Greenock (1), and the duality of cruise jobs

12 May

Whenever we are in port I have a few hours of alone-time; just me and my camera, in a big Northern European town. Not being surrounded by people who require my aid is a blessing, and about the only enjoyment that I can drain from this otherwise miserable job of a cruise photographer. I even sacrifice a healthy diet and sleep cycle to the turmoil of this occupation, so whenever I am able to spend time ashore, I gladly take it. Even when Scottish clouds cry havoc on me.

The green rolling hills of Greenock, Scotland

The green rolling hills of Greenock, Scotland, are a pretty sight.

So far all ports along these cruises have been beautiful, and Greenock is no exception. The picturesque town on Scotland’s Eastern coast is built into a series of hills, and despite its coverage with urban structures it still breathes a suburban charm. Part of that comes from the many buildings that are almost exclusively covered with a fake sandstone façade. I call this style “cheating with a wink”; the town is made to look older than it is, but nobody is advertising it as ancient, so it’s really just a form of architectural make-up.

I know that hills are a painful obstacle on every golf course, and a miserable feature for most gardeners, but they are also a superb way of breaking the landscape into digestible portions of visual pleasure. Green hills are the best feature any scenery can have, even before rustic castles and ancient oak trees. I like them greens, so I breathe deeply from the fresh air that swirls around Greenock.

old building with false sandstone facade in Greenock

All old buildings in Greenock hae this false sandstone facade. Many of these building really date back centuries, though.

As I wander up and down through the suburban hills of Greenock I contemplate the choices that led me to this pretty place. The working conditions aboard the ABC RypMeOff are far from pleasant, featuring terrible food, mismanagement, and filthy cabin mates. However, this cruise ship also offers a fine cultural experience, delivering me to places like Greenock, Invergordon, or Vigo. The job of any cruise crew involves a 24/7 commitment, and my position as cruise photographer leaves little time for anything else in life. You cannot run or hide from any part of cruise life – you must embrace it all, or leave it all behind. Right now the cruise ship represents both the best and the worst aspects of my life, and in the long run I will have to decide whether I am willing to live with the bad to acquire the good.

Not today, though. Today I shall enjoy the sight of urban Scotland. For some pretty, and slightly rainy photos of Greenock follow this link.

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