Good colleagues. That was the most common answer when SAN News asked seamen at Wallenius Lines about what made them feel good onboard. But also wireless Internet, good training facilities, good ships and an open relationship with the management of the shipping company were seen as important factors.
Märta Söllvander, 24, Third mate, Otello
To be able to connect with the ship’s wireless Internet and easily contact those at home is something that Märta appreciates very much.
– Contact with your family and friends is made easier and then it feels like you’re not so far away from each other.
Otello is a relatively new ship and Märta thinks that it definitely improves the sense of job satisfaction to work on a fresh, fine ship. But the most important thing in the atmosphere onboard, she says.
– A good colleague is open to most things and does not have too many fixed ideas about how things are.
The ship sails under Swedish officers with a Filipino crew. The mix of nationalities is a positive thing and makes life more varied, says Märta.
– I think it’s nicer to work with a mixed crew than an all-Swedish crew – I think it makes for a happier ship and you are probably more open because everybody is different. During time off we play a lot of computer games and everybody is involved.
But even though she likes her work, she thinks that the tours should be shorter.
– Ten weeks is a long time to be away from home.
Per Lundholm, 43, Chief mate, Fidelio
– Certainly it’s nice to be on a fine ship and have good food, but really those things come in second place. The most important thing is good colleagues that are skilled in their work and who you can have fun together with in your time off, he says.
Per has enjoyed his work during the almost 20 years at the shipping company where he started work as seaman in the 1980s. He does not have anything against the relatively long tours since has felt so good with the crew and the ship. But then during the autumn the atmosphere started to get worse, he thinks.
– We now have a Filipino crew. There’s nothing wrong with them and they do a good job. But the social aspect has definitely suffered. I used to sit down with the men for a tea or coffee during the breaks, for example. But when I come in to the canteen now there is a stony silence and so I sit and drink my coffee on my own. In their time off they keep to themselves, and things are definitely more boring onboard.
Viktor Lundberg, 21, Seafarer engine, Elektra
– The people onboard are the most important thing. You must be able to work well together as well as have fun together in your time off. I once worked on a ship where there was a bad atmosphere. There was a hell of a turnover of crew and two weeks felt like longer than the ten weeks we work here, he says.
A good work environment and wireless Internet are other factors that make Viktor enjoy life on board.
– It is important that the shipping company makes sure that you get the spare parts that are needed. It should also be clean and tidy in shared spaces, and there should be good gym, books and films.
– We have wireless Internet and I usually have my own computer with me. But when I am on the Internet I almost always go to the computer room to have some company.
Towe Pettersson, 31, Second ship’s engineer, Otello
– Having access to wireless Internet really means a lot. Above all it makes it easier to be able to use the same e-mail address as at home, but it is also good to be able to read the news when you are at sea.
– I like to train, and I would like us to have more free spaces to play table tennis or floorball. At the moment the exercise room is full of machines.
– The most important feel-good factor is the other people onboard. Exactly what makes a good atmosphere is difficult to say, but it makes things easier if there is someone that starts up activities and makes the others want to join in.
Markus Bülow, 29, First ship’s engineer, Traviata
– It is important to have a good team, especially when you have such long tours as we do. For me the most important thing is being on good terms with the technical chief and that we cooperate well together. But you should also be able to enjoy things together in your time off. We have a mixed crew with Swedes and Filipinos, and that generally works out well.
– The work environment is also important and something you have to work with the whole time to keep it up to the level you want.