So you want to become a Yacht Stewardess or Steward, but what exactly does that entail?
The age-old question is always, “What do you do when there are no guests onboard? Your life looks like a permanent vacation”
Well the simple answer is that there is always something for us to do onboard. The best way for me to explain this is to outline life onboard for a Yacht Stewardess or Steward, looking at normal working days, guest onboard trips, and all working lists and tasks that keep our weeks busy.
A “Stew” is an abbreviated term for a Yacht Stewardess or Steward
Working Hours of a Yacht Stewardess or Steward
Firstly, you should not expect normal work weeks, work hours, and weekends. Yachts try their best to ensure the crew is getting a good amount of rest, especially if they are MLC compliant, but it’s not always easy. Depending on your trips and the movement of the yacht, you need to be ready to work 16-hour days when you have guests onboard, be on your feet all day, and not have a normal Saturday to Sunday weekend.
The best way to break down your working schedule is to differentiate between on-charter (you have guests onboard), and off-charter (no guests onboard).
On-Charter Work Schedule
I am going to lay out a schedule for a 50m/164ft vessel with 3 stewardesses. Our guests would rise at 6:30 am which is pretty early, but luckily everyone was in bed by 11pm. Here we plan to get 8 hours of rest at night and a 2-hour break in the day.
However please take note, I have worked on yachts where guests were up at 10 am and partied until sunrise. Each yacht will be different so you need to be flexible and start identifying with your preferred choice of beverage for those late-night essential caffeine fixes.
A Basic Interior On-Charter Rota
The Morning Stewardess – 3rd Stew
- Start @ 5 am
- Take a 2-hour break after breakfast is cleaned up
- Finish @ 21:00
The Chief Stewardess
- Start @ 6:30 am (Guest dependent)
- Take a 2-hour break when guest lunch has been served depending on the afternoon guest activities
- Finish when the guests have had dinner and the stew pantry is in good shape
The Late Stewardess (2nd stew)
- Start 8 hours after they went to bed
- Take a 2-hour break when the Chief Stew returns from her break
- Finish when the guests have gone to bed and the night duties are complete (to be discussed in detail later)
Role Overview and Responsibilities of a Yacht Stewardess or Steward
The Morning Stewardess or Steward
As a Junior Yacht Stewardess, you will probably start with the breakfast service role after gaining experience working with the Chief Stew and undergoing service training.
At 5:00 am you need to be on deck (this time varies and is guest dependent). To ensure you have a calm morning and a pleasant experience for guests, it’s important to wake up early enough to have the breakfast buffet fully set and a lovely table arranged before they wake up.
You should have a checklist of everything that needs to go out in the morning such as the coffee station, infused water, jams, butter, condiments, milk, yoghurts serving utensils, and anything the chef needs to serve up the buffet. The list will be long and detailed so use it to avoid forgetting anything.
While you wait for guests to rise, you can dust and check for anything the late Stew may have missed the night before (they will have left you notes).
As guests wake up, you will serve breakfast with the assistance of the Chief Stewardess.
In addition, you will be required to step down into cabins and assist the 2nd stew with cabin turn-ups. Get ready to get your daily step count complete in 2 hours, you’re about to get very busy!
Once you have fully cleaned up breakfast, washed and packed away all dishes, cleared the table setting, and tidied your service areas, you will take a 2 hour break.
When you return from your break you will jump into laundry and housekeeping for the rest of the day and listen out for your radio in case you are needed to assist with service again.
Head straight to the laundry room and start flipping, folding, sorting, and ironing. If you have 12 crew and 12 guests onboard, that is 24 people worth of uniform changes, outfits, bathing suits, swim towels, bath towels, tea towels… you get the point. The list goes on, and so does the laundry, forever. It is really important to stay on top of laundry all day, whilst maintaining the highest level of care. Follow your laundry guide!
Throughout the day you can pop into guest cabins and day heads, making sure these stay clean and neat.
In the evenings you will complete turn downs with the assistance of the 2nd Stew.
What is Turning Down a Cabin?
- Wiping down the shower and making sure there are no water marks anywhere
- Restocking toiletries and amenities
- Cleaning the toilet and folding the toilet paper
- Wiping the vanity
- Neatening the guests personal toiletries
- Clear used towels and put out fresh ones
- Fold all the guest clothes and neaten personal belongings
- Take the guest laundry bags out to the laundry room
- Remove the throw pillows and the day cover from the bed
- Fold back the top of the bed neatly
- Leave a little chocolate and a motivational quote on the pillow
- Don’t forget to put up the blackout shades, and dim the lights.
