Questions surrounding the level of interior superyacht crew have quietened down somewhat. Perhaps it’s because people are tired of banging the same drum, or perhaps it’s because the interior landscape is changing. It’s certainly changing in Holland, where a new programme called the Maritime Hospitality Host Path is underway.
The programme has been set up by Interior Yacht Services’ Peter Vogel, who is working with land-based hospitality schools to source young professionals (aged between 18 and 22) from a hospitality background, and is putting them through a high-level one year course, that Vogel describes as “like two years in one”. During the course, students will intern in high-end hotels and Michelin-star restaurants, and will receive the relevant certificates, including those from wine to those from the yachting industry’s GUEST programme.
Two years young, the programme is increasing in popularity. The first course saw eight students, the second and most recent saw 20, and the next, due to begin later this year, has 40 students registered.
And it’s after the course that the maritime world comes into play. Vogel has a partnership with Royal Caribbean, which allows the cruise line company to accept or reject the course’s intake. Those who are accepted by the cruise line will then go on a 12-day programme (seven days vocational, five days for the STCW) on board the SS Rotterdam, following which they will be placed on one of the cruise liners. And it’s this 12-day section that has the potential to be of most benefit to potential superyacht crew. “We can really give [Royal Caribbean] personal recommendation as to how someone will function, because they sleep on the ship for 12 days. We spend 12 days with them, we test them, we have them get up early, go to bed late, we take their phones and internet away – we really are giving it to them,” Vogel explains.
“I’ve heard a lot of captains complain that [these students] don’t have any sea time. I get very frustrated by that." - Peter Vogel, Interior Yacht Services
It seems like a win-win. Young, eager students, who have spent a year being trained to the highest level in the hospitality sector, walking straight into the maritime industry. So why is this attractive for the cruise line industry and not yachting? “I’ve heard a lot of captains complain that [these students] don’t have any sea time,” admits Vogel. “ I get very frustrated by that, because I remember, back in the day, it didn’t matter if it was a small boat or a big boat, I always had at least one green crewmember, sometimes even two, to give them an opportunity, to mould them and to make our industry sustainable. So I get frustrated when I hear that on a 50m or even 100m boat, they don’t have space for someone green.”
Vogel predicts that by 2019, 500 students will be making their way to the cruise industry from the Maritime Hospitality Host Path alone. So why isn’t the superyacht industry responding? Vogel thinks they will, but all in good time. “I believe that we’re on the verge of a complete turnaround, and I think that the hospitality side of yachting is finally being taken seriously.”