Everything you need to know about working on a Yacht:
There are currently over 30,000 yachts in the world, ranging from 24 meters to over 160 meters, which require professional and qualified crew. The yachting industry is a high-end, multi-million Euro/Dollar luxury business in which the rich and famous own or charter super yachts which in turn require top-notch crew members. In the last few decades, the yachting industry has captured the attention of the media creating an un-precedented amount of interest from potential crew worldwide.
Because of that we cannot list all Yacht companies and small lines of the world because there are thousands of them. Instead, on this page you have access to all agencies that hire for those companies, so just click on their logo to learn more about them, their history, fun facts and how to apply. You can also check our list of Cruise Lines and River Cruises.
But before you get to know how to apply, you must know the differences between working on a big vessel like a cruise ship and working on board yachts. Also, keep in mind that there are only a few available positions for you to apply for and we will discuss each of them here as well.
Given that yachting has a very prestigious reputation and that it has quickly developed over the past few years, you must remember that competition in the industry is rough and that you will have to stand out. In order to get your first job, a few rules have to be followed and you must have previous luxury hospitality service like working on a high scale hotel or on luxury cruise lines. If you don’t have this kind of experience, you will not be able to join any yachting manning agency. In contrast, cruise ships are different, as the basic requirements are low and if you speak English you’re basically in. But let’s mention another key points of this exclusive and segmented industry:
- This isn’t work for the fainthearted. During the height of the season, you may be expected to work 18 hour days. This is the hospitality industry so long hours and late nights are generally the norm. There are international rules governing the hours of work for crew however you must be prepared to be flexible and expect to work very long shifts with unusual hours while guests are onboard. For most positions, there aren’t any replacements so you will do everything by yourself, which is very different from cruise ships.
- Another important point, yachting is an international industry and the more languages you speak, the bigger your chance is to get a job or promotion. English is obviously the most used language but you will be required to know as well at least basics of French, Italian, Spanish and German (according to where you are located).
- You can get basic yacht experience by doing day work, or what it is called “Dockwalking”. Dockwalking allows you to meet with a lot of professionals (and extend your network), to work a few days if someone needs a last minute hand and to obtain a small experience, or even better to find your first seasonal job. Meanwhile on cruise ships there’s no such thing, and you’re bond to a contract.
- The crew areas are VERY TINY and the cabins are shared by 2, 3 or more people. Unlike cruise ships that you have somewhat space for extra luggage, cabins on yachts are basically just the bunk beds and a small storage space usually built-in on the bed itself so you can store small valuables and clothes, all together. Crew usually travel with just a carry on bag.
- Unlike cruise ships, you will have to work as hard and smile as much after months on board as you did in the beginning and of course live well in community. Remember: There’s only one of you, and no one will pick up your slack.
Salaries on Yachts:
These rates are samples of current industry level standards and have been compiled by industry experts and are subject to change. The rates may also vary up or down depending on the specific qualification and experience of the crew member and the operation status of the yacht, whether private or charter and itinerary of the yacht and other requirements specific to the yacht. Private yachts generally have a higher base salary due to no income from the charter tips.
Just like cruise ships, most yachts will provide health insurance, accident insurance (unless otherwise stated at time of employment), while all crew are responsible for their personal income taxes. All crew should investigate rules and regulations and seek official advice and remain current with their national requirements.
Also, those salaries are not guaranteed by a contract unlike cruise ships, as many yachts or companies have their own rules for salaries and tips. Many yachts will also have a separate contract governing standards of behavior, absence and leave. On smaller yachts, you may find that no written contract is provided. In the past this was typical of the yachting industry thus you should not be unduly concerned when accepting a position.
As always, if you need some assistance on how to send money home, check out our tutorial on the best provider by clicking here.
Salaries comparison using our collected data. If you work on previously worked on yachts in any position and would like to anonymously share your salary, just fill out this form.
All salaries are being displayed in USD Dollars, by average per month.
Positions on board:
The Captain is responsible for the safe manning and operation of the yacht and all crew members fall under his command. He manages the owner”s asset and ensures all guests on board have an enjoyable experience. The captain operates the yacht under strict international rules and regulations. His responsibilities are all encompassing and his position can be, to some extent, compared to that of a CEO on land.
