Ten Most Common Complaints of Seafarers

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Seaman's Life | 0 comments

If there are Ten Commandments, there are also Ten Complaints of Seafarers while on board. Your contract wouldn’t be complete without hearing complaints while he’s finishing his contract. From the youngest to the not-so-young sailor, you’ll hear a variety of complaints.

With all these minor grievances, is it still enjoyable to work at sea? Let’s first find out what Dudong Seaman is yapping about!

10. Fellow Crew Members Who Don’t Bathe (for More Than a Week!)

Oops! Hold your breath. This is probably one of the reasons why our fellow seafarers’ patience is running thin on the ship. And since some of our crewmates don’t shower, their body odor can be really overwhelming, filling the environment to the brim.

When you sit next to them in a safety meeting or worse, during meals, you’ll surely lose your cool as well as your appetite. The stench lingers even in the alleyway.

You might wonder, it’s free to use soap and water on board but why does this happen?

9. Bad Weather

Everyone is happy when the sea is calm and the weather is friendly. It’s as if you wouldn’t think the sea could turn grumpy after a few days of being so serene.

But as they say, “Calm seas never make a great sailor.” This is where you’ll see the strength of your stomach when your items start rolling around in your cabin, and you can’t stand properly because of the heavy pitching.

This is also where you’ll hear stories like, “I couldn’t sleep all night because of those waves!” Some can’t even eat. “Why bother eating when you’ll just throw it up, right?

But what I like the most is when they say, “Bro, when I make it out of this wave alive and get home safe, I’m definitely going into business (followed by vomiting).” Boom!

A tanker ship navigating in Gale 5 winds near the shore.

8. Lack of Rest. (Every Day is Monday, Buddy)

There are times when seafaring is enjoyable. Those 8-to-5 working hours with no overtime, regular working days, half-day on Saturdays, and rest on Sundays and holidays. Yes, there are days like that.

It’s good, isn’t it?

Probably no one complains when the rest is just right or even more than enough. But what if the voyages suddenly become short? The kind where there’s less than a day between ports. Maybe there’s tank cleaning or cargo holds need washing.

Then it’s direct berthing with a pilot’s arrival on a beautiful Saturday noon. Shifting during the evening. Bunkering at the next berth at 3 AM and loading thereafter. Departure again on Sunday at 12 noon and arrival at the next port after just 7 hours (not 70 hours!) And you were up and about during those seven hours because it’s your duty.

Rinse and repeat the voyage. My goodness!

You can expect that some of your usually cool-headed shipmates are becoming irritable, and the ones who were already irritable and grumpy are even more short-tempered! What about those who used to complain a lot?

7. Boatload of Training

Due to the boom of the maritime industry, the Philippines has become a hub for hiring quality labor for international shipping businesses. Along with this, there has been a surge in various trainings that consume our vacation time and money.

Who wasn’t affected when certificates suddenly had expiry dates, and Dudong Seaman had to retake all his training because of new regulations? It was a huge inconvenience for us while some people made a huge fortune out of our hardships.

But did you notice? They only changed the course names, but we still had to pay the full price. Yikes!

It’s natural for Filipinos to be diligent at work. That’s why foreign shipowners often prefer hiring us, right? Because we’re known for being hardworking.

6. Slackers at Work

However, not everyone fits this mold. Due to the diverse and sometimes challenging tasks on ships, some crew members avoid taking on difficult responsibilities, even if it’s their duty as watchmen. They seem to divert themselves by engaging in lighter tasks or pretending to be busy.

Could it be that they’re intentionally slowing down to get a smaller share of the heavy workload, leaving the tougher tasks to others?

But have you noticed, handsome folks? Most of the time, those who complain the most about the work are the real slackers. Meanwhile, those who are hardworking just get the job done safely without any fuss.

An engineer checking the main engine in preparation for maneuvering.

5. No Christmas Bonus! (Really none, as in zero none!)

While still in November, employees are already looking forward to their 13th-month pay, which is a bonus they receive in December. Consider this as a Christmas gift from your company. It’s money, bro, money. But…

Seafarers, despite completing ten contracts, has never received a 13th-month pay from his company. There really is no 13th-month pay for seafarers, although there are bonuses in the form of incentives (cash or items).

Why? Why don’t we have a 13th-month pay?

The only bonus have are bonus jobs.

4. Small Salary

When aboard a ship, comparing salaries is inevitable. Even if a seaman is earning thousands, he still sees it as “small.” He keeps saying that his salary is insufficient and the company should increase it to provide a decent living for his family.

Is it really small?

In the Philippines, a twenty-five thousand peso salary is considered significant. But it gets reduced due to taxes. It needs to cover transportation, food, groceries, and other expenses.

Meanwhile, a seaman doesn’t have to commute to work anymore. He doesn’t have to buy food and groceries. Water and electricity are free. Plus, we don’t have to pay taxes! It’s fantastic.

So, complaining that the salary is small? Come on, my friend!

3. Super Stringent Medical Examinations

So you passed the interview for a large and reputable company, and you’re excited because aside from the high salary, they offer numerous perks and benefits – AMOSUP, free training with allowances, free airfare, rejoining bonuses, and more.

You submitted all your documents, but suddenly you start thinking about the company’s medical clinic for pre-employment.

When you found out it’s the “Ultimate Medical Center,” you became nervous because you know they are super strict, and you’ve heard stories of how some people spent thousands just to pass.

Moreover, your colleagues mentioned a lot of complaints because, in the past, someone spent over a month going in and out of that clinic while others even underwent surgery.

So how do you pass the medical exam?

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

A prescription paper with pen beside a laptop.

2. Unfair Exchange Rate (Cons‘Pera’Cy Theory)

This is like a “Conspiracy Theory” every time allotment comes in. It’s when you receive your money and immediately check the exchange rate from dollars to pesos. Then you deduce that “The office deducted so much. This is all I got. They probably took more than three pesos for every dollar.”


And when the allotment takes a long time to arrive, you start to think, “Maybe our allotment was lent to some businessmen to earn for the office.”

Another shock!

Is this true, guys? Because this is a common complaint I hear in some companies.

And the Number One Complaint of seafarers on board is… drumroll, please!!

1. Complaints about Cookie’s Cooking. (No matter how delicious…)

“What kind of spaghetti is this? Is there such a thing as sweet spaghetti?”

“The cake Mayor made would have been good, but it lacks flavor.”

“The adobo tastes great, but she cooked too little.”

“Mayor’s kare-kare is delicious, but she made too much.”

It’s chaotic, right? You could list more, buddy, and fill up an entire bond paper. I mean, in every contract, there are always people who don’t appreciate the efforts of the cooks, no matter how delicious the food they prepare is.

In my opinion, not all the problems are in the kitchen but with the crew themselves who don’t seem to know anything except complaining about the food.

It’s okay to complain if you genuinely see that there’s something wrong with the food. But if every day, every week, or every contract, you’re always like that, then maybe the problem lies with you.

Then, when you return to the Philippines, you’ll eat at KFC (Kalaw Food Court) without complaining about anything. After that, you realize that what Cookie prepared on board is tastier.

Remember, the kitchen is the backbone of the ship.


It’s not just Filipinos who love to complain about food; people from other nationalities do it too.

What is your favorite complaint of seafarers that you often hear? Let me know in the comments below.

May the winds be in your favor.



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