I was a yacht stewardess for over two years, and it was one of the most exhilarating and glamorous jobs I have ever had (and probably will have). You get to travel the world, live on a beautiful boat, and meet some amazing people. It is also extremely hard work, and the hours were very long. Plus being ‘on charter’ is killer! But, if you are not afraid of rolling up your sleeves and working hard, it can be the most rewarding job you will ever have, on many levels.
What you will find in this post:
- What does the job of a yacht stewardess entail?
- Daily duties
- Quick lessons about the industry:
- The difference between motor and sailing yachts
- Sole stew or part of a larger crew
- Charter or private yacht
- Life onboard
- Lets talk about $$$
- The Pros and Cons of being a yacht stewardess
- Is it for you?
- The best places around the world to start out
- When to try and find a job
- Tips for becoming a yacht stewardess
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What does the job of a Yacht Stewardess entail?
The role of yacht stewardess is not always easy to define. A stewardess basically looks after the guests on board a luxury yacht; from making their coffee in the morning to their bed at night, and everything in-between. The job itself can be hugely rewarding, varied, and take you to some amazing locations. But it can also be exhausting, strenuous, and even lonely. If you can face long hours on-duty, living in crew quarters with a tight-knit group of people, and always putting on a smile no matter your mood, then the job might just be your ticket to travel the world in luxury AND GET PAID to do so!
Daily duties for a yacht stewardess will depend on the above factors, but can include any or all of the below!
- Guest meal service
- Drink service/bartending
- housekeeping & cleaning
- Budgeting, ordering, stock-keeping
- Assisting on deck
- Flower arranging
- Buying, organising, and distributing crew uniforms
Depending on your skills, you may even combine the following with your role as stewardess:
- Yoga instructor
- Chef/crew cook
- Purser (accountant for larger yachts)
Quick lessons about the industry
The difference between working on a motor or sailing yacht
The role of a yacht stewardess can hugely differ depending on the type and size of yacht you are working on, and the people you are working for. The main differences lie between motor yachts and sailing yachts. As a general overview, you will usually find sailing yachts to be much more laid back and motor yachts to be much more formal. This really depends again on the size of the yacht.
Sole Stewardess or part of a larger crew
On smaller yachts there might just be one stewardess, meaning your role will be more varied and you will do all the interior work. This can be both more challenging and more relaxed, as you are able to manage your own time and interior, however, you have to complete all the tasks involved with guest service, housekeeping, and upkeep of crew areas.
On larger boats a stewardess will be part of an interior crew, reporting to the chief stew. Job roles for these stewardesses may be solely housekeeping, laundry and crew areas, or guest service/duty.
Charter or private yacht
Some yachts are for private guest use only, and you will be working for the same owners all the time. They will come and go, and your job and hours will depend greatly on the amount they use the yacht. Charter boats can be much more demanding, but can be much more rewarding salary-wise. A charter boat is used by different guests throughout the season.
Living on board is a fun, intense, and new experince. You’ll adapt really quickly, and learn the rules of the boat as you go along. In many ways, living on a boat is actually really similar to living in an apartment or house with housemates. Of course there are huge differences too, but fundamentally you just need to be prepared to be a good housemate: be clean, tidy, considerate, and not come in at 2am drunk and loud on a Monday night!
Sharing a cabin with other crew is inevitable. You’ll likely have a tiny bunk bed, and share a ‘head’ (toilet/bathroom) with your cabin mates, along with a living space with the rest of the crew. If you can deal with being in close quarters with other people all day every day (and work with them too) then you’ll get along just fine as a yachtie!
Lets talk money
A starting wage for a junior stewardess is usually around €2,000 per month. You’ll live onboard and have you meals provided too. On a charter boat you can also expect to earn tips in season too. This can be anywhere between 10%-20% of the boats charter cost per week, divided by the crew (so for example, if the yacht cost €100,000 per week to charter, and you’ve a crew of 12, you could earn anything between €800-€1,600 tips per charter week.)
