I had this fantastic idea for a book a long time ago, when I was working on a cruise ship line. Somewhere along the way, I decided that pictures of all of the mangy mutts that I encountered in all of the different ports where we docked, paired with stories of the immature men that my friends and I had dated in the past would make for an awesome read. Alas, I came up with this idea half way through my contract, and at that point didn’t carry a camera with me all of the time. Now however, when everyone has their I-phone on them all of the time, the idea is definitely up for grabs.
We only see what we are looking for and what we are willing to accept. Even though passengers usually disembark the ship on a higher gangplank that the staff does, and even though they head straight off for their excursions, whereas I preferred to explore the port towns for miles and miles on foot; we were still in the same place. And yet, in all of the twelve years since I worked on the ships, I have never once heard someone comment on all of the stray dogs after coming back from a cruise or a vacation. They are everywhere…all over Europe and all over the Caribbean. I guess that people on vacation just aren’t in a state of mind to notice them. I can tell you this though; if they were in the states, animal advocates would be throwing fits about them. The ones at the Acropolis are thick as thieves, all hungry and bloated with too little energy to do anything but wait for people to drop crumbs…it is actually pretty sad. I guess it is too sad to acknowledge on vacation.
I only lasted one contract on the ships. I had six months to begin with, which got extended so that I could train people on two other ships. In the end I did about nine months between three ships. By the time that I was done, I knew that I was never ever going back. People don’t live a very healthy lifestyle while working on those cruise ships. I was an officer, and even I didn’t get any days off, only a few hours here and there. The quarters for the crewmembers are terrible; they have them stacked in tiny four birth cabins like sardines, and they aren’t allowed in any of the passenger areas of the ship unless they are on duty and in uniform. The water lines on the ships are so full of chlorine that I was loosing considerable amounts of hair by the time that I disembarked. The population on ships is about ten to one, men to women, so that leaves you with a few women surrounded by a lot of really horny men. I forgot to mention that at every moment that people are not on duty they are drinking heavily. To be honest, during the week between Christmas and New Years I don’t even know who was sailing the ship…it was just one giant ongoing party.
The biggest roadblock for me though was the freaking testosterone level on all three ships where I worked. My line was a Greek run line, and every single officer, besides little me, was Greek and male. I don’t mean to offend here, and there are lots of parts of Greek culture that I am just crazy about, but I can count only one Greek man, out of all of the men that I worked with onboard, who was respectful towards women. He was a lovely man, and actually had an American wife. The majority of the officer’s wives were back at home in Greece. The amount of adultery that I witnessed was truly staggering. When I voiced my opinion, about my job, which none of those guys had a clue about; they were completely unwilling to listen to me. They treated me like little puppy, until I put my foot down and refused to do what they wanted me to, and then they sulked and threatened. I was even stalked via walkie-talkie by the officer who had decided that it was his responsibility to hassle me. Not so much fun really. I don’t at all regret having gone on that adventure. I learned a lot along the way, after all. It didn’t do much to improve my opinion of the male gender however, because I truly did encounter a dog in every port.