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Superyacht Crew Visa’s Explained

Superyacht Crew Visa’s Explained

What visa do I need to work on a yacht?

For this article, I am going to have to be very general about my advice.

When you are a professional yacht crew member, it is an understatement to say that you will be ‘travelling a lot’, whether it be by air, sea or land.

You will find that the one thing that comes up in conversation is what visa do I need for XXX country.

Therefore, to explain the superyacht crew visa topic, without waffling on too much, I will break down the requirements into locations.

Consequently, the three types of visa’s that we will discuss here are:

  1. Schengen visa
  2. USA B1/B2 visa
  3. The Australian superyacht crew visa

For all visa processes and to make the application as easy and as stress-free as possible, make sure your passport is up to date with more than twelve months validity on it.

The Schengen Visa

The Schengen Area consists of 22 European Union (EU) state members and four non-EU members who are, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Ireland has also opted out of the Schengen policy, and they operate a separate visa policy.

At the time of writing this, the United Kingdom is battling their way through Brexit, but at this stage, UK citizens may move freely within the EU. Furthermore, the UK also run a separate visa programme.

Nationals of EU countries and Schengen nations are visa-exempt and are allowed to reside, move freely and work in each other’s countries.

For those nations outside of the EU and the Schengen visa agreement, then the following rules apply.

They are the Annexe 1 and Annexe 11.

The list of countries in Annexe I includes Asia, Africa and South America (Western part), Russia and China; this means that South Africans and Filipinos are eligible to apply.

The Annexe II countries include the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Annexe II citizens need a visa only if they intend to stay for more than 90 days within 180 days.

Therefore, no visa is required for citizens from Annexe II countries to enter the Schengen area.

Below is a generalised explanation of the Schengen visas for non-EU citizens there are:

  1. Transit type B visa
  2. Short-stay type C visa
  3. Longstay type D visa

The first one is the transit visa, and it is commonly known as the Type B visa. As a yacht crew member, who travels a lot, you may know this visa as an entry or exit visa.

That is to say that this visa is only required if you are passing through a Schengen state for no more than five days.

For example, Transit type B visa is very applicable if your visa has expired and you still need to travel home.

The second type is the short-stay type C visa. This visa is valid for 1 to 5 years. When the visa expires, renewal can be testing.

This visa can not be changed, renewed or extended within the Schengen area. You must leave the  Schengen area and reapply.

The documents needed for this visa are:

  • The employment letter
  • Crew/work contract
  • Port letter and yachts itinerary
  • The yachts registration details
  • Personal travel insurance

In addition to the above requirements, there is a subsection to this visa referring to the “short” part of the visa name. The short-stay relates to the 90 days in and 90 days out within a 180 day period.

Essentially this means that if the yacht intends to spend the summer months cruising within the Schengen area then, the crew member will have to be stamped out by the shipping agent, rendering the crew member limited to the yachts flagged state.

At the end of the season, the crew member can be stamped back into the Schengen area, meaning that the time spent onboard under the flag state was time sent outside of the EU or Schengen area.

The third type of visa is the Longstay type D visa. The type D visa is the best visa to obtain a because it is renewable within the Schengen area.

The visa can be obtained by presenting the same paperwork are the type C visa.

B1/B2 Visa

The USA is a megabase for the superyacht industry.

By its very nature, it draws hundreds of young and aspiring superyacht crew, looking for work and adventure on the high seas.

If you are not a US citizen or hold a green card, then you will need to apply for a B1/B2 visa to work on board a superyacht in US waters.

According to the U.S. State Department website,

“The visitor visa is a type of non-immigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment (B-2)”.

This visa must not be confused with the C1/D visa which is a crew visa, broadly used for maritime personnel including a cruise ship and cargo vessels.

Unlike the Australian visa, the USA visa is not a straight forward visa to gain.

US Department of State is particularly interested in your ties with your own country.

You must be prepared to show that you pay taxes elsewhere, rent a home or can prove that you reside somewhere else in the world, which means that you are in no way interested in overstaying your visa or have illegal immigration intentions.

To obtain a B1/B2 visa, you really need to have all of your paperwork in order, including a letter of employment from your yacht.

The letter of employment is not stated on the website, so I guess it’s not technically required, but it sure will help during the interview process.

Next,  you will need to fill out a DS-160 form and make an appointment with your nearest US consulate general or embassy.

Be prepared for some tough and at times, rude questioning.

Other helpful papers, as mentioned above, include phone records, utility bills, bank statements and other documents that show that you reside happily elsewhere.

