Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 18, 2019
Experiences vary for training cruise workers
It wasn’t all glamorous ports in various countries during the Maine Maritime Academy training cruise. Here, Carolyn Webb does the laundry for the Sodexo crew.
by Monique Labbe
Maine Maritime Academy students set sail in May to complete a 70-day training cruise aboard the T/S State of Maine. For those students, the hours on the cruise were accumulated as part of their education, but for the staff and crew aboard the ship, the time was spent working away from family and friends.
“Some of us are used to it,” said Chris Brown, who stood watch at night aboard the ship during the cruise. “Many of us do this for a living.”
Brown graduated from Maine Maritime Academy a couple decades ago, and this year was his first time on board for the training cruise since his days as a student at the academy.
Clarissa Logston had a different perspective, as she is usually home nightly with her husband during her regular job with Sodexo Food Services, which runs the dining hall at the academy.
“This is my second time on cruise, but my first one without my fiancée, because he was here last year on his freshman cruise,” she said. “This one was a little different, but we can still call and video chat in port, and email while on the ship, so you just have to plan.”
Alex Tran Tharakulprateep, who also served on watch, said that as someone working in the industry, working on the training cruise was less stressful.
“The stress and responsibility on watch are much smaller,” he said. “That, and the port stays are different than working commercially. The stays are usually much smaller and you only see the industry ports. On cruise, you get three days in each port, and 12 hours a day, so you really get to see these places that you’re in.”
The experience for all three was nothing but positive, they said, and was something they would all do again. Logston plans to do just that.
“I’m already super excited for next year. Getting to know the students and being on the ocean is just an incredible experience,” she said.
Brown gave a nod to the entire food service crew, and said that the food is “way better now than it was when I was on here.”
“[Clarissa] also did a daily pun, which was really a hit on the ship,” said Brown.
“We really all looked forward to those,” said Tharakulprateep.
The ports were a hit with all three, and for Brown and Tharakulprateep, the entire experience felt a little like a vacation.
“The pace is much slower, it’s almost relaxing to just slow down,” said Brown.
For Logston, it was being on the ocean, and the sunsets she was able to see out of her bunk window.
“There’s really nothing like it,” she said. “They’re beautiful.”
This year’s cruise featured 250 students, staff and crew, and ported in Spain, England, Estonia, Norway, Boston and Searsport before returning home on July 14.