When you step out of the room it needs to be clean and ready for the guests to slide into bed after dinner.
HEY, don’t forget that the laundry room needs to keep turning in between all of this!
Before you go to bed I recommend getting yourself ready for the following morning. Use your checklists:
- Pull your breakfast set up
- Set the coffee machine for the following morning
- Check your milks, cereals, and butters are ready
- Squeeze fresh orange juice if needed.
The mornings are extremely busy and there is nothing worse than being unprepared when guests wake up, so you need to be ready early enough to get straight into making cappuccinos and taking breakfast orders when the guests rise.
Once you head to bed, try not to take out your phone and lose an hour of sleep to an Instagram rabbit hole. You need all the sleep you can get.
My suggestion is that you take some time to have a good shower, relax, and be mindful. I always do a little stretch while listening to some music, replying to family messages, and taking some deep relaxing breaths before bed. I find this makes a huge difference to my days and the pending lower back ache of a Yacht Stewardess.
The Late Stewardess or Steward
The late Stew spent the night serving cocktails and entertaining the guests while being coaxed into singing karaoke, sober, and mixing up the next round of margaritas.
So, in the morning I have them start the day with some peace and quiet in housekeeping and laundry.
At this point, the early Stew and Chief Stew are serving breakfast so you just need to get going with laundry and morning duties such as cleaning the bridge and crew mess.
When you hear the radio call for an open cabin you will step in and do the turn up. This is the same process as the turndown, except you are making the bed, turning on the lights, opening the shades, cleaning up the cabin, and having it ready for the day.
You will step into a service role for the rest of the day once the breakfast service is complete. You will be working with the Chief Stew, helping with lunch and dinner table settings and service. Throughout the day, you’ll do top-to-bottom checks of the boat, and mainly just keep an eye on the guests and ensure they are all happy and have anything and everything they need.
The Late Stew will stay up until the guests have all gone to bed, everything from dinner and cocktail service has been cleaned and packed away, and all the night duties have been complete.
The Night Duties of a Yacht Stewardess
- Restocking fridges
- Restocking snack bowls
- Wiping down the bars
- Dusting and wiping common areas
- Low-noise vacuuming common areas if possible
- Checking ashtrays
- Cleaning day-heads
- Emptying bins
- Shutting down ipads and putting them on charge
- Do a final check on flipping laundry
- Leave a note for the morning stew. The note should include detailed information on what time the guests went to bed and anything important they should know for the next day
The Chief Stewardess or Steward
The Chief Stew is the Maître d’ of the vessel. They will lead service, as well as supervise their team throughout the day to ensure all duties are completed and guests are content.
Furthermore, to ensure a smooth day it is important for them to maintain open communication with the Captain, Deck Team and Chef regarding meal schedules and daily plans.
As a good host, it’s important to anticipate and prepare for any requests that guests may have during their stay. This includes arranging beachside meals, organising tender trips, and providing refreshments, food, towels, and other items that guests may require.
Additionally, as the Chief Stew it’s essential to be proactive in meeting the guests’ needs, so being well-prepared and organised is crucial to ensure smooth workflow between all departments.
A Day On Charter From The Perspective Of A Chief Stewardess
- Join the 3rd Stew at breakfast service, help with set up and serving guests as they rise
- Get ready for the daily guest activities, check cooler boxes are packed for the beach and tender
- Check snack bags are packed for the beach and tender as well as sun screen, towels and music
- Assist with packing away breakfast once everyone has eaten, clearing the buffet, table setting and cleaning all the dishes
- All the guests want to head to the beach for the day
- The deck team has already gone to the beach to set up umbrellas and chairs
- Facilitate the organisation to ensure everything goes to the beach that the guests or crew may need
- Send one of the stewardesses to assist with cocktail service on the beach
- All the guests are off which is a great time to clean up properly
- At this point the 3rd Stew goes on break and the 2nd Stew is at the beach
- Do a top to bottom of the boat, neaten cushions, check for empty glasses or dirty ashtrays
- Wipe counters and do a quick vacuum of the main salon if necessary
- Pop into guest cabins and check if anyone showered again after breakfast or made a major mess
- Oh, you just received a radio call and the guests want mimosas on the beach, and someone forgot their sunglasses so please go hunt down the pair of brown Ray Bans in Jim’s cabin
- Get the cooler of cold champagne, OJ and glasses ready and radio for the deck crew to take that over to the beach
- We planned for a 1:30pm lunch with the guests
- Keep checking in with the chef and the stew on the beach to make sure we stay on time as best as possible
