After getting the job with Steiner and before boarding the cruise ship, I had to be trained. The training takes place at the Steiner training academy in Watford which is about 45 minutes from London city centre. I was told to expect to be in training anywhere between 2-6 weeks and whilst training, I would be staying at Charter House which is run by the YMCA.
What does the YMCA do?
The YMCA is a charitable organisation that helps young people get back on their feet. The charity offers accommodation for the homeless, support for families, employment support as well as helping to build peoples self-confidence, develop life skills, and overcome personal issues.
People who stay at Charter House?
Charter House is home to a range of people from all different walks of life all looking for an opportunity to better themselves. Whether its someone who’s homeless or a Steiner employee, the YMCA is there for everyone.
24 hr reception
Towels and bedding
What is the food like?
The food reminded me of school dinners. Everyone gets in the queue and waits to be served. To be fair they do put a different option every night but it is very basic. Occasionally me and the girls would have dinner at a restaurant for a nice change.
What are the rooms like?
The girls training with Steiner share a whole floor of rooms that is sectioned off, so anyone outside of Steiner who does not have a key cannot enter the “Steiner floor”. The Steiner boys also have a floor to themselves, but as you would imagine the boys and girls sleep separately.
The rooms on the “Steiner floor” all measure about 4 by 6m and house 2 sets of bunk beds. equipped with lots of shelves, a little wardrobe and a sink in the corner of the room. There are 4 bathrooms along the corridor that all the girls share, so it is important to pick your shower times wisely. Also along the corridor, there are approximately 7 mirrors and 1 mirror in the room above the sink. When there are 30 girls trying to do their hair and makeup in the morning, each using a corner of the mirror it can get quite frustrating, so I would suggest taking your own mirror.
As Charter House is a high rise building there is a window but you can only open it a fraction as it is bolted for security purposes.
What an evening consists of at Charter House?
Arriving back after a long day at the Academy, the first thing on everyone’s mind was dinner, so we would all get in the queue and drool at the food. While eating at the crowded tables you would all discuss your day. Normally I would then shower and change if I could get a shower and then go back down to the dining hall and start studying. While studying doesn’t sound like the best, it was. 50 people talking about the same topic, having a laugh, giving feedback. It really was so much fun.
Things to know
Curfew- I imagine the curfew of 12pm is put in place by Steiner, not Charter House, but never the less there is one, and the people I knew, who didn’t abide by it, didn’t half know about it the next day. There were nights we would all go out to the clubs, all having a great time and then the DJ would announce “to all you Steiner’s its 10 to 12”, so we would all neck our drinks and sprint through the streets of Watford like a stampede of Stainers to get back in time.
CCTV- As Charter House is home to such a mix of people, they have to keep their security sharp. There is CCTV everywhere so watch what you do as any bad behaviour will be reported to the Academy.
Things to take
Things like sharing a room, sharing a bathroom, sticking to the curfew, being surrounded by people from all different walks of life and countries and turning up the Academy looking your best every day are all in place to prepare you for life on a ship.
I loved my time at Charter House. It was here I met some amazing people who I’m still friends with to this day. Although the food wasn’t gourmet it was disguised by the laughter between us. I loved being surrounded by different types of people from all over the world, learning about their cultures and customs. For the majority, the people who were staying at Charter House who weren’t with Steiner were all very nice. We all had a mutual respect for each other. Although sharing a room with 3 strangers was an adjustment, it wasn’t long before I really enjoyed it. Going back and forth between rooms talking to people and swapping stories. While the mirror and bathroom situation could sometimes be frustrating, it was also the cause of hilarity most days. As it happened all the things on sight you would imagine to be negatives, turned into the best parts.