Welcome to the Luxury Mega-Yacht Industry!
You’re coming from land-based life or perhaps life on board a cruise ship or commercial vessel and you have decided to take the plunge in to the luxury mega-yachting industry - an energetic and exciting industry! Let‘s get started!
- What is the Luxury Mega-Yacht Industry?
- Where Do I Begin?
- Recommended Course: STCW'95 BST
- Recommended Certificate: MCA Eng 1
- Drug Testing
- Crew Agencies
- Working as a foreign national on a foreign-flagged yacht
- The best TIPS and ADVICE for applying to yacht jobs
WHAT IS THE LUXURY MEGA-YACHT INDUSTRY?
Many of the worlds’ wealthiest people own private mega-yachts (privately owned yachts, both motor and sail, professionally crewed) ranging in size from about 65 feet in length (about 20 meters) to over 500 feet (over 150 meters). A large portion of this industry caters to chartered yachts as well; some privately owned and chartered, some owned by companies who charter them out. Each yacht, based on insurance and other regulations, requires a certain number of qualified crew to operate and maintain the vessel so as to allow it to travel and to follow the regulations of the particular places it visits. You are here likely because you are looking to become a crew member on one of the worlds’ most luxurious yachts!
If you are sitting in your living room hoping to start in this exciting industry, you must get ready to travel! Your best option for starting as a crew member is to pack a suitcase or two and head to one of the top mega-yacht destinations including Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Antibes, France or Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Don't forget to check out the Visa section before you begin. Yachts can travel to any destination in the world, but these are some of the major hubs where you will find a whole industry surrounding mega-yachting. Yachts generally travel to Mediterranean waters in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months (April through October) and to the Caribbean waters in the winter months (October through April).
Each of the above-listed (and other) locations cater to mega-yachts. From crew housing - where crew stay while looking for work, studying for courses, taking breaks in between jobs - to food provisioning, engine maintenance, schools for marine courses and even major yacht refits.
Book yourself in to one of the crew houses in the location you prefer so you can meet other crew, network with potential hiring agents, learn from others experiences and to hear about jobs for newbies like yourself.
Google 'Crew House' in the location you prefer to find your best options for crew housing.
From here, take the recommended course listed below (not required, but highly recommended) and start talking to all the yachties you meet! Network, network, network! You're even networking if you meet some people in your crewhouse and go out for drinks. Be responsible and maintain professionalism. Dress well (Khaki shorts/skirts and white or blue polo shirts are best when dockwalking/networking), remove your sunglasses when talking to someone and remember you are looking for a position on a yacht owned by someone extremely wealthy! You should appear clean-cut and freshly ironed (yes I know..). You will get the hang of it once you get there :)
The first thing to do is to create an industry-standard resume WITH picture! Check out this template:
This course is offered in many of the major mega-yachting hubs and is almost now a requirement to work on board a luxury mega-yacht. Not only does your time spent in the course show you are willing to commit to a job in the industry, it shows you have what it takes to travel and to learn. It teaches you basic skills you may otherwise not have including basic fire fighting, safety while in at-sea emergencies, basic first aid and CPR and professional & social responsibilities while working on board a yacht. Many jobs posted will ask for this course. You will greatly improve your chances of obtaining a luxury mega-yacht position with this course. Please note many other courses are also STCW courses but job postings asking simply for you to have your STCW course are generally referring to this Basic Safety Training course. Any other STCW course asked for will specify which in greater detail.
Google, 'STCW '95' in the location you prefer to find your best options for schools. Cost for the course is in the neighborhood of $900 USD in the USA to about 1200 EUR in Europe. Please ask your local school about recommended courses should you have questions. Please note we are not connected with any one school and cannot recommend a school to you.
This certificate is a Seafarer Medical Examination. It is a legal requirement in the private Mega-yachting industry by certain Flag States (for example, here are the Cayman Islands-flagged requirements for the certificate of medical fitness as depicted in section 3: http://www.cishipping.com/portal/page?_pageid=4362,7343035&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL )
How do you know where a boat is registered and by which flag state it's regulations fall under? Check out the flag flying on the back of the boat! Then check the shipping code/notice for that particular flag state.
A job posting asking for ENG 1 generally requires it as a legal requirement. ENG 1 certificates are valid for up to 2 years - see section 7 below.
Go here to find your nearest MCA Medical Practitioner and to get your ENG 1:
Yes! You have to travel to the Medical Practitioner to have your appointment to obtain your ENG 1.
