If you are here looking for reviews on an STCW course, you can come to the right place. While preparing for my internship onboard the MSC Splendida, I had to complete the course, since it is mandatory for anyone working on any ship at sea. I will tell you everything that we did during this one-week basic course.
Please be aware that since I was going on an internship, the company paid for my course and accommodation. Therefore, I will not be able to say anything about the costs of the program or the application.
I did my STCW course in New Heaven by a company called Seahaven. You can check them out here. They do all the mandatory basic courses required by the most cruise companies as well as the extra courses such as crowd control. The company is run by ex-firefighters and sailors so they really know what they are talking about. While they take the material seriously, they are also teaching in a fun and interactive way so you really enjoy it.
Overview of the course
The course lasts five days and you learn four main components: basic information, first aid, firefighting, and surviving in a liferaft. The course will be both practical and theoretical to make sure you get something out of what you learn. The classes normally start around 8 am and last until about 4 pm or later (depending on the day). They do not provide lunch, so that is something you will have to organize that yourself.
Day 1: Introduction
This is the day with the most theory. You will learn everything you will need to know about the ship. From the different types of ships to the different safety systems installed on ships, to the different jobs you can have on a ship in case of emergency. Make sure to pay attention during this part since it is very similar to the information you will receive during your safety training on board. So if you already know the information, it will be easier to learn the specifics of your ship.
Day 2: First Aid
This is something you might have done before but it is always good to refresh. Also, there is always new information developing in first aid so you might learn something new. You will learn how to bandage wounds, put people in a safe position and to resuscitate. Depending on the course you might also learn how to use a defibrillator. It is an interesting day if you have never done these things before. In the afternoon we also did a simulation of a real emergency in the structure they use for all their exercises. You had to identify who needed help and what they needed.
Day 3: Firefighting Part 1
This day we did mostly theory. You learned about fires, what to do on a ship in a case of fires. Since a ship is a contained environment it is important to know this information. Later that day you will be familiarized with the firefighting equipment and given a chance to try it on for the first time. It is a strange feeling and something to remember.
Day 4: Firefighting Part 2
This day is one of the most exciting. You will dress in firefighting gear in the morning and do all the practice that day. We did everything from rolling out and rolling up the hose to learning how to use the breathing equipment. Then you will try to go through the structure to get used to all the equipment and how to move in it. You will also learn the different techniques you might need. Then we do an actual fire simulation. Of course, the environment is completely controlled but you still felt what it would be like with fire, heat, smoke, and the problems that come with it. It was an amazing learning experience that will stick with you for a while. I was first afraid of this day, but in the end, I enjoyed it.
Day 5: Liferaft survival
You have reached the last day of the STCW course. This is again one of those half and half days. In the morning you will learn all about the theory of surviving in a liferaft. What kind of rations you might have, the techniques you can use, and a lot more useful information. In the afternoon you will learn the practice of getting into the liferaft and how to get people into them and so on. It is a great way to experience this once and learn how to do it. Hopefully, you will not need it ever, but it is good to know.
At the end of the course, you are supposed to have an overview and a basic idea of the topics covered. You will most likely never encounter any of the situations since there are professional firefighters on board a ship and only a few accidents, but it is comforting to have this knowledge.
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me, ask them in the comments, or on social media. I would love to hear about your experiences with the STCW course.
Now that your course is complete you're probably wondering what is expecting you when you are getting to the ship. Check out what my experience was like during my first contract here. Hope it clears up some of the questions you have.