Our ‘Seafarer Stories’ new column hosts seafarers’ views who present briefly the key challenges of life and work onboard, providing a picture of what a career at sea actually means. In this context, we are happy to host an interview with Capt. Maria Agius who has been working with Celebrity Cruises since 2015. Capt. Agius acknowledges fatigue as a key challenge for life onboard; nonetheless, there are several ways of tackling fatigue and essentially ensuring the wellbeing of all seafarers onboard, she says.
SAFETY4SEA: What do you love the most out of your career at sea?
Capt. Maria Agius: Born and raised in Malta, a country which boasts one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world I have always been very passionate about the sea. In my opinion it is far more than just a career, but a way of living. I feel it is enriching in many aspects. It is a career which is ideal for individuals who are up for a challenge.
S4S: What have you learned over the course of your career at sea?
Capt. M.A.: Gained a strong sense of independence. Dealing with all sorts of situations which in turn results in physical, psychological and emotional strength and growth. How little a person needs.
S4S: How would you describe your daily life at sea/ work in a few words?
Capt. M.A.: Currently I fulfil the rank of Chief Officer with Celebrity Cruises. My primary role is to ensure safe navigation by leading one of the duties and performing all watchstanding tasks. Other than that, I am responsible for the ongoing maintenance to vessel’s hull and deck areas, maintaining the condition and appearance. Two 4-hour navigational watches and another couple of hours of deck work constitute a normal working day.
S4S: What is the biggest challenge that you have to face on board?
Capt. M.A.: Challenges are faced daily on board like in any other spectrum/field of work. What matters is the way you approach such challenges. One of the main reasons I took up this career in the first place was purely because it is challenging in a positive way. A challenge faced by most seafarers and known to all is that of fatigue. Having said that, there are several ways of tackling fatigue and essentially ensuring the wellbeing of all seafarers onboard.
S4S: What is your piece of advice to fellow crew members onboard?
Capt. M.A.: No matter your position, be passionate in all you do. Strive to grow and improve yourself on both a professional and personal level. Work hard, perform, crush your targets! Treat everyone with utmost respect. Stay positive, focused and strong.
S4S: What inspires you every day onboard?
Capt. M. A.: Good performance leads to recognition… and yes, being told you are appreciated is one of the simplest yet most rewarding things, hence an inspiration in itself. Also, just by being surrounded by nature and the power of it … Sea, Sun, Moon…
S4S: What has been the most extraordinary thing that you have experienced on board?
Capt. M.A.: Every moment.. experience.. day.. contract is extraordinary in its own way.. and that is the beauty of being out at sea! To narrow that down, some experiences come before others and to name a few these were opportunities to take over and deliver brand new ships. An extraordinary experience I must make mention of was when I got chosen to form part of the ground-breaking first sailing with an all-female bridge and officer team which took place on International Women’s Day 2020 aboard Celebrity Edge.
S4S: What is the one thing that should change to make life better on board?
Capt. M.A.: There is no hard and fast answer to such a question, I believe that it fully depends on each individual. The trick though is to be able to adapt and make the best of what you have.
S4S: What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking a career at sea?
Capt. M. A.: Never give up on your dreams! A career at sea is different from any other, in a unique working environment, offering a stimulating life different to the experience of many people working ashore. It is worth every effort!
S4S. What do you miss the most about your seagoing experience?
Capt. M.A.: Thankfully I am still actively sailing! So in spite of the current situation vis-a-vis the COVID pandemic, I’ve not yet experienced prolonged periods of absence from sea. However, that awesome feeling of being out at sea, especially during long sailings and ocean crossings… witnessing all the blissful views, such as Sun and Moon rises and sets… that is something that I do indeed miss every single time I am on vacation!
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.