How to choose the right superyacht hiring port
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 13/10/2016
If you're serious about getting your first job on a superyacht, it really is best to pick up and move to one of the main yachting hubs and hiring ports of the world.
Yachting Pages looks into where and when to find a superyacht job, helping yachties to choose a hiring port to suit your yacht job search and circumstances.
Finding a superyacht job: Choosing a hiring port
Although leaving friends and family behind may be difficult, your yacht job search will definitely be more successful with a move to a hiring port. Yes, you really do need to move there to get started – temporarily at least!
There are a few destinations around the world that are known in the industry as ‘yachting hubs’ due to the sheer number of yachts that pass through them each year. A few of these are therefore also known to be prolific ‘hiring ports’, as they are the common connecting points between cruises, and are often the place where crew leave the boats and are swiftly replaced.
It’s important to choose the right hiring port early on in your job search. Your travel budget, visa requirements, and more importantly the time of year will influence your choice of port. Move here as soon as possible and get enrolled with the relevant crew training schools and crew agencies.
You can get started with these steps before leaving home if you prefer, but you will ultimately need to move here (or on board) eventually, so moving now will simply make things easier. After all, the idea is to be ready to interview for an immediate start. You should keep in mind that you will therefore only be here temporarily, so don’t take everything you own with you!
Where to find a yacht job: Hiring ports around the world
The four main, or 'first-tier' yachting hubs and hiring ports for superyacht crew hopefuls are considered to be:
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Newport, Rhode Island
- Antibes, France,
- Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Yacht jobs can of course also be found in other locations around the world, but these four in particular offer far greater access to quality job opportunities, and are more accessible for beginner crew just starting out in the industry.
'Second-tier' hiring ports, such as those listed below, are such as they generally have fewer superyachts passing through each year, and/or see superyachts less frequently. They still make for good training and hiring port options for those who were not successful in the ports above, or for those more experienced crew looking for their second or third yacht crew jobs:
- St Martin/St Maarten and Antigua in the Caribbean
- Viareggio, Italy
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Sydney, Australia
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- San Diego, California
Finally are the 'third-tier' crew hiring ports, which are another option for more experienced crew members, or for those who live nearby and do not have the option to travel. These include:
- London, Southampton and Dover in the UK
- The Netherlands
When to find a yacht job: Moving with the yachting seasons
Crew jobs can of course come up at any time and in any part of the world, but common sense suggests you need to be where the majority of the yachts are. This means moving with the yachting seasons to be in the hiring ports listed above.
You are better off planning your yacht job search to coincide with the typical yachting seasons rather than just setting off when you feel like it. Crew changes usually happen between the summer and winter seasons, in the two ‘shoulder’ or ‘transition’ seasons, when yachts are likely undergoing location changes or heading to shipyards for refit and repair works.
So, where are the yachts during these common crewing periods? Which hiring port is best to target and when? Naturally, the yachts are usually where the weather is nice and sunny, or where the large industry events are happening.
Following the yachting seasons for yacht jobs
Summer: May to September
The summer yachting season kicks off in Europe and the Mediterranean in May, with yachts usually all crewed up and ready to go by April. It then closes in with the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) in late September, with yachts clearing out in the following weeks. The best times to yacht job hunt in the Med are therefore April (with some opportunities in the South of France as early as March) through to September and October.
Alternatively, superyachts may have spent their time summering in the U.S Northeast, enjoying the sights of New England and New York. Here, Newport, Rhode Island is the ideal location for U.S nationals (and those international candidates with the relevant visas) seeking yacht jobs, with opportunities available May through to October. Other yachts sometimes spend the summer season cruising in the U.S Northwest exploring Alaska.
Summer-to-winter transition: September to October
By late September or early October, yachts in the Med will either head to shipyards in Europe for maintenance work, or will head back across the Atlantic to the Southern states – typically Florida. Yachts in Northeast states will also usually make their way down to the south with a stop in Florida before departing to the Caribbean. Those in Alaska will either make their way to Mexico, on to the South Pacific islands, or across to Florida also.
Winter: October to April
The winter season usually starts on the U.S East Coast in Florida with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) in October/November. Fort Lauderdale and Miami are good places for beginner crew to start out, and are unique in that large amounts of yachts pass through here not once, but twice a year. Yachts actually congregate here all year around to enjoy the good weather, but, in the winter season, if work is not found by December it’s often recommended to move out to the Caribbean to find work.
The Caribbean and the Bahamas are another year-round yachting destination, most popular with superyachts in the winter season. The peak season starts in November with the Antigua and St Martin Yacht Shows. Julie Perry, author of The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess suggests that December to February are the best times for finding jobs here, but warns not to head here alone without at least connecting with a crew agent beforehand. She shared that immigration officials can often be suspicious of solo travellers, and you should therefore aim to have a return ticket booked even if you do not use it.
Winter-to-summer transition: April to May
The winter season closes for some in the Caribbean with Antigua Race Week in April, where yachts will head back up to Florida for a month or two to staff up before heading back over to the Mediterranean to do it all again. Alternatively, some might depart earlier, arriving back in Florida to fuel and staff up before heading to the South of France early.
A-typical cruising season: November to May
Those yachts following an a-typical cruising season - perhaps after finishing yard work in Europe, or exploring regions off the typical yachting trail – may head to Australasia and the South Pacific islands for the winter. Superyachts typically head to Australia, New Zealand and surrounding destinations before the cyclone season hits, anchoring up on the Australian East Coast or Auckland between November and May, and may then head on to the U.S West Coast to re-join the superyacht fleet for the summer season.
Finding a yacht job: First impressions and presentation
When enrolling with a crew agent or walking the docks in your chosen hiring port, first impressions are hugely important.
Crew are expected to look pristine at all times as they deal with prestigious clientele, so make sure you take out any obvious piercings, ensure your clothes are clean, your hair is brushed and you look the part for the job. Politeness and a smile also go a long way. Take your crew CV with you with contact details, so they can get in touch.