If you Google ‘working on cruise-ships’ you will get various stories of what it is like to live and work at sea. Outside the exotic part of getting paid to see the world, it requires an insane amount of discipline to navigate a busy shipboard schedule.
In short it is not for everyone, but those who ‘survive’ are truly transformed, and for the better! After spending eight years at sea, and visiting 56 countries, I was ready to move on and reinvent my own career.
Was it easy? No! But it was possible and you can do it too! However, you must be committed to make some hard choices.
In this article I am going to share with you a few of my findings that helped people make the transition successfully. The results are from interviewing many of my shipboard colleagues, who just like me, decided it was time to move on and create a life and career on land.
Leaving cruise-ships is a life changing experience
Life will never be the same again, yet when you are ready it is worth taking the leap. The moment you step off the ship and you decided ‘I won’t go back’ an array of feelings creep in; fear, relief, joy, sadness, emptiness, and insecurity about the next coming steps.
But remember life is not about living stuck and unhappy, life is about following your dreams and looking back having no regrets! The only way to do this is by stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. It helps you grow and learn more about who you really are.
It’s vital to prepare your exit-plan while still working onboard
It’s hard to adapt to land life, if you don’t have a solid plan, even if you have money saved.
Some of your options are: go back to school, get a similar job on land, or simply start anew in a totally different field. It’s all up to you and all possible. It takes determination to survive the bumpy transition ride, but have no fear; the road will smoothen out again.
It’s very important to have your budgets in order. Ideally make sure your ship savings can carry you for at least a year, to have enough time for career reinvention. Whether you want a new career or dream to start your own business, it takes time, money and strong will to navigate the change.
And when it gets hard remember why you left in the first place. Life is more than a paycheck. Find your meaning and purpose, create and follow your dreams!
Going back to school is often the passport to a better career
Many of my colleagues I interviewed went back to school, after leaving the ship. Knowledge is power, whether you are at sea or on land. Learning is the only way to growth and it opens the gate to your potential dream job. Are you dreaming big enough? Are you dreaming at all?
Starting your own business is ideal if you have an entrepreneurial nature
Entrepreneurship is the way to freedom, yet it requires knowledge, determination, and in most business models a fair amount of money. You can find various classes on how to start your own business, from formal education to short coursed that can be a very useful start.
Adjustment to land life might take from just a few months, up to to five years
Integration is not an easy process yet with patience and due diligence we can get there. Be patient with yourself in the process! Once we start making a living in many cases we feel 'safe'. Even more so if one is pursuing something they feel is really meaningful along their life path.
Finding a new career might take from few months up to two years
A career comes easier when you speak the language fluently, and look for a job in areas related to your core experiences (similar job, similar field).
However, for many it is time for a larger change, a total career makeover. This requires you to: know what you want, build your knowledge base, leverage your strengths, market your skills, and avoid common mistakes. Having a mentor or coach to prepare you for career change can be helpful.
Patience is the key! It’s also important to have your own support circle, if things get rough. No man is an island and we all need support!
What your former cruise-ships heroes are saying
“It took me 2 years to find what I wanted. It was a long process and you go through different emotions. I was depressed and cried a lot…I lost half of my self-esteem. It is not always sunny in your life, but you have to be strong and prepared for everything. You`ll find the end of the tunnel. New beginnings.” – Zina
“I am a manager, I manage my own team, and I am led by a beautiful team of senior leaders; this makes my life amazing and makes me love my job.” – Amy
“Now that I'm settled on land and have a career, I'm happy I get to spend time with friends and family. Having the freedom to do what you want when you want is important to me. I'm glad I left ships when I did.” –Sylvia
“Enjoy the ride! There’s more in life than working on cruise ships…go out and explore ‘yourself’!” - Ina
“If you are prepared for it, go ahead. If not, stay on ships! There are no more free meals, no free accommodation, let alone you have to pay for your own transportation, and perhaps your own cloths to go to work. This is normal life. I also bought a car, like all people living on land, and I am paying insurance for it, and gas. But you can do anything. It’s all about the hard work you are willing to do, to make the change towards a better you” – Aimee
“When you reached that moment where you are just over ships and it's no longer fun and can't stand it anymore, that's the sign it's time to get out of there. There will be a fear of the unknown and lots of temptations to return. But being on land at the end of the day outweighs being on ships.” – Sylvia
“You need to leave a door open all the time, in order to come back if something happens. Just go with the flow, follow your instinct and don´t be afraid to start a new life. You don´t know what’s out there and it can be beautiful.”- Max
“I suggest for any person deciding to leave cruise-ships to have a strong life plan, and to stick with it, to look forward fulfilling their dreams.” – Ian
Your first land job might not be the perfect job
If you have bills to pay, taking your first job allows you to keep looking for the perfect job. Ongoing learning, research, and networking should be part of your daily routine in this stage of your transition. Be patient and persistent!
Sean Sassoon is a great additional resource
And let go of your inner critic if you have one! Your attitude and perspective do have a huge impact on how miserably, or not, you will experience life. Feel free to add comments, suggestions, or personal stories for those currently seeking to settle down on land.
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