The benefits of working as yacht crew
Written by Simon Osborne
It’s true that there are ups and downs of working as a crew member on board today’s luxury superyachts. With long working hours, little spare time, and some mundane, less than pretty jobs, it’s no picnic. But the perks? There are many! If you can cope with the pitfalls, then the rewards for all the hard work can be life-changing. Below, Yachting Pages has investigated just why tens of thousands of people choose to work on board.
Working as yacht crew allows you access to a completely different lifestyle. You’ll be berthing in some of the most luxurious ports and marinas and visiting some of the most famous destinations all around the world, whilst in the company of the world’s rich and famous, experiencing their lifestyle first-hand.
Wherever you go, you’ll probably find the yacht attracts a lot of attention, especially when berthed. For example members of the public will take pictures, ask questions and on certain occasions treat you almost like a celebrity, especially if you don’t happen to be wearing your uniform! You will be fully flung into the lifestyle that comes with being on a superyacht.
The elite experiences
Would you ever get an opportunity to mix with celebrities? You never know who you might have the pleasure of meeting and mixing with! Some of the most famous celebrities in the world charter or own yachts, including: Kate Moss, Simon Cowell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, Beyoncé, the list goes on…. You might also find that creating a good impression or building a relationship with these types of folk creates an amazing opportunity for your career. Don’t expect it or even try and purposely bond with owners and guests, but if you work hard and honestly, you never know the opportunities that may await you…
It’s no secret that superyachts travel to the most exotic and luxurious destinations, and you’ll be able to experience these up close. You’ll find you get some fantastic views when cruising as well as berthing or anchoring in some of the most picturesque and eye-catching locations on earth. Whether it’s a day’s holiday, going for a jog or heading off the yacht for an errand, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to experience many of the locations you visit – something which may usually cost you thousands to explore yourself.
Living on board
Built for luxury, the superyachts of today are worth tens of millions, and are fitted to impress the world’s elite – and you get to live on board! Though you will be living in the crew quarters, which are obviously smaller than and not as lavish as guest areas, they usually still offer a certain degree of luxury and views.
However, even though you’re on board to work, there are certain instances where you can make the most of where you are. When there are no guests or owners on board, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to make use of many of the yacht’s amazing facilities. This can include trying out the water sports equipment, jet-skis, tenders and toys, as well as using the gyms, enormous home cinema rooms, swimming pools, hot tubs and more (depending on the yacht and the captain’s discretion).
Your new family
Working on a superyacht is unlike any other job. You’re surrounded by your fellow crew mates for weeks at a time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re your colleagues, your friends and your family away from home, making for strong, interesting, dynamic and sometimes even intimate relationships. You’ll also find yourself away from “real life” and this is where some incredibly strong connections are created and long-lasting friendships can be made.
Salary and tips
Crew have good base salaries and no outgoings; tips are also a massive financial benefit for superyacht crew. View a salary table to see roughly how much superyacht crew can be paid for their base salary. Also, with no expenditure on food, drink, bills, accommodation, supplies, clothes (with uniforms provided) or leisure activities, you’ll find you rarely spend much money, making it an amazing opportunity to save some mega bucks. Working on a yacht for a few years can leave you with enough money for a deposit on a house or two!
There’s also huge potential for crew to make a lot of extra money by earning mega tips. That doesn’t mean to say you always get big tips, or that you should expect such gestures.
Working on a charter yacht offers crew a great opportunity to receive tips, but how much? That depends. Standard tips can range from five percent to twenty percent of the charter fee, with an average of roughly 10 percent.
For example if you work on a one week charter, where the guests have paid £100,000 for the hire of the yacht, a ten percent tip would mean £10,000 for the crew. If you shared that between a crew of 10, that’s £1,000 for one week’s tip! Obviously if guests are more generous it can lead to even more, or if they are less generous it can mean not as much. A good tip is to try not to expect too much, as sometimes you won’t get much, and if you do get something – think of it as a bonus!
Private yachts however don’t offer this luxury, as these yachts will be reserved for the owner and so tips will not be as forthcoming. However, private yachts have their own advantages for crew, offering more down time, longer holidays, bonuses and even the possibility of spontaneous gifts from the owner. Some owners are even known to tip on rare occasions!
Many crew have their education/training expenses covered by owners. This can be a huge advantage when trying to further yourself in the yachting industry. There are a wide range of courses available for each job role on board, from deck hand to captain. For example there is an array of interior/wine/food courses for steward/esses, additional licenses for engineers, mates and captains, courses to develop chef skills – there’s always ways to develop! So if you’re able to get a job where this is all paid for – you’ll find it a big plus!
For information on what training is needed to become a crew member, view our crew training guides.
There will always be a chef on board who has been chosen due to their culinary excellence and guess what? He will be cooking your meals! That means you don’t need to spend money on food (or drinks for that matter) and don’t have to worry about cooking!
Gifts and even free stuff!
There’s also the chance that as superyacht crew, you may receive free gifts and free stuff. Gifts can be handed out instead of, or as well as tips (if you’re lucky). Bonuses are also possible on some yachts, for example once a crew member reaches a year’s worth of service etc… You could also be lucky enough to get some free stuff that is surplus to requirements on the yacht. For example if your yacht is having an interior refit, or replacing any designs, there will be old decorations, accessories etc. which need to be discarded. If you have somewhere to send it/put it you could find yourself receiving some nice luxury items.
Living on the land
If the yacht you’re on is required to be taken out of the water for some kind of works, it will mean the crew won’t be able to live on board. Therefore you will be put in accommodation on-land, such as in hotels or short-term apartments with a daily allowance to cover your meals etc… You may be required to work on the yacht at times, similarly to a nine to five job, but you’ll probably find your evenings and weekends are free at least. This can permit you to actually live in and explore some of the most popular destinations around the world, depending on where the yacht is being repaired of course.
For more guides and helpful articles on the yachting industry, visit Crew Corner.