From Ocean to Expedition Cruising, Reyna Mae Bagsic Talks Nursing at Sea
Meet one of the VIKAND nurses that we’re celebrating for National Nurses Week
VIKAND would like to wish our global nursing family a happy National Nurses Week! To mark the occasion, we talked with Reyna Mae S. Bagsic, a ship nurse aboard the Azamara Quest, to learn about her career and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Where did you begin your career as a ship nurse?
I started first with Star Cruises, which has itineraries all around Asia. During the pandemic, I used my free time to become a certified pastry chef, baker and cold kitchen chef, then I would bake cakes and pastries for the crew. Their smiles were my reward! From that point on, everyone called me “Chef Nurse.”
What was your first assignment as a VIKAND nurse?
My seven-year journey with Star Cruises ended in November 2021 when I transferred to VIKAND as a ship nurse with Hurtigruten Expeditions. I was stationed aboard two different Hurtigruten ships, and working on expedition ships gave me the chance to see nature at its best, with daily landings that kept me fit and allowed me to explore the most remote ends of the earth.
How do you enjoy working with Azamara Cruises?
VIKAND assigned me to Azamara Cruises in December of last year. I feel so lucky to work on Azamara Quest, where I have the chance to be amazed by nature, colourful cities, food, bridges, souvenirs and more. I believe there is beauty in everything and I try to be grateful all the time. I work with a very good doctor, Dr. Victor Gomez, and senior nurse, John Kelvin Malabanan. They are both helpful and inspire me to be my best.
What’s your favourite part of working on a cruise ship?
Working on a traditional cruise ship that travels on worldwide itineraries makes me feel special. When I lived in the Philippines, I enjoyed exploring the cultures of my neighbouring countries. I was able to witness different religious beliefs, histories and scenery, but most of all I enjoyed tasting different Asian foods. Now, I encounter people and cultures across different continents while practising my profession of nursing.
How is nursing on a ship different from being on land?
Working on a cruise ship makes you more approachable and friendly to crew and guests, but it will also test your patience and presence of mind to deal with different scenarios. You need to be gentle and caring all the time but be firm in dealing with people with medical conditions.
What’s the best part of being a shipboard nurse?
As a ship nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Nursing requires compassion, caring and dedication, and for me, brightening the lives of every patient makes my heart full and happy.
What does working on a cruise ship demand?
As a nurse, working on a cruise ship requires three things: a big heart that anticipates the needs of your patients; determination to do your best to provide care, promote health and save lives no matter what; and the courage to be responsible in everything you do by handling problems without giving up.
What has been your biggest challenge at sea?
I was at sea when my father died of Covid two years ago. I could not go home because the pandemic made it very difficult to arrange flights. I believe everything happens for a reason, and as part of the VIKAND team, I know that I can use my heart, determination and courage to face anything.