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All aboard: Life on a cruise ship

Melodi Smith, CNNPublished 27th August 2015
(CNN) — A man stands ashore and supervises two crew members working on a cruise ship's hull. Passengers get ready to board a ship after it has docked. A waiter serves a woman a teacup in one of the restaurants on the ship.
Welcome aboard.
A "blind date" between photographer Simona Bonanno and her first cruise led to her curiosity of traveling the high seas by boat. Her photography collection began on her second voyage in 2012.
Six cruises later -- a total of 45 days at sea -- and Bonanno's "Aboard" project is still going strong, chronicling passengers, crews and ships from her travels.
Each cruise ship she has been on carries about 3,500 passengers, and she described it as "a real cosmopolitan society floating the seas."
"The big cruise ship is the synthesis of a world," she said. "We cannot decide how life should be, but we can find our place in the world. We can live life in our way."
Photographer Simona Bonanno
Photographer Simona Bonanno
simona bonanno
The photos in the collection are in black and white, something she decided was the right choice when she started the project.
"The ships are sparkling and very colored, and the blue (sea and sky) and the white (the exterior of the ship) are prevalent," she said. "I want to focus on the lines, silhouettes, shadows, reflections and people."
An inspiration behind one of the photos is the crew cleaning and painting the ship's hull.
"The sparkling ship seduces passengers, so the crew is almost invisible," Bonanno said. "But everything works, exists and seduces because of the crew. They are not part of the mechanism. They are the mechanism."
Through her travels, Bonanno was able to photograph parts of the ship that are forbidden to passengers. A city in a city of sorts.
In these areas, she was able to see the crew busily working to keep the ship running. The sounds of the sea and the machinery powering the boat were easily audible.
The living quarters for the crew and the passengers are quite different.
"These areas are not rich or decorated as the passengers' decks," she said. "They are very clean and simple, functional."
Other areas she was able to explore were the bakeries -- in operation 24 hours a day -- and the pantries where all the food and drinks for the ship are stored.
"Aboard" is an ongoing project, and her last voyage at sea was in July.
"Every time I come back I'm very satisfied about the work done, but I want more," she said.
There are many more stories for Bonanno to tell.
"Every time, I met amazing people, passengers, crew, and I discovered something special," she said.