Julie from The Love Boat Ain't Got Nothin' on a Yacht Stew
To begin with, yacht stews are not like Julie from The Love Boat (being named Julie, you can only
imagine how many times I heard that comparison), nor are they there to simply clean and serve.
A yacht stew does perform those functions, but for a more appropriate comparison, think of the
interior department’s role on one of these glamour vessels as equivalent to both managing and
carrying out all of the tasks that go into running a five-star hotel...that floats.
For example, first consider all of the various functions performed in the daily operation of a
hotel, and who is responsible for them. There are employees to clean rooms; employees to do
laundry; employees to give information and to arrange for transportation; employees to assist
guests at any time of the day or night; employees to serve food and employees to prepare
drinks—in the restaurants, at the pool, and for room service.
Next, take that same hotel and toss it out in the middle of the ocean as though it were a
cruise ship—cut off from the conveniences of being on land and having a lot of outside resources
at your disposal. You must now add in employees to entertain; employees to perform in medical
emergencies; employees to handle safety issues; and employees to coordinate activities, both
onboard and ashore.
Now, condense all of the employees from these previous examples down to two to four
individuals who share all of those tasks and perform them for 12 or fewer very high maintenance
guests. On luxury yachts, the ratio of crew-to-guests is a lot smaller, and therefore there is a lot
more one-on-one attention that must be paid. And, mind you, at the end of what would be
considered a normal "shift," you can not very well escape the guests you are there to serve.
When offering the ultimate in personal service, hard work and long hours are par for the
course. The crew is there to fulfill the guest’s every whim. And the yacht stews—from the chief on
down to the most entry-level—are expected to pull off everything I just described, along with the
occasional help of the chef(s), perhaps a purser, and/or the exterior crewmembers.
Just for fun, let’s consider what different functions this means a stew could, quite possibly,
be asked to perform in a day...
As a Yacht Stew, You Might Be Expected to Be A:
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|An Excerpt from Chapter 4:
Around the World with a Silver Tray
-- What Becoming a Yacht Stew Entails --
Work On A Yacht, LLC
234 SW 19th St., Ste. #3
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
Yacht Stewardess / Steward Job Description
That's a lot of hats you must be prepared to wear...accompanied by a smile on your face, a
bounce in your step, and a "Can Do!" attitude. The crew as a whole is expected to be ready for
anything and to handle all requests—no matter how demanding or off-the-wall. A popular crew
reminder given by one of my former captains just before the guests arrived: "Remember, there
are no problems, only solutions."
|Housekeeper (an umbrella role for a variety of different functions—among them Silver Polisher,
Toilet Cleaner, Dish Washer, and Chambermaid, which is just a more formal way of saying
Bedmaker); Bartender; Meal Server or Waitress/Waiter (who can handle anything from setting up
buffets to providing silver service, who knows the difference between tea service and coffee
service, who is familiar with most rules of etiquette, and who can balance plates up his or her
arm on a rocking boat while running up and down tiny staircases); Table Setter; Napkin Folder;
Gourmet Food Expert; Prep Cook; Food Garnisher; Wine Expert/Sommelier (who can decant wine
in rough seas without spilling a drop); Purchaser/Provisioner (of beverages, toiletries, linens,
decorations, décor items, games, and other amenities—sometimes even the glassware, crockery,
cutlery, and other items used for serving meals); Flower Arranger; Shoe Polisher; D.J.; Concierge;
Tour Director; Laundry Person; Expert Stain Remover; Clothing and Linens Ironer; Social Director;
Event Planner; Interior Decorator; Nanny; Public Relations Specialist; Personal
Assistant/Shopper; Hotel Manager and Customer Service Representative; Nurse; Accountant;
Psychologist; Marriage Counselor; Butler; Negotiator; Diplomat; occasional Deckhand; Office
Assistant; Crew “Parent”; and Fill-in Monopoly Player…Some stews even have their masseuse
licenses and can offer massages to the guests...(or reflexology, or yoga instruction, or
manicures)...Heck, why not even come prepared with a set of tarot cards?
Guests Onboard vs. No Guests Onboard
There is a big difference in a stew's daily routine when there are guests onboard vs. when
there are no guests onboard. With guests, the crew is in service mode. This is when the
workload is toughest on the interior staff. The hours can be grueling, and a stewardess must be
available at all times—from dawn until the wee hours of the morning (depending on when the
guests retire). Members of the stew department must be organized and prepared to provide
effortless service throughout the trip, no matter what mishaps occur behind the scenes. But
remember, this is a team effort. (No stew is an island...unless he or she is working on a small
yacht, under 100 feet!)
The daily responsibilities are much different when there are no guests onboard—then, the
job is more about maintaining the yacht and cleaning and preparing for the next group of
guests. The hours during these guest-free periods will more closely resemble those of a regular
land job: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with either a half-day on Saturday, or the entire weekend off. The
exception to those work hours would be if the crew is pressed for time between trips. Heavily
booked charter yachts are known for having only a two- or three-day turn-around between sets
of guests, which requires longer days (hence, the big tips you get on charter boats). On the
other hand, some private yachts and chartered vessels can go weeks or months with no guests.
Other scenarios with no guests onboard are when the yacht goes into the shipyard for
repairs or undertakes a long journey to relocate, such as a trans-Atlantic crossing. Then, the lion’
s share of the work falls onto the exterior and engineering departments, giving the stews a bit
of a break (and the deckhands a reason to complain).