In its Q4 2023 Seafarers Happiness Index report, the Mission to Seafarers noted that the percentage of happiness about seafarers’ interaction with crew on board, has fallen to 6.97/10 from 7.42/10.
ccording to the report, there were positive sentiments this quarter, with some respondents citing harmonious relationships and camaraderie, especially with those they have sailed with before.
Having a regular roster of seafarers is seen as a huge advantage. Seafarers spoke of the trust and respect which grows over time, not just on single trips. It was observed that senior officers spend more time training crew they know they are likely to sail with again. There appears to be a strong argument for crews to be kept together to help their bonds grow.
There were, however, contrasting views, with some mentioning a lack of rest time, fatigue, and isolation after work hours. Others had observed crew members spending time alone in their cabins, primarily engaging with gadgets or the internet. Connectivity can affect interaction on board, with some crew members preferring going online over socialising in common areas. It seems there needs to be action taken to encourage crew to meet, mix and feel that there are better alternatives to being cabin-bound. The responses show that seafarers see the importance of quality time spent with fellow crew members for better mental health and fostering good relationships, and there were comments on the need for more activities to enhance crew interaction. There is a real imperative to try and break the spell of isolation – to make great spaces that people want to spend time in and to rethink how events and social time are managed.
While many appreciate camaraderie with their colleagues, cultural differences, language barriers and occasional conflicts can all impact social dynamics. The benefits of multicultural crews are accepted, but there are challenges related to differing attitudes, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. The results indicate that issues of discrimination, racism, and “egoistic behaviours” exist on certain vessels.
Moreover, the impact of company culture and crew rotation play a significant role in fostering positive relations on board. Some responses made for difficult reading as seafarers opened their hearts about the difficulties and challenges they faced. There were numerous instances of toxic behaviour or individuals being discussed. The actions of such people can lead to discomfort and tension among crew members, and again this is an area which requires remedial action.
The bosun has a behaviour or attitude problem. Why do the company and principals let this guy on board if he always shouting and always mad?
..a seafarer stated.