Please take the time to research this information accurately.

The Australian  Superyacht Crew Visa

The Australian superyacht crew visa was explicitly created to encourage the growth of the superyacht industry in Australia. Therefore,  it is very straight forward to gain this visa.

You must have a contract to work on a superyacht in Australian waters, and a supporting letter from the owner of the yacht confirming the person’s employment.

If you are not an Australian citizen, you will need to apply for this visa. The temporary activity visa (subclass 408)  Superyacht crew stream, allows you to work in Australia as a crewmember of a superyacht.

You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want while your visa is valid.

The visa is valid for 12 months, with a maximum stay of up to 2 years. Furthermore, this visa is also renewable and you can do it online.


​Important Links to Check at the Time of Reading this Article

The Stewardess Bible

How to Reduce Plastic Use


As superyacht stewardesses, we see the damage caused to our oceans and waterways by plastic daily. Moreover, its no surprise to know that plastic pollution is a global problem that threatens aquatic life.

Therefore, it is necessary for everyone to take small steps to reduce plastic use as well as take good care of their environment.

This article is written for the superyacht stewardess but can be applied to all walks of life. Further, it aims to highlight some steps to follow to reduce plastic use and pollution.

Cutting down the Daily use of Plastic 

 Avoid using plastic straws.

These straws are a massive problem in ocean contamination; they are also among the most picked up trash on beaches.

To stop straw use is straightforward: As a consumer, simply do not order a straw, and as a superyacht stewardess do not offer a plastic straw. If you guests asks for one, offer a bamboo straw instead.

Make use of a reusable tumbler or a no-go mug when you order coffeeAs a consumer, take your own insulated coffee cup along to your favourite coffee shop. The use of insulated tumblers will also keep your beverages hot or cold a lot much longer.

Moreover, You also need to know that paper coffee cups are mostly coated with plastic resin, so you need you to avoid these as well and go for reusable containers.

Avoid dry-cleaning in reusable bags.

Avoid making use of the dry-cleaners’ one-time-use plastic bags and nasty coat hangers. Instead, provide your dry cleaner with your own coat hangers and reusable bags.

Avoid chewing gum.

How would have thought that chewing gum was so bad for the environment! However, according to Planet experts, it is.

The gum was initially made from natural materials like sap and rubber, but manufacturers now make use of a type of synthetic plastic instead.

Therefore instead of mindlessly grabbing the first of chewing gum, you see look for a biodegradable natural gum or eat mints instead.

As a superyacht chief stewardess who does all of the provisioning’s onboard, this is one area that you have complete control over and one tip that can be extended throughout  all of  your product purchases

Biodegradable Vintage Retro Floral Drinking Paper Straws

Check out these romantic biodegradable straws

Make use of eco- friendly shopping tips

 Use reusable bags to carry your groceries.

Yearly, billions of plastic bags occupy landfills. In order to help reduce this number, use your tote bags when you go grocery shopping.

  • Reusable bags are much sturdier for moving groceries and will make a large impact on the number of plastic bags used.
  • It is easy to get reusable bags at most grocery stores and if you are using a provisioning company, ask them not to use single-use plastic bags.
  • Buy food from bulk bins and store them in reusable containers. Purchasing foods from the bulk section will save you money as well as lots of plastic packaging.
  • So instead of bagging your bulk foods up in plastic bags make use of your reusable bags or containers.
  • Waste-free storage options include cotton bags, glass jars and stainless-steel containers.
  • You may consult the customer service desk if you are worried about how your containers will affect the weighing and paying.
  • This is because most stores have weighing options for personal containers. Cotton bags have their weight printed on the bottom which makes the weighing process easier.

Avoid purchasing bottled beverages.

Stop your use of plastic bottles by getting alternatives, i.e. by using a reusable bottle to fill up with water, by making your own soda with machine-like Soda Stream, or you purchase fresh fruit to make your juice.

I acknowledge this is a hard thing to do onboard a superyacht, but as we are all citizens of this planet, this point is for everyone, so please just do your best.

Purchase secondhand toys and electronics.

This is because new toys and electronics come with excess plastic packaging. This may not be an easy tip to adopt onboard the superyacht if you are shopping for the guests, but it is easily done in your private life.

Shopping secondhand helps you eliminate waste and high price.

Reduce Plastic onboard the Yacht.

 Keep your food in glass containers or jars.

This is a super easy thing to change onboard. And if you are worried about breakage, then there are other alternatives, such as wheatgrass containers, or upcycled plastics. Also, check out the beeswax food wraps.

