In the first part of my short story I covered from how to become a cruiser photographer to the first cruise experience (that was fun, by the way) and I finished on one the darkest day in present history: September 11th, 2001.
That day started as a normal one, I had worked on gangway on our 1st port out of Boston we were in Portland. I heard the bus driver on the shuttle bus tell a passenger a “light plane” had crashed into the world trade centre! I went back on board a few hours later only to witness the carnage that unfolded on TV.
In the US the coverage was delayed, I did not know this at the time but at 1pm I was watching what had happened 3 hours earlier and had no idea of the towers collapse.
The ship was not allowed to leave port that night as the US went into lock down with all airports and sea ports closed. It was a strange mood on board, the passengers all American kind of ignored what had happened in New York and went about their cruise as normal!
I asked one passenger what they thought and his answer was weird …”Don’t much care for New York anyway”!! I must admit being thousands of miles from home I did wonder if I would see my family again…it was fear of what America may do next?
After the dust had settled with 9/11 cruising did change Americans stopped flying and the industry went into free fall with only the bigger ones surviving. Princess was safe as we had many cruises from Main land America.
My next stage into the last part of my contract was the 2nd transition cruise from Boston to Los Angeles. We went down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida then down into the Caribbean. We stopped in Cozumel Mexico, The Cayman islands Aruba and Jamaica and Colombia on route through the Panama Canal.
This was fascinating my first time through this truly huge industrial land mark. We did a full transit taking a full day I remember having to do Decks [photography of passengers] all day and being incredibly hot and bothered whilst I marvelled the landscape go by.
From the Canal we went up to Mexico… Acapulco!! This is where I was to be disembarked with a broken arm!! Let’s just say too many beers by the pool shore-side which resulted in 5 days in a private hospital listening to women give birth??
I was about 2 weeks from completing my full tour but I had a great time, overall & was itching to go back once fully recovered. I had caught the bug, the life style and companionship of working at sea. What I would change without a doubt is doing it earlier in life as I did it in my late 30’s. This was not a barrier but my life or career at sea would have been financially better as in the 80’s and 90’s the money was much more higher due to unregulated practices and richer cruise passengers! My friends would leave a contract and put a huge deposit on a house…I put a deposit on a pallet of bricks??
I have finished my days at sea but it’s an age thing!! I have past my sell by date. I would however strongly suggest doing this to any young fresh out of college/ Uni or budding photographer/travel bloggers.
It’s a great way of building up a travel portfolio of stock shoots and being paid for it! Also working in a busy environment as on cruise ships you will gain an enormous amount of experience.
The work is high pressure at times and the hours huge, but when you come off ships and look for work your CV will be at the top of the employment must hire candidates. Most of my colleges at sea are now successful business people, as this work instils great ethics and business sense.
The money is not great for the amount of work/hours but you can see the world in a few contracts [if lucky] and get to see other peoples and cultures, which will open your eyes to the world as a whole, this can only be a good thing, especially in this day and age of multiculturalism.
I saw many countries and I sampled many cultures tasted the real food, saw great architecture’s, and witnessed different ways of life which I cannot replace by seeing on a big or small screen.
This to me is something the normal working person will never get to see in their life time. So what are you waiting for…..??
Keep following Simon with his Cruise Ship Photography – Equipment and daily work post next week and Join the monthly mailing list to be updated on more articles from Simon, more travel photography stories, tips, maps and news