“I should have known from the beginning of this charter that this one was going to be different. Upon arrival, alter introductions the crew were made to do three shots of Tequila,” he says, as he explains the captain took a step back after the first shot, using water for the rest. Across the week-long charter the crew were pressured to drink constantly, at all hours of the day, the chef tells me.
“I also made the mistake of coming up on deck in a costume the first evening – nothing elaborate – to explain what was for dinner, and from then on I had to don a different costume every night. Mind you, we were a 70-metre-plus sailing yacht, not a wardrobe full of costumes.”
But another problem that soon became apparent was the relationship expected between the crewmembers and some of the charter guests. “Apart from doing all my regular cooking duties, which take up twelve to fourteen hours a day, after the first dinner service I was pressured into coming on deck and having cocktails with the guests.” This led to dancing, explains the chef, and then further inappropriate behavior on the part of the guests.
“After going to bed at three o’clock in the morning I had to be up at six to start breakfast. Surprisingly enough they are all up at eight with Bloody Marys and the obligatory ‘one for the chef’, a catch phrase that was becoming all too familiar, and this was day two. But my captain was happy, because the guests were happy.”
"This is about pressure, and it highlights a problem that many crew have had to face. That is, when you choose to act like a professional."
In these situations, the crew have a choice, the chef explains. “This is about pressure, and it highlights a problem that many crew have had to face. That is, when you choose to act like a professional and turn down advances from guests. We are dealing with well-heeled people on vacation who are, at times, intoxicated.” But professionalism doesn’t stop with yourself alone – sometimes this needs to be imparted onto the other crewmembers on board who, unfortunately, at times let the line of professionalism become blurred. “It’s easy to get caught up with the vibe. I have even had to wake up the deckhand from a guest’s cabin to get him up before the captain.”
This chef’s account is, unfortunately, not a one-off, and is an experience that will ring familiar with many others in the industry. As crewmembers, however, it is integral to remember where the boundaries lie and maintain the high bar of professionalism at all times.
We would love you to share your experience of problematic charters, and you can do so anonymously in our comments section below or join our debate on bad behaviour on board.