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  • Writer's pictureDamian Brzeski

Transportation of seafarers to European ports - do you know how to organize it?

Hi, if you are a sailor or work for a maritime agency, I wrote this article especially for you. You will find a lot of valuable information and advice on how to choose the best transport company for seafarers. You will learn what to look for when choosing a service provider, what are the types and benefits of transporting seafarers, as well as how to ensure safety and comfort during the journey.

Seafarers' transport is a specialized service that transports seafarers from and to ports, airports, hotels or other destinations. The transport of seafarers is extremely important to ensure the smooth and timely operation of ships and crews. Transporting seafarers also requires a high level of professionalism, experience and trust from the transport company.

Photograph of the captain's bridge on the Wilson ship with the logo of the transport company and the inscription encouraging to read the article "Transport of Seafarers to European Ports"

Not every transport company is able to meet the expectationsand needs of seafarers. Therefore, it is worth checking the offer and opinions about the company carefully before making an appointment with it. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where the taxi doesn't arrive on time, the vehicle is broken down or the driver is rude or incompetent. This situation can cause stress, waste of time or even the loss of an important contract with the shipowner.

So how do you choose the best shipping company for seafarers? What should you pay attention to when comparing offers from different companies? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of transport for seafarers?

We will try to answer these and other questions in this article. We invite you to read!

Why is the transport of seafarers so important for the maritime industry?

Many people not related to the maritime industry think that working at sea is just an adventure and exoticism. Meanwhile, as you know perfectly well, working on a ship, apart from a life adventure, is primarily a hard effort, requiring great physical and mental resistance, as well as the ability to work in a team.

Seafarers spend many months at sea, often without contact with family and friends. That is why it is so important to provide them with adequate transport to and from ports where crews change.

This is a specialist service that requires not only efficient and comfortable vehicles, but also experienced and professional drivers. The transport of crew members must be organized in such a way as to ensure their safety, punctuality and comfort.

It's not just about transport from your place of residence to the port or airport, it's often also about help in completing formalities related to check-in and luggage, registration and proofing, and assistance in completing immigration documents.

Seafarers' transport must also be tailored to the individual needs and preferences of customers, such as the number of people, time of departure, destination or additional services.

As you can see, it is not only a service for seafarers themselves, but also for their employers - maritime agencies and shipowners. Thanks to the professional transport of seafarers, many problems and costs associated with delays, loss of luggage or vehicle breakdowns can be avoided.

To make you aware of the importance of this service, it is worth bearing in mind a few facts about the maritime industry.

Container terminal at sunset

To illustrate this, let's take a look at some figures and facts related to shipping seafarers in Europe:

  • According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2020 there were about 1, 6 million seafarers, of which around 400,000 came from Europe

  • According to Eurostat, in 2019, Europe had over 1,200 seaports , which handled over 3.7 billion tons of cargo and over 400 million passengers.

  • According to the International Association of Seaports (IAPH), in 2020, Europe sailed over 12 thousands of ships commercial ships with a total capacity of over 300 million tons of deadweight.

These figures show how much demand there is for sea transport and, consequently, also for the transport of seafarers to ports and airports.

Seafarers often have to change ships or go home after long contracts. They do not always have the option of using their own transport or public transport. Therefore, they need a specialist transport company that will provide them with fast, safe and comfortable transport from the ship to their home.

Role in this Maritime agent who should choose a company to carry out this service that will transport the crew quickly, comfortably and safely.

However, transporting seafarers is not an easy task. It involves many challenges and difficulties, such as:

  • Variability of schedules and locations - sailors often do not know exactly when and where they will have to change. It depends on many factors, such as weather, technical condition of ships, political or sanitary situation. Therefore, a transport company must always be flexible and adapt to changing conditions.

  • Diversity of needs and preferences - maritime agencies have different expectations and requirements regarding transport. Some prefer to organize seafarers' exchanges one at a time, others in groups or even the entire crew of the ship at the same time. Some seafarers need to take extra luggage or equipment, others do not. Some agencies want to be able to choose the type of vehicle, others are all the same as long as they get rid of the problem. Some seafarers want to have access to the Internet while traveling. Therefore, a transport company must be able to meet the various needs and preferences of both seafarers and maritime agencies.

  • Legal and administrative specifics - seafarers must meet many formalities and regulations related to crossing borders. Among other things, related to visas, passports, insurance, taxes, etc. Therefore, a good transport company should be up to date with current regulations and comprehensively assist seafarers in dealing with all official matters.

