Finding the right crew for your yacht is a task in itself. But keeping those crewmembers – that’s where it can get really tricky. Crew retention is an increasing concern for owners, especially those who like to see those same faces each time they set food on board. Tensions can rise when an owner frequents his yacht only to find a new captain, bosun and stewardess, with suggestions of an inharmonious on-board environment. But what’s the key to making sure that same captain greets you on the dock or that same stewardess serves you that morning latte and evening cocktail?



Of course, each owner is different and by necessity his or her crew requirements will also be so. But, for Geoff Moore, general manager – yacht management at Royale Oceanic, there are a few universal pieces of advice for owners who are looking for crew longevity. “If a crewmember enjoys their time on board, they still stay longer than if they don’t. Crew are like every human being – they always have their own interests at heart. If they are paid on time, thanked for their work and given good terms and conditions, they shall be happy,” explains Moore. However, should their on-board experience involve being shouted at, paid late without any benefit or shore time, then the crew will never be satisfied and, adds Moore, will look elsewhere.

Moore adds that a cultural differences can play an important role in the retention of crew, and notes that some cultures and nationalities dictate that at the first sign of confrontation or disheartenment in their role, an individual should begin looking at other roles, always searching for the next best ticket. “Other cultures dictate that an individual shall be more content with the lesser things in life,” Moore adds. “This is how commercial ships manage to keep the same crew for many years despite relatively poor conditions of employment.”


"Be as careful about choosing the person you put in charge of your yacht as carefully as you would if you started a new business that will have 10 employees and that is going to cost you £2 million a year with no real financial return."
- Britta Fleischhack-Norquoy, president, Conundrum Inc.


For Britta Fleischhack-Norquoy, president of Conundrum Inc., retaining a yacht’s crew comes down to those initial stages of recruiting a yacht’s captain where, she believes, an owner should be involved. “My advice would be to be as careful about choosing the person you put in charge of your yacht as carefully as you would if you started a new business that will have 10 employees and that is going to cost you £2 million a year with no real financial return. Not to just hire the first person that is available that the broker suggests, possibly for the wrong reasons.” Fleischhack-Norquoy advises that owners should be willing to invest time and money into finding the right captain and ensure time is well spent in training them up to provide the precise product you as an owner are looking for, rather than assuming they understand the requirements placed upon them which, in this niche world of yachting, can differ hugely between owners and vessels. “Once you have the leader of your new venture set up, set up an incentive structure that will encourage crew with a long-term view looking for a career in yachting, rather than a paid vacation, and to become long-term, loyal team members.”

For most owners, crew longevity and retention should be, and in most cases is, at the top of the list, though this does not necessarily make it manifest. Having a captain who truly understands what you as an owner hope to get yachting and who equally understands the desires of the yacht’s crew should necessitate clarity and transparency, allow for improved retention statistics and, more importantly, and improved owner experience.