Meet Trudi van der Walt. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Trudi previously worked on cruise ships as a deck and pool supervisor. During her time on board, Trudi was inspired to return to school to pursue a career on the navigation bridge, preparing to one day be captain.

Trudi has already accomplished some of her licensure, that includes Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster and VHF (Very High Frequency) radio operation. In January 2018, Trudi will enroll in a maritime academy in South Africa to become a licensed bridge officer.

Below, Trudi shared with Women Offshore, some of her experiences working on cruise ships:

In a couple of sentences, could you please briefly describe what your duties were in your previous job, Trudi?

“I was working for a cruise liner as a pool and deck supervisor.  I was encouraged to further pursue my career, by returning to school, to acquire the necessary studies to work in the navigational bridge.  As a pool and deck supervisor, I was in charge of the cleanliness and maintenance projects on the open decks, also ensuring all pools’ and whirlpools’ pH and chlorine ratios were within company standards.  Ensuring a safe, reliable and secure environment for the guests.”

Which part of the world do you work in?

“On the cruise ship, I worked in numerous parts of the world, such as Sydney, Australia,  The Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Grand Cayman Islands, to name a few.”

What inspired you to work on the water?

“Growing up, I was always telling my parents that I want to work on a ship. I did a catamaran delivery around South Africa and, shortly thereafter, started studying for my Offshore Yachtmaster certification.  Following that, I went to work for a cruise line company in their housekeeping department.  I have continued my studies and I am currently enrolled to qualify for Officer in Charge Of Navigational Watch certification.  I still have a long journey ahead of me – 12 months at sea as a cadet.  Which, I am very excited for!  This is a dream come true!”

Please share a sea story with a lesson learned or a memorable experience you’ve had at sea.

“Regardless of ethnicity – Indonesian, Filipino, Mexican, Chinese, European – all are equal, as they become like your family – brothers and sisters – due to the amount of time you spend together.  The camaraderie on a ship is something I will never forget.”

What motivates you to continue working on the water if it’s a long-term career for you?

“Working on the ocean is my passion; an indescribable feeling.  It’s the chills you get when you’re in the perfect moment, knowing you are where you are supposed to be.  It is empowering to be pursuing my dream.  Never stop believing in yourself.  I always push myself to the limit, knowing that I can do this.”

What challenges have you faced in your career?

“I have had people not take me seriously because of my age –  to which, I have proven them wrong.  There were people telling me that I wouldn’t make it, that I was too young, and that I wouldn’t last one contract.  Well, everyone, here I am!  On my way to obtaining Officer in Charge of Navigational Watch certification. My advice for women in this industry:  Don’t let anyone get you down. You know what your capable of. Sure, you will fall but that doesn’t mean you cannot stand up and just try harder.”

What do you think can be done in your industry to encourage more women to pursue similar careers?

“Women need to stop being afraid:  Afraid to work with our hands, afraid to see things in different ways and to understand and know that we are strong and capable of so many of the things that men are.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

“Seeing that I could work on a cruise liner, in different department and position, has shown me more career options that I didn’t know were out there. It’s been great getting to know all of the different departments and what they do. I have come to realize the navigational deck is where I want to be – and where I will be. I have worked hard to get where I am today, and knowing I have to work even harder to achieve my dreams.  This is just the beginning for me!”

Trudi, we wish you the best of luck with your exams and hope to hear about your career as it progresses!