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Yacht Stewardess Confession: I knew very little about high-society life when I went to work on a yacht

A sample “Confession” from The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess: Confessions from My Years Afloat with the Rich and Famous It would be a mistake to lump all superyacht owners and charter guest into one category, for their backgrounds are diverse. But the one thing they all have in common: a boatload of disposable income. And it was a whole new world for me when I headed off to become a yacht stewardess…

I Must Confess…

I knew very little about high-society life when I entered yachting.

Yachts in port of Gustavia, St Barts

Yachts in port of Gustavia, St Barts
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     Louis Vuitton luggage, Christofle crystal, Prada pumps, Mont Blanc pens… What did I know of these things? Nothing. Make no mistake about it, my middle-class upbringing left me flat-out clueless when it came to this lifestyle I was now catering to as a yacht stewardess.

     Case in point: We had the heiress to a multi-billion-dollar fortune onboard, and while we were docked in the chic port of St. Barts, she went on a shopping spree.

Rich woman yacht guest

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     Upon her return, she asked me, “Julie, would you run over to one of the boutiques and pick up the items I just purchased? They are preparing my bags now.”

     Not a problem.

     She then proceeded to tell me the name of the shop. Here is what I heard: “Air-mayz.”

     Hmmm. I wasn’t sure how to spell it, but I imagined it to be something like “Airmez” or “Airmais”… you know, something French-like. So, off I went to complete this seemingly simple mission.

     There I was, wandering the streets of this posh celebrity mecca, dressed in my casual daywear yachting uniform: khaki shorts, Sperry deck shoes, and a white t-shirt, with only the name of my yacht adorning the left breast pocket to lend me credibility as a likely visitor to such a destination.

St Barts, Gustavia Harbor

St Barts, Gustavia Harbor
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     The brisk succession of shops along the harbor was like a scaled-down version of New York City’s Madison Avenue: Dior, Tod’s, Bulgari, Cartier. I kept scanning the storefront signs—one after the other… They came, and they went.

     “Air-mayz, Air-mayz, Air-mayz,” I repeated to myself as I walked back and forth, back and forth. But I didn’t see it.

     And then it dawned on me: Hermès!


Hermès Logo

     Seven years of studying French, and even more years as a Vogue magazine subscriber, and it took me that long to realize it. I had walked past the Hermès storefront at least five times by that point, reading the name and thinking to myself, “Now there’s Hermès (as in ‘HUR-meeze’—like the Greek God)… Nope, keep going.”

     But yes, that was it: “Hur-meeze” was “Air-mayz” (and Hermès was Hermès), and with a snort of self-disgust, in I went.

Hermès store

Hermès Boutique in Gustavia, St. Barts

     The formidable-looking saleswoman standing guard over the locked-up case of thousand-dollar silk scarves looked me over, and I swear even crinkled her nose a bit. The only patrons perusing the shop were a small group of women at the front counter—each of whom looked as if she’d just stepped off a Paris runway—and they decided to stop and stare as well.

     “Uh, good afternoon,” I began, trying to sound as official as possible, “I am here to pick up some recently purchased items for Mrs. X.”

     Okay, that settled them down; I posed no threat. They knew I wasn’t there to hold anyone at gunpoint, or worse off, breathe on their scarves. They turned back to what they were doing, and alas, another clerk appeared from the back, carrying with him not one, not two, not even four, six, or eight, but 10 large shopping bags!

     “If you’ll excuse me for just one moment,” I said, backing up awkwardly, “there are more bags than I expected. I am just going to step outside here quickly and call another crewmember to assist me.”

     Once outside the door, I ducked into a nearby alley and pulled out my crew radio: “Steve, I’m going to need some help over here. I came to pick up Mrs. X’s shopping bags, and there are too many for me to carry on my own. There are ten of them!”

     Steve came back: “Sure, where are you?”

     “Um, well, I’m at the ‘Air-mayz’ store, but if you’re looking at the shop signs, you’ll want to look for ‘Hur-meeze’ because that’s how it reads,” I replied.

     “I’m sorry, could you repeat that… where am I going?”

     Not wanting to confuse the poor guy, I said, “Oh forget it, just look for ‘Hur-meeze.’”

     Then, this 23-year-old Australian deckhand—a real beer-drinking, man’s-man type of guy—came back over the radio with, “Uh, Jewels… I think you got that wrong. It sounds like you’re at the Hermès store… You’re just pronouncing it wrong. Hold tight, and I’ll be right there.”

     Even he knew!

     (And can you believe that when I got those bags back to the boat and was asked by Mrs. X if I would kindly unpack them, remove the labels from the clothes, and store them in her closet, I calculated the total amount spent on scarves alone, and it was over $12,000! On scarves?)

Hermès Bags

Hermès Bags
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Read more Confessions from the book, along with information about megayachts, who owns them, where they travel, and what the guests are like by downloading Chapter 1 here.

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


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