Produce your own multi-purpose cleaner.

The vinegar and water cleaning solution for example.This help to prevent the purchase of cleaners in plastic bottles.

Try recycling your plastic products. After you might have used all plastic products make sure to recycle instead of disposing of them.

You should have a recycling service stop by and have the plastic products picked up at your home, or you take plastics to the facilities.

I have written an article on this matter for Dockwalk magazine, which you can check out here:

  • The Superyacht Stewardess and Going Green


Reducing plastic use involves everyone taking small steps which all amount to a solid solution.

These steps as listed above include replacing single-use plastics with reusable options, when shopping, shop secondhand and purchase in bulk to reduce plastic packaging.

Each step seems small, but small steps will add up to significant change!

Lastly, I encourage everyone to do there homework on this issue. The following websites are a great help:

The Social Systems On Board a Superyacht

A Super yacht is a unique environment whereby the crew live, work and play together for months on end. The services that the crew provide range from safety and vessel operations to luxury hospitality services.

The Social Systems On Board a Superyacht

The Superyacht crew typically consists of a young international mix of nationalities. There is a formal professional hierarchy during working times with strict rules and regulations, which the crew must adhere to.

During downtime or when there are no guests on board the formal hierarchy is flattened and crew interact on somewhat of an equal basis.

English is the official maritime language, therefore, it is spoken and written on-board. Financially, the crew are well compensated for their positions on board and the owners of superyachts are typically situated in the top one per cent of wealth in the world.

Superyacht Crew Hierachy

The Formal Structure

The captain has complete autonomy over his crew. He is in a position whereby he settles disputes, controls rewards such as time off or extra time ashore, and has the power to dismiss crew members.

As stated above, the captain is governed by international maritime laws, however, there is no one who governs the captain on a daily basis. This is an area that can be subjected to personal and professional abuse, should the captain wish to gain from his position.

The limits to individual freedoms, refer to the crew’s lack of job control. Whilst they are obliged to carry out their professional duties, they may have conflicting ethical issues, related to operational decisions, the abuse of power, money or position.

Furthermore, the standing orders are thorough in the operational procedures on board, dress code, drugs and alcohol, with the protection of the environment, and the safety of the vessel and of the people on board, however, it is very limited with its health and wellbeing.

It is important to point out here that there is no mention of the crew emotional wellbeing.  There is no mention of a policy or a procedure dealing with abuse, bullying or harassment. It simply refers to the laws under the flag state.

This means that if a crew member has a problem with or no support from the captain, then that must seek help from the flag state. In many cases crew members will lose their jobs, should they complain or ask for assistance.

The Informal Structure on board a superyacht

The Informal Structure

The informal social structure occurs during downtime, when there are no guests on board or when the yacht is not moving. The informal behaviours focus on “how people in the organisation relate to each other” (4). Given that Superyacht crew work and play together, the boundaries between the formal and informal structures are very delicately intertwined.

There are three types of interaction that interplay with the social structure, these are understandable communications, the exercise of power and the sanctioning of one another (6). For the crew of many yachts, this can be seen with the kinship that they form with one another and the language patterns that they use,(an important consideration considering many crew do not have English as their first language).

The routines which the crew performs either during work hours or during downtime, reinforce the social structure.

It is suggested that people are motivated to perform the routine in order to obtain ontological security, which offers comfort, order… and tension reduction (6). For the superyacht crew daily routines, offer job security and reassurance that their physical safety is guarded.

The social systems onboard superyachts can change regularly when a new crew member joins. The crew access the social norms to guide their behaviour, conform to the cultural norms and values of the yacht.

However, this can be a little challenging for many crew members at first, as it blurs their own cultural boundaries and traditional norms.

Lastly, superyacht crew tend to form an artificial family or kinship with each other. They are reliant on each other and the balancing of power (in this case their rank) is decentralised.

Furthermore, they celebrate birthdays, support and do good deeds for each other. This is beneficial for the crew as it promotes a family feeling on board which supports personal well being.

The Ugly Side of The Superyacht Industry

The Ugly Side of The Super Yacht Industry

The stereotype woman who stays at home and takes care of the kids or work as secretaries is obsolete. Today, females account for almost 50% of the entire American workforce and some of them have found their way in senior management positions in industries that have formerly been dominated by males.

But, despite their increasing number in the world workforce, women continue to experience discrimination and sexual harassment at work.

Now, let’s look at a super yacht industry:

The role of a stewardess is generally executed by a young female between the age of 23 – 35 years old and if you look at industry standards, she is probably above average in looks and has a bubbly personality.

