Awesome! I too was inspired by the Internet (particularly Martin Machado) to become a mariner. Currently an OS/deckhand doing tug & barge work (1.5 years) for a small company on the east coast. Have my BT, VPDSD, and Lifeboatman, and in a few weeks am going to take the class to get my AB Special.
So you went to Piney Point? Engine or deck? Are you an AB or did you get a license? Do you get your work through an SIU hall? If so, can you tell me anything about how that works? How do you like your current job? What are your plans?
I'm ready to change jobs as soon as I get my AB. A big part of me wants to work on cargo ships for a few years just to fulfill a long-time goal of shipping around the globe. (Like you, I'm into going to new places.) However, while I have a basic understanding of officer life on big ships (I watch JeffHK on YouTube, for example), it's been harder to learn about the life of the unlicensed crew. I wonder if it would be more or less demanding than what I do now. I also wonder if there even *are* many opportunities for American AB Specials. Like, if I went to a SIU hall, would I have any shot of getting a gig within, say, a month?
If container ships don't work out, I may just move to Seattle or somewhere and try to work on a harbor or ocean going tug or something. At least then I'd be living in a nicer region (vs. deep south right now), working for a more professional outfit, and probably getting more time off (I do 4 weeks on, 2 off).
Have also considered research vessels, but I've heard UNOLS work can be pretty sporadic.
Anyway, sorry for the long post. Any answers, insights, or advice much appreciated!