A quick note: Yachting is not a job to enter into lightly. Honestly, if you think you can duck in, do a season and earn a ton of cash, and duck back out again, then you are under a huge misconception. It may sound like a starting wage for a junior yacht stewardess is really good, but believe me, you work hard for every penny you make! If however, you are a hard worker who has the right attitude, then the job can be very rewarding.
The Pros and Cons of being a yacht stewardess
- Travel around the world
- Potential to earn a lot of money
- Meals provided by chef onboard
- You get to meet lots of great people
- Live on a beautiful yacht
- Days off in stunning locations
- Perks – such as tips, nights out, etc.
- Job satisfaction when guests enjoy their stay onboard
- Potential to manage your own workload
- Great holiday time (full time crew can get a month or more off off-season)
- Medical insurance
- No rent to pay!
- Not great job security – can be seasonal, or crew can be laid off unexpectedly
- Living and working in a small space with a crew – can be intense
- No free time in season
- Limited personal space onboard (you’ll likely have to share a cabin)
- Days off are sporadic in season, and off-season you’ll have to work some weekends
- You won’t get to see friends and family often
- Guests can be rude, unthankful, or demanding
- You might have to work with crew you don’t get along with
- It is a very old-fashioned industry that can often be sexist
- Junior stewardesses often work longer hours than all other crew
Is it for you?
When deciding if the job of yacht stewardess is for you, I would ask yourself the following questions: Are you a people person? Do you mind hard work and long hours on your feet? Are you adaptable and flexible? Do you like travel? Do you get sea sick?
Really these are the key components to being a good yacht stewardess and lasting your first season! You’ll need to be a hard worker who can face mundane tasks and long hours, and you’ll need to get along with all kinds of people! If you can’t take orders, don’t enjoy meeting people, and miss your family or friends too much when away from them for long periods of time, then maybe it is not for you.
If you get sea sick, you can still work on a yacht, however be prepared with sea sick meds, and avoid doing long crossings. I worked with one stewardess who had terrible sea sickness and she had a really good career in the yachting industry. She just learnt how to handle it well and never did a long crossing.
The best places around the world to start out
There are two main places in the world to start out: the Mediterranean and the USA. In the states, you’ll need to head to Florida and to Fort Lauderdale. In the Med, you can choose between Palma de Mallorca (where I started out), and Antibes, France. Note that you’ll need to be a USA resident or hold a B1/B2 visa to work on a US flagged vessel.
When to try and find a job
In the Med, you’ll want to arrive either just before the summer season kicks off, so April- early June, or at the end of the season when yachts are preparing to cross for the winter season and you can find a crossing (October-November time).
In Florida, try to find work in the winter shoulder season (Nov-Dec), when the boats are arriving from the Med and crewing up for the season ahead, or when the boats have finished their season and are about to embark on their crossing back to the Med, around April time.
Tips for becoming a yacht stewardess
When job hunting, I recommend arriving to your chosen destination and checking into a crew house. These are hostel-type accommodations specifically for yacht crew. This way, not only will you meet fellow crew and be able to network, but you’ll be in the right place for getting hired and save yourself some money.
The next step is to sign up with agents and then NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. I found the local crew hangouts and made sure to head there for drinks and to socialize. By becoming friends with other yacht crew, you’ll begin to immerse yourself in the industry, have fun, and put yourself out there for possible jobs. A lot of hiring is word of mouth, so tell all the crew you meet that you are looking for a job.
The next thing to do is dock walking. It is a much feared and often much despised way of getting a job by everyone in the industry, but it is a proven method! You’ll need a stack of CVs, a polo shirt and smart shorts, and a smile! You’ll hear many different tips for dock walking, but the main thing is just to walk around busy docks with a CV, chat to crew, and try and find a boat that is hiring. It is actually how I got my first job, so I’ll always recommend it to newbies.
Getting your first job might be difficult (or maybe you’ll get hired on your first day of trying!) but once you have your first season under your belt it gets easier. Plus, if you are anything like me, you’ll look back on those early days with fondness, so be sure to enjoy them!
Let me know if this helped you in anyway or if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!