It can be established that super yacht stewardesses work in a male dominated industry, with the average crew consisting of a variation of 30-40% male to female ratio, a little greater if the yacht has female officers or engineers on board.

Sexual harassment, in particular, is a difficult situation to be in as it is emotionally charged, with physical, financial, and emotional fears thrown into the mix.

The amount of damage that this can do to a woman’s self esteem and confidence is regularly understated, leaving the woman feeling victimised, vulnerable and alone.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a behaviour.  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Sexual harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

It may be a tiny remark about the way a woman dresses or a direct sexual coercion act – most women are exposed to different levels of sexual harassment at the workplace. And what’s worse, despite the harsh penalties for sexual harassment, many acts are left unreported.

Sexual harassment can be as mundane as telling a female co-employee that she is sexy, and it can be as severe as touching her in a suggestive sexual manner.

This condition, if unchecked and corrected, may affect the work of a female employee and cause her to under-perform.

What is sexual discrimination?

Sexual discrimination is a behaviour. It occurs when employment decisions are based on an employee’s sex or when an employee is treated differently because of his or her sex.

For example, a female supervisor always asks the male employees, in a coed
workplace, to move the boxes of computer paper. Or, a male supervisor always asks
The female employees, in a coed workplace to plan office parties.

According to recent studies, 4 out of every 5 women who work in male-dominated trade experience varying levels of discrimination at work, and sometimes, even outside the work area after office hours.

In the construction, mechanical engineering, and the more popular male-dominated industries, owners and supervisors are more inclined to promote male employees over women.


What is bullying?
 This definition was taken from the Nautilus Protect & Respect Pack

Bullying can be described as: A threatening or intimidating work environment in which a group of people or an individual may become fearful or intimidated because of the negative or hostile behaviour of another group of people or individual

Bullying often involves a misuse of power or position and is often persistent and unpredictable. It may be vindictive, cruel or malicious, but sometimes the people displaying bullying behaviour do not fully realise the effect their actions are having on others.







Sea Sickness

Sea Sickness

Barf, blow chunks, chunder,  chuck,  ralph, heave, puke,spew, up chuck, and yack are just a few colorful words that many use when they are talking about someone vomiting.


Being sea sick can be a miserable, annoying and just down right uncomfortable condition to experience, Just look at poor Maria!…….So what can you do about it? Continue reading to find out.

What is sea sickness?

Essentially sea sickness is a form of motion sickness.  There is no difference between being air sick, car sick and sea sick, it is all technically motion sickness.

Many different forms of transport can cause motion discomfort, with symptoms ranging from dizziness, fatigue and nausea to vomiting. These symptoms are collectively known as motion sickness. Each one of them can have a dispiriting effect on professional sea personal, especially when they have guests on board or they have a long journey ahead.

For most people sea sickness is just a matter of putting up with a little discomfort and can be quite annoying, yet for others it can have crippling effects.

 What Causes Sea Sickness?

Irwin recorded the term “motion sickness” as follows:

“Seasickness, or motion sickness as it might be more correctly named – for not only does it occur on lakes and even on rivers, but, as is well known, a sickness identical in kind may be induced by various other motions than that of turbulent water – is essentially a disturbance of the “organs of equilibration

The actual cause of sea sickness is quite complex, and as I am not a medical expert, I will give you the short reason; Seasickness is caused by repetitive motion that disturbs the inner ear and is related to the sense of balance.


Signs and Symptoms of Sea sickness.

The tell-tale signs of motion sickness are paleness and /or flushing of the face, cold sweating, vomiting or dry retching. These effects commonly occur in the following order:

  • Stomach awareness.
  • Discomfort.
  • Paleness.
  • Cold sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Feeling of bodily warmth.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Yachtie” remedies for sea sickness.

We all know how colourful the “yachtie” character can be. Here are a few remedies that I heard over the years on how to cure sea sickness.

  • Don’t get on a boat.
  • Sit under a tree.
  • Look at the dolphins.
  • Lie down.
  • Have a bacon sandwich.
  • Eat a lot.
  • Don’t eat at all, then you won’t have anything to throw up.
  • Sit outside in the fresh air.
  • The best place to be on a yacht is to sit on the aft deck in the fresh air according to an Amels project manager (and ex super yacht engineer).

How to ease the effects of motion sickness.

Sea sickness is normally not a big deal; however prolonged lapses of vomiting, retching and dizziness can lead to dehydration and exhaustion which can result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure. So it is very important to take quick and effective measure against this.

