Seafarer Happinesstice - Survey Q4 - worsening

The results from the Q4 Mission to Seafarers Seafarers Happiness Survey showed a drop people’s self-reported ‘general happiness’ from 6.8 to 6.56

The 2021 Q4 Seafarers Happiness Survey, conducted by Mission to Seafarers and supported by Wallem and Standard Club, showed people’s self-reported happiness dropping from 6.8 in Q3 to 6.56 in Q4. An average of all responses also dropped from 6.59 to 6.41.

Mission to Seafarers’ interpretation was that “there are worrying signs that the unpredictable nature of COVID is having a serious impact on mental health and is driving negative sentiment on board.”

It said that many seafarers “raised concerns about the draconian nature of repeated testing and expressed concerns about the quality of quarantine provisions.”

Seafarers responding were 41 per cent on bulk carriers, 28 per cent on tankers, 13 per cent container ships, 8 per cent general cargo ships, 5 per cent ro-ro, and 4 per cent offshore. Happiness by ship sector was 7.37 for offshore, 7.18 for bulk carrier, 6.55 for ro-ro, 6.33 for tanker and 5.08 for container ships.

12 per cent of respondents were aged 16-25, 44 per cent were 25-35, 24 per cent were 35-45, 15 per cent 45-55, 5 per cent older. In terms of their answers, the happiest were 45-55 and 16-25, the least happy were 25-35. The happiest rank / role was ‘catering department’ and the least happy was ‘electrical dept’ followed by ‘chief officer.”

These are some comments from respondents: “All I can think about is going on vacation, the stress and fatigue after 6 months on board are too much.”

“This was the last time I go to sea. My career of over 40 years came to a stop. Who wants this way of life?”
“Until seafarers feel certainty about their freedom of movement, until they feel they have the same access to vaccination as the wider populace, and until they feel accepted and recognised as key workers, then there is a seafaring storm brewing.”



The happiness about workload declined from 6.61 to 6.3.

“From nowhere we are suddenly expected to keep 6 on 6 off watch patterns. This is not sustainable, and I am already feeling exhausted. There will be accidents”.

“We do not have the people to do all that is stated and required. Some things are recorded, but they are not done fully”.

Companies “just keep piling responsibilities and paperwork on the officers.”

“We have no Sunday or even half-day. No offs, 12 hrs/day normal work and most of the time 18hrs/day work”.

“When I joined the company five people used to do the same job as two do now in my department. There is no way to comply with hours of rest when the vessel is on operations”.

“Duties from Third Mate have been transferred up to Second Mate, and duties from Chief mate have been transferred down to Second Mate. However, the salary and working hours for Second Mate have remained the same. It is impossible to conduct all those duties properly without working additional hours.”

Some officers are having to use “stop work authority as there is too much going on to be handled. Especially in port”.

“Everyone thinks seafarers are superhuman with 4 hands and 4 legs”.

Interaction onboard

Happiness with interaction onboard declined from 7.63 to 7.42

Mission to Seafarers’ interpretation is that “relationships onboard have become strained as uncertainty and concerns have risen, while they have improved when seafarers felt more certain with regards to reliefs and leave.”

“The Omicron COVID variant situation appears to have a significant impact, as relationships and interactions onboard have become more strained towards the closing weeks of the year.”

There were accusations that crewmates were “selfish, vain and lazy”.

Some responses spoke of bullying onboard, and an underlying feeling of tension, stress and victimisation.

One respondent said that their trips were punctuated by “board games, bingo, movies on Saturday, TV and karaoke, even monthly BBQ on deck. We have lots to look forward to and it makes life enjoyable.”



Happiness with training rose, from 7 to 7.2 1.  “Our drills and exercises are pathetic. It seems that no one is interested, and we go through the motions.”

“We log and show we have done many things for safety training; the truth is not always the same.”

Health and exercise

Happiness with health and exercise reduced from 7.12 to 6.78.

“Our company always says it is about to deliver new gym equipment, but it never comes”.

“Management needs to draw up a proper plan of what we have, and what we need onboard. They just treat welfare as a hassle, they would not like to live like this”.

“Every trip I seem to gain more weight, and my colleagues feel the same. It is not uncommon to see 1 0kgs or more gain per trip. A combination of poor food and lack of movement”.


Happiness with food increased from 6.6 to 6.66.

“Cultural and religious backgrounds are seldom taken into account. It can be incredibly challenging for the cook however it is completely unfair that the same dishes repeat themselves day in / day out.”


Happiness with wages made a big drop from 6.78 to 6.29.

“Salary is generally good – until you compare it relative to profits. My workload and stress have increased over the last four years, company profits increased yet my wages remain the same.”

“Wages/ salary have not been increased at all. We are running the ships day and night 24×7 without any break. We deserve a salary increase”.

“For me what I earn is not enough for totally stressful work, but yes if I don’t like I should leave”.

“When I initially went to sea, senior officers were paid similarly to doctors, dentists and lawyers. However, over the last thirty years, seafarers have endured below-inflation pay increases and, in many years, pay freezes along with employing other nationalities who will work for less, driving down wages. After a full career at sea, I am looking at a very frugal retirement, and will likely have to work way beyond the age I originally planned to retire”.


Shore leave

Happiness with shore leave rose slightly from 4.6 to 4.63.

“At the moment due to the pandemic, being a seafarer means you are in full lockdown on the vessel the period you are on board”.

“Every seafarer understands that if the local population is locked down, then a vessel in that port should also be locked down. However, when local authorities are allowing shore leave, yet shipping companies still hold personnel onboard against their will, then we have serious problems to address”.

“Hopefully all ports consider giving us shore leave when the pandemic decreases”.


Happiness with connectivity grew from 6.6 to 6.92

Mission to Seafarers says the data could show higher levels of happiness for seafarers working on vessels which provided free or inexpensive internet access. Also, seafarers increasingly stated that they always check whether what access they will have before accepting new contracts.

“Today internet on board is vital. Nobody will stay onboard with poor, expensive, or 190mm wide x 130mm ineffective network systems.”






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