Those of you with a passion for travel might be considering a way to see the world while getting paid, and becoming a crew member on a luxury yacht – particularly in the popular Western Mediterranean charter grounds– is one way to tally off the destinations while having your food, clothing and accommodation covered.
A luxury yacht is also known as a superyacht if it is over 30 metres, and there are even mega/giga yachts over 100 metres. There are over 10,000 vessels that qualify for the ‘superyacht’ title currently cruising the seas and the number is set to rise even further in the coming years. As such, crew are always in demand and whether you’re looking for an exciting gap year or a long-term career, your time spent on board is bound to be memorable.
Your year will be split into the Mediterranean luxury yacht locations over the summer, where France and Italy are favoured destinations for one and all, and winter amongst the sparkling Caribbean & Bahamas charter grounds where guests spend their time sunbathing, swimming and partying in the sunshine through Christmas and New Year.
During your downtime you will have the opportunity to explore these alluring destinations and swim with dolphins, party under palm trees or soak in the Jacuzzi to the glamorous backdrop of Monaco or Cannes.
How much is the salary?
How much you earn is dependent on many factors, including previous experience, the position you applied for and any extra skills you might be bringing to the team – a steward/stewardess might also be a masseuse, Jet Ski instructor or have Scuba dive experience.
Salaries usually start around $7,000 USD for deckhands and stewardesses and can rise to over $30,000 USD per month for more technical and experienced positions such as chief engineer. Private yachts tend to pay less however there is usually a better quality of life, whereas the chance to earn some significant tips on charter yachts is offset by a rigorous daily routine.
Private or charter?
Private luxury yachts are solely used by the Owners, whereas a charter yacht is rented out to different groups throughout the year. The latter might have families with young children to cater to, superstars searching for serenity or a party-centric group that wants to be awake at all hours. Although it often provides more challenges, chartering can also provide greater satisfaction, higher rewards and a more varied CV. As such, it is common for crews to complete one season on a charter yacht and then one season on a private yacht to keep all skills fresh and to vary the intensity of the workload.
The vessels come in all shapes and sizes and it’s wise to do some research before you accept a job: Motor yachts make up the majority of the market at 90% while sailing yachts only cover 10%. You may prefer the stability and quiet of a sailing catamaran, however, motor yachts tend to have larger crew cabins and more amenities on board… which you will have to clean, but you might also have permission from the Owner to use these during a non-charter week.
Entering the luxury yacht industry
Living long-term aboard a luxury yacht is not for everyone: You will be socialising with the same people day and night and your crew will become your new family. You will be asked to go ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ and those that have the most stamina and properly prepare and pace themselves will prove the most adaptable to life on board.
Before submitting your CV, make sure you stand out and put down any experience with sailing yachts even if you are applying for a motor yacht, as this shows an interest for maritime environments and transferable skills. Any hospitality work is particularly valued, especially in five-star environments where presentation and service must be impeccable – just as it is on board.
Captains, first officers, chefs and engineers are expected to have previous experience and training, while deckhands and stewardesses are entry-level positions and do not require previous yachting experience. That being said, you will need to have the necessary qualifications, a valid passport with blank pages and at least six months left, and visas can be obtained beforehand or at first entry.