I am Back (at Work) Baby
So, in case you are not following the last development in the cruise industry, I just would like to get you up to speed: We are back. Just as I am writing this text, my ship, the AIDAperla is starting its second cruise with actual passengers, which seems especially strange considering that barely three weeks ago nobody I talked to expected a restart within the year. But now we are underway, and surprisingly successful at that. A well thought out hygiene concept has created this little Covid-Free bubble that no one, neither passengers nor crew, gets to enter without passing through a slew of tests and screenings. All things considered, cruising is probably the safest method to vacation right now, which seems especially strange if you reminisce the headlines we had at the beginning of this crisis.
But I am not here to talk about that, because I do not want to bore you to death with pages of hygiene measures (seriously, just for my work I could probably fill around 20 pages with all the extra steps). I am here because I thought that after one week back at my job of guiding biking tours all around the world, it would be a good moment to take a break and write down my feelings. So this is not going to be that sort of blog, where you can gain some insight into a destination. Or into my job for that matter. Those blogs will follow at a later stage because in only four days I will travel home, just in time for Christmas, and while in the comfort of my own four walls I will be able to set aside the time necessary to produce those longer texts, up to the standard I want from myself.
Because if there is one thing I am missing right now, it is time. The last week I honestly felt like in a constant state of trance and amazement at myself, and I can distinctly tell you that I have not worked as hard as this week on any single day since the sixth of February tow-thousand-twenty. The last then months have been, quite frankly, a very prolonged exercise in passing the time. An ability I never quite excelled at in the first place. Still, as we slowly made our way southwards from our anchorage in Skagen to the Canary Islands, I began to worry if I had not become a little too proficient at relaxing. Keeping the ramp-up of my willingness to work in line with the ramp-up of my workload was a challenge at first, but I managed. I got myself back into the groove of working somewhere between ten and fourteen hours a day, with little brakes and even less sleep. And I pretty much stopped all extracurricular activities except for one short blog I hammered out in two hours, to keep my weekly streak. So I felt ready as we approached Gran Canaria.
And then our passengers arrived, and it felt like running into a brick wall. Pretty much two hours into the restart I realised that over those last months I had lost all the routine I had built up before the virus hit. Day one of our restart will probably end up in the top three of my longest workdays aboard cruise ships. Not due to the amount of work, not due to a lack of organisation or structure, but quite simply that any task I could have completed in one minute in February now took me three. But of course, there was still plenty of work, chaos and disorganisation. But those things are a given in the cruise ship work environment. If you have a problem with a place where plans a changed on a minutes notice, the facts do not matter and at the same time are all important, and every single decision needs to be cleared with someone - well let me just say a job in cruising is not the right occupation for you. But you learn to deal with things over time, and they turn into a routine. Only just on that day, it seemed to me as if I had lost all that routine over the summer. Still, between all that work, I willed myself up to our crew deck to watch our sail away – with a mask and social distance and a faint glimmer of almost tears in many an eye. Once the day was finally over, in the most literal sense that there were no more hours of that day on the clock, I finally arrived on my cabin, happy and anxious to fall asleep at the same time. Glad because I was hurting for sleep, but worried about awaiting the next morning and starting the grind all over.
As the sun rose over the horizon and crept into my window, I awoke from a deep, dreamless sleep, and it felt like a switch had been turned over that night. I was back in ship mode. Switch from Excel-Worksheets to talking with a guest in half a second? No Problem. Someone comes to you with a problem? Come up with a solution. Lunch Break cut short because your colleagues need more help? Fifteen minutes is enough to eat anyways. Preparing for the tour, you will guide tomorrow while being bombarded with requests? Do both at the same time. Your email running over with a flood of new messages? No problem as long as the officers coffee station next to your office can replenish your mug. In terms of performance, the second day felt like an increase by around one-hundred percent. And it got better the next day.
Because the next day, the seventh of December tow-thousand-twenty, I guided my first biking tour since forever. And then another, and another until now, one week later, I can claim to have guided tours in all the ports we call on with our itinerary. In just a week I already experienced, all highs and lows available to the position and I am happy for all of it. It just feels good to be out on the road again, feels good to talk about plants, and plate tectonics in between jokes and friendly banter with guests. It feels good to have the legs burning from cycling every single day. I am happy to be back, if even for only a week before I leave it all behind me. But I am not saddened by my disembarkation, but instead, it is a source of joy, knowing that a new challenge is just around the corner. And just like all the challenges, I had to overcome in my past, I know, that I will be able to overcome and grow with those. And if there is no other reason to be optimistic about the future, it is this one.
In case you are here for some light-hearted talk about cycling in this and that destination, I am sorry, but I had to get this out of my system. I fully commit to getting back to my usual style of blog next week. And in case you do not want to miss some pretty detailed blogs about the Canary Islands, you can subscribe to my mailing list below. Until next week, have a good one.