We spoke to former seafarer Khushnuma about her time on board and her return to life ashore.

What made you choose to work in the cruise industry? 

Initially it was the money, but once I’d experienced ‘ship life’ it was the freedom….places to visit….meeting people from all around the world and above all, a passion for the hospitality industry.

Which company did you work for?

I worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 6.5 years and Oceania Cruises for 1.5 years.

What was your job onboard?

I started as an Assistant Waiter with Carnival, then progressed to Team Waiter, then Head Waiter, Management Trainee & Assistant Manager of Food & Beverage – finally becoming a trainer for the onboard restaurant college and then for the bar college. When I worked for Oceania Cruises, I was a Head Bartender/Bar Manager.

What did you enjoy most about shipboard life?

Traveling and exploring new islands. I visited so many different countries and would never have had the opportunity to do so if I hadn’t been working onboard. I loved meeting people from around the globe & of course – socialising in the crew bar.

Why did you choose to leave ships?

I wanted to make a more stable career, so while on holiday I saw an advert to study a MBA in Hospitality in London and that was something I had wanted to do for a very long time.

I’m currently working as the Front Office Manager for a Wellness Resort in India and have been doing for the last two years.

What was the hardest thing about returning to a life ashore?

Cruise ship life gave me a different outlook and made me think more liberally. As an Indian female, I grew up with quite a lot of restrictions. Working on ships with different cultures made me realise that there is no one better than another. It made me more independent, helped build confidence, made me more tolerant and helped me learn to respect everybody’s opinion without judging. I can honestly say that working onboard made me a much better person.

What piece of advice do you have for anybody considering a career on cruise ships?

I truly miss the sea! The fun life where you finish work and hit the crew lounge to mingle with so many different people, the freedom to travel (one day you are in one country and the next day you’re waking up in another) but above all I really miss the friends that I made. We still keep in touch but its not the same.

There is no doubt that ship life is hard but you have to look at all the positives (there are so many). Keeping a positive attitude makes work easier. Make sure you make a lot of great memories that you can cherish forever.

Which country are you originally from and where do you live now?

I’m originally from Bombay in India and after many years of working away, I’m now back in India and settled.