One of the most important aspects about a luxury yacht charter experience is the crew. Without them, there is no charter. Varying in size and hailing from all over the world, the crew is vital in making the charter enjoyable. Ranging from two crew members for a 60 ft. yacht to a larger crew for superyachts, your crew must be knowledgeable, professional, and accommodating. They also must have the appropriate licenses and onboard training to ensure a successful yacht charter.
With over 30 years in the industry, we have worked with many crew members. We know what to look for when hiring a fantastic crew. Here’s what you need to know about your yacht staff on a crewed yacht charter.
The Crew at a Glance
In worldwide yacht charter, at a minimum there will be a captain and a cook. As the charter moves up in size and price range, the cook may be a culinary-trained yacht chef. Usually other crew will be on board, such as stewardesses, stewards, engineers, and mates. In the largest size ranges, especially on a motor yacht, there will be several engineers, a first officer, and more mates, stewards, and stewardesses for on board service. Additionally, there may be a purser to keep track of all accounts, including the Advance Provisioning Allowance, or APA. An additional sous chef may also be on board larger yachts to feed the crew and support the chef.
Manning requirements for yachts are quite involved, and depend on the country to which the vessel is flagged, the nationality of the crew, and the location in which the yacht will cruise. Crew members may need a visa or other documents to enter the country in which the yacht might enter. Depending on the position, there may be many different licenses and visas to obtain before being hired on board any yacht.
In the luxury yacht charter industry, crew members have many opportunities to work their way up from smaller yachts to larger yachts. On the other hand, some crew are very happy to spend their time on the sea on a smaller yacht charter—such as a couple working together without additional crew on a nice catamaran in the British Virgin Islands, welcoming guests on board for various weeks of charter.
The Crew Positions
No matter the size of the yacht, the captain’s main duty is to man and operate the yacht safely. They are fully responsible for the crew and the guests. The captain has the ultimate command over every other crew member, and must answer to the yacht owner. The smaller the yacht, the more hands-on the captain needs to be. A captain’s job is all-encompassing. In addition to steering, navigating, and maintaining the boat, the captain is responsible for training the crew, safety, and budget management.
The yacht captain must have the appropriate license for the flag state for which the yacht is flagged. The requirements are also subject to the size of the yacht. Obtaining a captain’s license is a difficult achievement; it requires a certain number of hours at sea in addition to other skills, including medical training, proper nautical communications, and firefighting. Often, those who wish to achieve a captain’s license must attend a Maritime Academy in their country.
Your captain must be fully-licensed (with all licenses current and approved by the hull insurance provider) to be in control and command of the yacht. Approval from the hull’s insurance provider is the best indicator that you have a fully qualified captain on board.
In a nutshell, the first officer is the captain’s assistant—supporting the captain in every aspect of yacht management. First officers will need to have additional licenses depending on what is required by the flag state to which the yacht is flagged and the yacht tonnage.
The yacht engineer is responsible for all electrical, mechanical, electronic, computer, and plumbing systems on board, making sure the yacht is in safe working order. Yacht engineers do everything from oil changes to engine rebuilds. They must have the appropriate licenses for the flag state to which the yacht is flagged. Achieving this license requires many hours of education and onboard training, often including training by the company that manufactured the yacht engines. On larger yachts, the engineer must have a yacht engineer license.
Stewards and Stewardesses
Stewards and stewardesses are responsible for providing the ultimate in guest satisfaction. With a flair for hospitality as well as food and beverage service, they must meet the owner’s and guests’ expectations. Stewards and stewardesses are responsible for the welcoming interior on board, including flower arrangements, dining table decor, and bath products. Stewards and stewardesses should have the minimum safety license requirement for handling a line on board. They may need other skills, such as training in silver service, French service, American service, or Russian service, depending on the size of the yacht and the nationality of the owner.
What Countries Crew Hail From
Yacht crew members hail from every country around the world. The flag state or country for which the yacht is flagged might dictate the nationality of the crew. However, often a flag state will allow crew members of various nationalities to work on board. On a larger motor yacht with many crew, there may be individuals from various countries working together, including England, America, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, France, Spain, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, Croatia, Grenada, Brazil, French Polynesia, or Thailand.
Obviously, yachts move and can circumnavigate the world. Wherever a yacht can travel, it can have crew from that location. Generally, the on board language on any worldwide charter yacht is English.
How We Choose Our Professional Yacht Staff
You will be living on board with the crew for the duration of your charter. That’s why we want you to have the best crew to fit your needs.
During our 30 years in the industry, we have worked with and followed crew as they move through their careers We have known crew as they mature in their experience, achieve various licenses, and move up in yacht size. Being part of a yacht crew is often a lifelong profession.
One very effective way to experience what you will experience is for us to attend a charter industry-only show. These shows are one of the best places for crew and charter brokers to meet and spend time together. During these shows, charter yachts are shown set up as if the charter guests were walking on board, with the crew in full crew uniform. On larger yachts, the main dining table will be decorated with china, crystal, and other service-ware, and linens set up as if the charter guest were coming to sit down to dinner.
Staterooms will be made ready with full bath products and towels out. Often, one stateroom is set up with turndown service for nighttime, including perhaps a chocolate on the pillow. The top sun deck is outfitted with beach towels, sunning pads, and suntan lotion. Jacuzzis are filled with water and bubbling away.
This is the time for the onboard crew to visit with charter brokers. We are able to see firsthand how the yacht experience will be. This is not a vacation; instead, it’s a serious working endeavor and a good investment. It allows us to evaluate and experience the best crews and yachts. It also allows us to make sure that when the charter guest walks on board, they will be delighted with their charter yacht choice and crew.
When we attend an industry-only charter show, there may be 70 to 120 yachts in our industry at the dock that are “charter ready.” This allows brokers to see and experience all that the charterer might see on board a yacht.
While we are onboard, we interview the crew, tour the yacht, and take note of how it is laid out, what it includes, and its unique style and characteristics. We also sample the food. This is a very important part of a charter broker’s job. The guests’ requirement for the “onboard restaurant” to be the best possible dining in their requested price range is very important. At every industry-only trade show, there are a series of lunches, dinners, and other meals where the onboard charter chef’s food can be seen for presentation and tasted. We pay close attention to the quality of the food on board, as this onboard restaurant is one of the main places where our charter guests will be dining.
At charter shows, there are also industry-only culinary competitions for the chefs. These challenges are usually surprises until they are announced at the beginning of the competition. This means that the chefs must think on their toes—which is often the case in more remote charter destinations. There are also categories for stewards and stewardesses to compete, such as table setting and decor.
If a yacht crew doesn’t meet the requirements or perform to the highest standards, we won’t offer that yacht. It’s that simple.
In addition to attending these industry-only shows, we also experience yachts and locations for ourselves. We seek out those special, one-of-a-kind experiences that will make a charter an enjoyable and very memorable experience. We describe these experiences in our Insider Recommendations for each charter destination so you will know what you can add to your charter to make it extra special.
Once on board, you’ll enjoy a week or longer being catered to by an amazing, experienced luxury yacht crew. They will be there to anticipate your needs and provide you with the highest standard of service on your own private floating paradise. The captain, chef, and crew will help create a warm, relaxing, and refreshing experience. All you have to decide is where you want to go and what you like to do, and we’ll take care of the rest. Contact us today about chartering your own private crewed luxury yacht.