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  • Writer's pictureKristen Brock

Readjusting: Post Cruise Life

Part 1

I’ve recently touched on the struggle that is: loneliness in performing and all of the highs and lows that come with being a performer day to day. A popular job form for performers that takes quite a bit of adjusting is cruise ship contracts! As an actress who just wrapped up a 7 month contract less than 2 weeks ago, I can confidently say that it is insanely isolating - in good and bad ways. On one side of the spectrum, you’re so disconnected from all of your friends, family and just real life in general. On the other side, you’re growing exponentially as an individual and developing quality friendships with people from all over the world. I used the sentence “it feels like another world” quite often - because that’s pretty much what it was. A new world out in the middle of the ocean. Currently, I am sitting on a European train going from Switzerland to Germany and spending the first 3 weeks of my ‘post cruise life’ literally still on vacation! Quite ironic of me to be discussing this topic while still fully on vacation, but in preparation for going home I am writing (part 2 of me actually back at home below).

I was lucky on this contract because the first half of my contract docked in New York City, so I got a taste of my real life every two weeks or so for the day. I stayed well connected with my friends at home and got to hug my roomies cat every other week (my form of therapy at the time). But once the Transatlantic crossover happened in mid-April, my safety net and contact to the life I knew became very distant. On top of that, my parents didn’t like me enough to set me up with an international phone plan :) so, as if I wasn’t far away enough - it felt WAY further with no phone service the days I was actually standing on land. I might as well have been cruising around the planet of Mars. Let me clarify, I am not complaining about cruise life. I loved it… I would do it for the rest of my life if I didn’t have my eyes set on the starving artist life in my little New York apartment. Here are a few examples why:

I had space to really focus on myself and my personal priorities.

I started new hobbies I never knew I had… I thought belting and tap dancing till I went crazy were the only things I loved to do. While they are still my favorites, they’re not the only things that fuel my soul.

I traveled every day, which is another huge hobby of mine. My bucket list is shrinking by the minute.

I discovered the people who were for me and the people who weren’t.

I got paid to perform AND travel. Need I say more?

I grew to love being away from social media (who’d have thought?) and all of the daily struggles at home. I was on a never-ending vacation… but the question I get the most post-cruise life is: what’s next? An actors least favorite question ever. And after months of preparing for the what’s next question, I’m still figuring that out. I realized in my field of expertise, I will finish a job and always be followed by the what’s next? Those two words will follow me throughout my entire career…

I could win a Tony Award (one of the biggest achievements I could have) and the first thing I’ll get asked when I walk on the red carpet afterwards are those two damn words.

And to all the people reading this with the intention of finding out what those next steps might be - I promise they’re not in this blog. But keep reading anyways ;)

I have lots of jobs and opportunities from all of the exploring and planning I did out of my cruise porthole, but deciding the location of where I’m going to be living for the duration of my next project is a bigger decision than it was when I was just in college. Now I have a cat, relationships, a lease and so many other factors. So, while I’m entering my stage of readjustment after a contract that was physically so far from home, I acknowledge that I could be in the exact same situation again in just a few short months. Readjusting. That’s the reality of being a performer.

Long distance becomes normal… and no, it doesn’t get easier.

Your parents’ house becomes a storage unit (if you’re incredibly lucky) even though you have an apartment in New York City.

Your cat will have an attitude towards you for leaving them. This will last the majority of the time you’re with them until you leave again.

Your ‘stability’ job will most likely get annoyed with you for how often you leave to do performing gigs… but if you’re good at it they will happily take you back when that time comes. Shoutout to the marketing agency I work for that carries my position for me when I’m ready to come back <3.

All of these things are sacrifices we make for doing what we love… but I’ve said it in past blogs and I’ll say it again - it’s so worth it to be in love with what you do. I’d choose it over a job I hate any day of the week.

Part 2

Officially back in my West Village apartment and life has started to calm back down… (I say that, but the reality is that my life is honestly never calm. I like it that way). Unpacking has begun, reorganization, changes to my room decor - back in full swing.

I want to touch back on a topic I’ve mentioned a lot on my blog, and it is the drift in and out of community in our business. I think the hardest readjustment has been the removal of my core group from day to day life. It’s funny, because I didn’t know anyone in my cast before we all met in December. I didn’t know their lives outside of the one we shared, so when we all inevitably got back to our lives and shared snapchats/messages from our other worlds, it was so fascinating. I lived with these people for 7 months, but the second I saw them interacting with their pets and loved ones, something clicked that hadn’t before.

I’ve been making bullet points on my notes app of things that I’ve had to adjust to since being home… some are so random - some not so much. I feel like those bullet points will explain so much more than I could about being back home, so it feels appropriate to wrap up this blog with these important points… *copy, paste*

  1. The mental growth and progress you make during this time period onboard is great, but it’s only potential. The real challenge is applying it to your life at home.

  2. Paying for food SUCKS. It was so easy to just go grab free food from the buffet/the dining rooms on our ship and not worry about paying for anything onboard (minus alcohol, of course - which was still way cheaper than paying for it at home).

  3. Reconnecting with old friends and relationships is so refreshing and fulfilling… but it doesn’t make leaving new relationships any easier.

  4. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.

  5. Out of sight = Out of mind is a statement someone made up to make themselves feel better.

  6. I love New York. I’m a New York girl at heart, and the second I landed back here it felt 100% right and like I was finally home.

  7. Getting back into auditioning is really hard. It’s like working out a muscle, and you have to exercise it before jumping right back in.

  8. I miss when traveling was free. The one-way subway rides really add up.

  9. I took advantage of how fun it was to perform almost every day. After a few months, it started feeling like a job and I never want to allow myself to see performing as a job ever again.

  10. I forgot which train I take to get back to my apartment from Pearl Studios… a path I took 100 times before I left and probably could’ve done in my sleep at some point.

  11. You’ve missed so many things, but in reality, nothing has changed at all.

  12. Traveling is one of my biggest passions, but I’m learning that so is standing still.

Readjusting comes in lots of phases and lots of parts... the journey continues every day.

P.S. If you see me on the streets, please don’t fucking ask me what’s next :)

Au revior, babes xo

1 Comment

Kelly Kowalski
Kelly Kowalski
Aug 03, 2023

What a beautiful log of your cruise life. I follow numberous cruise performers on YouTube. So of course I was constantly watching you. Never forget dessert first every now and then. Sending love!! I am still one of your biggest fans. - Kelly Kowalski

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