  • High quality and safety standards - seafarers and those who care for them maritime agents and brokers expect a transport company to provide them with not only fast and convenient, but also safe and reliable transport. Therefore, a transport company must take care of the technical condition and cleanliness of vehicles, qualifications and licenses of drivers, insurance and personal data protection.

Aerial view of a Panamax container ship heading to the Baltic Hub

What are the types of transport for seafarers?

If you are a seafarer and need transportation to a port or airport, your agent operating at the port will generally arrange this transportation. The agency has several options to choose from.

Each has its pros and cons to consider when making your decision.

So that the transport was cost-optimal, comfortable, but also the fastest and safest.

Most of these factors depend as much on the agency as on the marina that will be transferred. Here they are:

  • Individual transport – consists in the sailor organizing himself getting to the ship or returning home. The agency may optionally contribute to the costs or transfer a predetermined amount of depreciation. Transportation can be e.g. your own car, train, bus or taxi. The advantage of this solution is that the sailor has full control over his time and route, and can choose the most convenient option for him. The disadvantage is that the seafarer has to bear the transport costs out of his own pocket, he also assumes full responsibility for his journey and also exposes himself to the risk of losing his luggage or being late due to traffic jams or breakdowns.

  • Taxi / Individual Transfer - this is the most popular and convenient form of transport for seafarers. A taxi provides you with fast, direct and individual transport to your destination. You don't have to worry about schedules, transfers or luggage. You can also choose the type of vehicle that suits you. Tsaksówka as well as individual transport by car is also available at any time of the day or night. However, this service also has several disadvantages, such as: high price, dependence on traffic, no guarantee of quality and safety when using small unknown companies. That is why it is worth using only trusted and proven taxi companies that specialize in transport for seafarers.

  • Bus - is a cheaper and more ecological form of transport for seafarers. Buses and shuttle buses offer you regular, permanent and collective transport to the port or airport. You don't have to worry about parking, fuel or insurance. You can also take advantage of additional amenities, such as: internet, TV or air conditioning. However, this form of transport also has several disadvantages, such as: longer travel time, limited number of seats and luggage, the need to adapt to the schedule and stops. The bus will not come to the ship itself and the driver will not help with the formalities. It is worth booking a place on the bus in advance and checking the current information about the courses because it may happen that the tickets will be sold out.

  • Train - is a fast and comfortable form of transport for sailors. Especially in countries with old EU. The train provides you with efficient, punctual and stable transport for the seafarer to the port or airport. You don't have to worry about traffic jams, delays or failures. You can also enjoy the spacious and comfortable interior of the train. However, the train also has a few disadvantages, such as: high price when you count the comprehensive service along with the sailor's arrival at the station and transfer from the station to the airport or hotel, limited availability and location, the need to change or travel to the station. It is worth buying train tickets in advance and checking the current information about connections, especially during the holiday season.

  • Airplane - this is the most expensive and most convenient form of transport for sailors. The plane provides you with the shortest, safest transport, especially when it comes to long distances. You don't have to worry about distance, road conditions or national borders. However, the plane also has several disadvantages, such as: very high price, rigorous procedures and restrictions, the need to arrive at the airport earlier. On short distances, the price-to-speed ratio is often unsatisfactory. In addition, you need to organize transport to the airport, which is often located far from the port, and this is also time and cost.

As you can see, each type of transport for seafarers has its pros and cons. There is no one perfect option for everyone. It all depends on your needs, preferences and possibilities. That's why it's worth comparing different offers and choosing the best one for you.

Finally, it's worth analyzing the cost-effect relationship. In this case, time is money, so you need to calculate the transfer time from the side of the ship to the door of the hotel or home.

In the next part of the article, I will tell you what to look for when choosing a transport company for seafarers. You will learn what are the criteria that should be taken into account when making decisions.

A sailor on a fishing boat looking out to sea

What to look for when choosing a transport company for seafarers?

Choosing a transport company for seafarers is not an easy matter. Finding the cheapest or fastest option is not enough. You should also take into account many other factors that affect the quality and security of the service.

Here are some criteria to consider when choosing a shipping company for seafarers:

  • Experience - a transport company for seafarers should have extensive experience in cooperation with the maritime industry and know the specificity of seafarers' transport. It should also have appropriate permissions and licenses to perform such services. The longer a company operates on the market, the greater its trust and reputation among customers.