Some highlights/basics of the latest MCA Merchant Shipping Notice - subject to change:
4.3 A seafarer attending a medical examination must produce personal and photographic identification which will be checked by the Approved Doctor. When it is not a first seafarer medical, the previous medical certificate (ENG 1 or equivalent) should also be brought to the examination.
4.5 The Approved Doctor will ask about the seafarer’s medical history, and carry out an examination, including testing eyesight and colour vision. It is the seafarer’s responsibility to reveal to the Approved Doctor if he or she has previously failed a seafarer medical examination. They should also inform the Approved Doctor of any significant medical condition they may have, or medical treatment they are undergoing at the time of the examination. Failure to do so may be considered as obtaining a certificate under false pretences, which is an offence under fraud legislation.
5.3 Eyesight Standards
5.3.1 The Approved Doctor must also ensure that the seafarer meets the visual acuity and colour vision Standards. The UK’s Standards for visual acuity are based on the international standards laid down in the IMO Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW 78 as amended). Candidates will be tested for each eye separately and must meet both the high standard required with visual aids (where needed), and a minimum standard without visual aids, in order to ensure that in an emergency they have adequate vision to carry out emergency procedures safely. For colour vision, candidates are screened using Ishihara plates. It is essential that seafarers applying for Certificates of Competency as deck or dual career (merchant/fishing) officers have full colour vision.
5.4 Categories of medical fitness
5.4.1 The following categories are applied in assessing whether or not a seafarer is fit in terms of the medical and eyesight Standards:
Category 1 : Fit for sea service, with no restrictions
Category 2 : Fit for sea service but with restrictions
Category 3 : Temporarily unfit for sea service. The Approved Doctor must specify the duration of the period of unfitness.
Category 4 : Permanently unfit for sea service. This category will normally be considered to last for a minimum of five years and may only be changed at a later date if an Approved Doctor is presented with medical evidence of the reversal of the original medical condition. Review by a Medical Referee may also be required.
6. Issue of medical certificate (Regulation 8)
6.4 The ENG 1 certificate is the property of the seafarer and must be carried on board the ship on which they are working. If a certificate is lost or damaged, the Approved Doctor who issued the original certificate may, at their discretion, issue a replacement certificate. The Approved Doctor will notify MCA of the seafarer’s name, date of birth and the serial number of the original ENG 1 and the new certificate issued. The Approved Doctor may make an administrative charge for a replacement certificate (Regulation 17). However, if a significant period of time has passed since the medical examination was carried out, they may consider that a new examination is required so that they can issue a new certificate.
7. Validity of medical fitness certificates (Regulation 9)
7.1 The medical fitness certificate will specify the date that the medical examination was carried out and the expiry date of the certificate. Under the Regulations, the maximum validity period for all seafarers over 18 (including those working on chemical carriers) is 2 years, and for seafarers under 18 years old, 1 year. If the seafarer’s health demands it, an Approved Doctor may issue a certificate valid for a period of less than 2 years.
For the full report, go here:
As part of onboard safety, many luxury mega-yachts will perform random drug tests among crew members. More and more, yacht Captains are asking for drug tests to be performed before you apply for a position and to include your results as part of your application. Make no mistake, there is no room for drugs in this industry as you can not only be detained for use/possession, you can risk losing your ability to travel, be extradited and potentially have the yacht on which you are working, impounded. You risk the same consequences if guests or yacht owners are caught using/in possession of drugs as well. Don’t risk your entire crew and your yacht - don’t forget you risk getting sued on top of this. Ask your Captain about your drug and alcohol policy.
Drug testing, in this industry, can be performed in various manners showing various results:
- Saliva testing - this shows a 3-5 day history of your system for drug use minus any drug containing THC. Your past few weeks of history can show up with the use of THC. Saliva testing is the least invasive in that it requires something placed under your tongue for about 3.5 minutes.
- Urine testing - this shows you 3-5 days of history. Urine sample obviously required.
- Hair follicle testing - this test shows approximately 90 days of your system’s history. This test requires you to have a minumum of 120 pieces of 4” or longer hair strands from your head, or shorter hair from other parts of your body, removed and tested.
Prescription drugs may show up in your testing. You do not have to disclose your medical history to those testing you but please know you may have to get a list of prescription medications from your doctor or pharmacist when your results come back.
Results take about a week to obtain. A card is generally issued stating you’re a pass or fail.
