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Cadet Life On A Passenger Ship

Cadet Life On A Passenger Ship
Reef Endeavor Crew. Photo: Mahesa Abeynayake
April 26
11:00 2017

 

MV Reef Endeavour is a 3,125-ton passenger ship built in Suva in 1996. The 23-metre vessel operates from Port Denarau and cruises around Fiji Islands in four, seven and 11-day trips.

A total 63 passenger accommodation consists of suites, staterooms, and cabins.

What is missing in beauty and elegance of a cruise liner, she makes up in character and charm as she journeys around the Fiji islands introducing tourists to the sheer splendour of spectacular marine life.

Motoring leisurely, hugging the coast of the archipelago, she anchors close quarter to some of the picturesque landscape.

The passengers ferried ashore in small crafts snorkel, sightsee, or laze around the beach in Remote Islands in the Pacific.

Three professional disciplines man the ship.

Predominantly Fijian crew trained in Navigation, Engineering, and Hospitality ensure safe comfortable and an enjoyable time on board.

Expect for the Captain, Chief Engineer, and some support personnel; Reef Endeavour is manned by students from Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA).

The Hospitality staffs are not expected to have formal marine qualifications but still need the mandatory safety certificate from the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) to be a part of a crew.

The certificate comprises of the four short courses conducted by FMA.

Seven navigation officers, eight manning engine room, six deckhands, 19 hospitality staff and four for cooking and catering make up the crew complement. A dive team of three and the spa manager completes a total of 37.

Three engineering cadets and three deck cadets are part of the crew. These cadets enrolled in different stages of study learn more than navigation and engineering in their time on Reef Endeavour.

Traditionally cadet training is tough going.

Masters and Chief Engineers usually are hard task masters it is not unusual to assign the young rookies to tasks which will test their endurance and patience.

The idea being if they get through these tasks which are usually supervised and controlled then they are then able to continue with confidence as they progress through the careers.

A few decades ago it was a common practice for a cadet to be down on their knees polishing wooden floor an arduous task known as Holystoning.

Turning the radar equipment manually when it the motor broke down was another tedious practice.

Whether it was cancellation of shore leave or cleaning duties, cadets were only spared of the olden day practices of walking the plank or subject of flogging.

It is not as bad on the Reef Endeavour, but the duties of a cadet can vary.

A cadet in a day can paint the bulkhead, assist in taking passengers ashore, shift baggage or sweep the deck.

In addition, Engineering cadets will be involved in plumbing and air-conditioning work in passenger cabins and maintenance of the small boats that ferry passengers to the islands and back.

But what is rather unique on this particular ship is that crew also provided the evening’s entertainment.

The crew of the Reef Endeavour is very much involved in entertaining the passengers with a fashion show of village style Fijian garments and mesmerizing Fijian dance and music. Career as a seafarer can be lucrative if on the right track with a good company overseas, but life is can difficult.

A seafarer must endure being away from home for lengthy periods, braving the rough weather, living and working with crews of other nationalities, involved in physically challenging work on deck or in the engine.

Although the crew on the Reef Endeavour work as hard as any other seafarer, they also have certain privileges that they enjoy.

Meeting with loved ones when in Port Denarau, Good food, interacting with passengers even having dinner with them, working in a clean and healthy environment are part of a day of a crew life.

The crew also have the option of training with the dive team and learn to scuba dive.

Although leaving the good life on board may need some thought, cadets are encouraged to come back to the academy to continue with their academic work.

To prove that Fiji Maritime Academy and the staff is very much interested in their progress and monitoring, they career that the Academy has commenced compiling a database of all the past students.

The students are encouraged to communicate to the Administration their current employment status.

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