew and passengers. I had got my own office but I sometimes worked at the reception desk, so I had got the chance to meet a lot of people and make new friends. I also had contact with the agents in every port we sailed, and that was a great opportunity for me to know people from all over the world, and keep contact for future job positions on land.

My first contract lasted three months. But you can renew it for a longer period if you wish to. At first I wasnt sure if I could handle sea-sickness, but it was ok; I only felt a little dizzy, but my roommate got really sick! Now I cant sleep if I dont feel that rocking movement!

The majority of the crew are men. There are only few female officers in high ranks. So, we are being taken good care of and I like that. Ive recently been promoted to a higher rank, so I do enjoy being the boss of a couple of male officers!

I enjoy practically everything! I meet a lot of new people, apart from the crew members, and we are all a big family. I love the feeling of being in a place that reminds me of my student days. Its like being in the university Residence Hall, youre never alone, and I like that.

However, theres hard work on board! Its not all fun and games as many people tend to think. You are expected to work on a very tight schedule, from 6.00 am till late at night. Its shift work actually. Sometimes you dont have much free time to relax, and some of the passengers can get real annoying! But you must wear your prettiest smile and be polite and helpful all the time. You must be patient, friendly and available. Its very important the passengers feel at home.

Some friends of mine ask me if I meet young people on board. To tell you the truth, only some of the crew members are young. Their age ranges from 24 to 40 something. The passengers are mostly middle-aged retired people.

When I have some free time I usually go to the gym. Theres a fab gym on board, you know. There are also two pools but crew members are not allowed to swim in there, so I just lie on a sunbed to get a bit of a tan. Sometimes I get up early in the morning and I go jogging around the deck. Many a times , after the evening shift some of the crew get together and chat, sing or dance. Were having a great time; sometimes youve got the feeling the party is non stop.

Ive visited a lot of fantastic places, like Honolulu...I loved Hawaii, it looked so full of life, high buildings on the beach, marvelous view, lots of shops and lots of people. Second best comes Thailand, I just loved it! There were also other nice places such as Melbourne in Australia. I would love to stay there for a while. Small islands such as Bora Bora and Christmas island in the Pacific were fantastic. I sometimes have the chance to swim in the blue green sea of remote islands and take a lot of pictures.

My family disapproved of my decision. But I was firm so, I went on board. They finally realized but this job made me happy and that I had to follow my dream.

This job is just great! I mean Im getting paid to see all the exotic places in the world. Isnt it fantastic? I would need a fortune to travel around the world, but now I can do it and keep my savings as well!

I was 24 when I first went aboard, and now, two years later, having worked on two different cruise ships , I still feel this is the right place for me to be: On board! My friends often ask me why I just cant have a job on land. They believe I miss out a lot of things such as steady socializing and settling down in a permanent area. Is that true?

I do meet a lot of people on board, and sometimes they are really nice , and I do make friends. The only thing is that I constantly make new friends, but sometimes I meet the same persons at the ports we visit. The fact that I dont have a steady home, is thrilling for me. I dont feel castaway because I dont have a permanent home! I visit my parents home whenever I am on vacations, and I dont feel the need to settle down somewhere permanently. The girls Ive met on the ship think the same way. There is nothing missing out. But the people who are on land, work there and own a house, just can not think the same way I do. We all see this job from a different perspective. Why should people have a steady place to live in? Maybe its not so good to be steady in everything, after all.

If I ever get a job on land, and it may happen one day, one thing I know for sure! I wont work in an office. Ill just find it too boring after my present experience on board! I love being on the move and I love exploring the world. Maybe this feeling is going to last for ever, who knows? Ive known people who are in their sixties and still work on board. You may say that it is not that easy for a woman. I agree that if someone wants to have a family cant go on working on a ship. Kids need a permanent home and their mum has to be around to care for them. Thats the only reason that can make me quit this job. But no one knows what the future holds!

Its definitely great experience to work on a ship, and a good opportunity to get useful connections one might need later on, but , above all, its the love for the unknown, the adventure and the mystery of new places and new people that attracts me to the sea…and I can only tell you this: Follow your dream! Dont let anyone distract you from the way you wish to live. Lifes just too short to waste it!

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