Cali Deckie, just as everyone else has stated, you should expect to be in Jersey, as a 3rd mate, for about 6 weeks, PLUS 2-3 weeks of additional training at Little Creek base. The additional training depends on the need for 3rds. I can tell you right now, there is no demand for 3rds right now so count on about 7-9 weeks (including the week of NEO) before you hit the pool. I just left Jersey a couple of weeks ago. Even though you have your certifications, MSC will still require you to retake their form of training. Of course, nobody ever believes this, and proceeds to pull out all their certs lol just to find out that MSC still wants you to take their training.
How long of a wait in the pool? I don't want to discourage you, but there are some 3rds currently in the pool that have been waiting for months. (no exaggeration)
Can you wait in the SD pool? This is something you would discuss with your detailer after you finish training. NOTE: You'll have to fly yourself (pay out of pocket, no reimbursement, etc) to SD over the weekend (Friday after you're released for the day or anytime during the weekend). You'll also want to contact the SD pool 24 hrs prior to assure they have a hotel reservation for you.
*The answers I have provided have not been "What I've heard from such-and-such" or "Hear-say", but what I've physically seen or heard personally.
But look on the bright side. . .You're burning through that year of probation just sitting around collecting a check, hotel accommodations, and S&Q every week. "In ANY situation, things could ALWAYS be worse..."
CAUTION: Steering off topic! Someone mentioned MSC used to stay at the Double Tree. Yes, we USED to. lol Unfortunately, mariners, we're "over mingling" with actual paying guest of the hotel, so that ended the contract with Double Tree. MSC was also not in favor of the transit time from Virginia Beach to the pool.