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The shelf life of a Superyacht Stewardess

Caroline Clarke
October 26, 2021

It’s sad but true that a female superyacht stewardess has a shelf life. So how do you make the most of your career onboard and transition successfully to a shore-based role?

If you're a successful superyacht stewardess, or even an ambitious one just starting out, you may have heard that all good things must come to an end - especially if you're looking to start a family.

While for many it’s a pretty transient career – an extremely well-paid and often extended gap-year to earn some cash – for others, it can and should be a long-term career choice.

For men, it’s a little easier to transition to well-paid shore-based roles, but for females, it’s still a struggle.

The usual onboard career path starts with junior stew, moving up the ranks until you eventually bag a Chief Stew role, possibly with a specialist skill under your belt like a beauty, fitness, culinary or service qualification.

Then after that? The elusive Purser roles that are actually pretty rare, certainly in yachts under 80m or so. Whilst a lot of purser roles offer rotation, they are a challenging position with the potential to encapsulate any manner of responsibilities including managing every aspect of the yacht’s itinerary, accounts and concierge work to crew documentation and outlandish owner requests! They are very well paid with excellent rotation if you can get them, but then appears the glass ceiling.

If, at this point, you want to think about transitioning from sea to shore, then your CV should showcase you as a solid employee, not just a former superyacht stewardess.

In some cases, Chief Stews have been able to move into land-based service roles that are just as well paid, such as private household PAs and luxury hospitality service managers.

But depending on where ‘home’ is for you, there may not be a 5-star boutique hotel or Michelin star restaurant down the road. If there is, you’ll be working highly unsociable hours for a fraction of what you earned onboard.

And what if you want to get out of service altogether?

A good option is to utilise your seagoing experience in a land-based role within the sector. At Quay Crew, all our consultants are former superyacht crew. There are also a myriad of training companies based all over offering interior courses to existing or aspiring crew that you might be able to lend your experience to.

Speaking of courses, doing some yourself will add to your appeal. I would suggest qualifications in project management, yacht management or brokerage are good places to start. Making sure you are an Excel, Word and Powerpoint genius always comes in handy as does basic accounts.

The key thing is to start getting these qualifications whilst still in yachting. Then you are better placed to hit the ground running when you do look for that first land-based role.

Outside of the industry, I think many ex-interior yacht crew and superyacht stewardess' are well suited to event management and PA roles, so these areas are worth exploring. You could also consider setting up your own business?

But something important to mention…

It is virtually inevitable you will be taking a financial hit when you transition to shore so it is important you are mentally prepared for this.

Tax, rent etc are painful when you might not have had those outgoings for the last five years. That £4k a month, which sounds reasonable, quickly reduces to £2k after bills and the cost of living. So, the more financially secure you are, the easier it will be. It will also make it easier to resist the temptation to return to sea for one last cash grab!

I am actually heading to an exciting event in a couple of weeks to chat about some of these challenges with a bunch of stews and former stews. Keep up to date with stories here – Pearls Of Wisdom.

Photo credit @dare.to.be.danielle

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