A Crew Agency is a Human Resource company hired by Captains/Management companies to find crew. You can register with a Crew Agency and be considered for jobs for which they are hired to place crew. They often have their own job boards and when you register once, you can apply easily for any job they post (for which you are qualified), or they will automatically put you forward for any position for which you qualify (if no job board.)
Crew Agencies are to represent you. This means you present yourself to them as the professional you are in the hopes you make a good impression and are of interest to them as a candidate with the skills they need to put forward when your dream-job comes up.
Remember, Crew Agencies market you and your skills. If you are a newbie, you may not yet have the skills to be considered marketable and a Crew Agency may not be able to place you. That said you should keep in contact with Crew Agencies even if they can’t place you, as you obtain more skills and experience. One day, down the road, you will become marketable and they can help place you.
Also remember to dress appropriately when attending an interview with a Crew Agency. Bring a copy of your resume and be sure all your information in your online registration is up-to-date. Be clear in the position for which you’re looking (do your homework) and think forward - which route do you want to take? Which courses are you required to have to move along in your career?
Crew Agencies are hired by yachts looking to place, typically, longer-term crew. Most have policies that include refunding a yacht if you do not last for at least 3 months in the role in which you were hired. If you are going to use a Crew Agency, be sure you’re willing to commit for more than 3 months in order to make the Crew Agency’s time worthwhile and in order to develop a lasting relationship with your Crew Agent.
Not all Crew Agencies think alike! If you do not find the right fit the first time, try again with a different agency.
In order for you to travel to a foreign country, you may require a Visa, depending on which country you're from, and to which country you wish to travel. Many boats will ask for a B1/B2 Visa with your application, for example, which is a Visitors Visa to enter the United States, not a working Visa. If your boat plans on traveling to the US, you may wish to read through the online application process. This site seems to be a good source of information:
If you have further questions, please forward them to forums such as that on Dockwalk for clarification.
Please note: Canadians do not need a B1 or B2 Visa in order to visit the US (only a valid passport that is not within 6 months of expiring) and you may remain in the US for up to 6 months. Make sure your Captain knows this!
Another popular Visa to consider is the Schengen Visa. In order to travel in 26 European countries (the Schengen Area can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area), you may require this Visa.
Please do your homework before you travel so you don't run in to issues! Choose your country of choice then Google Visa requirements to travel to that country, or visit their embassy!
The question of, 'how do I work on a yacht if I don't have a working visa for the country in which the yacht is based?', comes up often. If this question hasn't entered your mind yet, this is something you should understand.
Private or commercial charter yachts must be 'registered' - something required by international law and typically required to obtain insurance for the vessel, especially when traveling on the high sea (international waters). Registration is generally under, what's called, a flag state, which enforces certain regulations and laws.
A registered yacht will fly the civil ensign (or flag of the state) on the back of the yacht. This lets you know where the yacht is registered and this flag should also tell you whether you can work on the yacht or not.
Should a yacht have, for example, an American flag on the back of the yacht, and you are not from the US nor do you possess a US work permit, you will not be permitted to work on the yacht. This flag will tell you they can only pay tax-paying Americans and therefore only Americans (or those with working visas or 'green cards') can apply to work on the yacht.
Should a yacht have the flag for the Cayman Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Isle of Man or the British Virgin Islands, and you are not from any of these flag states, you can likely work on the yacht. Part of the benefit of registering a yacht 'offshore' is to be able to have foreign crew work on the yacht. Many of the yachts traveling to the Mediterranean in the Northern Hemisphere summer and to the Caribbean in the winter will be registered offshore, or foreign-flagged. Many ads will post 'FF' or 'foreign-flagged yacht' to let you know anyone can work on board. Those yachts that have any stipulations regarding who can and can't work on board will generally specify in the job ad. It is safe to assume if no mention of who can work on the yacht is mentioned in a job post, anyone can apply, provided you meet the other requirements of the job post.
Five Star Crew has been posting jobs for over 2.5 years - did you know that?! We have seen thousands of well-written and poorly-posted jobs come and go and have some great tips for you, so you can read between the lines to see what's required from a job posting. This information will help you focus on the jobs that are best for you and keep you from wasting time on those that are very unlikely to hire you for whatever reason.
