However, the work is hard with little free time and you will generally be living in cramped quarters, often shared, and you have to be able to get on with your crew mates for long periods at sea. Also, forming relationships is almost impossible. If that doesn’t put you off, getting your foot on the first rung of the ship’s ladder is not easy, so you need to give yourself the best chance of getting aboard.
Working as a crew member on board a luxury yacht can be a great way of seeing the world while earning a good wage. Whether you are considering this as a long-term career or the chance to travel for a couple of years before settling down, visiting exotic locations and mixing with the rich and famous can be an exciting prospect and you will certainly have some stories to tell.
The days when you could walk the docks and marinas asking at each boat if they needed crew are pretty much gone and, at best, you might pick up a day or two of hard cleaning work. Boat owners and skippers now want to know who they are taking on, their background and qualifications and they are far more likely to recruit through an agency.
There are many agencies and you can register with more than one to make the most of the opportunities that are out there. But, however wonderful a person you may be, starting out with no experience is difficult and gaining some relevant qualifications will put you way ahead of those without.
All crew members should have the STCW 95 Basic Safety Training Certificate which includes modules in Basic Firefighting, Personal Survival, Personal Safety and Social Responsibility and Elementary First Aid. This course has to be renewed every 5 years and you are unlikely to be hired without it.
If you’re aiming to start out as a deck hand, some sailing and boat handling training will give you a great advantage. Also, with many super yachts being equipped with jet skis and powerboats, qualifying as an instructor and being able to train the yacht owners and guests in the safe use of these vessels can put you streets ahead of your competition.
For those who are intending to take on a service role, undertaking a Stew Training Course, or ‘Interior-Crew Training’ as it is officially known, will similarly help you on your way to that first position. This incorporates four elements; Interior Introduction Course, Interior Basic Food Service Course, Wine and Cocktail Introduction Course and Food Hygiene Course for Catering. After this you will be the proud holder of your Yacht Junior Stewardess Certificate of Competence.
All the qualifications in the world won’t help you if you can’t be contacted at short notice. When this type of vacancy comes up it will generally need to be filled quickly and, by the nature of the job, it could be anywhere. Always let the agency know when you are not available because if they put you forward for a position but can’t get hold of you they might not bother with you the next time.
Call into the agency frequently to keep your face fresh in their minds and your profile on top of the pile. Update your profile if anything changes or you gain new qualifications.
You need to be able to present yourself well at an interview as the prospective employer is likely to have extremely high standards. Always keep your cv up to date and have a copy with you along with certificates and references. Be punctual and smartly dressed. Do some research so you know what the job entails, be prepared for any questions that might be thrown at you and ask some questions of your own. Don’t criticise previous employers and always appear to be positive and confident. Smile!
Once you have gained that first job on a luxury yacht you are on your way and, if you work hard and prove yourself to be a valued member of the crew, you will have a new reference and valuable experience to add to your cv.