Working on a charter yacht, with the added bonus of ample tips, is often the pinnacle of a crewmember’s career, and as such means charter is a more competitive market for crew. Here, Ami Ira, president of Bluewater USA, highlights why a private yacht might be the better choice.
Generous tips are the norm on charter yachts, so why would any crewmember want to work on a private yacht? As someone with experience on both, and more than 20 years placing crew on both, there are pros and cons for each. But for those crew, especially green crew, desperate to work on a charter yacht, it’s worth giving private yachts a little more thought. Here’s why …
If you work for one family, because you see them regularly, you often get to know them far better than any charter guests. You learn their specific likes and dislikes, how many sugars they take in their coffee, lemon or lime in their gin and tonic and what newspapers they read. Therefore, you can better anticipate their needs, making each visit better which brings tremendous satisfaction to service-oriented crew. There are many wonderful owners out there, and being able to help them enjoy their ‘second home’ is amazing. Sometimes it is the only place where they can actually relax, and being a part of that feels wonderful.
Not only do you build a stronger relationship with the owner, but also crew on private yachts tend to experience more shoreside time as the owners often want your company when they explore the area, whether it be shopping, hiking, diving – all types of excursions. There’s rarely any shore time for you when you work on a charter yacht, and you’ll see most of the ports you cruise to from the porthole, leaving you with a severe fear of missing out. On private yachts, owners often take pleasure in treating you to these special experiences, and want to share their adventure with you.
Quality of life
On private yachts, because you aren’t normally up until 2am and back working again at 7am with party animals experiencing a yacht for the first time, there tends to be less drama, and less crew turnover, because crew aren’t getting burned out from lack of rest. Therefore, you get the added bonus of longevity on your resumé. Often, you have a ‘home base’ where you can get into a routine of working a relatively normal week, possibly take regular exercise and even make plans for weekends off! If you don’t have a base and are fortunate enough to be on a private yacht with an extensive cruising itinerary, some owners will pay you for reciprocal time, meaning that time when guests are on board that would normally be time off is accrued for you to take later when there aren’t any guests. Because of the business aspect of charter yachts, it’s quite rare for them to cruise off the beaten path outside of the ‘milk run’ as there’s less charter demand. So if you joined the yachting industry for the wanderlust of travel, private can be the way to go.
A private yacht is not a commercial activity for the owner, and so the threshold for making mistakes is higher. Therefore, it is more likely that you will be cross-trained to do other job duties on board, having time to practise and refine different skills. Not only does this expand your knowledge and value to the yacht, but also your skill set and marketability for future positions. And because, typically, the owner of the yacht gets the benefit of your training for longer than charter yacht owners, they are more likely to pay for further education, or at least offer a schedule that will allow time off to take a course, rather than using your holiday time once a year or waiting for a yard period.
From a recruitment standpoint, often we hear crew say they want to work on a charter yacht because they think they’ll earn more money. But in all honesty, there are many ‘charter yachts’ that will hire you on a reduced salary, dangling the carrot of tips, yet will do only a handful of charters. So you may end up disappointed that you’re not travelling, not earning tips, not growing your skill set and not actually experiencing the world at all. Instead you’re waiting for a phone call from your charter agent, which may or may not come.
At the end of the day, what is important in life are the people you spend it with, and by that I mean your fellow crew, your captain and your employer. With a private yacht, the variables don’t change nearly so much. The stability gives you time and space to stretch, breathe and grow, all while saving your earnings and taking care of yourself. After all, life is short, and, as the saying goes,‘ if it sounds too good to be true, it often is’.
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