With a big trip on the horizon I should put my head down, work as many hours as possible and keep saving money or…
I could volunteer as an assistant pottery instructor on a Princess Cruise to the Panama Canal.
The good thing about working on a cruise as a lecturer’s assistant (aside from the basic free-ness of it all) is that you get to go on Shore Excursions for free as well. With the specific duty of taking attendance we were able to: visit the rainforest in both Costa Rica and Panama, swim with Sting Rays in Grand Cayman and tour Mayan ruins in Mexico.
Guest lecturers, as opposed to general cruise staff, also have access to all the regular passenger facilities. We had free meals in the fancy restaurants and drinks (not free, obviously) at the crew bar. We lounged by the top deck pool but lived in the low deck staff room.
The highlight was an unforgettable passage through the Gatun lock of the Panama Canal into the lush jungle of Gatun Lake. Absolutely gorgeous. And all for free.