Seafarers find complexities in interactions, relationships working onboard vessels

How happy about interaction with crew on board? According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index Quarter 3 2023, the feedback for this question provides insights into the complexities of interactions and relationships aboard vessels. While some seafarers praise the bonds of camaraderie, others cite challenges that can diminish satisfaction.

Life at sea involves unique social dynamics as crew members live and work together in close quarters for extended periods. Seafarers describe a spectrum of experiences based on factors like rank, attitude, and personal preferences. Some cherish the family-like environment and strong friendships formed at sea. However, tensions can arise from cultural differences, generational gaps, and occasionally conflicts build.

Ensuring positive relationships requires effort and understanding from all crew members, but it also requires a conducive environment for the value of these relationships to be recognized.

Many seafarers emphasize unity and mutual support as essential for safety, efficiency, and a harmonious environment. They speak of the teamwork and common purpose that enables them to operate as a cohesive unit. Maintaining this spirit of collaboration and the ability to work together remains vital.

Some seafarers, however, observe attitudes and behaviors that hinder interactions. Younger seafarers reported drawing criticism from senior crew due to supposedly differing work ethics. 

Meanwhile, self- containment within nationality groups can also limit cross-cultural exchange. There were responses from seafarers who feel they are “losing the ability to speak to each other”. 

The concern about saying the “wrong things” is seemingly hampering relationships and team building on board. This was cited by some respondents as being a barrier to dealing with people of different faiths, nationality and gender. Rather than say something unwittingly offensive that may be held against them, one stated that they just “prefer to stay quiet and pass time before going home”.

Crew cohesion and positive interactions boost morale, happiness, and overall well-being, but it is far from easy to build these bonds. Promoting tolerance, addressing grievances, and fostering community can cultivate an environment where all crew members feel accepted and valued.

Photo credit: iStock/ Zero Creatives

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