New Year holds a special place in our heart. The holiday season brings everyone much closer as relatives and friends gather near to celebrate the coming of a new era.
Seafarers aren’t different. We are normal people too and we enjoy family gatherings. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, they say.
That’s why just after our vacation, we immediately plan our next scheduled embarkation hoping by the end of that contract, we be at home for Christmas or New Year.
6 New Years On Board. 12 Years at Sea
Time flies really fast that suddenly, I’m 12 years in this profession! Half of those New Years are spent on board.
There were some memorable ones especially that time in Novorossiysk, Russia when we meet 2014 in a loading operation in a -1 degree Celsius temperature.
In another ship, we almost hit the jetty in Le Havre after losing the engine during unberthing operation on New Year’s Eve around 22:00H.
Lastly, we had the craziest new year in the whole shipping world. There were games, fun and prizes and everyone had a good laugh until our belly ached.
My first New Year on board came when I was a cadet. This one was quite similar with other new years that followed. However, the shoreleave proceeding that while we were in Rostock, Germany will always be memorable.
Different but similar
Few years passed while jumping from one company to another, I learned to appreciate the methods seafarers celebrate new years. The food may vary but the way it is presented, the surrounding backdrop and arrangements will always look familiar from one ship to another.
Some companies provide various gifts and tokens to their crew. I received my very first imported perfume after winning a raffle.
On several occasions, there were lucky coins. Whoever gets the coin hidden in one of those slice piece of cakes will win something big. Other companies provide cash incentives to their crew in addition to gifts.
I was also on board where we have a toast of champagne at the bridge while waiting for the New Year countdown.
Would You Choose New Year at Home or On Board
In every choice we make, there are consequences to follow. You can not take the positive without leaving the negative behind. What to look out for is if the good outweighs the bad.
Let’s see some of them here one by one.
New Year At Home
Spending new year at home could be very memorable for a quite few reasons.
You get to celebrate a very special day with family making meaningful memories with them like reunions. Most of your friends who are working out of town will be at home so you can bond with them too.
Many shops, malls and even your local town will mostly set up attractions like lights and fireworks. These same malls and online shops may have sale items just for you.
Your mom or wife will cook some great dishes that can only be tasted on certain occasions but never on board. The kids will be there to add merry.
However, since many people want to spend the holiday at home, there may be traffic jams and public transport could be overcrowded.
Air and bus fares will shoot through the roof as passengers cram for seats. The roads will be filled with vehicles and shopping malls will literally be full!
You may agree with this or not but holidays are also costly as exchanging gifts, reunions and food preparations need money to materialize.
One more thing is that December is the season for strong typhoons especially in the Philippines.
New Year On Board
The thing I like about celebrating New Year on board is our mobility. Imagine crossing from previous year to the next in different places.
I particularly remember watching the laser light display in Rostock way back 2010. I also witnessed firework displays on many different countries especially in Europe.
Those travels and shoreleaves opened my eyes to the various cultures this holiday is celebrated. And it didn’t cost me a fortune to experience it.
Onboard, everything you need for new year is given by the company especially food and drinks. Then you can buy special gifts not found in our country to give them to your loved ones at home.
Lastly, you continue earning money while doing all those things!
New year also means winter in some places and this translate to cold temperatures and bad weather. Imagine spending the birth of a new era in the middle of the sea battered by a Force 12 hurricane. Furthermore, you could be navigating or berthing in half a meter ice.
If you are lucky to avoid the storms, you could be in port channeling, in the locks, waiting for pilot or doing cargo operation while the rest of the world is celebrating.
Yes business makes the world go round and for some, its more important than any celebration. That’s why you could find yourself in a tank cleaning any time of the year.
So which is better?
There is really no concrete, one size fits all answer to this question. We all have something in our mind coupled with the situation we’re in that is applicable to us but not to others.
If you are on vacation for longer time than expected, getting a contract in December is a wise move. Its hard to celebrate a merry Christmas and happy new year on an empty wallet and stomach.
On one side, if your contract is finished with enough savings for holidays and vacation, its good to be with your family in these seasons. They are, after all, the reason why we work on board.
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2022. Safe sailing and
May the winds be in your favor.