Tanker or Container Ship: Which is Better For Seafarers?

Most of the times a seafarer can choose the type of vessel he or she wants to work on. Each type of vessel has its own pros and cons when it comes to working on board.

Usually, seafarers are torn between two choices when deciding the type of ship to work on – tanker or dry ship (container, bulk carrier etc.)

For a seafarer, the choice to sail on container or oil tanker ship mainly depends on the following factors:

  • Initial experience on type of ships
  • Number of years worked on dry ship or oil tanker
  • Availability of certified course required for tankers
  • Personal preferences
  • Money

We asked some seafarers, who have worked on both tanker (Oil tanker, chemical, gas etc) and dry ships (Container, RO-RO, bulker etc.) regarding factors which they consider for selecting a particular type of ship while joining. We received several interesting answers.

Moreover, we also observed very few people sailing on tankers going back to container ships. Blame is on the better money seafarers on tankers get; but the bottom line is that there are several factors that go through a seafarer’s mind while selecting the type of ship.

On the basis of our brief survey, we have jotted down a few advantages and disadvantages of tanker and container ships from working on board perspective.

Dry Ships
container ship

– It’s a well known fact that dry ships give more port appearances than oil tankers. Those who are fond of going out at ports while the ship visits different countries, a dry ship is the right choice for them. Some container ships touches port every 2-3 days with port stay of at least one day. Same is the case with bulk carriers which has long stay at port. Some bulk carrier stay at port for as long as a month

– Less sailing time at sea, hence less chances of sea sickness for those who are more drawn towards land

– Less riskier than tanker ships (With the type of hazardous cargo tanker ships carry, container ships are considered less risky)

– Better communication options on dry ships as ports are frequent. You can buy a local sim card and enjoy talking to your loved ones more often

– Marine engineers have the advantage of not getting involved in cargo operations in ports unlike in tankers

– No ship to ship operation at mid sea. It won’t be prudent to compare the amount of stress seafarers have to go through on both types of ships, but surely a ship-t0-ship operation is an add on responsibility on tanker crew

– Many seafarers feel that (And it’s an accepted rule in the industry) promotions on dry ships are must faster as compared to tanker ships. Many sailing on tankers go back to dry vessels to get promotion and then later on come back to tankers

Tanker ships

tanker ship

–  Many people choose tanker ships, because there’s much better remuneration as compared to those offered in dry ships. A top level officer on tanker ship roughly earns more than 1.5 times that a dry ship officer at the same level earns. For many seafarers, eventually, it’s all about the money

– Longer sailing as compared to dry ships, hence those who are more comfortable at sea, tankers are the best option for them. As amount of work is more at ports, many seafarers prefer long sailing voyage with less number of ports

–  As highest safety standards are followed on tankers than on dry ships, seafarers feel they are more safe on tankers

– Less cargo operations and maneuvering as compared to dry ships, for the later frequently visit ports

– Slower rate of  promotion

– It has been proved that there are several health hazards related to continuous sailing on tanker ships

– Working on tanker means more savings. When you compare the seafarer contract of a tanker ship to a container ship, the crew working on a container ship will have more access to ports and hence there would be more spending of money

Over to you..

What do you think is better to work on? Tanker ships or Containers?

Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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  1. soy marino mercante con 30 años de experiencia ,y me da igual el barco que se me asigne he trabajado en todos y me quedo con todos ,por salidas eso depende del pais al que uno llegue ,ya no es como antes que uno bajaba a tierra era a divertirse hoy uno baja a conseguir una sim car para comunicarse con la familia el tiempo de estadia en los puertos ya es muy corto y uno se acostumbra a eso no espera sino cumplir su contrato y de vacaciones el ahorro es mejor claro si uno no es despifarrador y guarda para cuando esta en casa saludos a todos los marinos del mundo

  2. I dont think we can have favorations these days. Any ship to gain experience.

  3. very motivating and educating writeup. its an inspiration for a young professionals to chart their career path in marine transportation. keep the flag flying.

  4. Though I have no sea time experience yet,but I’m learning from all these right-ups(I need a vessel in order to have these experiences as well)

  5. I was seriously injured in an accident and it left me a lengthy scar on my arm which may be around 5cm wide and 12 cms long. Will this diqualify me in medical test?

  6. This article needs improvement,it really doesn’t light on many factors involved and lacks the details of subject matter.Author must give a thought to revise it with completeness.

  7. As per my opinion,the best option is container ship with long voyage,no frequent ports so that port work becomes less..and we can enjoy smooth sailing..also it is much safer on container ship than on tanker.

  8. I love tankers.
    More money,
    Long voyages,
    High professional approach.
    Good name at Industry.
    Thanks to internet onboard, which replaced the need to go ashore for communication.
    Neither i drink nor women, so long voyages are comfortable.
    What only i need is, few hours a month, a walk on jetty or shoping mall.

  9. what is the purpose of bulk carrier,takers,refrigerated cargo vessels,livestock carriers,and lng/lpg carriers

  10. This is different points – some seafarers like tankers work, some dray cargo vessels work. Usually seafarers have different experience and different ambitions for work.

  11. I firmly believe that in your first voyage (generally speaking) , you have to think seriously the type of vessel that you will work on. It is well known that maritime companies prefer the stability of the option of the seafarers about the type of vessels that they work on.For instance, if you have travelled twice in a bulk carrier then it is better to carry on on that type of ship ..(speaking for your first two voyages).Of course the “swithcing” on the type of vessels that you work on is free, but not always available from all the maritime companies,because they prefer people with permanent experience in one type of vessel (only, unfortunately).According to many seafarers it is very interesting to change type of vessel in order to gain different experiences and most importantly to have a complete thought about every type of vessel , and then to be able to choose consciously the right type of vessel that is suitable for you.Unfortunately this is very difficult to happen so we have to choose in luck the type of vessel that we are going to work on because we don’t want to risk our career at sea.(as there is the danger of not finding a job in a remarkable maritime company). As about me ..i am a deck cadet and i am trying to find the right type of vessel to work on for my first training voyage in the academy of commercial navy.I have drawn an inference so far….”if you are smoking you should go on a tanker or an lpg/lng ….if you don’t then choose a dry carrier vessel….!thats all …thank you …

  12. Ha ha i am a cadet with a expericed of 27 months on dry fleet . It is good as you have long shore leave but its a dirty job in bulk carrier so i wish to switch to oil tanker but as we all known chances are less because they all want experinced on oil tanker…

  13. Tanks for your good side, lserch to find out health problem of work in oil tanker that if, present of such as toxiced vapor of cargo in accommodation or deck, BR

  14. Different types of vessels require different human types.
    The question is symbol: how to bridge the gap with appropriate personalities.

  15. For American flag vessels containerships cannot be beat. Matson Line, Maersk Line and APL vessels will see a junior officer making $16,000 to $18,000 a month… the tankers see Chief Officers making those numbers.

    Containerships all the way!!!

  16. I may off topic from here. Marine insight, currently onboard on offshore(well stimulation vessel as ab) im planning to go to cargo vessel can you help me to know what is the pros and cons and diffirence with this type of vessels, long term benifits.

  17. Nice article, but as off now the industry is so worst for Indian seafarers that there is a hardly chance of your option on selection of type of vessel especially for freshers after coc.

  18. Both r good..but tanker ship is the best as a long voyage sailing..and more experience… when once we selected an adventurous field at sea….So why not it’s something daresay, such a risky…so that we should always alert……..So tanker is the best..

  19. Promotion wise I go to Dry, Money wise i go for Tanker I been on tankers for 15yrs but still im not getting my mate promotion sad to say…

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