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Christopher Doyle

cdoyle-meet-250pxI left school in 2005 and tried a number of jobs, including technical support for a large computer company based in Ireland, travel insurance claim handling and nearly four years as cabin crew for a major airline. None of these offered any real or exciting long-term career prospects, and I found myself looking for a career that I could commit to. I was keen to gain higher qualifications, but this is made difficult for many 'mature' students by the sheer expense of university study, particularly when you have financial commitments.

cdoyle-qe-250pxI considered many sponsors and ship types, all of which have their advantages, and decided to apply to Carnival UK as, ultimately, I believed that I would be best suited on cruise ships. I was invited to an assessment day where the cadet training officers put us through our paces and told us more about the company and the scheme, which helped me to decide that this was definitely for me. 

The course was sponsored by Carnival UK, who also paid me a modest salary during the cadetship. I spent time at sea in between college phases, learning the practical side of the job and consolidating the theory that I had learned at Warsash.

In September 2010, along with the rest of our fresh-faced and enthusiastic intake, I took up residence at Warsash for what promised to be an interesting and perhaps life-changing few months. The lecturers and support staff at the Academy were helpful, welcoming and put us all at ease in a new and unfamiliar environment. 

cdoyle-bridge-250pxLiving on campus was a great way to get to know people and to concentrate on getting used to a lifestyle where you will sometimes need to live in close quarters with others. The campus bar was always there for socialising, and you could always venture further into Southampton should you wish. The Academy benefits from its connection to Solent University, and all the facilities available to Solent students are available to Warsash students.

The lecturers and support staff are all approachable and very knowledgeable, with many of the maritime lecturers holding Master Mariner certificates and a wealth of experience. The campus facilities such as the library, classrooms and practical areas are all as you’d expect from a modern and hi-tech university.

I am now third officer on the Cunard ocean liner Queen Mary 2. I work three months on, six weeks off and earn a tax free salary. While on board, I keep a navigational watch for eight hours a day (two four-hour watches) and typically work another two hours a day undertaking safety, maintenance and voyage planning duties. No two days are the same. One day I might be crossing the Atlantic with no other ships in sight. A few days later I might be negotiating the Dover Straits, the busiest shipping lane in the world. 

In the space of four years I have been around the world twice (once each way). I’ve been through the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal. I’ve been across the equator and the date line. I’ve been to four of the five continents. I’ve rounded both Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. I’ve been to over forty countries. I’ve hosted the Captain’s table on Queen Mary 2, and met royalty, celebrities and some of the most interesting 'ordinary' people who travel with us. Now, at the very beginning of my career, I am responsible for driving a £500m ship weighing 76,000 tons and carrying over 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew.

The opportunities for British seafarers, both at sea and ashore, are excellent. Warsash Maritime Academy has given me an excellent foundation upon which I can build a career that is rewarding, fulfilling and secure.

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