Published in El Pais, 29 November 2020.
You are a free spirit, want to travel the world, do the things your way and above all want to have a vacation story to tell not many will have? Well maybe you should consider traveling as an extra on a container ship. I am not talking about traveling in Paddington Bear style fully packed with marmalade sandwiches as a stowaway in a live vessel. No, I am talking about living for several weeks on containership enjoying all the unexisting luxury you otherwise would normally have on cruise ship. So no thousands of fellow tourists, but only a handful crew members. No haute cuisine restaurants, but a regular kitchen. No high-end entertainment or casinos, but only the TV in living room and a crew member beating you in poker. Does it already sound tremendously attractive to you?
Why would you this? Well at least it sounds better than the tickets to nowhere that airlines were selling during corona times. You would get in a plane, fly for some hours, get lunch, dinner, and land in the same place as were you took off. Being on the ship, you are actually going somewhere, in a safe way (corona-wise), you will have some personal quality time and thanks to slow or no internet you will finally have time to read the book, or maybe write one. Beside you can enjoy the view, the waves, the storms, and all other nautical spectacles.
A thing you probably will not be able to do either, is to be actual part of the crew. Unless you get the valid certificates, it is forbidden to work on board, so forget travelling for free while scrubbing the decks singing.
For those with a small budget thinking this a great way to save some money I need to disappoint you. The journeys normally cost between 75 and 100 USD per day (including food) and with the knowledge that crossing an ocean easily takes 15-20 days, it is more for the sea fanatics with deep pockets. For everybody else you might consider getting your sandwiches with marmalade, your red cap and search for the life vessel, or just go on a normal cruise.