Herald: Away at sea, with their hearts still at home

Away at sea, with their hearts still at home

15 May 2019 04:36am IST

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Dolcy D’Cruz

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15 May 2019 04:36am IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Leave a comment

While a job sailing across seas and oceans may seem most ideal, in reality, the people working onboard cruise liners have to go through a tough time with long work hours and unpredictable schedules. Back home, their families have to cope with loneliness and constant worry for their loved ones sailing. Café shares their stories

Long hours of work and sleepless

nights are just two of the concerns that the people working on cruise ships have to go through. They travel the world and see different places and cultures, but that is after completing months onboard a packed vessel. They travel miles, leaving behind their families, especially their wives and children, so that they can see a better future.

Maria Martins from Porvorim has been married to James Rodrigues for ten years. Blessed with a son, Rio, the family longs for quality time whenever James is down on leave. James works on P&O Cruises as a Chef De Partie. Though James has travelled the world, it is not easy leaving his family behind. Maria got an opportunity to spend three days onboard the ship when it came to Mormugao port and headed over to Dubai.

“It is very rare for a family member to travel onboard a ship, especially from Goa. I was lucky that his ship had a route through Goa and it sailed to Dubai. I spent three days on the Arcadia ship, which gave me a better understanding about James’s work. It is really tough, especially for the galley service, as the menu changes every few hours. They have to keep up with the demands and they get a short break. I found new respect for my husband’s job,” says Maria.

Back home, decisions about their family life have to be taken by both but Maria is usually told to do what she wants. “James keeps in touch through Whatsapp calling and video calling. Earlier, it used to be satellite calling or using the ship phone in case of emergencies. I always consult him and confirm whether he is happy with certain decisions. He gets two months holiday after six months of work but doesn’t get paid leave. Medicals are also available only onboard. In case someone has gone on emergency leave, he can get a call anytime to join the ship, which makes his vacations unpredictable,” explains Maria.

Jose Dias from Moira has been working for ten years on the ship. He and his wife Sybil will complete eight years of marriage on May 21, 2019. Sybil is bringing up both her sons, Caydon and Jonas, while her husband works for 7-8 months of the year on the Celebrity Infinity Cruise. She is supported by her mother-in-law, Marina, and the big family decisions are taken with the consent of all three of them. “Jose comes down every 7-8 months for a vacation of 55 to 60 days, which can be extended for 90 days on approval,” says Sybil. Jose works as a stateroom steward.

Sybil knew Jose five years before marriage. He keeps in touch with the family through video calls. “He mostly does video calls because the kids want to see him while they talk to him. Though we talk mostly every day, the loneliness still lingers on. When it is decision time, I consult with him on all decisions though there are times I have to do it on my own. There is no choice. Sometimes, I take my mother-in-law’s advice,” explains Sybil.

Jane Pereira is an associate with Delhivery and keeps in touch with her boyfriend, Fraden Gomes, over video calling. Fraden works on P & O Aroura as a bar steward. Jane says, “My boyfriend comes down to Goa after nine months. But we keep in touch through calls. He calls me whenever he is at the port or through WhatsApp. But video calls are much better as it feels good to see him. My parents are supportive about his job. When he comes down, we usually have a get together.”

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