The Superyacht industry is truly a unique place to work, and as such, you can easily get swept up in the drama that can be associated with living in a bubble.
Mindfulness seems to be the ‘buzz’ word of this generation. His Holiness the Dali Lama lives by it, Deepak Chopra teaches it and the Harvard Medical School students are writing research reports about it.
So why is mindfulness receiving so much attention these days, especially since the world is getting busier and busier.
We make a plan for the weekend whilst watching TV and playing with the dog
We fold the washing whilst watching the kids,
We eat our lunch whilst sat at our desk for 8 hours without a break
We drive our cars around on autopilot
We “do, do, do, do, do, do,” all day long without engaging our brains into the one single activity that we are actually doing at the time.
The superyacht stewardess does all of the above, just in a different way. Her day is just as busy as the regular woman at home.
This article will explain what mindfulness is, how it comes to be and how we can master mindfulness in with our busy daily schedules.
What is Mindfulness?:
“Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement” (Siegel 2009, Harvard Health Publications).
The History of Mindfulness:
The art of mindfulness has been around for generations with strong roots being founded in Buddhism. However, every religion, prayer group and meditation practices, teach us to be aware of the present moment and leave the preoccupying thoughts behind.
For those readers who are not religious at all then you will be pleased to know that science is now taking an interest in mindfulness as it helps to reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and minds, which results in a happier more positive outlook on life.
Mindfulness also decreases psychological symptoms, such as:
Sleep and mood disorders.
Mastering the Art of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is being aware at the present moment. It is being aware of your body, mind and spirit; it is paying attention to words, tasks, feelings, and atmosphere.
Mindfulness is not some new age “mumbo jumbo” nonsense created by hippies and social outcasts to shame the rest of us for living extravagant lives.
It is a way of thinking and a way of being that EVERYONE has instant access to regardless of your personal beliefs or religious followings.
We can cultivate and nurture mindfulness through various mediums, such as:
Basic mediation and mindfulness.
Sit quietly and focus on your breathing, let the thoughts come in and out, do not judge these thoughts or put any pressure on yourself at this time. Practice a mantra out loud or quietly to yourself.
The idea here is to systematically focus your attention on what you are doing and how you are feeling.
Body sensations: Notice any subtle or strong sensations in your body, notice they don’t think about them or judge them, now let them pass.
Sensory: Notice, smells, sounds, sights, colours, tones, taste and touch, do not judge them and let them pass.
Emotions and urge surging: Coping with cravings can be challenging for us all; so the idea here is to notice how your body is responding to the urge. Replace the physical urge with knowledge, that in time it will pass. You are aware that nothing ever stays the same and life is a continual river of change. You have the power within you to resist the urge.
By practising mindfulness techniques, daily you will slowly be empowered to take your life into your own hands without judging yourself or placing unrealistic expectations upon your personal goals.
It is about being kind to yourself and giving yourself the tools to handle all of life’s little challenges in a calm state of awareness.
The Mediterranean season is in full swing and for many superyacht stewardesses, this means long hours, difficult guests and draining colleagues.
It’s right about this time that the stewardess is not looking out to sea or enjoying the beautiful sunshine, but rather at the mountain high pile of towels in the laundry, dirty cabins and running from one of the yacht to the other, making sure that the guests have everything that they need and want.
Everyone desires a meaningful and fulfilling professional life. When you’re happy with your work, you feel more content, purposeful, and complete.
When you’re unhappy at work, the days seem long, you miss home, friends and family, and the daily stresses and negativity can build up and up until there is little room to conceal your feelings any more.
This can lead to poor decision making, a change in your personality, poor work performance and depression. The work of a superyacht stewardess can be mundane and boring, so it is right about this time that you may be asking yourself “What am I Doing Here”?
Whatever your motivation or trigger is that has led you to the point of resignation, ask yourself the following questions before you throw in the towel.
Questions to Ask Yourself If You want to Leave the Yachting Industry
Understand where your unhappiness comes from — is it specific to the type of work you do, who you work for, or is there a personality clash on board? This is a great starting point for understanding your unhappiness and a great place to make a change.
2. Do I need a job change or a life change?
Ask yourself: Is my unhappiness about my job, or life in general? Unhappiness in one part of life can have a cascading effect on the rest of what we do. Before taking action, make sure your focus is to resolve the primary cause of your discontent.
3. What are your professional goals?
What do you want to achieve professionally, and when? Are you currently on the path to achieve those goals? If not, what do you need to do or change about your current job and career path to get there?
4. What’s been missing for you professionally?
What are you lacking in your professional life? Recognition, compensation or advancement? When you know what’s missing, you can make plans to fill in the gaps, in your current position or elsewhere.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10? 20?
