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Can you cruise into yachting?

Caroline Clarke
September 28, 2021

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career onboard superyachts and have already worked on cruise ships, you would be mistaken for thinking it’s an easy switch. Whilst there are some positives, there are also some negatives to consider before you cruise into yachting.

At Quay Crew we like to nurture and guide crew that have that extra something into the yachting industry, and cruise ship experience can certainly tick a box, but only in some circumstances.

With secondary skills like beauty therapy and top-quality experience in Michelin star restaurants, we know that you will do a great job on the right superyacht. However, it’s not as simple as taking a cruise ship job as a preliminary into the luxury yacht sector.

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of ‘cruising into yachting’ and how these might relate to specific onboard roles.

Positives:

  • You have been to sea

My first thought when I see a CV from someone that has worked on a cruise ship is that you have actually been on a yacht and at sea. Instead of just researching the difference between your port and starboard and your fore deck and aft deck, you genuinely know what and where they are!

Having this lingo under your belt can only be a good thing, as is having solid sea legs.

  • You have put the hours in

Yachting can be brutally exhausting and working on a cruise ship will have given you exposure to being on your feet ALL day and, in certain departments, with a smile plastered on your face.

I can remember my first yacht and how much my feet hurt. I had experience of working extremely long hours in hospitality, but nothing prepared me for the pain my feet went through in those first few weeks with guests on!

  • Missing home

Having endured a contract (or several) on a cruise ship, you will be used to being away from home and bunking with someone you’ve never met before.

Not all of us are home bodies and some people find leaving home a breeze, but a lot of people don’t realise how much they miss the family life, having their own space and freedom until it’s taken away.

With a season under your belt on cruise ships, hopefully you will know whether you like being away or not.

  • Skills

Depending which cruise ship you work or have worked on, you’ve probably picked up some valuable skills that are easily transferable to superyachts. At the very least, you will have likely worked with people from all over the world and have brushed up on your cultural sensitivities, etiquette and communication.

Engineers will have experience working to the highest safety standards and understand engine room mechanics while Deckhands and Stews will be more than capable of maintaining the exterior and interior of the ship and cabins.

The problem, however, is quality…

Negatives

One of the biggest issues when you’re hoping to cruise into yachting is your service experience. The service levels on superyachts are in no way comparable to most cruise ships and your lack of regular guest interaction can be a downfall, especially when trying to build a rapport with the same guests.

It’s often about quantity over quality – getting as much done as you can in as little time as possible – which is the opposite in the superyacht sector.

In some instances, Deckhands and Stews are no more than maintenance workers and housekeepers and with thousands of guests onboards, it’s highly unlikely you will have regular and personal contact with them.

The same goes for Engineers. On a cruise ship, you’ll not only be part of a much larger team and have responsibility for just a section of the engine room, but you won’t have the same level, if any, of guest interaction that is expected on a superyacht.  

And Chefs? Well the breakfast buffet or crew canteen is going to offer your CV nothing of substance.

How can cruise ship crew make themselves more employable?

If you’re serious about getting a job onboard a superyacht, then you need to first get yourself on one of the most luxury liners.

What you will learn as a Housekeeping Stew on EasyCruise will be extremely different to the experience gained on the Seven Seas Explorer or The World Cruise Ship, for example.

Once onboard, find a guest-facing role within some of the most exclusive departments – Chef or table service in a Michelin Star restaurant, private suite Steward/ess or Guest Experience.

And consider upskilling – Beauty/Masseuse Stews and PT/Watersports Instructor Deckhands are highly sought-after in the superyacht sector.

For Engineers, your commercial safety credentials will set you apart, but you should be prepared to work in a smaller team and multitask, so AV/IT experience would be hugely beneficial as will an EOOW.

Those currently working at 2nd or 3rd Officer level on a cruise ship will have plenty of bridge knowledge far beyond what will be required on a superyacht, but zero Deckhand knowledge, so consider stepping back into a Junior OOW role to inevitably take a step back up in the future.

Bringing these extra service skills to a superyacht is an excellent plus on your CV and, when highlighted in the right way, should at least get you shortlisted on your journey from cruise into yachting!

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