This post was written by expert vagabond, Ana, from The Art of Epic Living!
Travel Job: Yacht Stewardess
The yachting industry is very unique, as it allows you the opportunity to travel the world in a very affordable way…considering you are actually getting PAID as you go!
A yacht stewardess is basically a server, bartender and glorified cleaning lady aboard mega yachts. I am responsible for tending to the guests and for maintaining the interior of the boat.
Although the hours can be demanding, and the work can be intense, I have repeatedly come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the negatives!
When you work full-time on a yacht, almost all of your expenses are covered. You will not need to pay for rent, as you live on the boat, travel costs because you travel on the boat, and your flights will be covered, and food costs because the chef takes care of the cooking!
While guests are not on board, full-time stewardess will have a normal 8-5 schedule, cleaning, laundry, provisioning and prepping the boat for upcoming trips. If there is a trip or event with guests, hours will be much longer, and work will be much more demanding.
When guests are on, you will be setting up and breaking down meals, serving, bartending and cleaning everything to perfection through one grand balancing act… basically running around like a chicken with its head cutoff… in the most graceful and professional way possible!
Most stewardesses work full-time aboard one vessel, but I personally work as a freelancer. I basically act as my own agent, and am contracted to work for short-term trips and temporary jobs aboard many different boats.
I will join a boat for a few weeks or a couple of months, and then have the freedom and flexibility to take off for as long as I want!
Where I’ve Worked as a Yacht Stewardess
I have spent most of my time in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, but have also worked a bit in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific Northwest and around the Northeast coast of America, from Maine down to NYC.
This travel job is all over the world!
- Miami/Ft Lauderdale
- Florida Keys
- St. Martin & St. Maarten
- St. Barths
- British Columbia
- New York & Newport
- British Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Mallorca & Ibiza
- Maine & Martha’s Vineyard
- US Virgin Islands
Where in the World the Travel Job Exists
It is possible to find work aboard yachts all around the world, although boats tend to migrate with the warm weather and sunshine! You will also be more likely to find available jobs in the yachting “hub locations”, which serve as base cities for many yachts, marinas and shipyards.
From April-September, it is more common to find work in:
- The Northeast (Newport*, NYC, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Maine)
- Pacific Northwest (Portland/Seattle, British Columbia*, Alaska)
- Mediterranean (South of France*, Spain*, Italy*, Greece, Croatia, Turkey)
Hub Locations: Antibes, France – Palma, Spain – Newport, Rhode Island
From October-April, it is more common to find work in:
- Florida/the Bahamas
- The Caribbean
- The West Coast of Mexico
Hub Locations: Fort Lauderdale*, (to a lesser extent) St. Martin/St. Mt. Maarten
How to Get a Job as a Yacht Stewardess
Well, you have probably never had an opportunity to even step foot on a megayacht, let alone had the chance to gain work experience on one- but don’t worry! You are in the same situation as all of the other newbies.
In order to break into the industry, the standard minimal requirement is that you have your STCW 95 course certificate. The STCW training course is a 5 day safety procedure/training class, usually costing around $900-$1000.
Although the cost of this class is fairly pricey, once you are on track toward finding work, the costs will DEFINITELY pay itself back. You can think of this is a valuable investment toward finding a unique and well-paying job in the long run!
The next important order of business- networking!
Network as much as possible! The “hub” locations that I have mentioned are home to many new crew and many employment opportunities. Crew Houses in these locations offer cheap accommodation to those who are on a budget, new to the industry and looking for work.
Crew Houses are comparable to hostels or college dorms, and besides being cheap, are a great time. You will be in the position to more easily find daywork opportunities, and to make some new friends along the way!
The hub locations also offer different networking events and parties to new crew in the season change-over months, like September and October in FTL, and April to May in Antibes, so that you are able to learn about the industry, and put yourself out there to potential employers and crew agencies.
Ahhh yes, crew agencies!
Crew agencies are placement companies, who will help match up employers and employees when available jobs come about. It is important to build relationships with your crew agents, so that they know you personally and are more likely to consider you for jobs.
The crew agencies have websites, on which you can make a profile, attach your resume and upload photos. Be sure that you take time to fill out your profile completely and to the best of your ability. Some crew agencies that I use include: Luxury Yacht Group, Crew Unlimited, & Crew4Crew.
There are also yacht job specific websites on which you can act as your own agent, and seek out work by yourself!
What Qualifications They Are Looking For
Well hopefully at this point you will have your STCW 95 certificate under your belt, that’s a good start!
As mentioned, it’s not really possible to have directly related yachting experience if you are brand new to the yachting industry, but not to worry. Many of the skills that you will need in order to succeed in yachting, are skills you probably have from other previous jobs.
If you are trying to become a stewardess, it is important that you demonstrate that you are hard-working energetic, organized, and an efficient multi-tasker. It is always a plus if you are have a positive and friendly attitude!
Some past employment experiences that would be good to highlight:
- Anything hospitality/service related: hotel or cruises, serving or bartending, cleaning
- Anything having to do with food: cooking
- Anything spa/beauty related: massage, yoga, hair and make-up, fitness
- Anything boat related: diving, water sports, driving a boat, fishing, handling lines
- Working with kids: nanny, babysitting
Other skills that are useful to have or work on (or googling youtube tutorials on!):
- Other languages
- Laundry, ironing
- Flower arranging and table-setting
- Knowledge of wine/cocktails
- Knowledge of formal dining/etiquette
Availability & Pay as a Yacht Stewardess
Is it seasonal? Year-round? Do they pay hourly, salary, commission, etc.?
In theory, you can save a lot of your salary because your employer will cover nearly all of your expenses! Most of the time, personal expenses, such as toiletries and eating out, will be covered and it is not unusual for marinas and resorts to have pools, gyms, beach, and crew common areas available for use.
Wages for an entry level stewardesses range from $2500-$3500/month, and daywork day rates are usually around $150/day.
After you have become more experienced, you can make $3500-$6000/month depending on your full-time position and ranking. As a freelancer, I can earn more, although my schedule is more demanding, as I only work guest trips.
Also, I obviously do not have my living expenses covered 100% of the time, since I am only working/living on a boat temporarily. As an experienced freelancer, my day rate for the trips is minimum $250/day.
Then there is one last thing…TIPS!
Yes, if you are on a charter boat, you can expect amazing tips! It is typical for a charter guest to leave a 15% tip for the crew and the crew will most likely split up the tip equally. Even though I usually don’t work on charter boats, it’s not uncommon for me to receive tips from the guests as well.