While working on a superyacht sounds glamorous, in reality it can be anything but.
Insider polled superyacht crew members to get an inside look at life on board. When asked what working for a millionaire or billionaire is really like, they agreed on a few things, like long hours.
But while some superyacht owners are demanding, others are less so – it really all depends on their personality. Some crew members said that owners and guests are more like regular people than you’d expect.
Here’s what life on board looks like, according to nine superyacht crew members.
Note: Insider was able to verify each crew member’s identity, but we refrained from publishing their full names to protect their privacy.
Working on a yacht can be lucrative.
Insider previously reported that deckhands earn an average of $3,083 to $3,574 a month, depending on the boat size. Captains reportedly get paid even more — they earn $7,750 to $19,961 a month on average.
Kate Lardy of the Sun Sentinel reported that a captain in Fort Lauderdale once spent a total of $14,255 on day workers, who are hired temporarily for onboard services, during a two-month period.
But it’s also tiring and demanding.
One captain who works on a 120-foot boat alluded to tiring conditions. Working for a billionaire is “demanding,” he said, with hours that begin very early — before 6 a.m. — and end very late.
Yacht crew members have to meet high expectations.
One electronic technical officer who works on a 223-foot yacht stressed the pressure of delivering top-notch service while remaining level-headed.
Working on a yacht involves “very, very long days with little rest and expectations to perform at the highest levels of service while not losing your cool under pressure,” he said.
They have to work hard to keep yachts spotless.
Guests and owners can be messy and dirty — and it’s up to the crew to make sure it doesn’t look that way. A mate on a 92-foot yacht said he had to wake up before guests or other crew members to get the yacht’s exterior ready for the day.
“They expect it to look like no one has touched it,” he said. “So any rain or dew, water spots, bird crap, or salt spray has to be continuously cleaned, not to mention having to constantly wipe stainless [steel] and glass when guests move around the boat. They leave smudges and fingerprints everywhere.
“By the time I start at the top of the boat and move around drying the boat, washing windows, and prepping water toys, depending on where the guests are, it’s time to clean behind them.”
He said he then has to be available for whatever the day brings, whether guests want to take the tender out or play with water toys, the interior crew needs help with service, or any maintenance issues need to be addressed.
There’s a lot of cleaning, smiling, and snacking.
Nic, a chief stewardess, shared her typical daily itinerary, which extends from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., with a one-hour break for a power nap.
There’s constant snacking, as she doesn’t always have time to sit and eat, she said. She’s also “always thinking and planning ahead for the next meal or excursion,” like what guests “need to take with them and what they need upon return,” she said.
“Always thinking of ways to make the day special and ‘perfect’ (as much as possible),” she said.
She added: “Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and lots of smiling. Behind the scenes, a lot of running around and working at high speed, throwing stuff into drawers and sorting it out later when you have time, laughing, and keeping crew spirits high. Never-ending laundry.”
Work is easier when the owners are away, which is often.
Billionaire owners actually don’t spend a lot of time on their multimillion-dollar yachts. Neither do the guests who charter them.
“Owners or guests are typically not on the boat all that much, so most of the time the crew has the boat to themselves,” said Michael, a former yacht captain who worked on yachts ranging from 130 to 170 feet.
“Work is pretty easy and consists of general maintenance and keeping the boat in perfect/ready state for when the owner does show up. If you have a good crew it can be very enjoyable. If you do not, it can be very stressful and miserable.”
Everything depends on the owner’s personality.
Some crew members get lucky working for generous yacht owners, while others get treated like the help.
“It’s hard work and long days when they are on board,” said Martin, the captain of a 155-foot yacht. “It really depends on the owner. Some have treated me like family, and some have treated me like a servant.”
But sometimes it’s not the owner who’s difficult.
A chef on a 150-foot motor yacht also said that working for a billionaire could be unpredictable, as every boat and owner is different.
But it’s not the owner of the yacht who’s always difficult to work for.
“Bear in mind that the captain is every bit as much your boss as the owner is, and sometimes the captain is a bigger pain in the ass than the billionaire owner,” she said.
Yacht owners are just your everyday people on vacation – with more money.
According to Mark, the captain of a 114-foot yacht, billionaire owners are just like normal vacationers. Kind of.
“They’re just people holidaying, but with more money and toys to fill their days,” he said.
They can be more down-to-earth than expected, but their spontaneity can be frustrating.
“It’s really nice to find out that some of the wealthiest people you’ll work for are actually more down-to-earth and normal like any person you’d meet on the street,” a stewardess on a 112-foot sailing yacht said. “The saying is ‘money screams, wealth whispers.'”
She added: “A typical day involves turning heads, beds, and laundry for guests and crew, which can be a lot if you’re a department of one. Food and beverage service three times a day. A lot of plans and schedules change on the fly depending on the owners and their wants and whims, which can be a bit frustrating.”
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