The First Officer also known as Chief Officer or Chief Mate is the second in command and reports to the captain, and is in charge of the deck crew : second officer, third officer, bosun and deckhands (depending on the size of the yacht). He or the second officer may be the designated security, safety and medical officer, which is also responsible for overseeing deck operations and maintenance, deck budgeting, inventory, supervision of all toys and tenders, setup of watch schedules and passage planning and all other deck duties that aren’t covered by the deck hands.
The chief stewardess will carry out his or her duties and responsibilities under the direction and authority of the captain. As the person ultimately responsible for the interior of the vessel and for providing superior hospitality service to meet the owner’s and guests’ expectations, the chief stew will also train and manage any lower-ranking stews under his or her supervision. Excellent service, host/ess, and managerial skills are a necessity, as is having a good degree of creative flair.
The Bosun is in charge of the deckhands and is responsible for organizing and supervising deck operations, toys and tender deployment and storage. He is in charge of deck supplies and has a good knowledge of all the products used to clean and maintain the outside of the yacht. He is likely to be the main tender driver so will be in close contact with guests which will require confidence and a positive attitude. The Bosun also undertakes bridge watches when on passage, and when the vessel isn’t big enough to have an assigned First Officer, the Bosun also can be applied this role.
Most yacht chefs will have started their career in a hotel or restaurant before joining the yachting industry and will have completed a training course approved or recognized by the competent authority, which covers practical cookery, food and personal hygiene, food storage, stock control, and environmental protection and catering health and safety. To succeed on yachts, chefs need to be extremely talented, have a wide repertoire from around the world as guests are accustomed to eat in the finest restaurants, be flexible and able to work under pressure with at times, depending on the location, limited availability of produces. In a nutshell, chefs must do wonders! Yacht chefs need to be aware of diets, fad diets, religious requirements and understand food allergies and how to cater for all the above.
Steward & Stewardess
Being a steward/ess you will be responsible for maintaining the interior of the yacht and providing the highest standards of guest service. Qualities for this position include discretion, attention to detail, the ability to anticipate guest’s needs and adapt to all types of situations. You will be in contact with all types of people so you will need to have good communication and people skills and be able to deliver superb service with a smile. You should be an energetic person with a great team spirit, somebody who can keep calm in stressful situations and who is able to follow instructions
Tips for new hires:
In many respects the majority of skills that you will have gained in other areas of the hospitality industry (like working for years on cruise ships) are easily transferable to yachting. These skills include: culinary, laundry, silver service, bartending, flower arranging and sommelier experience. Likewise, any additional skills such as nannying, massage therapy and hairdressing are also valuable.
But how to begin? Well, if you don’t already have, the STCW Training course is a great start; in fact you will find it difficult to get work without this crucial training. By enrolling in this course you have shown potential employers that you are serious enough about the industry to put yourself through some initial training. Additional courses for entry level deckhand candidates may include the tender driving certificate (PSCRB) and for steward/esses looking for extra skills, flower arranging and silver service courses are all readily available worldwide.
Also make sure you have enough money for the selection process as it will take some time before you land your first gig on board a yacht. Most agencies around the world don’t like to hire or recruit new hires as they’re most likely to quit mid contract. So if you don’t have any chartering or ultra-luxury hospitality experience, the doors to this industry will be very heavy for you to open.
The standard Medical Examination for the industry is the ENG1, that can cost a few thousand dollars/euros depending to where you live. The medicals you have from previous cruise ship experience are not valid for yachting, so beware of this extra cost.
Lastly but not less important, during the process of joining a yacht, a captain or a department head will be able to provide guidance on obtaining the appropriate visa. Non-US citizens, joining a yacht heading to any US port, will require either the C1/D or the B1/B2 VISA. This is simple enough to get once you are employed on a yacht or after you’ve already worked on a cruise ship company. It is highly recommended to apply through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate within your country of citizenship in order to expedite the process, and if you need to help to fill out the DS-160 Application, you can check out our tutorial by clicking here. Applicants must have a passport valid for travel to the U.S. and valid for at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay, as the Mediterranean season normally kicks off in April/May, with some yachts crewing up earlier than that. The boats will typically start to head over to the Caribbean from September on wards, and then the US VISA will really pay off it’s price.
Did we forget to add any agency? Do you work or know any hiring place that seeks candidates for yachts? Please fill out the form below and we will add their information on our list.