- The first, and best tip we can give is this: if you are new or newish to the industry (this includes all you coming from cruise ships at lower levels), you are BEST to not waste too much time looking online for jobs. Yup, you are unlikely to get your first couple of positions from this or any other site, unless they are asking for newbies specifically in which case hundreds may apply. Your best, absolute BEST avenue, is to shake hands with as many yachties as you can and to tell everyone in the industry you're looking for work, you're keen, and you're available to start right away. Face-to-face, as tough as that might be for some of you, is best. Meet people, network, knock on boats, talk to the same boats each day if necessary. Don't waste time starting with any other avenue. You will learn and thank us later for this advice :)
- A boat looking for a Stew or Deckhand is most likely to hire someone from the area local to the boat/off the dock. We try to ensure each post comes with a general location of the yacht so you know what is local and what isn't. Deck and Stew positions are considered entry-in-to-the-industry positions (unless looking for higher-level Stews or Deckies) and there are many many of you out there. Therefore if you are in the USA and see a position posted in the MED for a Stew or Deck position and you have minimal experience, you are best to seek out positions within your area. Many entry-level positions are hired from the dock, or from networking. You may gain some daywork and if you fit in well, show a good attitude and perform your tasks well, you may get hired on full time.
- If you are dockwalking, be sure you know the exact position for which you are applying. There are many websites out there which describe the positions in detail. Many guys prefer the exterior work of a deckhand and many women prefer interior or stewardess work. But many women work in the deck department and even in engineering now as men do in the interior, so go for the position you want! Ask if they have any need for dayworkers - let them know you are seeking permanent work if that's what you want.
- The absolute BEST skill you can have is the abiility to listen fully. Ego has the crazy ability of getting in the way of progress. You may think your way is better, but the person telling you how to do things is your superior. And they may have their reasons for having you do something a certain way you will only learn with experience. Do it their way and perhaps after building a rapport, you can ask if you can show them your way. Listen and learn.
When applying for positions on this site:
- If a position asks for a certain credential, please have it before applying. You will be wasting your time (and that of the Captain/hiring party) if you do not have this credential. As part of the yacht's insurance, they may require the person in a position that have that credential.
- If a position specifies a particular nationality (for example, you will see a lot of positions asking for Americans or those with work visas only), please only apply if you are indeed from this particular nation. Please read the section above on working as a foreign national if you do not understand flag states and who can work on which yacht.
- If you are applying for Deck or Stew positions, please ensure you are close enough to the position (provided the yacht location is provided) to interview in person. This might mean you have transportation to go Ft. Lauderdale if you are in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Ensure your current location is provided on your resume. This is actually more important than you might imagine! Your resume might get tossed out simply because this information is missing!
- If a stipulation is outlined, i.e. please have 1 year of experience to apply, this means please have 1 year of experience in the mega-yacht industry! Cruise ship or other experience does not count unless specifically mentioned.
- Should a yacht seem great and is advertising for a position for which you are NOT looking, please please do NOT write to the Captain/posting party asking if they have any openings for ANY OTHER POSITION. Each yacht crews from 3-20+ people on average. The larger yachts that have more people likely do not advertise on sites like this as they use crew agencies or hire off the dock. All jobs are filled except for those that are advertised. This is the single largest complaint of hiring Captains - people ask if other positions are open when they haven't advertised for them. Please refrain from emailing them as they will not generally reply. This is a no-no in this industry.
- The size of a yacht can help you figure out their budget. If a yacht is 135' in length, and they are looking for a 2nd Stew, they likely do not have a budget to fly you in from overseas, or even too far away. If the yacht is 320' in length, a 2nd Stew will likely be someone they could fly in as they need much more experience and are tougher to find. The same goes for a Mate on a 120' and a Chief Officer on a 260'. The higher up the position/the more certifications and sea time required, the larger the budget to fly someone in.
- Please follow the instructions in a job ad exactly. If they ask you to send your certificates, send them. If they ask you to have your STCW'95, have it. If they ask for references, get some. Send them. By following the instructions in a job ad you have demonstrated you can follow direction. Something very important on a yacht, especially at sea, especially in a safety/disaster/rescue situations. This helps a Captain/hiring party weed out people very quickly. Stay in the resume pile by following directions.
- PLEASE have a valid resume format. This includes photo at the top right and a whole slew of other requirements. Please check here and follow directions to ensure you have a valid resume format: http://fivestarcrew.ca/img/resume-template.jpg
- ensure you tailor your resume for the position you seek. You may be flexible in that you can do Stew or Stew/Cook work - make sure your resume is specific to the job for which you apply.
Any other suggestions? Please email me to add to this page at firstname.lastname@example.org - subject line: Application suggestions! Thank you!