Envisioning your future self is a great way to keep the bigger picture in mind. A simple envisioning exercise: close your eyes, clear the mind with a few minutes of breath awareness, meditation, and then look ahead five, 10 or 20 years.
Where are you working?
What have you achieved?
What does the rest of your life look like?
When you open your eyes, jot down what you saw. You can then take action to align your present life with the future.
6. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?
This question is hard for many people but warrants deep thought if you’re considering a career change.
What do you feel in your heart you’re meant to do?
What work would bring you deep happiness and meaning to your life?
This may be something you can do outside of your current job – as a hobby or part-time interest. Or it might be worth pursuing wholeheartedly as a career.
Undertaking self-exploration work will allow you to understand what you need to be more fulfilled professionally. If you have financial obligations and other considerations that preclude making a significant job change, look for ways to incorporate what you learned about yourself in other areas of life.
Take action. Move towards the activities, interests, and people that resonate with you, and fulfilment will follow.
For many years people at home would ask me what exactly does a superyacht stewardess do? And I’m sure many thought I just smiled nicely whilst serving tea and coffee to the guests on board (similar to that of an airline stewardess).
However, this could not be further from the reality of the job description of a superyacht stewardess.
Soft drink and other non-alcoholic storage and service.
Further to beverage service, a good stewardess will also be educated about tobacco and service of cigars, cigarettes and pipes.
Broadly speaking, there are five types of service that a stewardess is required to competently master. These are as follows:
American service or plate service.
In addition to the styles of service, a yacht stewardess must be well versed in table management, table settings, courses and order of service. These duties and the success of a beautiful dinner or a bodacious party primarily lay with the Head Chef and Chief Stewardess.
A superyacht is full of fine fabrics, and expensive artwork, so a yacht stewardess must be extremely proficient to handle such pieces; or may be required to work under the supervision of the Chief Stewardess until that level has been achieved.
Housekeeping duties will include cleaning cabins.
Cleaning public areas on board.
Cleaning the officers’ cabins.
Cleaning the crew mess and other crew areas.
The details of housekeeping will depend on the size of the vessel and will be coordinated by the Chief Stewardess.
The most common types of fabrics a stewardess must know how to launder correctly are:
Laundry details and coordination will be explained by the chief stewardess and must be executed by the stewardess. This is an area where many mistakes can happen so extra diligence is required here.
Flower Arranging & Plant Care:
Flower arranging and plant care is a fun part of the job. The reason why every good stewardess should know how to arrange flowers is that ‘yes… you are on a yacht’ and you may not have access to or the budget to call a florist every time your flowers or plants need attention.
Yes, I’m sorry to say that looks do matter in this industry. It is one of the things that I found hard to handle when I was being instructed to hire ‘model’ like stewardesses. However, there is a light at the end of this (some times) superficial tunnel; and that is groomed and presentation.
Grooming, personal hygiene and personal presentation are not hard to manage. Knowing your colours, what hairstyle suits your face and how to wear your uniform can make a great impact on your overall presentation.
Professional Etiquette & Interpersonal Communications:
Professional etiquette and personal communications, in my opinion, are one of the most underrated assets of a stewardess.
These skills must be learnt over a period of time; where a stewardess will learn how to speak and when to speak (a skill that many struggles to master); how to walk on a boat, and how to carry herself in front of very important people.
Communication skills are not only limited to verbal communications, but also includes non-verbal communications, like a pretty smile, or direct eye contact (depending on the culture of the guests).
All of these small things make all the difference to your guests having a truly relaxed and enjoyable experience on board.
STCW 95 & Safety Responsibilities:
Finally, a superyacht stewardess must fulfil her safety role in the case of an emergency. Her role will depend on her position, the size of the vessel and her qualifications. Her role will be allocated to her by the Captain or Chief Officer (again depending on the size of the vessel) and must be taken very seriously.
Thank you for reading my article on “What Does a superyacht stewardess do”, and for your interest in this amazing industry.
On a charter superyacht in season, it may be weeks before your next day off. You may be having to deal with, literally, the most demanding people on the planet for as many as 18 hours of the day.
In this environment perfection is a minimum requirement, and under these strains, a superyacht stewardess has to develop superhuman levels of patience. It’s not a job for everyone, but those who get a thrill from providing immaculate service in difficult circumstances have plenty of tips to share for those who are finding patience difficult to come by.
The role of a superyacht stewardess will open a window on how a tiny proportion of the world’s population lives. It’s a select few, and they can be unique in more ways than just their wealth.