There are three types of remedies, this are over the counter medication, natural remedies, and behavioural measures that can be taken to help ease this discomfort of sea sickness.

As seasickness is actually not an illness these remedies are more for preventative measures rather than curative. Most popular brands are:

Over the counter medications:

  •  Dramamine.
  • Bonine.
  • Nei Kuan.

Wrist Bands:

  • Sea Sickness Relief band

Behavioural measures:

  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Take preventive measures.

Personal recommendations :

I was lucky in the sense that I didn’t get really sick; instead I had to put up with a terrible headache and found the simplest tasks took all my efforts resulting in me feeling sluggish. On the occasions when I did succumb to the rolling and pounding of the ocean I found sitting out in the fresh air help a lot. Also I found sucking on hard candy really helped.

We all know how uncomfortable it is, the worst thing that you can do is moan about it, as this the quickest way to “P….. Off” your fellow crew. Just keep busy or if you are unfit to work, then try the above remedies to make yourself feel better.

Thank you for reading my article on sea sickness, I hope it can offer some relief when mother nature kicks off and the seas start to give you a glimpse of what the really can do.

For further information visit the following links:

  • NATO
  • Medicinenet.com


Here are some more articles that you may like to read:

  • SEA Sickness « The Eternal Pantomime – I have to admit that the hullabulloo that Grim Doopeesingh making about leaked SEA results has me amused. The leaking of these results, whether digitally or manually is nothing new. As a child when I did the Common
  • Sea sickness – Galapagos Islands and Ecuador Travel Blog – Never vomit into the wind” Motion sickness or kinetosis – also known as ‘Travel Sickness’ – is apparently experienced by about 33% of people – even in mild circumstances such as being on a boat in calm water. Common
  • Dealing with Seasickness | Eris Propellers – Planning to embark on a cruise with someone a little less comfortable traveling in water than you are? Or maybe you get a little nauseous whenever you take your hands off the helm. That’s most likely a manifestation of
  • Common Sea Kayaking Ailments: Sea Sickness « Kayak Dave’s – Sea sickness (aka “Mal de Mer”) is, undoubtedly, one of the most miserable ailments that can overcome a sea kayaker. The up and down, side to side, and gyroscopic motions that occur while paddling in confused seas are
  • MSC POESIA Ship Review « The Cruise People, Ltd. (Canada) – Feeds: Posts Comments « MSC Cruises Offers Free Voyage on Birthday Nov. I first laid eyes on MSC Poesia at night in Quebec City. She looked very attractive with her gleaming white sides well illuminated.

Maritime Legal Advice

Maritime Legal Issues and Abuse of Power!

Maritime Legal Advice! For years the yachting industry was just a fun and exciting place to work…. meeting amazing people, and going to glamorous destinations whilst being paid very well for doing so……..life was great!

I have had the absolute pleasure of working with some of the finest Captains on the seven seas and I would follow them until the end of the earth.

So what makes a good Captain?

A good Captain is :

  •  A strong leader
  • A good sailor (technically skilled, and one that I would trust with my life)
  • Fair in authority
  • A good manager
  • A good communicator

and finally an all-around nice person…

But then I changed yachts for career advancement and my whole view on the yachting industry changed! …and the rose-coloured glasses came crashing to the floor.

The yachting industry is like the “wild west”, with no “union” to play sheriff to some of the lawless Captains!

This is a topic that many people know about and that cuts deep to the bone, yet many turn a blind eye to the illegal activities that go on.

So what makes a bad Captain?

A bad Captain is:

  • Self-interested
  • Individualistic
  • Unmotivated
  • Who abuses his hierarchical control
  • One who is absent from all moral obligations, and exerts power over the lower rank crew members on a whim
  • Who is technically unskilled
  • Who is a poor manager
  • Who is a poor communicator

In addition to the above, a bad Captain is one, who will steal, lie, ignore and or take part in sexual harassment,  one who will use the vessel as if it was his own, not pay his crew, and steal some of the tip money off his crew.

If you have experienced any of the above and need legal advice, then contact Frank Benham at ETIC,

He specializes in giving advice and legal assistance to the yachting community and shipping industry including crew employment issues, charter agreements, purchase and sale agreements, ship repair and refurbishment contracts, casualties at sea and in port (to include crew injury or arrests).

Very helpful with any challenging French customs problems. Studied law in Aix-en-Provence and in the UK and has a PhD in Maritime Law.

Tel:+33(0)495 061 192
Fax: +33(0)491 462 028
Cell: +33(0)616 962 849
Email: contact@eticmar.com