Q1 2020: Signs of Tension Onboard

The latest Seafarers Happiness Report is a special focus on the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers. We did ask our usual set of questions…and here we find out the answer to the enquiry about…How happy about interaction with other crew on board?

  • 7.13 up from 7.09

Though there is a small climb in the figures reported, there were also definite signs of tensions onboard. With the current COVID-19 situation, seafarers seemed to feel trapped onboard without shore leave and unsure when/or if their reliefs will arrive.

This highlights some of the social tensions or difficulties associated with mixed nationality crews. The current situation has shown that there are problems when it comes to keeping people happy, entertained, and stimulated. The camaraderie of a crew can be sorely tested when seafarers feel under stress.

Tensions are rising when it comes to the ability to enjoy down time and the spaces and provisions for relaxation. We received comments such as, “It seems that all too often crews are worked to a drop. We wake up to work, work some more, grab some food and sleep, Repeat, repeat and repeat”. Life is punctuated by work, sleep and solo recreation in cabins.

“No time due to often working over 14 hours to get things done”. “Life onboard is only about work, we do not have a gym, a pool, or any entertainment. We have nothing to enjoy or to entertain”. “People onboard now only work, eat, and then they rush to get inside cabins, watch movies on their laptops, and sleep”.

There is no longer a formal emphasis on social or enjoyable aspects of life onboard. Respondents said, “No body uses common spaces, and nobody is bothered to organise gatherings, games, or events”. “We are a very mixed multinational crew on board and sometimes is difficult to get the things lined up and make everybody happy”. “The TV room always has some films on I cannot understand, and even the subtitles are not my language. So I cannot stay there”.

That is not to say that seafarers do not get along, there were many respondents who praised their crew mates and said they felt “part of a big family” with some even feeling that their crewmates understand them better than their family at home.

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