According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index Quarter 3 2023, connecting with loved ones has the power to alleviate the challenge of long separations. Hearing family voices and seeing their faces can provide profound comfort during trips, relieving stress and sharpening focus.
A respondent remarked: “Family is everything for a sailor. After a day’s hard work, a call to loved ones is like a quick energy booster.”
However, faced with limited data, poor signals, and cost constraints, seafarers are often forced to ration communication. Having such brief, sporadic connections amid endless work can be extremely detrimental to seafarer well-being.
Truly supporting seafarers requires facilitating regular, high-quality contact. Companies that boost airtime allowances understand crews have emotional lives beyond productivity. Ports must also provide fast, free Wi-Fi, focusing on seafarer needs.
Conversely, while connectivity enables seafarers to feel closer to the normality of home, with benefits like media streaming and regular conversations, downsides of “always on” connections have emerged.
Constant messaging facilitates micromanagement and administrative demands from shore, which can breed tension. “Starlink has been great for recreation, but meetings with the office have massively added to work and stress,” said one respondent.
With enhanced connectivity, it was also stated that pressure to engage with family issues is challenging, despite distance. Encouraging families to manage their expectations would help maximize benefits while mitigating risks. As technology shrinks distance and time, seafarers’ mental health must be protected.
An empathetic, considered use of communication tools is key to empowering seafarer happiness. Reliable access through robust maritime internet and unlimited data will facilitate seamless communication no matter where crew are. This access to services is seen as vital to seafarers.
Photo credit: iStock/ Igor-Kardasov