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Chief Stewardess Duties vs. Lower Ranked Yacht-Stew Duties – A Vast Sea of Difference

If you’ve been watching Bravo TV’s Below Deck, then you’ve likely heard the many references (um, complaints) from the lower ranking stews about the chief stewardess, Adrienne Gang, not pulling her weight. We also hear about the many lists Adrienne is often putting together.

And I say: Good for Adrienne! With the multitude of things that must be thought of and kept track of by the interior crew’s chief during a charter trip—not to mention the juggling act of simultaneously preparing for future charter trips while you’re in the middle of a demanding one—being an organized task-master is a phenomenal skill to have as a chief stew. It can be tremendously overwhelming, especially when the chief must also oversee stews under his or her management that cannot be trusted to get the job done properly. (Just thinking about it makes me want to go buy another #TeamAdrienne “Get $#!@ Done” t-shirt.)

Captain Lee, Chief Stew Adrienne Gang, and Chef Ben Robinson, at the "Below Deck" finale episode viewing party at the Tampa Hard Rock Cafe.  Notice Adrienne's shirt. It reads: "Keeping Calm and Get $#!@ Done"

Bravo’s Captain Lee, Chief Stew Adrienne Gang, and Chef Ben Robinson, at the “Below Deck” finale episode viewing party at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa, on August 26.
Notice Adrienne’s shirt. It reads: “I Keep Calm and Get $#!@ Done”.

There are a number of behind-the-scenes interior staff responsibilities that fall under the jurisdiction of the chief stew, or that pertain mainly to the chief stew’s role—the largest of which is household management. And that includes everything from provisioning and advanced provisions-ordering (for future trips) to keeping up with guest preference sheets, inventory and maintenance logs, and accounting (not all of which can wait until a current charter trip has ended). Ah yes, and it includes many lists. Including lists for shopping trips (which were my favorite part of the job!).

In my book, The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess, I focus more on detailing the entry-level steward/ess duties and responsibilities, since my book is primarily intended for young men and women looking to get started in a career on yachts. As a matter of fact, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of my book address the plethora of things a new yacht stew will need to know, most of which are the responsibilities of the lower ranking stews: the 2nd, 3rd, and on down the line (sometimes referred to as “junior stews”).

Within those three chapters (4-6), my readers receive an introduction to what I call “The Big Three: Service, Housekeeping, and Laundry.” Outside of that, you’ll also find discussions about the “other” types of duties a yacht stew is called upon to perform. For a brief look at what all that entails, read this more tongue-in-cheek (yet also not too far fetched) detailed job description for a yacht stewardess at any rank onboard.

A Yacht Stewardess working in the Laundry Room

For an entry-level stew beginning on a yacht that contains three or more stews, it is rare that you escape long days in the laundry room while on charter. Get used to getting burned by the irons, wrestling with fitted bedsheets while you try to iron and fold them, and nearly suffocating under endless piles of guest and crew towels.
Photo Credit: Chief Stew Kate Chastain.

But in Chapter 5 of my book, I touch on a lot of the things that fall more under the chief stew’s jurisdiction. And I preface that chapter with the following reasons (taken straight from the book) as to why I bother covering them:

  1. “For a beginner stew, it is advantageous to see the bigger picture of what goes on in the interior department. Just because a chief stew is not attending to ‘heads and beds’ or assigned to laundry duties for an entire day does not mean that person isn’t working his or her tail off. It is good for [entry-level stews] to see just how grand and far-reaching a chief’s responsibilities are.
  2. “As your manager, a chief stew may assign [the lower ranking stews] tasks that fall under household management, such as taking inventories, putting together shopping lists, or updating the guest welcome book. You’ll want to understand your boss’s perspective as you take on these assignments.
  3. “I share with you these more advanced areas of responsibility overseen by the interior department since, after all, if you end up in this industry, you may aspire to be a chief stew yourself one day. (And they can really rake in the dough!)”

So essentially, I open Chapter 5 by giving insight into how and why an entry-level stew’s immediate boss, the chief stew, has a much more important role onboard. (And apparently, they had my book onboard as a resource during the filming of Below Deck, so I’m wondering if the ever-complaining Sam ever bothered to read up. )

While often less physically demanding, the role of chief stew on a megayacht is a far more mentally demanding job—and one that carries a lot more stress. (And the need for lots of lists!) Let’s just say if something goes wrong on a charter trip that is costing guests $25,000+ per day to be on, then it’s the chief stew who must answer for it. He or she must think of anything and everything that can happen, and make sure the entire crew is prepared.

For some even more straight-from-the-book fun, click here to read official yacht stewardess job descriptions, pulled directly from The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess’ Chapter 3. Even better than that, if you’re considering a career in the luxury yachting industry, the post also contains a yacht stewardess salary chart.

The Old “There’s No ‘I’ In Team” Speech

In the end, working aboard a luxury yacht is an incredibly rewarding experience. Beyond just the monetary rewards, one of the things that makes the job so fulfilling is to be part of a team that is working together toward a common goal—that of providing the owner and guests with a safe and enjoyable experience.

When we stop to consider what makes a particular yacht a good one to work on, it all comes down to the crew. It’s the team you have around you that makes the difference. And naturally so, for not only do you work alongside these other individuals, but you have to live with them as well. They are your fellow crewmembers, and they are your teammates, but they also become your family away from home. If the chemistry is right, it can make for an amazing experience for all involved.

With that said, getting to know the other crewmembers’ roles onboard will allow you to begin thinking in terms of the overall team picture. And you never know… at some point, you may have to jump in and assist these people in their jobs.

A superyacht crew having some fun "team time" onboard.

A superyacht crew having some fun “team time” onboard.
Photo Source: Suki Finnerty of YachtingToday.TV.

P.S. You’ve no doubt heard the common expression, “There’s no ‘I’ in team”? Well, lo and behold, there’s no “I” in “crew” either. ALTHOUGH, there is one in “captain”… but that’s not important right now. (And forget I wrote it!)

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Interested in more advice on how to become a yacht stewardess and what it takes to handle the job? Download Chapter 1 of The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess 2nd Edition here.

The Insiders Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess 2nd Edition by Julie Perry Download Chapter 1


  1. I loved Below Deck and frankly found Sam so obnoxious and arrogant not to mention smug I just wished I could have thrown HER overboard. She had much to learn about taking orders and her role in the scheme of things. What a horrible person….Adrienne seemed a bit of a stickler yet it’s’ like a 5 start hotel and top service, cleanliness, service of guests is primary. I do think she should have discussed with the crew first about the pros and cons about confronting Simon. Better yet, the Captain should have. I loved the Captain, salty guy!