As thousands of young people in Inishowen are uprooting their lives and moving to Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada in search of work and a new beginning, one Moville woman has taken to the high seas in search of
experience, a full-time job and a completely different life.
A qualified physical therapist, Moville’s Rachael Dougal was unable to secure fulltime work in her hometown and in June 2009 she was interviewed by cruise ship company Steiner to work on board their Six Star Luxury Cruise Liner Crystal Symphony.
In November that year, Rachael embarked on her first nine month contract with the company, only to return before Christmas for another stint on the luxury ship.
This week, Journal reporter Katie Barr, caught up with RACHAEL DOUGAL, to talk about life on board, working 14 hour days, Norwegian fjords and missing Rosato’s Thai Green Chicken Curry.
Coming from a large close-knit family with four brothers, Rachael is the first to admit she misses them terribly, but the 25-year-old maintains jumping on board the 6 Star Luxury Cruise Liner Crystal Symphony was the best decision she ever made.
“It has helped me grow as a person and view life in a completely different aspect,” explained the Moville girl. “I would certainly recommend it to anyone who would like to travel, see the world and broaden your horizons.”
However life on board has not always been plain sailing.
“Being on board is very different to being on land. For my first three months it was very difficult adjusting to ship life, meeting new people from so many countries, fitting in to a spa team of 17 people, working 12-14 hours per day and missing my family and friends at home like mad.
“But after the difficult months passed, I began to enjoy my time, meeting new people and seeing new places in the world every day. I have seen some places that I never dreamt I would see – the Antarctica, Carnival in Rio De Janeiro, Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sound, the Norwegian fjords and many other countries over the world ranging from huge booming cities to very poor places.”
Despite seeing some of the world’s most beautiful destinations, life for the workers on the 6 Star Cruise Liner is certainly no holiday.
Working as a physical therapist and being the assistant manager in the ship’s Spa can be very demanding both physically and mentally for the young Inishowen woman.
“The worst part of working on board is definitely the long working hours. We’re open about 14 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
“You never get a weekend off, it’s hard to stay in contact with family and friends at home. Also the food is very average - oh how I miss Rosato’s in Moville for a lovely dinner!
“Even if you’re off work, you’re never off duty because you are always a representative for the ship and have to be personable to guests on the ship or in ports. You begin to lose touch with the outside world. Life feels very unreal at times.”
Unreal it may be, but life on the ship is a completely different world to anything Rachael ever experienced before.
“Being able to learn and interact with so many different nationalities and culture, whether it be your crew members or guests, truly enriches your life and make it more than worth being here and your contract a lot easier.
“But when your nine months are up, it can be very mentally draining.”
Although Rachael has loved and appreciated her time on the Crystal Symphony, she maintains her life on the ship cannot compare to life in Moville.
“They say working on a ship for one year is like working at home for five, I understand that. There is so much diversity and constant change. However home will always be home, and no matter what happens at work, you will always have your friends and family.”