Many will have unusual habits, make extravagant requests or have an unconventional manner, and it is up to you to adapt and apply a whole host of different skills while at their beck and call.
Your job description extends to all manner of odd-jobs and it’s up to you to master all of them. Just by way of introduction you’ll have to understand the nuances of international etiquette, keep watch at night, help the exterior crew, apply a silver dining service, help plan meals tailored to the guests’ tastes, maintain the cleanliness and tidiness of the yacht’s interior and perform a variety of laundry duties, many of which are personalisedfor the passengers.
Working in Customer Service
When dealing with billionaires, many of whom are staking their reputations on the smooth operation of their superyacht while their guests are on board, the word “no” is not in your vocabulary. Whatever the demand, and however outlandish it may seem, you are obliged to find a way to make it happen.
What’s more, it’s not just enough to meet the needs of your passengers, the role of a stewardess working in a 7* plus hospitality environment dictates that you should go about your work with a smile and cheerful air.
Experienced stewardesses talk about a gradual transformation into a service superhero, no matter the time of day and no matter how many days into a voyage. The rewards in tax-free salary and tips, which can be 10-15% of the charter, speak for themselves and make the effort worthwhile.
Patience with Professional Challenges
Out at sea, you may be confronted by any number of professional challenges. One of the most common is the universal truth of seafaring; some people will get sick.
This can be a particularly challenging situation to deal with. It’s not just the unpleasant task of cleaning up vomit quickly and efficiently, you will also have to attend to some poorly and most likely impatient passengers and make sure that they are as comfortable as possible.
Superyacht stewardesses also have to get used to the fact that there will be no set routine on board, especially during a charter. Your day will be dictated by the schedule and demands of the guests, and it’s up to you to change to ensure that you offer a bespoke experience for them.
Here, goal-related thinking will go a long way. A calm exterior and brave face will inspire confidence and peace of mind for your guests, and there’s a good chance it will be rewarded financially at the end of the voyage.
Many superyacht stewardesses say that, once they’ve learned to go with the flow the voyage takes on a timeless quality, as days blend together in a pleasant way.
Patience with Personal Challenges
Something that many superyacht stewardesses find difficult to cope with is the absence of personal space. Quarters can be cramped and cabins are shared. Crews tend to mix and match so there’s a chance that you’ll be spending a lot of your time in the company of a stranger.
Homesickness can also strike at any time, even to the most hardened seafarer. Rather than getting nostalgic and looking to the past, try to look forward to future experiences and the time you’ll get to spend with loved ones when the season does come to an end.
At these times it’s a good idea to fall back on the training that you put to use in the professional sphere. Approach every day with a smile, but also fix your gaze on the best parts of the job.
Because few things are better than when you have time off between charters when you’ll be moored in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Many stewardesses take the time to treat themselves, booking in for massages, sunning on the beach or by a pool. For these days you can be as selfish and demanding as the guests you serve out at sea.
And that gratuity will be all the more welcome when you’re relaxing in a tropical paradise like the Bahamas, Saint Martin or Saint Barth.
So while the potential for stress can be quite high when you’re sailing, the opportunity for de-stressing and luxury is never too far away.
Patience with difficult guests
All stewardesses will have an interesting story to tell about the guests that they have served in the past. It’s a simple fact that the super-rich has a different set of standards and modes of behaving to the rest of the world.
A watchword, no matter how difficult the guest may be, is discretion. It comes with the territory in this business, and even when recounting weird and wonderful tales of times at the beck and call of an eccentric sheikh or rude oligarch, stewardesses will never name names.
Spending days on end at the beck and call of difficult guests can be especially draining. But, though it may sound strange while you’re actually living the experience, there’s little in this job that beats the satisfaction when you come to the end of a particularly challenging stint and know that you made sure that the guests went home happy and satisfied.
A skill every superyacht stewardess must learn to master.
The life of a superyacht stewardess is incredibly busy with many tasks demanding her attention seemingly all at once, therefore time management is the greatest skill that a superyacht stewardess can possess.
Time management is the ability to effectively manage your goals by implementing good planning and task management.
Poor time management can be related to lack of focus, distractions and procrastination, as well as problems with self-control and personal power.
If you are a stewardess who wishes that there were more hours in a day, then below are some helpful tips to help you achieve more throughout the day.
The more you focus on a set task the more you can achieve in a day, additionally the less you focus on the task the more distracted you become which results in a sub-quality of work.
Many people attempt to do everything themselves, which quite often results in a burnt out and stressed out stewardess. However many tasks can easily be assigned to other colleagues so that you have more time to accomplish the most important tasks.
This is a very valid point to make if you are the Chief Stewardess or second stewardess and have a more structured day.
