Living on board a multi million dollar Super Yacht

You have probably seen Below Deck, and you’re thinking is that what it’s really like to live and work on board a Super Yacht?! Most days – no, some days – yes.

I like to think of super yachts as a floating sorority (for the crew). The sorority travels the world, it has a strict hierarchy, you sleep in a bunk bed, have a private chef, work seven days a week, but you have the ability to make a lot of money and create Project X level stories on your days off that you’ll never be able to tell your children.

In saying that, living on board a super yacht is not all glamorous nights out and sunset selfies, similar to working and playing with the same crew members 365 days of the year it is not always laughter and friendship bracelets. Yachting is quite literally the definition of work hard, play hard. Though sometimes it’s work hard, work hard, and work hard again.

Without working in the industry, it is quite hard to capture the essence of what we do for work, and what the lifestyle entails. In an effort to bring this world to life for you, I asked my instagram community what they wanted answered about living on board.

These were the most asked questions.

When guests aren’t on board, can you use the guest areas like the jacuzzi, pool and cabins?

Generally speaking – no. Once guests depart, these spaces are closed down, furniture is covered, beds are stripped, pools are drained, and crew prepare for the next trip. This can vary from boat to boat and ultimately comes down to the Captains decision and what has been decided by the owner – it is their home after all.

I haven’t personally worked on a boat where we have been allowed to use the guest areas regularly (besides the occasional movie night on a crossing or jacuzzi dip on anchor) – in saying that, recently the crew of super yachts have been on strict lockdowns not allowed off vessels, so more guest spaces have been offered for them to spend their free time.

Overall, I wouldn’t sign up to yachting solely based on the dream that you will be living your best life drinking Cristal by the pool on the regular. You will be serving that dream to somebody else.

Inflatables are obviously an exception…

What about water toys?

Again this depends on the boat you join and how busy the yacht is. You tend to see smaller yachts (30-50m) more inclined to let their crew use toys, or those with more time off. It is alot of work for the deck crew when toys are used as they have to clean everything afterwards as if a guest had just used it. It is also a risk letting crew use boat toys as they could get damaged before a trip. However it is a great way for the crew to encourage the guests to have fun with the toys if they have first hand experience with them!

What areas ARE you allowed to use?

Your ‘living’ areas will vary depending on boat size, but generally speaking as a minimum there will always be a Crew Mess where you eat your meals. Moving up in size (70m+) you might get a crew lounge, crew gym or cinema room, then larger boats (90m+) may have another crew mess area for officers and HOD’s only. It depends on the design at build and what the owner at the time thinks the crew require.

Crew Cabins are shared between two people, sometimes three. You will have two single bunk beds, a small wardrobe, a desk (if you’re lucky!), usually some extra storage spaces, TV’s (frequently not connected to channels or a film system – so bring your hard drive!) and a small bathroom. On larger boats (anywhere from 50m+) the Head of Departments may have their own cabins.

The general rule is the more responsibility you have, the bigger your cabin. So, get upskilling ASAP! A good cabin is like gold on a super yacht.

Is there an area where crew do their washing and cooking?

The Laundry is operated by the interior – you put your laundry in daily (inside your allocated bag labelled with your crew number). It is returned to you before the end of the work day like magic! You will have a weekly ‘laundry day’ which is the day your sheets and towels are washed – some boats ask that you only put personal clothing in on this day as well.

The Galley (the boat term for kitchen) is operated by the galley team which can be anywhere from one to four chefs depending on the boat size. Along with the guest food, they prepare lunch and dinner daily for the crew. It is served as a buffet with a combination of meat, fish, vegetables and salads.

There are also basic items like cheese, yoghurt, milk, ham, fruit, cereal, toast and snacks in the crew mess for between these times.

Basically, you don’t need to think about doing anything other than your designated job. So do it well chicaaaaa/chicooooo!

Do you live ashore at night? Or are you always on the boat?

The crew must be on board at all times to look after the guests 24 hours of the day, and maintain the safety and upkeep of the vessel when they are away. You will live full time on the yacht unless you are on leave.

