After speaking with many people working aboard this cruise, especially crew members who spend months of the year aboard research vessels, it was clear to me that the biggest downside of frequenting the seas as a crew member or scientist is the dent it makes in one’s connection to life on land, with family and friends. One crewmember wondered why two young women (myself and Liz) would want to participate in a one and a half month long voyage. This question caught me off guard, as I had not considered this trip a burden, but a gift! Why, “for fun, for adventure, for learning,” we answered. But this crewmember helped me to realize that the reality of these trips for many more experienced than I, is one of being apart from those whom they love for more than just a month and a half out of the year. Some of the young scientists, many PhD candidates, echoed a similar sentiment. Even two cruises a year makes it difficult to maintain relationships on land; you must constantly re-establish yourself upon return, only to leave again, to yet another exotic place. It is a bittersweet lifestyle.
This cruise, taking place over the holiday season, magnifies these feelings of disconnect from home. The crew and scientists aboard the Melville will not be thwarted however, by thousands of miles of ocean between our homes and ourselves; we brought the holidays with us, and wintertime snow too! So while everyone misses the comforts of the holidays at home, we are making the most of our home at sea, and the family too (they do say you can’t choose your family…).