Can You Survive Without Starbucks and Netflix?

Dr. X | Dr. X
Can You Survive Without Starbucks and Netflix?

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You're a true cruiser like Dr X if you don't get seasick, don't fall overboard or get lost and can live without the essential necessities of modern life for up to two weeks, Netflix and Starbucks

Ship Physician's Log: Arrival, Cruise V, Santiago to Buenos Aires

After a very tiring flight down I had a decent night’s sleep at the Hilton Hotel which is within the airport at Santiago.  Boarding time was 6:30 AM, for some reason, and the ship was scheduled to embark at 5 PM after guest boarding was completed.  I met some interesting people on this cruise, and some I may have borrowed from other cruises.

The first day on board a new boat is always hectic and confusing.  I arrived on Deck 0 through the front most portal on the boat, showed my passport to the crew coordinator, Tony, and set out to visit the medical center to let the senior physician know I was on board.  I had heard the staff was great: friendly, helpful, and easy to get along with.  And I wasn’t disappointed. All were quite cordial

With me in the medical center were Tal, the senior physician, Fae who liked Cyndi Lauper songs and was our chief medical officer, a nurse, and Mick, a young nurse out of training for three years.  They were all Filipinos, well trained and each had a superb sense of responsibility.  I enjoyed my time with each of them, especially Fae who would break into a Cyndi Lauper song at anyone’s request, and sometimes with no request. 

I was an individual contractor working at a daily rate as was Tal, the senior physician who was nearing the end of a ten month contract.  The nurses, Fae and Mick, were employees. We were all working for one of the more established lines in the cruising business and I was comfortable on their boats because they had always had an emphasis on safety.  Even before the Concordia disaster, this company’s boats would have a guest and a crew muster drill, where everyone would rehearse where to go if there were an emergency, before leaving the dock. 

I told Fae I had heard she was a lead soprano for her high school choir in the Philippines.  Somebody in the Miami home office had told me such. Then it was back to the crew office where I stood in line with the 20 or so crew members who had boarded with me.  Got my room key card, three so called hard keys, and my foot was taken for my picture I.D. that I was to wear at all times.

I had lunch in the officer’s mess with my fellow medical center staff.  Then I was off for one of my many safety lectures.  Company policy and maritime law require all crew to have specific instruction in safety procedures, environmental protection, and crowd control.  We’re trained in everything from what to do if we find an orphaned child roaming about during an emergency drill, to how to react to a styrofoam cup blown over the side.  There is about 30 total hours of instruction given during the first two weeks of one’s time on board.

Back to the medical center to get oriented by Tal.  I got the passwords for the computers, a tour of the facility, and an overview of the duty schedule.  Tal and I would alternate days of call which meant we did the morning and afternoon clinics where we were open to all walk-in patients.  Also, we were on-call for any emergencies during our 24 hour shifts.  I learned where all the automatic defibrillators were, a total of six, and then we talked a little about our own philosophies toward patients and their care. Tal was trained in Family Medicine in the Philippines and he seemed quite knowledgeable.

Our ship, was one of the smaller boats of the fleet, carried 1400 guests, don’t call them passengers, and 600 crew, a small gathering of souls. As we spoke the boat’s six diesel engines fired up.  As it not uncommonly happens two guests showed up saying the same thing.  “I’ve been on a lot of cruises and I’ve never been seasick before.”  Fae told them both, without cracking a smile, “Ma’am, we haven’t left the dock yet.”

I moved into my cabin, had dinner with my new friends, and said good night.  I slept well on this my first night aboard.  My cabin was on Deck 0, just a few feet from the center.  I had a glass of red wine and settled into an episode of Wilfred on my I-phone.  Then the ship’s motors hummed and I was rocked to sleep.

There are only a few TV channels available onboard, maybe six at most, and no effective Wi-Fi—though it’s still sold by each expensive minute.  So if you have a favorite show it’s best to load up as many episodes as possible, on whichever device you prefer, before coming aboard.  Did anybody say Netflix?

On shore days, if you’re not on duty, you can explore for good network connections on shore.  Veteran crew members are an invaluable resource for telling you where the good networks are. Not uncommonly it’s a Starbucks.

About the Author:

Come aboard as Dr X's Private Sea Journal reveals with great story telling and wit the practice of medicine on the high seas including some of the deep dark secrets of maritime medicine, as well as Dr X.

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