Seafarers less satisfied with their work at sea in 2023 than in 2022

By Marek Grzybowski

In the first quarter of this year Satisfaction with practicing the profession and working conditions of seafarers has decreased, according to the Mission to Seafarers organization. Research shows that job satisfaction at sea has declined in the first three months of this year. Seafarers sailing on general cargo ships rate their industry the lowest, those signed on tankers have the highest rating. Caterers are the most satisfied with working at sea, and the least satisfied are interns.

The organization focuses mainly on supporting seafarers on commercial, passenger and specialist ships, but it is no stranger to the problems of fishing and tourist ships. Every quarter, it conducts surveys and publishes its results in the Seafarers Happiness Index reports.

The latest report includes information collected among merchant and passenger ships and specialized vessels. It summarizes opinions on working conditions in the first quarter of 2023.

1.89 million seafarers work in total

– It is estimated that worldwide, out of 74,000 1.89 million seafarers work in total. These men and women of all nationalities spend up to nine months at sea, away from their families, friends and loved ones.

The activity of the organization has its roots in the times described by Józef Korzeniowski Conrad. At that time, sea trade was developing dynamically using sailing ships, on which the living conditions, to put it mildly, were not very luxurious. The saying that a sailor plays at night and sleeps in a hammock during the day – attracted few naive people to the sea. Working at sea has always been hard, risky and responsible, which Conrad described well in his books.

Sailor – a profession without luxury

Then came the age of steam and then motor ships.

In each of the eras, it was the commodity that was the subject of the highest attention.

And so it is today, since the organization emphasizes that there is still a need to support men and women working at sea.

Mission to Seafarers activity

“We have over 200 ports in 50 countries under our control that operate day and night, 365 days a year,” Mission to Seafarers reports. In fact, the organization’s volunteers reach many in need, even outside major ports. Unfortunately, volunteers also do not reach many people in need. The organization is non-profit, so it appeals for help in the form of finances and volunteering.

Study of Bro. reflects the mood of seafarers sailing around the world and focuses on exploring the entire spectrum of social issues. The overall result is worrying, because in the first quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, there was a decrease in the mood of sailing crews from 7.69 to 7.1 out of 10 basis points.

The statements made during the survey show that frustrations are growing in the seafarers’ environment. Therefore, the organization faces challenges that require joint action across the industry to improve the well-being of those working on ships, emphasize the authors of the Seafarers Happiness Index report.

Ship owners – time to act

During the recent Singapore Maritime Week 2023, representatives from Mission to Seafarers, NorthStandard, Idwal, Inmarsat and Seafarers Happiness Index creator Steven Jones met at a roundtable and discussed the necessary actions to improve the social well-being of crew to develop an improvement program social crews.

The participants of the meeting called on ship owners, managers and charterers to use the data and conclusions from the report on the seafarers’ satisfaction index and the findings of the Idwal company. The point is to take actions that may direct the industry to improve the living conditions of ship crews and make it easier for seafarers to practice their profession and rest and contact with their families in their free time.

The team emphasized that it has made it its mission to accelerate changes in the maritime industry to prioritize crews. It is emphasized that the good atmosphere on the ship also ensures commercial success. The ultimate goal is to create effective solutions for a good atmosphere on board during working hours and between watches.

Mission to Seafarers say they hope the Seafarers Happiness Index report will highlight the challenges facing seafarers, and companies and industry stakeholders will work together to find solutions to improve their well-being and happiness.

In this way, we can support a more satisfied and motivated workforce, leading to increased productivity and stability for seafarers. The ultimate goal is to create a more sustainable, equitable and humane shipping business that benefits everyone involved, from shipowners and managers to seafarers and their families.


The report is available on the Mission to Seafarers website.