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
Manouvering 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

shuttle tanker3

-  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