Top 11 Problems Faced by Deck Cadets On-board

1. Overview

  • In all walks of life, you are bound to face challenges. Problems at the high seas seem as high as a ‘freak wave’ for obvious reasons. But they say, ‘A calm sea never made a skilled sailor’.
  • A Deck Cadet in the merchant navy goes through many challenges that help him/her become a better officer someday. These are the experiences that carve your personality and your career.
  • In this Blog, we will talk about some generalized problems faced by a majority of Deck Cadets so that you can be aware of them in advance.

If you want to learn more about such amazing info related to deck cadets, you can check out the Deck Dreamer Package from our website.

Deck Dreamer Package

2. Improper Luggage Management

Proper luggage for Seafarers
  • Due to a lack of experience, cadets often distribute their luggage unevenly and exceed the allowed weights. This results in undue delay and sometimes costs you extra bucks.
  • Always read your flight tickets carefully and check the allowed weight for each bag 
  • For Seaman Traffic most airlines allow baggage up to 40kg or piece concept (23kg/pc) depending on the destination of the seafarer.

3. Sea-Sickness

Seasickness remedies
  • Sea sickness is a phenomenon that happens to almost everybody and can be overwhelming, especially for a cadet who is joining for the first time.


  • Being prepared for it is the first step to handle it. Generally, seniors will advise you to avoid sugary liquids, and aromatic foods, and look at the horizon and not at the waves. 
  • Ginger is an effective means to counter sea sickness. We advise you to carry ginger with you while working so that you can take quick and effective action.

4. Home Sickness

  • It is natural to miss your family, loved ones, and comfortable life while you are thousands of miles away from them and the only thing you see is the vast blue ocean.
  • Cadets are generally young and a lack of experience in these situations often leads to breakdown and inefficiency.


  • Nowadays, internet facilities have drastically improved out at sea.  Try to talk to your family and loved ones whenever you get time. This will only make you more productive 

5. Improper Time Management

Efficient Time Management for Seafarers
  • Cadets do not have any significant responsibilities but they sure take up a lot of time.
  • Apart from regular work, cadets also need to fill up their TAR Book which is considered a hectic assignment.
  • Apart from that, it is imperative to spare some time for oneself. A sound mind is of most value out at sea. 


  • Upskilling yourself in time management is one of the greatest skills you can learn as it will help you in all walks of life

6. Inadequate Training by Senior Officers

  • Understand that it is nobody’s job to train and educate you. Good companies have extensive policies regarding Cadet training but it is not mandatory. 
  • Senior officers may be too busy to train you or some might just not be interested


  • Training Manuals are your best friend when it comes to gaining knowledge. Read manuals thoroughly. You can always ask senior officers and try to get hands-on experience with their permission.

7. Lack of Practical and Theoretical Knowledge

Seamen working onboard container ships
  • Maritime Training Institutes often fail to provide relevant practical skills that are needed onboard. The training onboard is sufficient for practical knowledge 
  • Most Cadets ignore theoretical knowledge and do not brush up on basic concepts before boarding the vessel. These concepts are building blocks that help you gain confidence while obtaining hands-on experience.


  • Make sure that you have a thorough preparation on ROR, MARPOL, other Conventions, and the basics of Ship Stability and Navigation. Brush up on your college notes as much as possible.

8. Harassment On-board

Say no to harassment onboard
  • Understand that there is a fine line between Correction and harassment. If you make a mistake, dare to admit it and listen to a few harsh words from your seniors. This will help you in the long run.
  • Most companies take harassment complaints very seriously. 


  • Be smart enough to identify somebody who is harassing you. DO NOT be aggressive but try to handle the situation peacefully. 
  • Increase tolerance to a level that does not impede your integrity. 
  • Report to senior officials and respect hierarchy onboard.

9. Physical and Mental Stress

  • It is not hidden that the Merchant Navy requires one to be physically and mentally strong. There are hundreds of stressors onboard a ship that can affect a Deck Cadet.
  • Isolation, Lack of physical endurance, Lack of leisure activities, sleep deprivation, and Overexhaustion are some of the common factors that lead to stress.


  • Give Particular attention to your physical and mental health before and after joining the ship. 
  • Read Books that are focused on mental health and learn long-term strategies to help your psyche.
  • Whenever you get time, work out. Do not do something too extensive as you do not want to get injured.
  • Develop hobbies, such as table tennis, video games, and playing guitar.

10.  Lack of Internet onboard

  • Mobile phones have become a part and parcel of everyday life today. Most companies provide limited internet access to the employees. All seafarers save the internet provided to contact their families.
  • This can be challenging for a Deck Cadet who is addicted to using phones all the time.


  • Reduce your screen timing and general use of mobile phones deliberately. This will help you be prepared for the real-time situation
  • If you are fond of listening to music, download them before joining the vessel

11. Training And Record Book

  • We have already talked about the TAR Book but we are stressing this as there have been multiple cases when the cadet has not completed the TAR book and returned without getting it signed.
  • This will get you in a lot of trouble as you will have to find your captain and then get it signed.


  • The Chief Officer will generally free up some of your time every week to help you complete your TAR Book. 
  • Make sure that you do not waste that time and complete it. Small habits compound to create the bigger picture

12. Conclusion

This Blog should have given you an insight into the various challenges that you should be prepared for when you join a ship as a Deck Cadet. The seas never discriminate. Only the people who can dodge the hurdles and maintain strong character can sustain a career at sea. 

Facing the challenges head-on and coming out of them makes a person believe in themselves and forge a strong sense of self-confidence. As an officer, you will be expected to be able to deal with challenges and find solutions for them.

So it’s better to start at the grassroots level- as a Trainee Navigating Officer(TNO).

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

Reproduction, copying, sharing, or use of the article or images in any form is strictly prohibited without prior permission from both the author and Merchant Navy Decoded.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments