Memories from my first voyage on the School Ship Albatros

It was the Autumn of 2008, I was in my third year of studies at the Romanian Naval Academy. Those wishing to go on the Albatros school ship (the only school ship of higher maritime education system in Romania) had registered long before and now were waiting for their turn to embark. The School Ship “Albatros”, was an ancient relic of the once great Romanian merchant fleet. It now sailed at the edge of legality only through “friendly” ports. No one risked entering a port in the West due to it’s many problems related to the technical condition and the certificates status. It was however understandable. This was a cargo ship built in 1977 under the name of “Dej”, already over 30 years old age.

Although it was technologically obsolete, and what you were doing there had little to do with what you do on a modern ship, many students still wanted to embark on it, being a good way to put some experience on their seaman’s book. The management of the Academy also wanted to put as many students on it as it could, being a safe method to check who has seasickness and who is able to withstand the conditions on board, thus being able to make cadet recommendations to large companies.

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After six years at sea

After six years of life at sea all I’ve got to show for it are a lot of white hairs, a car, a plot of land, a few good and plenty of bad memories. I dedicate this article to all young people who are considering a career and life at sea.

I did my first six months voyage in 2010, during my last year at the naval academy and I was among the lucky few who caught a cadet contract during the academy years…. Now that I think about it, I was among the lucky few from my class who caught a cadet contract at all.

I was happy and excited when I first left. This was my first grand adventure in life, the first time I was leaving home for such a long period, the first time I was going across the ocean to America and on my plane ticket was written Los Angeles. Los Angeles I didn’t get to see that time,  I only saw the highway from the airport to the ship. This turned out to be the usual case unfortunately. The enthusiasm vanished in less than a week, when I realized that I would spend the next six months sleeping in a narrow bed, in a narrow cabin, on a ship with a narrow deck, where everybody abuses you, where you work absolutely every day and where everyone only cares about their own skin.

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