  • Reviews - a transport company for seafarers should enjoy positive opinions and recommendations from its existing customers. It is worth checking how the company handles inquiries, reservations, payments, complaints and possible problems. You can also use online portals such as [Yandex ] or [Google] for ratings and comments on various transport companies.

  • Fleet - a transport company for seafarers should have a modern and diverse fleet vehicles, tailored to the various needs and preferences of customers. It should offer both passenger cars and minibuses, it would also be good to offer minibuses or coaches. Vehicles should always be in perfect technical condition, clean, comfortable and equipped with necessary amenities, such as air conditioning, navigation, radio or internet.

  • Service - a transport company specializing in the transport of seafarers should provide professional and friendly service at every stage of cooperation with the seafarer as well as with the agent or broker. It should have competent and helpful staff to offer advice and information. It should also have drivers with experience and knowledge of foreign languages who care about the safety and comfort of passengers. It should also offer flexibility and adjustment to the individual needs of customers, such as pick-up time, destination or amount of luggage.

What is the sailor's path like, from home to the ship?

The sailor's journey from home to ship can be long and challenging. It's not just about geographical distance, but also about the formalities that need to be completed before sailing. In this section, we'll tell you what an example of a sailor's journey from home to ship looks like and what he needs to do to get to his workplace.

Let's start from the beginning. A seafarer who has a signed employment contract on a ship must first obtain a medical certificate. It is a document that confirms that the seafarer meets the health conditions required to perform work on a seagoing vessel.

A health certificate is issued by an authorized doctor after appropriate medical examinations. The scope of these tests is specified in the regulation of the Minister of Health.

A health certificate is generally valid for 2 years and must be presented before each sailing.

After obtaining a medical certificate, the seafarer must arrange transport to the port from which the ship is to depart. This can be your own car, train, bus or plane, or a comprehensive transfer arranged by your employer.

Depending on how far the sailor lives from the port, the journey can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Sometimes, many time zones of countries and continents.

It is very important that a crew member always has a set of documents during the journey. Such as Contract, Seaman's Book, Passport, Letter of Guarantee. Sometimes it may be useful to have a crew list and local documents proving vaccinations. Some of these documents should be provided by the Agent or Broker

At the port, the seafarer must report to the ship's agent who handles the embarkation formalities. A ship's agent is a person or company that represents the shipowner or ship operator in a port and deals with administrative, logistical and operational matters. The ship's agent checks the seafarer's documents, such as passport, visa, health certificate, qualification certificates and employment contract.

The ship's agent then calls the local immigration service "police or border guard" with a request to embark the seaman Onboarding and directs him to the ship.

On board, the seafarer must report to the master or the officer in charge of the crew. There he receives his cabin, uniform and instructions on the duties and rules prevailing on board.

If he is a substitute, he takes over the duties from his substitute, i.e. Handover The sailor must be familiar with the evacuation plan, security procedures and distress signals. He must also undergo training in firefighting, first aid and sea rescue.

After completing all the formalities, the seafarer is ready to start working on the ship. This job can be very interesting and rewarding, but also demanding and stressful. Therefore, it is important for a seafarer to take care of their physical and mental health and maintain good contact with family and friends.

As you can see, the sailor's journey from home to ship is neither straight nor short. It requires a lot of preparations, documents and formalities. However, for many people it is a path of dreams and passion. If you are one of them or want to learn more about working at sea, we invite you to read more articles on the Blog and follow social channels.

A large Panamax container ship being unloaded at one of the European container terminals


The transport of seafarers and crew to European ports is very important for the maritime industry and requires a specialized transport company that will ensure fast, safe and comfortable transport.

When choosing a transport company for seafarers, pay attention to its experience, opinions, certificates, fleet and service. Then you can be sure that the service will meet the highest quality standards.

In this article, you learned how to choose the best transport company to transport seafarers to European ports. We have presented you with four main criteria that you should pay attention to when making your decision: type of vehicle, experience and opinions, price and payment method, communication and flexibility.

We emphasized how important it is for the company to be professional, reliable, communicative and flexible, and to offer door to door service and a competitive price. We also encouraged you to check other customer reviews and contact the company if you have any questions or concerns.

We hope this article has helped you choose the best transport option for you and your colleagues.

Have a great trip and see you on board!



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