In the 1936 film Follow the Fleet, Fred Astaire sang the Irving Berlin song We Saw the Sea, lamenting the gap between the aspirations of naval recruits (to see the world) and the life they found onboard, seeing very little but the sea.

The lyrics are apt for the international merchant fleet today.

A 2010 PhD thesis by Elizabeth Gould at the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) of Cardiff University in Wales found that 84% of deck cadets and 88% of engine cadets out of 120 British merchant seafarer cadets were attracted to their course by the prospect of seeing the world.