If the yacht is getting significant work completed that results in it being unsafe for crew to live on board, a crew house or apartments are supplied.

Some crew will book a hotel for a weekend if they want to chill out in their own space or enjoy a double bed for a few nights. This usually needs to be cleared with the Captain to ensure enough crew are on board to handle any emergencies that could occur, or there are any last minute changes and the boat needs to move in a hurry.

Is it like Below Deck?

Some days it feels like you could have just made a really good episode of Below Deck. Guests can be wild and demanding, crew tensions can run high, people are tired, hook ups are inevitable and some days it does feel absolutely bonkers.

As yacht crew we are there to make the guest experience one they will never forget. Most things you see happen on the show wouldn’t happen on a professional yacht because the crew aren’t their to make a TV show, a film crew aren’t cutting scenes to make things look a certain way, and guests usually want privacy, rather than being filmed in return for a cheaper rate.

However the more recent seasons are becoming more realistic and if you have ever seen a yacht crew out on town after a month at sea you might see some similarities. Yachting teaches you to well and truly live your very best life in every second of freedom you have in this wild world.

Do all the crew get along?

Yachting is a community like no other, and you will come away from it with life long friends from all around the world. The bonds you make with your crew and other crew are like nothing else you will ever experience, or be able to explain.

Living, working and playing with the same people everyday means you have good days, and you have bad days. You have days where you want to be surrounded by 20 people; you have days where you just want some time alone (and sometimes that’s hard to find on a yacht). When you throw a group of people from different countries, with different values, opinions and views of the world in a high stress work environment, there are bound to be some disagreements and clashes in personality.

Overall, we are a like minded group of humans and most people consider their yachting friends the ones they are closest with even after their yachting career ends.

Do you get seasick?

If people were being honest, the majority of yacht crew get sea sick. There is only one way to find out if you will, and it does get easier as time goes on and you gain your ‘sea legs’ – otherwise there are tablets and bands to help! Each boat handles the weather differently, and you don’t feel it as much on bigger yachts. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re moving until you look outside you are that busy!

It can be hard when guests are on, as you need to be able to perform your duties which can actually be a good distraction. Don’t feel alone if this does happen, as most likely 70% of the crew on board are feeling slightly dizzy/sweaty trying to remind themselves why they work on a boat, and that better days are coming – hello white sandy beaches and endless Pina Coladas.

Do you get scared in bad weather?

I’ve never felt the need to be scared. You should be on a yacht where you trust your crew, and if you don’t – don’t work there. To work on a super yacht you need to complete safety training where they teach you how to react in all kinds of emergencies at sea, and you will do drills on board monthly.

A good Captain won’t take you to sea before they have checked the weather and know it’s safe to do the passage. Sometimes you will go through bad weather and it can be unexpected, but a boat should never put the safety of its crew before getting to a destination. Hold on and enjoy the ride – its part of the adventure!

Do you meet a lot of celebrities?

In my six years working on super yachts, I’ve barely met a single celebrity. Another friend served Leonardo DiCaprio on her first ever day of day work! Some yachts have celebrities frequent their boat regularly, and others don’t ever.

Are the owners of superyachts famous?

Most yacht owners are not famous, they are more likely to be royalty, entrepreneurs, property developers or own companies mining commodities such as oil and gold. The largest yachts in the world are owned by billionaires not millionaires.

To put this in perspective Adam Sandler (the worlds 7th highest paid actor) has a net worth of 420 million dollars, whereas Jeff Bezos (2nd richest person in the world) has a net worth of 184 billion dollars, owning a super yacht worth 400 million dollars (nearly all of Adam Sandler’s net worth!!)

Thats not to say I don’t have everything in my body crossed that Harry Styles steps on board and confesses his love for me one day. You really never do know whats going to happen in yachting!!

I hope this has satisfied some of the questions you had about living and working on board a super yacht – if you have other questions please reach out on the contact page, or if you fancy joining our world – explore how to become a super yacht stewardess.


1 Comment

  1. Jasmine Robbins
    June 14, 2021 / 4:45 pm

    LOVE it so much – so relatable!! That bow set up in the last photo is dreaaaammyyy!! Xxxx

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