An MtS Christmas: Find out what we’re doing to support seafarers over the festive period

30th November 2019


We had a very successful Woolly Hat Day last Friday raising over £1100. Next up is our Carols service on Sunday 15 December where we hope there will be some seafarers around to mix with supporters. Music will be provided by our All Nations group & singers + local choir. There will also be a wrapathon to parcel approximately 350 Christmas presents for seafarers (gifts include toiletries, chocolates, woolly hats and scarves etc from supporters) and finally, a Christmas dinner for supporters and seafarers. 

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, we give out parcels of gifts to seafarers, this year we will be giving out over 7,000 parcels and 10,000 calendars to seafarers whose vessels come to Hong Kong over the Christmas period and New Year. The gifts are made up of polo shirts, torches, world timepieces, small iPad bags, selfie sticks, caps and other electrical items. These have been purchased through my annual appeal to the shipping companies in Hong Kong. Each year, we raise approximately £20,000 for Christmas presents. A large group of ladies from the German Seamen’s Mission will help to wrap the gifts in the first week of December.


Saturday, 7th December 2019 at 7 pm – Carols by Candlelight at St George’s Church

There’s going to be singing of carols, our Chaplain will share a Christmas message, and gifts will be given out to children. Some generous members of the church will prepare some tasty snacks. All who attend are encouraged to stay behind immediately after the service for refreshments, and fellowship. This event has been on-going for the past 17 years. We invite our supporters from the church, and our corporate partners from the shipping industry to celebrate this very special occasion. We also take this opportunity to thank them for the wonderful support they have given to MtSS.

Monday, 16th December 2019 at 6 pm – Year-end celebration in the drop-in centre at Pasir Panjang Container Terminal Building 5

Seafarers from ships that are berthed in the port, officials from the Port Authority and some of our corporate partners will be invited for this celebration. Food and beverages will be provided by the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union. Gifts such as SIM cards, knitted hats and cookies etc are available to be taken away. Seafarers will enjoy an evening of food, drinks, gifts and games.

Thursday, 19th December 2019 at 6 pm – Year-end celebration in our drop-in centre in Jurong Port

As usual, seafarers and some of our friends from the shipping industry have been invited. Food and beverage will be provided by the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union. This is an opportunity for us to raise awareness and tell others about who we are and what we do.

Gifts such as SIM cards, knitted hats and cookies etc will be available to be taken away.


In Geraldton, we will be distributing 300 Christmas gift packs to ships in port over the Christmas week. These packs contain a variety of items totalling approximately $40 each, from donations by local churches and suppliers.

We also plan (if a ship is in port) to join a crew in port to celebrate with them with the offer of a service on board. As always, there will be a party atmosphere at our Centre for Christmas.


The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Every December, we have the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, followed by light refreshments. It is a wonderful ecumenical service with the Sacred Heart Catholic Church highlighting the birth of Christ through the Scripture and Carols. The 2018 service was held on December 9th with the presence of around 130 congregation members including 25 choristers. Following the service, the Mission was grateful for the generous donation from the attendants towards the work of the MtS Yokohama.

Christmas Gift Campaign

Every year, the month of December provides us with the opportunity to take Christmas gifts to seafarers on ships visiting the port. We were pleased to give out a total of 420 gifts in 2018. We are very grateful for the help and generosity of local communities, including the members of Yokohama Christ Church, local parish churches, and the students at the Kanto Gakuin University. Our Christmas Gift Campaign would not have been possible without their wholehearted support.


This Christmas will be the first time that the seafarers’ centre in Lyttelton will be open since the earthquake. “We plan to provide crew in port with a few Christmas delicacies from their own counties, like ‘bibingka’ rice cakes from the Philippines”.


Here in Albany, Western Australia, the Mission to Seafarers, has given gifts to all crew members of ships that have entered the Port during Christmas week, and have been doing this for over 25 years. They get something practical, i.e. sock, shower get, beanies, deodorant, plus either boxes of chocolates or tins of biscuits. The ship visitor goes on board in his Santa hat and bag of goodies and is always welcomed whatever the nationalities of the crew. Some even place the gifts under their tree ready for Christmas Day distribution. We are a small Port compared to many, but nevertheless, we make sure Seafarers are not forgotten over Christmas.

Richards Bay

We have an annual Christmas Carols event, usually in the first week of each December. Then we have a gift-wrapping day, which is the second Wednesday of each December. A local community group comes in, to pack all the donated items. Lastly, the Chaplaincy team distribute all the gifts to seafarers on Christmas Day and the days following.


Christmas Services

We will be holding an Advent Holy Communion service on Sunday 1st December in the chapel at the seafarers’ centre, and on Sunday 15th December, there will be a Carols service for seafarers and volunteers. This will be followed by mulled wine and delicious mince pies.

We will also hold another Advent Holy Communion service for seafarers, but this will be onboard the Stena Britannica on Wednesday 18th December.

Christmas gift bags

Between Monday 16th and Thursday 19th December, we will be handing out MtS Rotterdam gift bags to seafarers on board ships in the Port of Rotterdam.

Christmas Party

On Saturday 21 Dec we will host our annual CASCO & MtS Rotterdam Christmas party for seafarers in the Port of Rotterdam at the Seafarers’ Centre. There will be a delicious buffet dinner, some carol singing, a Christmas message, no shortage of drinks, and of course… lots of karaoke!


Donations from the local community and businesses have enabled QVSR’s Seafarers’ Centre at Tilbury to assemble and wrap 2,726 Christmas parcels far exceeding the planned 2,500 target. Volunteers turned up in their numbers on multiple occasions to help wrap presents, which will be distributed to seafarers who come into port in the build-up to Christmas. Assistance came from a variety of sources including the Port of Tilbury, Port of London Authority, Trinity House, Seafarers UK, Chadwell WI, Finnish seaman’s mission, and Terry Piccolo, Mayor of Thurrock, to name but a few! We are thankful to everyone that has dedicated time and/or resources to help the team exceed their 2,500 target.  On Monday 16th December, the Seafarers’ Centre will be hosting its annual Carol Service at 11 am, bringing together seafarers, port staff and the local community in a festive celebration, refreshments will be provided after the service and everyone is welcome.


Community involvement is most vital to our work at the Seattle Seafarers Centre. We have a wonderful opportunity to gain goodwill and build bridges to local churches, schools, and retiree groups.

Starting in 1994, we began a holiday gift program—ditty bags—that has produced outstanding results. That first year, an intrepid group of retirees and youth gathered at a makeshift space at the Port to pack roughly 150 ditty bags to be distributed at Christmas to seafarers in Port. The program has since grown to and in 2018 expanded to four locations were volunteers packed and distributed more than 3,000 ditty bags.

“We have folks making gifts, folks packing gifts, and the recipients—a chain of caring that links our community to those unheralded and often invisible seafarers whose efforts and skills bring us 90% of everything.”


Our big activities are on 24 December and it begins by visiting the ships.  We try and see as many ships as possible and give invitations for our Christmas Eve Mass which is followed by food and a Christmas Party.  A good number, especially those with Crews from the Philippines and India, are preparing for their Christmas Day celebrations on their ships.  We provide bus transport every evening to our Centre and the transport is especially full on Christmas Eve with up to 75 joining us. Read all about the activities in Antwerp here.

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