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Seafarer happiness has slipped, finds report

Seafarer happiness has slipped this quarter with the most unhappy seafarers being the ones that work onboard cruise ships and ferries, finds the latest Seafarers Happiness Index.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"} The Seafarers Happiness Index report is published by The Mission to Seafarers and produced in association with the Shipowners’ Club. Results are based on the response of more than 2,000 seafarers across 3 months, covering the global maritime industry. It measures how happy seafarers are in various elements of their work and covers seafarers’ mental and physical health, diet, rest, workload, connectivity, training, access to shore leave, as well as relationships at home and onboard. Participants rank their happiness across these areas from one to ten, ten representing a higher level of happiness.

The latest report published this week shows that average seafarer happiness has dropped from 6.31/10 to 6.27/10.

Cruise and ferry crews had an average score of 5.3/10 on their general happiness level – 15 per cent less than the global average across all vessel types (6.27/10).


Seafarers ship type aug 7

Seafarers on dredgers were the most satisfied according to the data, while ferry crews and those on cruise ships were reportedly the least satisfied. Crews on tankers, bulk carriers and container ships were all well clustered around the 6.3 mark, very close to the average happiness level this quarter.


The youngest age range proved to be the happiest, with a very high 7.9/10 reported. 25-35-year olds reported a happiness level of 5.8/10 on average, but those between 55 to 65 showed generally high levels of happiness.

The key reasons for unhappiness were associated with delayed payment of wages; decreased shore leave; workload stress caused by smaller crews onboard; and a lack of understanding from shore staff with regard to seafarer welfare issues.

A key concern was related to the frustration and concern seafarers face with office staff ashore. There is a growing sense that crews are merely an extension of the office, and that seafarers are there to answer queries or even do work for shore staff whenever they are asked.

The report also found that there is growing concern around seafarer abandonment, with many seafarers expressing a sense of vulnerability following a number of recent incidents around the globe. The Mission also received a number of troubling reports of aggression, violence and bullying against female seafarers.

However, one positive result coming from the survey was the improvement to connectivity, which has led to increased happiness among many seafarers. The report states that this is ‘hopefully to do with the ever-increasing number of deep-sea vessels which now have internet onboard. Something which many respondents stated, “is a big help.”’

Crew onboard vessels with slow or expensive connectivity reported that this made their life incredibly frustrating and voiced their disdain for companies who do not provide what they want. The survey found that seafarers felt that communications with loved ones is essential, even for short time periods, and being at sea without connection to home is not good enough today. Recruitment and retention is likely to be an increasing issue if companies do not offer sufficient time and connection speeds for seafarers.  

Steven Jones, founder of the Seafarers Happiness Index, commented: “As ever, we would like to thank all of the seafarers who have taken the time to share their views with us. Your feedback is essential to us in our aim to create a more transparent industry, where best practice is lauded and shared, and any shortcomings, or indeed harmful incidents, are flagged and addressed accordingly.

Louise Hall, director – Loss Prevention at the Shipowners’ Club, stated: “As the scale and global reach of the survey continues to grow, we are now able to identify trends in results for particular demographics. In sharing this information, we can help educate operators in implementing initiatives that are most pertinent for their crew.”

The full report can be accessed here.



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