On May 27 I'll board flight AC872 (Toronto-Frankfurt-Edinburgh) to join the G Adventure team for two months exploring the Norwegian coast. Then in August I'll hop on the MS Ocean Endeavour with my Adventure Canada mates and return to Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. I'm looking forward to the hard work, laughter and especially the music.
Playing on a cruise ship was something that never seemed appealing to me. I imagined months of daily boredom and endless nights grinding my way through "American Pie" for inebriated retirees. But an adventure cruise is different.
First of all, the vessels are much smaller. While typical cruise ships can accommodate thousands of people, the MS Expedition and MS Ocean Endeavour, are both only a little larger than the Chi-Cheemaun. We host around 200 paying passengers, a small enough bunch to learn everyone's names. After a couple of days of adventuring the ships become more like summer camps than cruises.
Second of all, I have a "regular job". Besides playing music in the evenings I'll be piloting a Zodiac during the day. A Zodiac is a large inflatable rubber boat with a flat metal bottom that carries up to twelve people from ship to shore for sight seeing. Driving a Zodiac is not only fun and challenging but it makes me feel like I'm part of the team not just a token guitar strummer. Being at sea is much more rewarding when you've got your hand on a tiller and your eye on the starboard bow.
Finally, adventuring allows me to become genuinely close to people I would otherwise never even have met. The landscapes of the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Scandinavia certainly are awesome in the truest sense of the word. But it is the people who live in these places that have turned me from a homebody into a traveller. I'm sure there are opportunities to meet good folks on big ocean liners. But sharing a joke with a fisherman on a pier in Ilulissat or hearing children throat singing in a community centre in Grise Fiord beats wandering back and forth from the spa to the casino on the Ocean Princess any day. Big cruises are floating luxury hotels designed to separate you from your retirement fund. Adventuring is about expanding your circle of friends into uncharted waters.
Last year with Adventure Canada I found myself taking fewer pictures and barely touching my journal. As we sailed into the heart of the Arctic I wanted to soak up every moment with the people around me rather than find a particular turn of phrase to describe the dawn or choose the right Instagram filter for yet another iceberg shot. When we arrived at Kugluktuk after eighteen days at sea I felt so at home in the north that journaling felt a little false.
When I return to Sudbury in the fall it will be with a heart full of the spirit of adventure and comradeship. With those emotions and experiences I will gain not only new songs and stories but a whole new way of looking at the world around me. That is not just a job but a gift beyond price.
(Photo by Ian Tamblyn, Sisimiut, Greenland)