Having recently returned from a much-needed holiday in the South Pacific, I am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for the coming months.
My family and I spent two weeks on a Carnival cruise ship, travelling around Vanuatu and New Caledonia, visiting some beautiful islands and meeting generous and kind-hearted locals.
We visited five islands in the South Pacific Ocean, ventured into a number of local villages and learned about the culture and unique traditions of the people.
The people I met during my holiday were what made it amazing.
I will never forget driving through the local villages in Vila, Vanuatu, and seeing just how the locals lived.
Tiny huts pitched on the side of the road housed multiple generations of people from the same family.
These locals brave the elements each day as most had homes not equipped for the severe weather conditions they regularly face.
While their homes are small and their lives free of most of the amenities we rely on each day, they were some of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.
While they live without most of life’s luxuries, I truly believe their lives are richer than most due to the amount of happiness and love they are surrounded by each day.
Meeting the locals was definitely a highlight, along with getting to know some of the 900 staff who work on board the cruise ship.
The staff members always had a smile on their face and never failed to remember your name or offer a warm greeting each day.
During our two weeks aboard we met a number of the staff, many of whom came from different parts of the world: Indonesia, United States, Peru, Italy, Macedonia, India and beyond.
They all agreed their jobs were regarded as highly-coveted positions in most countries.
Many said they left behind their husbands, wives and small children in a bid to provide them with a better life than they could have if they were working back home.
Despite working 10 to 14-hour shifts and spending more than eight months of the year away from their families, they went above and beyond to make sure every guest had an amazing trip.
These people truly enriched my holiday and getting to meet them and hear their stories was definitely the most memorable part.
While our lives may be completely different, they managed to teach me more than I could have imagined.
I really had an amazing time and I look forward to planning the next holiday and seeing more of what the world has to offer.
Liz Mellino is a News journalist.