Getting your first foot in the industry door can seem impossible. Knowing which steps to take first, and whether you’ll even get a job is overwhelming. This article will give you a basic understanding of what the super yacht industry is, the qualifications you need, and the steps to take once you’re qualified.
So, you have heard of the superyacht industry – whether it was from watching Below Deck, seeing a video on Tik Tik, or researching ways to work and travel overseas.
Whichever way you found it – the thought of living this glamorous lifestyle has left you needing to know more.
Being a stew is hard work, and not always days off in paradise, downward dog on the sundeck and cute deckhands driving you around in million dollar tenders like you see on social media. But we create some magical experiences on board, you wake up with a beautiful view everyday and make some life long memories with people from all over the world.
What is a superyacht?
A superyacht is a large, luxurious, professionally crewed motor or sailing yacht, ranging from 24 metres (79 ft) to more than 180 metres (590 ft) in length.
Oh, she means a cruise ship.
No! Although many people are quick to jump to this assumption – the two are very different. A cruise ship will host thousands of guests, and the experience is readily available to book by the click of a button online. A superyacht is either owned privately and only used by this person and their family and friends, or available to charter out by application for anywhere between €100,000 to over €1,000,000 a week.
The level of service and professionalism you are expected to provide as a stew on a superyacht is like no other. Your job as crew is to make sure every guests experience on board unforgettable. The crew are expected to know where all guests are on board at all times, using radios to communicate with each other when one guest moves from one space to another. This ensures the interior are offering drink and food service continuously, deck crew are available for water sports and tender rides, and everyone is going into rooms and checking decks after guests depart to bring them back up to standard (fluffing pillows, wiping hand rails, re-folding toilet paper, and the list goes on). In the background the crew are always preparing for the next meal service, beach barbecue setup, theme night, snorkelling trip, water sports day, tender ride ashore or anchorage move.
How many jobs are there on superyachts?
As of 2016, there were over 10,000 superyachts in the world. One of the world’s largest superyachts Flying Fox operates with 56 crew, meaning there is a huge overall number of crew in demand to keep 10,000 superyachts operating.
The industry as a whole is a combination of yacht crew, recruiters and agents, skilled teachers, suppliers, contractors, port employees, shipyards, and many, many more. It takes an army.
What positions are available on superyachts?
Departments are broken down between the Interior, Deck, Galley and Engineering.
Within each department you will also have people with specialist skills, for example a steward or stewardess may also be a yoga teachers, spa therapist or hairdresser, and a deckhand could also be a carpenter, dive Instructor, musician, videographer or personal trainer.
Are you employed permanently on a superyacht as a stewardess?
You can be employed on a seasonal, temporary or permanent basis.
A seasonal position is for one season (approximately six months)
A temporary position is decided on between the Captain and yourself, it might be to fill in for a permanent crew member who is away, or boats might get extra crew for busy trips.
A permanent position is when you sign onto a boat permanently (just like a job on land), you gather holiday like land, and resign when you want to leave giving notice.
Do you live on board the yacht?
Yes, besides holidays – which when starting out will usually be a minimum of 38 days a year, and a maximum of 182 days (when you are in a senior management position). This is your home now.
What qualifications do I need to work onboard a Super Yacht?
Most people are shocked that you even need qualifications – what could you possibly need to know to clean toilets and make a bed, right?! The monetary investment and time to complete these courses prevents alot of people from starting their yachting journey, but you make it back pretty quickly when your paychecks start coming in.
ENG 1 Medical
The ENG1 is a medical examination to assess whether you are fit to work on a seagoing vessel and perform duties at sea. The purpose is to determinate whether you have any medical conditions that may prohibit you from performing your duties on board.
Stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, which is an internationally recognised safety certification, and standard requirement for anyone looking for commercial work on board vessels over 24 metres. It includes five modules to ensure you have an understanding of the basic safety and survival skills essential for working at sea.
- Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities
- Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
- Personal Survival Techniques
- Elementary First Aid
- Proficiency in Security Awareness
Stands for Proficiency in Designated Security Duties and is sometimes included in your STCW, otherwise can be completed as an online course. It is designed for seafarers who are entrusted with fulfilling designated security duties on board ships (all super yacht crew) the essential education and training to increase the security and safety of the vessel whilst in port, or at sea.
Food Safety and Hygiene – Level 2
This is a food handling course that you need to complete – make sure it is MLC compliant or else it won’t be accepted onboard.
Don’t forget to take notes and remember what is taught to you in these courses. You will be glad when it’s time for monthly drills on board!
Where and when do I find a job once I’ve done my courses?
This totally depends on your nationality, experience and the time of year that you want to look for work. There are many yachting ‘hubs’ around the world, and many different overlapping seasons and it would be irresponsible of me to say ‘this’ location or ‘this’ time of year, because each persons situation and countries in which they can legally work in is very different. If you want tailored advice on this, I offer 1-1 services for people.
What do I do once I’m in a Yachting Hub?
You need a strategy to stand out from the competition!
– Creating a CV that translates your land based experience into useful skills to a yacht that a Chief Stew just can’t say no to!
– Joining the right Facebook groups and introducing yourself correctly and professionally.
– Dockwalking (if you are legally allowed to in the country), presenting yourself correctly & saying the right thing when you get to the end of the passerelle.
– Networking; the more people that know you are looking for work – the better.
– Preparing for interviews – by understanding what questions they’ll ask, how to respond and what questions you should ask them!
– Signing up with crew agencies and building genuine relationships with them.
– Registering with yachting job platforms and checking in regularly.
And remembering that – it WILL feel overwhelming flying to an (often) foreign country with your life in a suitcase where they might speak a different language. You will miss your living room and familiar faces, but you are about to start the biggest adventure of your life, and this is your first test as a yachtie!
The exciting part is just about to begin, and your new best friends are on the horizon. .