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Report: Cruise Ship Crewmembers Report Lower Happiness Levels

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File image (Diamantino Rosa)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-08-05 16:47:18

Mission to Seafers has published its latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, and the latest quarterly edition found a significant happiness deficit among seafarers working onboard cruise ships and ferries.

The report, which is produced in association with leading mutual P&I insurer the Shipowners’ Club, is based on the responses of thousands of seafarers worldwide. This quarter's study showed that cruise and ferry crews had an average score of 5.3 out of 10 on their general happiness level – 15 per cent less than the global average across all vessel types, which stands at 6.27 this quarter.

Happiness levels for those working on tankers, bulk carriers and container ships were all close to the global average, coming in at around 6.3/10. The relatively small number of seafarers working on dredgers were the most satisfied, according to the data. By age, the youngest and oldest cohorts - those below 25 and over 55 - were by far the happiest (with cadets the happiest of all). Deck officers ranked above engineers and galley crew. 

“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," said Louise Hall, Director of Loss Prevention at the Shipowners’ Club.

Across all vessel types, four key issues emerged from the survey responses in this three-month period: 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. More crewmembers are reporting that they feel they are an extension of the office, and that seafarers are there to answer queries or even do work for shore staff whenever they are asked, regardless of time zones and watch patterns. Many spoke of a seeming ignorance ashore as to what work onboard is like, or a lack of empathy. 

At the same time, concern around seafarer abandonment continues to grow, 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.

On the positive side, seafarers’ happiness levels with their ability to keep in contact with their family when at sea rose this quarter. This is an indication of the importance of improvements in both the availability and cost of communications to seafarers. Seafarers in this survey repeatedly stated that “communications with loved ones is essential, even if it is only for a couple of minutes a day." The message is clear, Mission to Seafarers said" crewmembers want to be connected to home, they want access to online services and "nothing else will do."