Without a doubt there are perks of being a seafarers that most people working in shore-based positions could only dream of. One of those perks that’s at the top of the list is the opportunity to visit new countries while on shore leave. But how should you make the most of that precious, and often all too short, time on land?
You’re probably well accustomed to speaking and working with people whose mother tongue is different to yours. So we say, make the most of your time on shore and go out there and have a good time. You’ve earned it!
Ask fellow crew members for advice
Chances are you’re crewing alongside someone that has a lot more experience than you, both in terms of career and in shore leave experience! Ask around or speak to likely looking co-workers and see if they have any top travel tips on where to go (and where to avoid!) when you arrive in port.
Get information on the ground
It might be that you don’t have internet connectivity on board your vessel, in which case you might need to decide what to do and where to go once you’re on land. Try asking the ship’s local agents, or even striking up a conversation with a friendly-local. After all, they’ll be the ones with the insider knowledge and should hopefully be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to seeing the sights and finding somewhere to sample the local food and drink.
Don’t leave anything to chance
You know that as a seafarer schedules, deadlines, sticking to rotas is crucial and it can be tempting to let that all slide when you hit shore. Keep within your schedule in accordance to your duties while in port. You’re going to need to keep track of the time/date and not leave your fellow crew members hanging - either by showing up too hungover to work, or not showing up at all. Plan your shore leave and make sure you’re back in time, ready to start work with a clear head.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
Running into trouble with the authorities is no one’s idea of fun or a good use of limited shore leave time, so if you do fall foul of those in charge in your destination port, at least make the process as pain free as possible. That means carrying identification such as your seamen book and/or shore leave pass, or at least copies of them.
Keeping contact names and numbers on a piece of paper as well as in your phone is also a good idea. Especially if you’re in a country where the language is completely different to your own. Write down info such as your vessel’s INMARSAT number, a contact for the ships’ agent, and the terminal gate-keeper’s number for extra peace of mind. Downloading a language translation app could also come in useful in the event of a lost in translation situation where connectivity is possible or before you embark initially.
Most of all, have fun, make the most of your time on shore, and take advantage of the unique opportunity that your career in shipping has given you: the chance to explore other countries and experience other cultures. After all, you don’t get that from a 9 to 5 desk job do you?!
If you’re a seafarer looking for jobs in shipping, take a look at the positions Martide has to offer - you might just find your next great move!