Viking Line’s vessels are once again fully booked, and the company is hiring many new employees. People can now test what life at sea is like, for instance in the form of gig work or as a temporary hire. Many would never give up a job at sea and all its benefits – as shown by the number of people who retired earlier and now want to return to the company’s vessels.
Right now, there are news stories almost daily about how labour shortages are impeding the economic recovery in the tourism industry across the globe after the Covid pandemic. At Viking Line too, passenger figures have rapidly climbed back to pre-pandemic levels. In early February, the company started calling employees back to work. In April, all furloughs were ended. The strong demand has also enabled the company to recruit new staff on both the Turku and Helsinki routes after a long pause.
“There are now jobs available mainly for people with experience in the service industry. If people have not experienced the life of a seafarer, they can test what it’s like in the form of gig work or as a temporary hire. There are a wide variety of maritime jobs, and among the employees on our vessels are people in different life situations, of different ages and from a variety of backgrounds. Many stay with us for decades, and the positive atmosphere and work ethic have even tempted retirees to take gig jobs, now that there is work again,” says Viking Line’s Sea Personnel Manager, Lena Marcus.
One of them is Lena Blankenstein-Holmström, who retired in 2020 from her job as intendant on Viking Grace. In June 2022, she started working on a short-term basis at the café in the conference facilities on board Viking Glory.
“I was welcomed with open arms and was immediately part of the team. Working on a short-term basis, I can enjoy the best advantages of working at sea and choose when I want to work myself,” says Lena Blankenstein-Holmström.
She began her carrier at sea in 1980 on Viking Sally, where she cleaned cabins. All in all, she has worked on seven Viking Line vessels as a tax-free salesperson, at the main register and as a cleaning services and hotel manager.
“I love the sea, customer service and the multifaceted working relationships on board the vessel. I give one hundred per cent of myself in this job, and I get at least as much back. There is a truly unique ‘we’ spirit on Viking Line’s vessels: employees are loyal not just to one another but also to their employer. The company has always taken good care of us, even in tough times.”
One of the advantages of working at sea that many put the greatest value on is the so-called 1:1 principle; after their period on duty, they are entitled to the same amount of time off with pay. People who live far from the harbours served by Viking Line may prefer to work up to ten days in a row. Onboard staff come from many different places in Finland, and the journey from their place of residence is paid for by the company.
“People who have families enjoy being able to really be part of their children’s day-to-day lives during their time off. And then people who love to travel appreciate having the time to take a long trip at other times of the year than the holiday period,” notes Lena Marcus.
Viking Line is the biggest employer in maritime transport in Finland. The company has a total of 1,300 permanent staff working onboard. A total of 350 people are employed on a summer work contract basis for a few months. Some summer employees are among the approximately 450 employees working on the vessels on a short-term basis even outside the summer season.
“Service jobs at sea are competitive compared to jobs carried out on shore. Taxes for jobs at sea are also lower. Along with the advantages that can be measured in money, I think it’s nice that my job doesn’t take over my free time, as it often does on shore. There is a clear line between work and free time: at sea, people don’t need to be available by email after their shift is over,” says Lena Marcus.
Did you know this about working at sea?
- salaries are competitive
- you are entitled to long periods of time off with pay
- with your meals benefit, you can eat for free in the crew mess 24/7
- journeys from your place of residence are reimbursed
- if you fall ill, you are paid your wages for two months
- you can shop at reduced employee prices in the shops on board the vessels