Life on a cruise ship
She has already lost track of how many countries and cities she visited, but she knows that New Zealand, Saint Marteen, and Hawaii are the most beautiful places she has traveled. These 3 places are islands, with lots of nature, great food, and incredible seawater colors. New Zealand, in Oceania, stand out for the immense and developed city.
However, no paradise compares to her favorite place. “I do not compare or change them for Costa Rica,” she says with total confidence.
She is Kenisha White Watson, a 38-year-old Costa Rican woman, who, at 21, decided to sacrifice being close to her four-year-old son and leaving him with her mother to find a better future for everyone in a huge floating hotel. Limón, in the Costa Rican Caribbean, saw her born. It is a province rich in nature, but not in development opportunities.
Since 2002 she works for the company Royal Caribbean. She started as a cleaner, ensuring the cleanliness of every corner of the ship, and since 2005 she is a bartender. What is it like to work on a cruise? Her voice changes to say: “it’s a perfect experience.”
“I have managed to meet people of all nationalities and learn to live together, either within the same bedroom, in the same bar or restaurant. I appreciate life more, I learned not to complain so much and to be more tolerant, patient and loving. It’s a unique experience” she says.
Currently, she is on vacation in Costa Rica, she will stay two months before returning home, the Harmony of the Seas, which departs every week to the Caribbean, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
On that same boat, but on the Mediterranean route, I met Kenisha. We were in Europe, very far from Central America, but she managed to show her Latin warmth, attending clients with professionalism.
Upon her return to the United States, the cruise, with a capacity for more than 7,000 guests and a crew of 2300 people, will once again change course and will now leave from Orlando, Florida.
What is it like to live on a Cruise?
For seven months, she works seven days a week, and 10 hours a day. In the case of Kenisha, who is a bartender, her schedule varies, depending on the bar assigned; Harmony of the Seas has 23 bars.
At the end of the work contract, she rests for two months and then, if the contract is renewed, a new seven-month journey begins.
Every week, all the staff receives training to attend to the public and to handle emergencies cases.
She recalls an experience seven years ago in Argentina, when the cruise ship left the Rio de la Plata and, because of the strong currents, it moved so much that it was sidelined, without any fatal outcome, fortunately.
“People cried because they thought we were going to be overturned, so we activated the protocol to calm the stress situation of the guests,” she said.
When the ship arrives at a port, the staff can go out and explore the area, make calls and eat. Kenisha takes advantage to look for an Internet connection to communicate with her children, now 21 and 15 years old, and other relatives.
“How do they manage to have everything always perfect, the treatment, the food, the services?” I ask.
“More than the training they give us, it’s because this is a good company, we do not feel the pressure to work. It’s so good that most people are happy, you do what you have to do” she tells me.
That freedom felt by Kenisha is reflected in the fact that there is no prohibition for the staff to speak or ask for a photograph of famous people who are going to rest on the boat. This Costa Rican has memories of when she met the actors Kelsey Grammer, and the actress Whoopi Goldberg.
Regarding career growth, for promotions or job changes, you must apply and do exams related to the new position, and pass with a grade higher than 85.
Two people sleep in a cabin, who must seek appropriate behavior standards. For several years, Kenisha shared her room with women of many nationalities, but today she shares it with her future husband, Francisco Calderón, a Nicaraguan whom she met on the Cruise and with whom she will marry later this month.
Perfection vrs Sacrifice
Spending seven months without seeing their loved ones is difficult for Latinos, who see the family as one of their priorities. The reunion is full of emotions. Kenisha tells me that sometimes her arrival at home is a surprise; At other times, she notifies her relatives and they receive her at the airport. Enjoy every second with your people, as if it were a competition over time to recover the months when you had no contact.
The farewell is the most painful. “Sometimes I try not to say goodbye to friends, I leave with sadness because that means getting away from my children, from my family. Then, it took me a month to recover and get used to working again” she says.
“I went to work outside (of her country) to save money, meet my goals and live better.” Her heart is divided when I ask her if she would do the same thing if she could return the time.
“For the experience of course, but I would also have preferred to stay with my young children.”
Kenisha’s dreams will soon be palpable. She already has a land and, at some time, she and her husband will start building a house in Limón.
Kenisha would never have imagined that an interview at a cruise recruitment agency would give her the key to fulfilling her dreams, traveling the world and learning different cultures. But above all, inspire other women to set goals, fulfill dreams, persevere and master their lives.