The Seafarers Happiness Index, a quarterly survey conducted by The Mission to Seafarers, sheds light on various aspects of seafarers' wellbeing.

The latest findings expose a concerning pattern of discontent, with seafarers citing overwork, lack of appreciation, and a sense of disconnection from the world as primary grievances. Issues such as insufficient shore leave and challenges in contacting family also contribute to their dissatisfaction.

The overall happiness score for Q4 2023 dropped to 6.36 out of 10, a significant decline from previous quarters (Q3: 6.6, Q2: 6.77, Q1: 7.1). Most survey categories contributed to this decline, except for onboard connectivity, which showed some improvement. However, concerns persist regarding inconsistent internet access across vessels within the same fleet.

The survey also underscores worries about the lack of social interaction, increasing isolation, stagnant wages against inflation, and limited training opportunities for seafarers. Security threats, including piracy and terrorism, are on the rise, further impacting their wellbeing.

Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, expressed disappointment, stating, "If there was ever any complacency about the circumstances facing seafarers around the globe, these results surely dispel that." He acknowledged some positive efforts by ship owners and managers but emphasized the overall concerning situation.

Yves Vandenborn, Head of Loss Prevention Asia-Pacific at NorthStandard, a sponsor of the survey, stressed the importance of providing seafarers with adequate connectivity, a balanced work-life, and due recognition. He highlighted the adverse effects of global security threats on seafarers' wellbeing, urging the maritime industry to be mindful of the impact of international relationships on their welfare.

A Yearly Breakdown of 2022 vs. 2023 Data

When these findings are compared with the 2022 data, it is better understood how difficult 2023 was for seafarers. Based on data published by The Seafarers Happiness Index in 2022 and 2023 our comparison reveals a sharp contrast between the two years, with 2023 reporting consistently lower happiness scores in all quarters. 

Woman Rescued 80km Off Japan Coast After 36 Hours at Sea Woman Rescued 80km Off Japan Coast After 36 Hours at Sea

In 2022, seafarers experienced a generally positive trend, starting the year with a happiness score of 5.85 in Q1 and peaking at 7.69 in Q4. In 2023, however, the downward trajectory is evident, with scores falling in each quarter.

Average happiness levels during 2022 and 2023 (Source: Seafarers Happiness Index 2022/2023)

Who are the happiest seafarers?

 The report provides comprehensive insights into the nuanced landscape of happiness within the maritime sector. Notably, when evaluating happiness levels by ranks, seafarers in the catering department emerge as the most content.

Happiness By Rank (Source: Seafarers Happiness Index Q4 2023 Report)

Delving further into ship types, the analysis reveals that seafarers aboard cruise and bulk carrier ships report higher levels of happiness compared to their counterparts in other sectors.

Happiness By Ship Type (Source: Seafarers Happiness Index Q4 2023 Report)