The Last-Minute Decision to take a Cruise Job that changed my Life

By Marcelle Saint Martin 🚢

Marcelle, Admin Supervisor at Lime and a dear friend, wrote about her journey working on board. An unexpected phone call made her take a leap of faith and join a cruise. She traveled to 21 countries, met her husband, made life-long friends, and did all of it while saving money.

My cousin called me on my birthday and to catch up a bit, as we would often do. She is one of my favorite people, always traveling and doing cool stuff. During our chat, she mentioned that she had been invited to work onboard ships, but was about to start her masters in Spain, so she asked if I wanted to go instead. Time froze, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy started playing, little birds and fairies started flying around me. You know, that kind of moment.

The invitation happened back when I was getting my degree and working almost every day to be able to afford everything, making a really low salary; I was 22, completely broke, and also completely bored. I had never traveled anywhere, let alone hop on a plane and travel the world (which was one of my dreams), so I said something similar to “Hell yeah!” in Portuguese and jumped in.

To this day, one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received.

Luis and Renara, two of my partners-in-crime on the vision, acting like the cool kids that we were, taking selfies before it was cool.

I joined my first ship as a shoppie, a cute nickname that refers to people who work in the gift shop onboard. My first ship was the Vision of the Seas, which I still call home because that’s where I had some of the best experiences in my life, and where I met my husband Luis (now also my sidekick as part of Lime’s admin team).

After one contract at the shops, I got an opportunity to work at the art gallery. I was supposed to go on another RCCL ship, but I was transferred last-minute to the Carnival Sensation – ships and itinerary can be changed very close to your joining date – not usual, but it happens if necessary. Because of this, I ended up meeting Fede (yep, that Fede, Lime’s director), and Jaime, from our Casting team. I also became friends with other amazing people, and we still stay in touch – whenever possible, we try to hang out during my vacation trips. Trust me, things can be quite intense onboard, so you’ll see yourself becoming BFFs with a lot of people in a short amount of time.

Eventually, I got transferred back to the Vision of the Seas – I had some unfinished love business there, so they granted my request to go back. Most couples ask to be put on the same ship with their partners, as you’d expect. But that can be a challenge, especially if you are from different departments, so I was lucky.

Check out Baby Fede! Also, Cat (across the table), my BFF and roomie on the sensation.

I was then reunited with amazing people from my past contract, met the love of my life (that’s Luis, if it wasn’t clear before) and we all got to travel the world together. I visited places I never thought I’d go (21 countries in 4 different continents) that were on my bucket list, like the pyramids in Egypt (we also bought an amazing little table at the Alexandria street market), the Acropolis in Greece (my dream since I was a little girl, just like the pyramids), the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the grand markets in Turkey. Funny story, Luis and I got matching stuff and we weren’t dating back then, so now we have pairs of things at home, like the two beautiful Turkish mosaic chandeliers we own.

The Pyramids in Giza, at the edge of the Western Desert, part of the Sahara. Tried not to shake taking this photo!

We also went to one of the best clubs in Europe, called Indigo (in Istanbul), where DJs from all over the world would play, and we had a blast getting to know the city by night. I visited a Norwegian fjord and the Sahara Desert on the same contract, tried exotic and delicious food from three different continents (miss you, Tunisia), worked on a ship with over 60 nationalities, learned expressions from different languages, and had more frozen margaritas on amazing beaches that I can count — all in the same contract. I watched the amazing musicians and entertainers perform, met so many incredible professionals, improved my English, and saved tons of money! And now, I am living in Argentina, working for Lime, thanks to Fede and to ship life.

Vision of the Seas and Geirangerfjord in Norway. Feels like you’re on set filming the Lord of the Rings.

If you still wonder whether you should do it, well, I hope this helps you make up your mind; if not, I can keep going and tell you about the other 1457 fun and life-changing moments I experienced while working on ships. One thing is for sure: I wish I did it sooner (but not too soon — you need to be at least 18 or 21 to work for some companies).

Just remember: you can count on the best people to help you on this journey. The team at Lime is here for you.