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The Road to 193 with Bernadith Barrientos

Bernadith Barrientos in Geiranger, Norway
Where and when was your first trip outside of your home country? 
Taipei was my first destination outside the Philippines. It was in 2018, a year full of blessings for me. I can say it was the best year I’ve had. I got the chance to travel with friends in Taipei. I feel very lucky and blessed to be able to see, explore and enjoy some of the tourist attractions in Taipei like Shifen waterfalls, Taipei National Palace Museum, Taipei 101 and their famous Sky Lantern. 

What is it about traveling that appeals to you the most?
Beautiful scenery, immersing myself in a country’s culture, experiencing new things and gaining new friends while traveling appeals to me the most. Whenever I am in a new place, I take it as an opportunity to explore an entirely different side of myself. Blending with locals is one of the most satisfying feelings. 

How has working in the cruise industry helped you achieve your travel goals?
Working in the cruise industry was really one of my dream jobs as I knew that it would give me the opportunity to see different places for free. Yes, literally free! So far I’ve been to some beautiful places in the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean. Living aboard a cruise ship for 7-9 months helps me save money. It's easier to save money when you have no living expenses. Another advantage is the connections you make while working onboard. You'll meet guests from all backgrounds, forge new friendships and make international contacts that will come in handy in the future.

How much time are you allowed to get off when the ship is docked? 
Actually free time will depend on your duty hours. We usually have breakfast, lunch and dinner duties (BLD ) so our break time is in between meals but sometimes there are privileges given to us by the management. When we do a good job or extra jobs, they give us breakfast or lunch off. Those working in the night shift have all the chances to explore longer, but of course, the consequence is they have to choose between resting or exploring. ☺️

What was the most difficult country to enter in your experience thus far?
During my time in the UK, it was difficult to get off in Southampton because I was on duty so I wasn't able to go offshore. But most of the countries we visited were not that difficult to enter. I have a Schengen visa.

What is your favorite place to visit to-date and why?
My favorite place to visit is Europe. I want to explore more the natural scenery and learn about their cultures especially that of Iceland and Norway. I’d like to see the seasonal and amazing Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights ), the picturesque landscape and learn first hand the history of these countries. 

Bernadith in Reykjavik, Iceland
What place draws you back more than any other?
I have a picture in my mind of Iceland. I want to visit Iceland again if time permits and learn more about their culture and explore their tourist attractions.

Traveling can drain your wallet fast. How do you save enough money for your travels? 
Way back when I was still working in the Philippines, I used to travel to nearby provinces together with friends. We usually checked for promo plane tickets and if the price is low, we would book the flight though this would be many long months before our planned trip. The next step is to save money when reserving accommodations. We needed to make our pocket money last 😂😂 and didn’t want to feel the shock of travel expenses. Plan, check promos, book ahead and set money aside from your monthly income. ☺️✈️

What a blessing it has been that I was able to see other countries with minimal cost because I don't need to pay for my plane ticket nor for my accommodations.

How much luggage are you allowed to take on board? 
I can take as many as I can carry. The only thing is that the airline allows only 40 kg of luggage free. I have to pay for excess baggage. I normally travel with 2 pieces of luggage.

What do you carry in your travel bag?
In my medium size luggage, I have my uniforms, shoes and clothes I need for work. In another medium size luggage, I have all my favorite foods - canned goods, nuts, other Filipino delicacies and personal hygiene products.

Were you ever seriously ill while traveling and how did you cope with it?
God's blessings I never experienced being seriously ill while working or traveling, otherwise it will be difficult for me.  Working for the cruise industry demands one to be physically and mentally fit and have a healthy immune system. I always bring my own medicine from the Philippines.

Bernadith in Saint Martin
How has the pandemic affected the cruising industry?
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the cruise industry. People were really afraid about the risks of cruise holidays. Understanding risk is essential as perception of risk influences travel decision making. Widespread disruption and cancellations affected millions of passengers and people employed directly or indirectly with the cruise industry. We, from the cruise sector, were particularly and immediately affected due to high infection rates among crew and passengers. Thousands of passengers were stranded aboard as cruise ships were held for quarantine purposes and refused entry to ports as borders closed. 

What place would you like to visit in the near future? 
EuropeđŸ€©! Though I have a hard time understanding their languages, I still want to explore and see beautiful places in Europe. I want to see Rome and the Vatican and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

What advice can you give to single, working women who would love to see the world? 
Just focus on your dreams, aim for it and hit it. If you want to work in the cruise industry, you need to be equipped with a strong personality and the determination to overcome all the problems that might come up while working onboard. Be prepared for work training programs. Having a good on-the-job experience with multiple starred hotels or restaurants will help you get hired easily. Be patient as it will take time to process your papers and of course, pray for it. And be ready to be amazed by the different places and cultures you will see. Prepare your memory cards as you will capture many happy and lasting memories.

Photos from Bernadith Barrientos

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About Bernadith Barrientos

Bernadith Barrientos or Bern or Bernie or Berna (as she is fondly called by friends and family) graduated from Filamer Christian University with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She has worked in Dining Services for the cruise industry in the last three years. Bernadith describes herself as a simple and happy person who loves adventures and outdoor activities. Her favorite place is the kitchen where she concocts tempting treats. She’s grateful for the simple life that God has given her. 💕

The Road to 193

Road to 193 is a series of interviews with world travelers who are on a quest to visit all 193 United Nations recognized sovereign countries. Less than 300 travelers from around the world have visited all 193 countries, according to Nomad Mania, a non profit organization that validates the countries and regions visited by its community of travelers through a rigorous verification process. The goal of visiting all 193 countries is elusive at times and fraught with challenges including trying to get a visa, going to a war torn country, finding passage to a remote island nation, traveling to dangerous locations and when the budget doesn’t quite fit the bill. But once conquered, the traveler joins an exclusive club of world travelers who persisted to reach their final destination.



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