Alene Keenan, the Yacht Stew Guru of Yacht Stew Solutions, has seen a problematic trend in the 30m to 40m superyacht market: too few crew working to meet unreasonable owner expectations.

The last two years that I have been land based, I have seen that many owners of superyachts under 40m do not fully crew their boats. Instead, they hire a minimum full-time crew and then hire temps. One problem I see popping up is that they seldom have a full manual on board that details service standards and expectations. There is specific information we need to know that would allow stews and chefs to step in and provide seamless service. If we can get this down in a customised manual, it takes away a lot of the stress and guesswork for temporary crew and allows owners to have a better experience. 

For one thing, I see stews over-delivering on some day-to-day items that the owner cares little about. They get up earlier and stay up later than the owner expects them to. They stress out over trying to get the cabin detailed while guests are eating breakfast, and the owners don't even care. They try to do tons of laundry and ironing every day while owners do not expect that, and may prefer not to put so many hours of use on the laundry machines.

On the other hand, stews on smaller yachts are frequently tasked with trying to provide the level of service that would be expected on a larger yacht with more crew. When the boat is in service mode there are at least 38 tasks for stews to complete every day. If you have one or two stews, it is very different than if there are four or more stews. You have to cut corners with a smaller crew, and owners often do not understand that their service expectations are not realistic. 

I see stews over-delivering on some day-to-day items that the owner cares little about.

And often the way the boat is built makes it difficult to provide good service. If there is no stew pantry, it is difficult for setting up and clearing meals. A miniscule laundry creates other issues, while noisy laundry machines may disturb guests and thus usable time is limited. In addition, there may be noisy spots on the boat that we are not allowed to work in because it disturbs the guests; for instance, if the cabinets in the dining room make noise above the master cabin, we have to make sure everything we need for breakfast service is pulled out the night before.

Simple questions about expectations and standards could be written out to save time and deliver consistent service. What time would they like breakfast? How long do you expect breakfast service to be available? The chef and stews need time to do their work mid-morning and time to prepare for crew and guest lunch service, so if there are set hours for breakfast, it lets the crew plan and implement the rest of the morning.

What style of service would the owners prefer? If they like casual service, will stews be expected to deliver more formal service for business lunches or special occasions? Are the proper dishes and cutlery available? American and European silverware and dishes are different; a standard American cutlery set does not include a salad knife or a butter knife, but does that mean they never eat a salad course? Or do we set out extra dinner knives? 

This is the basis of what I am seeing in working with owners, builders and brokers to provide better service for owners, and I feel that this 30m to 40m market has been neglected.


 Alene Keenan