What is it like to work on a cargo ship?

It is a physically and mentally demanding job to work on a ship. You have the privilege of traveling around the world but at the same time, you will experience homesickness, and work on the same job duty in a limited space 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How many employees does a cargo ship have?

Generally speaking, there are 18 crew members on board a cargo ship. Some big cargo ships might have a little over 20 crew members but it is rare to see a cargo ship with over 30 crew members.

Is working on a cargo ship hard?

Most seamen stated that the job itself is not hard once you know how to do it. The difficult part is to consistently do a good job when you have done the same thing 100 times or 1000 times.

There are basically 3 departments on a cargo ship, the deck department, the engine department, and the steward’s department.

The deck department is led by deck officers. The deck department has a variety of jobs needed to do but their main responsibility is navigation and cargo. The deck department needs to steer and navigate the ship, monitor the cargo loading and offloading, ensure maintenance of the deck and anchoring, etc.

The engine department is responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the engine system. The engine department is mainly run by engineers. These engineers take care of the engine room and machinery. The engine department consists of engineers, Motoman, oilers, etc.

Steward’s department contains cooks, stewards, etc.

Where do you sleep on a cargo ship?

Cargo ships have cabins for their crews. Crews sleep in their cabins.

Small cargo ships will have small cabins with basic necessities such as a bed (or a bunker bed), a desk, a sink, a refrigerator, etc. The restroom and showers are public outside of the cabin.

Big cargo ships have big cabins with more furniture. Most officers have their own cabins with beds, tables, ensuite restrooms, showers, and even flat-screen TV. Life is more comfortable on board a big cargo ship.

Here is a good video to show you a cabin in a container ship

How long do cargo ships stay at the port?

Cargo ships want to stay as short as possible at the port. The ship does not earn money if the ship does not move, on top of that the billion-dollar cargo on the cargo ship is the money tied up for customers. Customers or cargo ship owners do not want cargo ships to stay long at the port.

Ports that have quick turnaround will have more ships, and port that needs to wait long will have fewer ships. Nowadays ports have more and more processes automated to shorten the turnaround time.

Depending on the type of ship and port situation, the majority of cargo ships stay at port 18~24 hours, such as tankers, container ships, LNG ships, etc. Break bulk and dry bulk cargo ships take a while to load and unload, so they stay at the port from several days to several weeks.

How long do the seafarers stay at sea?

Usually, seafarers stay at sea for 4~9 months per year.

Depending on the shipping company you work for, the normal time frame is 4~9 months.

Also Read:

How Different Types of Cargo Can Affect Ship Stability

Cargoship vs Passenger ship: 10 Main Differences(Explained)

Shipping Containers: Everything You Need to Know

How do you get a job working on a cargo ship?

You can go to the maritime job fair or check the shipping company’s job site. I believe the best way is to check out the marine academy. These marine schools not only can tell you what kind of training or certification you need for the job and also have relationships with crew agencies. These schools can help you in looking for marine jobs.

The minimum age requirement for a seaman is 16. You have to be 18 to work at night or in hazardous areas. There is no weight or height requirement unless you are doing some special jobs, but the basic rule is that you are physically capable to perform the job duty.

There are many jobs on a ship that you can do without a degree, such as a deckhand, loading and unloading cargo, but if you want to sail the ship or engineer you need to have certification or a degree.

How much do you make working on a cargo ship?

Salary varies greatly based on the type of vessel, and what company owns the vessel. Most seafarers state that crews get paid better on tankers than on dry bulk ships

The salary for a deckhand is around $3000 per month. The beginning salary of an engineer on a cargo ship is around $5,000 per month, when you are a chief engineer your salary could reach $9,000~$15,000 per month. A captain on a cargo ship’s salary is around $15000~$20,000 per month. The more experience you have the higher salary you will get.

What is the best cargo ship to work?

There is no best cargo ship to work, It totally depends on what you are looking for. Different cargo ships have their pros and cons. if you want high pay, work for tankers. if you want better work and living conditions on board, choose a container ship. Dry bulk vessels have longer break times at port.

Container ship

  • Cargo is clean, you have a better working and living environment than other cargo ships
  • Container ships are usually on tight schedules so they stay less time at port.
  • Work hard and in Long hours, do not have so much break time.

Tanker ship

  • Tanker ship pays above average
  • Tanker ships carry chemicals so health hazard is high
  • Port stay is around 18-24 hours

Dry bulk ship

  • The dry bulk ship is much dirty than a container ship
  • Dry bulk ships stay longer at the port so crews have more break time.
  • Normally dry bulk ship pays less than Tankers

Here is a good video to show you a day’s life and work on a cargo ship