“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
What distinguishes the best yacht stewards and yacht stewardesses from the average yacht crew?
Whether you’re a family office, personal assistant, concierge, or yacht company, you want to hire the best possible steward or stewardess for your yacht. The most important part of finding the best possible staff for your yacht is knowing what to look for when recruiting. These are our top tips as to what makes a great member of the team.
Presentation is one of the most important aspects of yacht crew. Don’t overlook it. The best yacht stewardess and yacht steward will take a great deal of pride in how they present themselves, from the clothing they wear down to the finishing touches (facial hair, makeup, jewellery etc).
Although its important not to discriminate based on appearance (as good presentation can be taught), the role of the yacht stewardess and steward is that they are often on ‘display’ and represent the principal and the yacht itself when at sea.
When you are looking at potential yacht stewardesses and stewards alongside their skills, you should take careful note of how they present themselves. This will lend itself to how they take pride in their appearance when they are in the role itself.
We often like to think of the yacht stewardesses and steward as hostesses and hosts of the sea. Much like how commercial airlines have strict rules and regulations on uniform, makeup, hair and presentation for their cabin crew, the world of super yachts and high end yachts are extremely similar. The crew are expected to look 100% top notch no matter what time of day or hour it is.
Ensure each candidate has the correct qualifications for the vessel you are recruiting for. The bare minimum is the STCW95 which is the basic training required to work on board a vessel bigger than 24 metres. It is a must for any candidate serious about a career at sea.
Other handy qualifications to look out for are the ENG1/ML5 which is valid medical produced by the maritime coastguard agency to state that you are fit to work, RYA qualifications which range from power boating certificates to yacht master, PADI SCUBA qualifications from Rescue Diver through to Divemaster (or Instructor). And if the role is specific for the yacht, such as spa or chef, then also look for relevant certification in that area.
The greater the amount of qualifications tends usually means a greater standard of yacht stewardess or yacht steward, but in turn the expected salary will be higher.
The key to working at sea and being the very best yacht steward or yacht stewardess is energy and passion. Life at sea sounds romantic, hours of watching the waves lap onto the side of the yacht, dolphins playing in the wake and incredible scenery. The reality can be much less glamorous, from finding your sea legs (sea sicks gets the best of most men and women), many months away from your family and loved ones, and sometimes extremely long shifts with little sleep and rest.
Life at sea really only suits a select few. It can become extremely apparent if the yacht steward or yacht stewardess isn’t cut out to the role, so bear in mind their previous placements and size of vessel. If they have worked on smaller yachts and had less intensive itineraries, then think carefully if they will take well to a much bigger crew and more strenuous itineraries.
Candidates will and often want to climb the career ladder, but ensure that you can glean their passion and integrity when you interview them to ensure the right fit for the role.
4. Time at sea
This is an important factor to consider and it will differ from role to role. Entry level roles will attract individuals who have less experience on their CV and this is OK, as candidates have to start somewhere, but in the more experienced positions, look to see if they have repeated seasons or years with the same yacht (a sign they had their contract extended or continued).
Find out if they often chop and change to new positions (sometimes a sign that they are not a stable hire). Speak to their references and find out as much information as you can about the person and their attitude and approach to work. Although checking references is tedious, it’s a vital step (unless you are using a reputable agency who can do this side of the process for you).
5. Use the professionals
There are more and more yacht staffing agencies popping up, but try to find an agency that suits your captain and yacht style. For example, if you want a British style/high end service on the yacht, consider using British agencies. If you feel the crew are more suited to easy going, less polished or relaxed approach, then the US agents might suit you better.
A good agent will be able to adjust the search to whatever you require and the nationality of the agent shouldn’t make any difference to the end result. But pick wisely as the agent is key to the process and will make your experience of the recruitment process much easier.
At Polo & Tweed we are well versed with finding and placing the very best Yacht stewards and Yacht stewardesses into some of the most incredible and high end yachts and superyachts on the globe. We pride ourselves in our approach to the process and treat each client individually as their own needs will be unique. We’d love to speak to you if you need some advice and we are happy to help with your next yacht steward or yacht stewardess role. Just drop us a line and one of our lovely consultants will be delighted to talk to you.