WHAT IS A SUPERYACHT?
Written by Nathan Bees
Last updated: 21/02/2020
Everybody knows what a yacht is—an eye catching and stylish boat that signifies opulence, class and status—but what on earth is a superyacht? Is it a yacht that’s just more, for want of a better word, super?
Well, yes. In almost every conceivable way these vessels are more ‘super’ than regular yachts. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
What is a superyacht?
Superyachts are characterised by some technical details that most people are unaware of; there’s actual criteria that determines whether a boat is classified as a yacht or a superyacht – and it’s something that all aspiring yacht crew need to know.
A superyacht (or a mega yacht as they are known in the U.S.) is a luxurious, professionally crewed motor or sailing yacht that has a loadline length of 24 metres (79 feet) and above.
What is the role of superyacht crew?
There are five different areas in a typical superyacht crew: the captain, who has overall responsibility for the yacht; the chef, who is responsible for all food; the interior staff, who strive to deliver a hotel-like environment; the deck crew, which operates and maintains the vessel; and the engineers, who ensure full and proper functioning of the many systems on board.
Most crew members live on board and are paid a healthy monthly salary, with the benefit of having pretty much all living expenses covered by the owner. Those who live on board do not pay rent, food, electricity or water bills.
All superyachts have below-deck crew areas, which usually consist of a crew mess, crew cabins and a laundry room. Generally, captains and chief engineers have their own cabins on larger superyachts.
Crew members do not have set hours; they can be required to work at different times depending on a number of factors, including how often the owner is on board and whether the yacht is being chartered. This can result in some very long working days, though the well-paid nature of the job is generally considered to make this worthwhile.
Typically, crew are hired through crew agencies. In order to secure crew work, prospective yachties must obtain an STCW Basic Safety Certificate and an ENG1 medical certificate.
Are superyachts businesses?
Some superyachts are either used exclusively by their owners or are available on a part-time basis for commercial charter, while others are operated as charter businesses all year round.
The production of superyachts has increased exponentially since the late 1990s, resulting in a growth in the number of businesses connected with building, maintaining and serving the superyacht industry.
Among those businesses are the shipyards that oversee the construction of superyachts on their premises – of which a number have gone on to establish themselves as the industry-leading luxury yacht builders.
What is the biggest superyacht in the world?
As of 2019, the biggest superyacht in the world is the Lürssen-built Azzam, which spans 180 metres (591 feet). Launched in April 2013, the mesmerising superyacht is owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the current president of the United Arab Emirates, and cost in excess of US$600 million.
Now you’re aware of the basics, you’re ready to read up on what it’s like to be a yacht crew member! Read through our handy superyacht crew recruitment tips, training guides, and our general crew tips to find out everything you need to know and consider.