Coping with Stress While Working on a Cruise Ship

Aug 09, 2023

Are you able to stay calm when things get tough on the cruise ship? Can you handle the stress and unpredictability that comes with your everyday duties? This week, we're talking about dealing with stress on the ship – what causes it, what sets it off, and how you can manage it to avoid getting overwhelmed in your demanding job at sea. Throughout this week, I'll be giving you some really good advice so you can learn how to handle any situation and stay on top of your game.

When things go wrong, knowing how to keep your cool is super important. Working on a cruise ship means you'll face all sorts of challenges that will test your patience, attitude, and ability to handle pressure. No matter what happens, it's key to stay relaxed, take a deep breath, and remember – it's not worth losing your cool. Learn how to accept the things you can't control and try to keep a clear head, which will help you make smarter decisions.

No matter which cruise company you work for, regardless of your job title and position, every job on the ship comes with stressful moments. Sometimes that will define the quality of our life on board the ship, how much we can take without damaging our well-being. We all react differently to different things. Yet, we have to learn about ourselves and strive to improve how we react to external things around us. Indeed, this is one of the most essential skills that can enhance the quality of our life on board the ship.

We talk about feeling stressed when the pressures or demands of life get on top of us. We all feel stressed at times. Stress is a normal and natural part of what it means to be human and can benefit us. Stress is our body's automatic reaction to threats and is essential for survival.

Consider what happens in your body when faced with an immediate danger – if a tiger or a bear suddenly appeared before you. Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes quicker, your muscles tense up, your senses become sharper, and your attention is entirely focused on the tiger. In short, your body prepares to take the best action at that moment: run away, freeze, or fight back. Psychologists call this the fight, flight, or freeze response. Initially, an acute sense of potential threat kept our caveman ancestors safe from danger and away

from predators. The threat triggers the release of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which sets off a sequence of instantaneous bodily reactions essential for survival and slows down or stops body functions that aren't needed in an emergency. Today, the threat can be a severe emergency or minor and less life-threatening, like the pressures at work or tension between colleagues. Still, the physiological reactions in the body are the same. Much of this everyday stress can be helpful; noticing a problem or the pressures, we face triggers us to act, drives our performance, and helps us perform at our best. You may have seen that an alarm may go off at times of acute stress, and you have to act quickly; you are stronger, jump higher, and think faster. These positive effects of stress on the body prepare you for survival in an emergency.


Sometimes there may be problems at home, and it can feel very difficult because you can't be there. There may be ways to organize help for your loved ones, even if you aren't there: through your network of friends or community at home or support services such as SeafarerHelp.

Also, remember that although you may not be able to help physically, sometimes the most helpful thing for us is to have someone to listen to and understand. It can benefit your loved ones to talk it over with you, which may be much more useful than you imagine.

Get support for yourself – talk to other seafarers on board who know and understand what it is like. If you have an emergency at home, such as the death of a loved one, talk to your senior officer. You know best whether your situation is affecting your ability to work. It is better to seek help than risk accidents or injury to yourself or others.

Handling stress on board 

All of us experience some form of stress in our lives, whether at work or in our personal lives. While some amount of stress is daily, excessive stress is unhealthy and can harm your relationship and your work.

Certain situations at work are beyond our control and can add to our stress. However, it doesn't mean that you can't do anything to alleviate the stress on board the ship. Here are a few tips for you on how you can handle stress on the vessel.

Tip #1 – Talk It Out

Sometimes the best form of stress-reducer is to vent by sharing the stress with someone. You can talk to someone you know or even the officers on board. The person you are speaking to might not be able to solve your problems, but at least you have a listening ear, and you won't feel so alone in managing the stress. If you think you are far from anyone on board, there is always time to forge new friendships with your fellow crew.

Tip #2 – Relax

Be mindful when you feel stressed, and take steps to address the stress. You can do some meditation and deep breathing. Setting aside time daily to do a simple activity like deep breathing can be more beneficial than you think. You can improve at focusing on a single activity without distraction, which can also benefit your work.

Tip #3 – Move It

Engage in exercises that raise your heartbeat and make you sweat. This is a very effective way to lift your mood and increase your energy level. This helps to sharpen and relaxes your mind and body. For maximum benefit, schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. This will make a tremendous positive difference in keeping your sanity and a positive mindset.