- Set the lunch table to the fun theme you had planned for the day
- Grab yourself a quick bite to eat before the guests return
- Flip laundry when possible
- As the guests arrive back onboard for lunch, offer them cold face towels
- Keep communicating with the chef regarding lunch time and if it looks like the guests will be at the table on time
- Serve lunch with the assistance of the 2nd stew who came back from the beach with the guests (she rushed down to shower and freshen up before she is back to assist)
- The guests had a nice long boozy lunch and now they are either off to do water activities or nap
- After lunch the Chief stew will take a break and leave the 2nd and 3rd stew to handle things
- You’re back from your break and its time to start planning for the evening
- It’s Laura’s Masquerade themed birthday party so you start pulling out all the decor you had pre-planned and having it on stand by for the most opportune time to decorate the main deck when the guests aren’t around
- Jump into service and let the 2nd stew take her break
- The guests are scattered, you have 3 in the hot tub on the sundeck, 4 off on jet ski’s and e-foils and 4 lying out on the bridge deck sun tanning and drinking Aperol Spritz’s
- The 3rd stew is up to her ears in laundry so you’re out with guests, doing regular checks on the levels, whilst keeping cocktails topped up and towels folded
- Most of the guests have gone to their cabins to shower and get ready for the evening
- You’re hustling with the help of both stew’s to set the dinner table and decorate for the birthday party, as well as preparing for Canapés at sunset, and you still have 3 guests in the hot tub drinking Mai Tai’s
- The guests start emerging from their cabins ready for the evening
- You’re serving Canapés and cocktails as they come outside
- At the same time you are communicating with the chef about dinner time, and letting the Stewardess’s know when cabins are free for turn downs
- You carry out a 3 Course meal dinner service
- This slowly leads into after dinner cocktails and a dance party on the sun deck
- You keep up with service while cleaning and clearing all the dishes
- At this point, as long as dinner is cleared up and all is under control, you will go to bed for the night
- Sweet dreams, see you in 8 hours
Off-Charter Work Schedule for a Yacht Stewardess or Steward
When we refer to the off-charter work schedule, this is anytime that you do not have guests onboard. You may have one week to prepare for your next trip, or you may have 1 month. Additionally, you could also be going into a yard period for 3 months, or the boat could be traveling to a new destination. Taking these factors into account will effect the work you get done, and how fast you have to do it.
For the most part, when you are off-charter the days are a bit more normalised. You can expect to work 8-hour days, have weekends off, and the Chief Stew will come up with a list of duties for you to complete each day. There is a basic list of daily duties, weekly duties and monthly checks to follow.
- Crew mess cleaning, restocking, setting up for meals, and clearing up afterwards
- Laundry – all crew laundry, uniform, personal items, and linens
- Cleaning the bridge
- Cleaning the Captain’s cabin
- Deep cleaning all guest cabins and maintaining the cleanliness
- Cleaning common areas
- Flushing all the taps, toilets, and showers to keep water moving through drains
- Deep cleaning of the Laundry room and Crew mess
- Updating provisions lists for crew food and toiletries
- Weekly shopping to keep crew food and snacks stocked up
- Detailing and polishing stainless in guest areas
- Polishing all silver cutlery and silver accessories such as wine buckets and decorative bowls
- Updating uniform inventories and organising
- Checking all onboard AV/IT operations
- Descaling coffee machines and kettles
- Cleaning ice machines
- Reorganising storage spaces and updating inventories where necessary (uniform, alcohol, toiletries etc)
- Organising the decorations cupboard, placemats, and napkins
- Interior accounting and budgeting (Chief Stew)
- Communication with guests and planning for upcoming trips
- Preparing table decor schedules and activities for upcoming trips
- Detailing the Captain’s cabin
So There You Have It….
A small idea into what we get up to on a Super Yacht.
The thing about becoming a Yacht Stewardess or Steward is that no matter what your age, gender, previous job experience, nationality, educational degree, or aspirations, you will have to start at the bottom in order to work your way to the top.
I know a lot of crew who choose to join yachting in their late 20s and 30s, and this can be tough when you go from being a hot-shot aspiring corporate guru to a glorified housekeeper, nanny, and laundry extraordinaire.
However, with that being said, you get through the grind because your job is taking you around the world and you are earning more money than you could have dreamed of. And most importantly, with luck, you’re doing it with a group of like-minded adventure seekers, having fun and enjoying the ride.
The life of a Yachtie is very “work-hard play-hard”. So, if it appeals to you, check out my post on How to become a Yachtie and hopefully one day we bump into each other on a last minute provision run, or maybe even on a tropical beach in the Bahamas!