- It takes a lot of effort to keep superyachts in top-notch shape – but not all owners and guests realise that.
- Business Insider recently asked superyacht crew members what they won’t tell their guests.
- From serving their guests bottom-shelf liquor and pretending it’s top-shelf to eating their food, here’s what they had to say.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If only billionaires and millionaires knew what went on behind the scenes on their superyachts.
Business Insider recently polled superyacht crew members to get an inside look at life on board. We asked them what they wished they could tell their guests or owners but won’t – and they had a lot to say.
Turns out, superyacht guests and owners have no idea about the amount of work, time, and energy that it takes to run a yacht, according to the crew.
Here’s what superyacht crew members won’t tell you.
Note: Business Insider was able to verify each crew member’s identity, but we refrained from publishing their full names to protect their privacy.
Living in tight quarters can be tough.
Crew cabins barely have room to move – and are made for two.
“It is not necessarily easy living and working in close quarters on a yacht with 10-plus crew members,” said Michael, a former yacht captain who worked on yachts ranging from 130 to 170 feet. “Our cabins are a quarter the size of yours, and we typically share them with another crew member.”
He added that most people join yachting “for a short time, and it is a great opportunity to travel and save money in your younger years.”
There’s so much more work involved than you think.
“Everything has a process – just simply moving the boat has a day’s worth of work attached to it,” a mate on a 92-foot yacht said. “Every time you use the toys for five minutes, it takes hours to set it up, monitor your use, then clean and pack it away.”
He added: “Also, there should be room in the schedule to comfortably move the boat between seasons, complete projects and repairs, and let the crew have time off. Just because you aren’t on your boat doesn’t mean we get to take advantage of whatever exotic place you have us.”
And there’s never enough time or people to do it.
On yachts, it seems as if there are never enough hours in the day or hands available.
“Upkeep requires more time and people than is normally available,” said Mark, the captain of a 114-foot yacht.
They love it when you ask for the world.
Superyacht guests and owners have been known to make an extreme request or two, like taking last-minute helicopter trips or flying in soda to a remote island.
But while guests can be demanding, crew members get the last laugh when they can pull it off.
“We secretly enjoy when the guests make a ridiculous request because we’ll actually try and accommodate it, just to prove we can,” an electronic technical officer who works on a 223-foot yacht said.
They eat your food.
Every yacht has a chef on board to whip up extravagant meals for the owner or guests – and crew members said they take advantage of it when they can.
“We eat their very expensive cheeseboard leftovers and drink the very expensive Champagne and wine left in the bottles,” said Martin, the captain of a 155-foot yacht.
They see right through you.
Some superyacht owners are down-to-earth and great bosses, some of the crew members surveyed said. Others, not so much – and it makes some crew members feel unappreciated.
The crew sees “how cheap and not classy” guests are, said a crew member who has worked as both a mate and a junior engineer on yachts ranging from 100 to 130 feet.
“Yacht crew works their tails off. A little more in salary or tip goes a long way,” the crew member said.
They added: “Caring about the crew as people and their basic needs makes crew respect owners more. And sometimes the boat budget is so tight that you can’t obtain things for the vessel that would improve the look or performance of it.”
While you’re having fun and relaxing, crew members are working their tails off.
Many superyacht guests think crew members get a break when they, the guests, go ashore, but that’s not the case.
“When they leave the boat to go to a beach and say ‘enjoy your rest’ … as soon as they leave, we vacuum the whole boat, pull things apart to clean, polish everything for lunch/dinner, prepare for them returning, fold refreshing towels, fill fridges, make cocktails for their return, load towels baskets, clean their cabins … Then they return and say, ‘Did you have a nice rest?’ Oh, yes, thank you very much,” said Nic, a chief stewardess.
They’re not above using a white lie or two.
A stewardess on a 112-foot sailing yacht said there were a lot of things she’d like to tell guests – like that it’s hard to accomplish everything, so a lot of the job is “fake it till you make it.”
“Sometimes if you don’t have a certain thing, you have to fake it with something else,” she said. “For example, a certain brand liquor that you can get away with convincing them that a bottom-shelf thing is the real deal.”
She continued: “It’s pretty easy to convince people with smoke and mirrors. A lot of times you also have to pretend there aren’t problems when in fact there are major problems.”
For example, she said, “things break on boats all the time.” There have been a few times when an engineering problem prevented the yacht from leaving an anchorage, so the crew lied to the guests and told them there was inclement weather where they wanted to go and that’s why they couldn’t leave.
“It’s all in how you sell the lie,” she added.
The long hours take a toll.
Working on a yacht never stops.
“This is now my 38th 17-hour day in a row, and I want to run away,” said a chef on a 150-foot motor yacht.
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