Crewing for yacht charter: getting the right crew
Operating as a well-paid member of a yacht crew, with a schedule full of exotic destinations around the world, has plenty of appeal – and if you’re the owner of a yacht, the sheer number and variety of applicants this attracts certainly works in your favour. But if you’re crewing a yacht for charter as well as for personal use, it’s important to handpick the right group of professionals, and that needs to go beyond a simple assessment of qualifications and encompass less quantifiable elements like personalities, skills and attitudes.
Are they realistic about the hard work involved? Are they experienced in yachting? Do they have the capacity not just to keep you safe but to bring new skills to the crew and fresh ideas to a charter itinerary? Are they worldly and knowledgeable with first-hand experience of the yacht’s cruising regions? Are they engaging and erudite? And do they have the personality and professionalism to collaborate with the rest of the crew in making your life easy and fun while enabling you to relax to the same degree that you can in the carefully orchestrated privacy of your own home? At least at the outset, employing a crew means having a collection of strangers on board so employing the right kind of person, as well as the right calibre of professional, is a vital component of enjoying your yacht to the utmost.
Specialist skills can add a fresh dimension
While a great crew should always have the initiative and the contacts to respond to client demand for an experience that it is not directly qualified to provide, it’s important to think carefully about the kinds of specialist ability you want your permanent crew to have. For instance, do you want a dive instructor on board? What about a fishing expert, a powerboat tutor or a sailing guru? Away from the marine side of things, do you want a highly decorated chef? A yoga instructor? A qualified masseuse? A beautician? A fitness instructor? Or an events planner who will be able to harness the collective verve and creativity of your crew to organise the world’s best impromptu parties, themed family days and beach picnics? The solution to the crew dynamic you want will of course be governed in part by your yacht’s size, facilities and cruising grounds, but it remains a very exciting truth that the breadth of talent on offer enables you to curate a team with whatever cross-section of specialist skills best satisfies your ambitions.
Great yachting is actually about people
No matter how luxurious your yacht might be, nor how multi-talented your crew, it’s vital that they enable you to feel relaxed and at home on your own yacht. Your idea of what that involves may differ from other yacht owners. Some will want convivial, interactive professionals who make a yacht feel very casual and relaxed; others may want a slick, formal crew that operates with seamless efficiency without ever appearing to be visible at all. In all cases, it’s worth remembering that the single most important element of a yacht charter for happy guests is not the quality of the yacht, the range of facilities or the diversions afforded by the cruising destination. What clients reflect on with the greatest pleasure and what keeps charter guests coming back to your yacht for repeat bookings is the people who make up your crew.
To get exactly the profile and character of crew you want, make sure you are personally present during the interviewing for the Captain. Once you have found the right candidate, ensure that he or she is present throughout the appointment process for the rest of the crew. It helps guarantee a better dynamic in terms of the way the crew interacts socially, behaviourally and professionally; and it will also enable you to pick a crew with the empathy, intelligence and flexibility to tailor its approach to the tastes and inclinations of each charter guest that steps on board your yacht.
Family really does matter
A lot of charter yachts make a point of being child-friendly, with games, cinema rooms, accessible water toys, kid-friendly food and child-specific diversions as well as baby gates and deckside safety nets. Some also have additional cabins for nannies, but it’s useful to recognise that a crew has serious work to conduct so, while it will happily entertain younger guests, it can’t be responsible for babysitting a client’s children. That said, family charter is increasingly commonplace, so it pays to have a crew that has empathy with kids, can execute a family-friendly itinerary and can generate events and activities that engage children to the utmost. If you choose well, it should also be able to leverage its expertise to educate kids in seamanship, water toys, ocean life and local destinations. In all cases, it is a major plus if your crewmembers have a genuine affinity for children and can demonstrate examples of occasions when they have created bespoke activities to keep them entertained.
An established agency is a valuable asset
A professional crewing agency makes plenty of sense for both crew member and owner. While a good agency’s year-round training programmes will help maintain first-class standards of professionalism, it will also have its finger on the pulse in terms of any external training required to keep crew fully compliant with regulatory requirements in the locality that your yacht happens to operate. It will also have a firm grasp of the legalities of employing a professional crew – and in the event of any staff disputes or disciplinary difficulties, the agency should have protocols in place to bring the issue to a swift, fair and proper conclusion while compensating for any unexpected crewing gaps with high-quality candidates at short notice.
Sourcing crew members through MYBA-member management companies, charter agencies and specialist crewing companies also helps guarantee a high level of professionalism, as well as a potentially productive set of affiliations and support networks. This should enable your crew to take even the most challenging charter requests in its stride. From sourcing obscure supplies in the middle of remote destinations to curating extraordinary excursions ashore and other unique client-tailored moments, an experienced, qualified, motivated and well connected crew should have the capacity to make the yachting experience not just more memorable for charter guests but more fulfilling, more fun – and ultimately, more profitable – for the owner.