If you are a junior stewardess than this is an important point to make if you are feeling inundated with too much work, let your superiors know what task you are up to so that they can redistribute the workload.
Procrastination and putting off tasks that can be completed during the day is a recipe for disaster. Procrastination occurs for several reasons:
You do not like the job
You are too tired
You do not have the skills to complete the task within the time required
Quite often because of the above reasons, this leads to avoidance of the task. Therefore, it is a good idea to do the more challenging tasks first, when the team is fresh and has enough mental energy that is necessary to complete the task.
In addition to this tackling, the more difficult or unpleasant jobs first reduces the amount of time to build up stress and anxiety, making it seem less hard.
Setting goals is a very effective way of achieving workplace demands in a timely manner. By simply setting a goal you can organise your day, week and month better.
One advantage of setting a goal is to improve time management and to have a realistic understanding of how much can be achieved in one day. However, a goal must be set in an effective manner, for example:
The right person must be delegated to the task.
You must have enough resources to achieve the goal.
It must be a realistic goal.
You must be interested in achieving the goals set.
Meet the deadline early: Deadlines are there to help us manage our time better. Certain tasks are inevitable and must be met by a certain time. Rushing to get a job done can result in poor attention to detail, however, if you break the big task down into smaller manageable jobs that can also be delegated then the task can get done before the deadline and with a higher standard of work.
Organisation and time management are like two pee’s in a pod. Many people waste time by:
Playing on the computer.
Messaging their friends.
Or just being too consumed by too many things at once.
To stay organised follow these simple steps:
Maintain a cleared workspace, clutter is a killer of time, every day clean your workspace. This will ensure a clear mind and a more efficient way of working.
Make sure you have the tools and resources readily available to you.
Keep your day planner or schedule up to date, when one task is finished strike it off the list, and if it is not completed on the day, put it down to be completed the following day, or work the extra hours to get the job done.
The effects of stress on the body can be damaging, and there are many books written about this subject.
Stress impairs your ability to manage your time well. To effectively manage your stress, identify the triggers. Next, remove the triggers, or if this cannot be done to take steps to reduce the amount of stress that you place on yourself by
The Superyacht industry is all about service and striving for excellence in service. This can not be more pertinent for the Superyacht stewardess. So what words come to mind when you think of excellence in service? Let me share with you a few that come to my mind:
Excellence in Service & The Superyacht Stewardess
I could go on but you get the idea… Achieving excellence in service to me means giving the guest more than what they anticipated, but no more than what they are willing to accept.
Being a superyacht stewardess your main focus is on the guest and how they are enjoying their holiday. Sure, you have your daily duties to attend to, however, these skills are not that hard to master What is important is finding the right tone with your guests and understanding how much service your guests are willing to receive.
When I was working my way up in 5*hotels, one of my jobs would be to meet the VIP guests, check them in and be their point of contact within the hotel.
Whilst my superiors were happy with my customer service skills I never really understood the concept of the ” VIP guest”… For me, all guests were important regardless of the socioeconomic status, the position held or their political influence.
Working on superyachts supported this premise as we all know that superyacht owners are UBER wealthy, the charter guests are super rich, but what about friends of the owner or the family of the charter guest???
As it turns out they acted and behave just as expected… Just like guests! My point here is that you should treat everyone with the same respect and strive to offer everyone excellent service whilst they are on board. Endeavour to make all of your guests feel like VIPs.
Now, this is not to say that everyone should receive the same service….NO! People are individuals and as such, as a superyacht stewardess should adapt to each individual need.
The culture of delivering world-class service stems from the Captain who supports his team in whatever way he/she can. For the Chief Stewardess, this is her area to shine…educating and guiding the other stewardesses, so that they may learn what it means to be able to deliver a world-class level of service.
Customizing your service skills to your guest’s needs ensures that you are on the right path to delivering a world class service. The best way to do this is to make all your guests feel like VIP guests.
For example, if you are trying to engage your guest in conversation… asking too many questions… Being too enthusiastic or too pushy may leave your guest feeling smothered, which let’s face it is simply annoying…
The important tip here is to give as much service as your guest is willing to receive! Another recommendation is to do a little cultural research about your guests. Educate yourself about cultural habits, food and beverage preferences and social etiquettes. This way everyone wins.
So to conclude here is a summary of my top tips for achieving excellence in guest service:
Treat everyone like a VIP
Learn the cultural and social habits of your guests
Remember that everyone is unique, so adjust your service to their individual needs.
Everyone deserves to receive excellent service whilst on board. Even if they may not outwardly show it, your guests will appreciate the efforts that you go to for them, they even may leave you a tip 🙂