Women's insight into life at sea: Frances Diane F. Dizon and Alfha Mhay P. Camacho

Mar 6 2020
A photo of Frances Diane F. Dizon onboard Alexandra Kosan

J. Lauritzen supports the efforts of both the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Danish Shipping in seeking a better gender balance in shipping.

We would like to give some insight into what it is like to work at sea – from the perspective of women working as part of Lauritzen Kosan’s crew. Four women have kindly agreed to share their own experiences of life at sea.

Our third and fourth interview is with Frances Diane F. Dizon, who works as a deck cadet onboard Alexandra Kosan, and Alfha Mhay P. Camacho, who worked as a catering trainee onboard Inge Kosan.


Frances Diane F. Dizon,
Deck Cadet onboard Alexandra Kosan

About you

Please tell us your name, age, where you come from and any other hobbies/interests

My name is Frances Diane F. Dizon. I’m 24 years old and I’m from Subic Zambales. My interests include singing, cooking and sometimes dancing.


What attracted you to a job at sea in the first instance?

Honestly, the salary. A seafarer has a higher salary than other professions, and that's why it's partly why a popular job, in my opinion.


Before you began your job, what was your impression of what life would be like onboard? Is it different to the reality?

I knew it would be hard, mostly because this field is a male dominated profession. Life onboard is therefore not easy, because you need to prove that you’re able to do what a man can do.


About your job

Can you describe a typical day in your job?

My daily routine consists of handling reports with our Third Officer and Chief Officer and I also handle cargo familiarisation on deck. I am also on the bridge [the control room of the vessel] under the supervision of Third Officer. After that, our Second Officer teaches me about navigation and also familiarisation with bridge equipment, especially Radar and ECDIS.


What are your biggest challenges?

Sometimes they doubt whether I can handle a task or not, when they’re considering giving me a task, because I think that they think that the task is better suited for a man.


What motivates you the most?

My family’s support motivates me to strive to be the best individual and worker I can be here onboard.


What do you do to relax onboard when you’re off-duty?

The crew, officers and I watch movies, and sometimes we even sing karaoke!


About working at sea

Some people will see you as a role model for other women considering a job at sea, what impact do you think your role might have for others? 

I hope the fact that I’m a woman working at sea will have a positive impact and encourage women, who are considering this profession, to pursue it. This profession is not easy, but it is not impossible either!


What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?

I want to be one of the most effective and efficient officers one day, and after that, I want to be Captain and help women reach the same dream I once had: of working in the maritime industry.


Who do you usually talk to about your career development?

I usually talk to our Third Officer since it is the first job position, I might get after my cadetship.


What do you think about the gender balance in seafaring – do you think more women will work at sea in the future?

I do think that more and more women want to work at sea.

I think women are becoming more confident and push harder to reach their goals, because we finally have more opportunities than we’ve ever had. More and more women strive and work hard to gain more respect and recognition, which allows us into job positions and professions we haven’t been allowed into before.

Because of this hard work, more women have the confidence to enter male dominated professions, such as the maritime industry, and because of this, there is more respect for women who aspire to be in the maritime industry than there has ever been. 


If you ever changed to working ashore, what would you miss most about working at sea?

I’d definitely miss the ports and the places I’ve visited. I’d also miss my daily routine, and also the food!


Do you have any good pieces of advice to anyone considering a career at sea?

Always take the opportunity to learn. Admit your mistakes and see them as an opportunity to grow and do better the next time. Pray and stay strong when you feel homesick. Never forget that safety always comes first, and last but not least, enjoy the experience! 


The Master of Alexandra Kosan, Captain Calulo, added: "Deck Cadet Dizon is now a competent helmswoman. She is very confident going in & out of Singapore water."


Alfha Mhay P. Camacho,
Catering Trainee onboard Inge Kosan

About you

Please tell us your name, age, where you’re from and any other hobbies/interests

My name is Alfha Mhay P. Camacho. I’m from a not so famous place called Santa Ana, which is in Manila. I love to read books and play guitar.


What attracted you to a job at sea in the first instance?

What attracted me to work at sea is knowing that I’d get to travel the world while making a living.

Going to different countries has always been a dream of mine, and here I am, blessed and making that dream come true! 

At first, I thought this job would be difficult, but as I joined my first vessel, I found it enjoyable. My crewmates were all happy and welcoming, and they were always there to help me in times of need, which made me feel at home.


About your job

Can you describe a typical day in your job?

I’m in charge of cleaning the kitchen. I do the dishes and clean the crew’s cabins, and I also prepare the salads and the snacks.


What are your biggest challenges?

My biggest challenge is whenever my family needs me, for instance when they’re facing a dilemma, because I can’t physically be there to support them. When this happens, you really want to console them and ease their pain, but there’s nothing else to do than remain calm and give them words of encouragement, telling them that everything will be okay. 


What motivates you the most?

Even though it’s hard, I keep on motivating myself by telling myself that this job is for the sake of my family.


What do you do to relax onboard when you're off-duty?

When I’m off-duty I often call my parents, watch tv and read books online.


About working at sea

Some people will see you as a role model for other women considering a job at sea. What impact do you think your role might have for others?

As part of the catering academy, they used our beloved mentor Chef Grace as a role model as well as an encouragement for women to work onboard, and she helped me gain the courage to pursue this job.

Therefore, I’d be thrilled if people were to see me as a role model the same way I see our mentor Chef Grace as a role model, especially if I were to be seen as a role model for women who are considering working at sea, like I once considered.

If they struggle with doubt or low self-esteem, knowing that other women have achieved their dreams and work in this industry will boost their confidence and give them the courage to do the same, I think.

Being brave as a woman in this political climate isn’t easy, but as long as you face your struggles and learn from your mistakes, it can be done. I owe being brave to the people who helped me become the woman I am today: my parents. 


Find out more about jobs at sea with J. Lauritzen>>>

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