Step By Step Guide To Becoming Superyacht Crew

Step By Step Guide To Becoming Superyacht Crew 2018-03-14T07:38:56+00:00

So you have decided you want to work in the Superyacht industry but don’t know where to start? We realised that there wasn’t really a comprehensive guide to becoming Superyacht Crew all in one place, so we decided to produce an independent all in one step by step guide. We hope you find it of use.

ENG1 Medical

This is the medical required for you to undergo prior to going to sea and we suggest it is your first port of call before doing anything else. If you fail this medical there isn’t really much point in putting any money or time into trying to become crew as you will not be allowed to go to sea. In New Zealand there there is only one doctor providing ENG1’s and he is based in Auckland and is quite expensive. If you can, you have more options and it will be cheaper to get it done in the UK. The New Zealand Doctor is based at the Parnell Medical Centre, Auckland 09 3774427. A List of practitioners who provide ENG1’s worldwide is available HERE.

Types Of Roles Available:

  • Steward/ess
  • Deck-hand
  • Engineer
  • Mate / Bosun
  • Chef
  • 1st / Chief Officer
  • Captain
  • Dive Master

For a career path from Deck-hand to Captain have a look HERE


We know money isn’t the primary motivation for most people wishing to enter the Superyacht industry. It is a great way to see some very interesting parts of the world and have some great experiences. Don’t forget that when you are working you won’t be spending any money as all your living and accommodation expenses are taken care of, so anything you earn goes straight into the bank and stays there until you get ashore for a beer. We found a good salary indicator HERE

Training Required

Years ago it was possible to simply walk along a dock in Antigua and hop onto a Superyacht and explore the world. Today’s world is very different and competition for crew positions is fierce. The more skills and qualifications you possess the more likely you are to successfully find a position. The absolute minimum training you will legally require before being allowed to step foot on a superyacht are as follows:

  • Stcw95 First Aid
  • Stcw95 Sea Survival
  • Stcw95 Personal Roles And Responsibilities (PRR)
  • Stcw95 Fire Fighting

The Stcw95 part is just an international standard that all these courses must meet so ensure your training provider is Stcw95 recognised. Many providers roll these 4 courses into one week long session. There are a few providers in New Zealand which can be found HERE

There are 3 other courses not legally required to be aboard a Superyacht but realistically you haven’t got much chance of getting a job without them because you won’t be able to drive the superyacht’s tenders which is a core role required of all crew.

  • RYA Level 2 (Tender Driver’s Licence) Available HERE
  • RYA PWC (Jet Ski Drivers Licence) Available HERE
  • VHF (Radio Communication Licence) Available HERE

If you already posses the above qualifications it would be a good idea to become an RYA instructor in these disciplines as Instructors are highly sought after.

Interior crew will find a huge benefit from having done some formal courses and qualifications in hospitality as it will show you are a serious candidate and set you apart from the vast numbers of dock walking chancers.

Other useful skills/qualifications include, Nanny, Carpentry, Boat-building, Mechanic, Electrician, Diving, Watersports, Fishing and Medical.

Locations And Seasons:

If you are looking to get onto a Superyacht the best places and times of year to go dock walking are as follows:

The Mediterranean

  • Time to get to the Mediterranian is from late April to October
  • The main ports are Antibes in France or Palma, Majorca
  • Generally everyone heads to the Med looking for work in April
  • Some boats do transatlantic passages to the Caribbean from Antibes or Palma at the end of the season (October onwards) so it may be possible to pick up some work there.

 The Caribbean

  • You will find Superyachts in the Caribbean from October onwards
  • The main ports are Antigua or St Maarten
  • Yachts normally head back to the Med in late April

The Med – Caribbean – Med circit is the mainstay of superyachts and is known as the ‘milk run’. Unfortunately due to the recent Worldwide Economic Crisis this has led to many boats spending the summer cruising the Med and then reducing to a skeleton crew to sit in a harbour throughout winter rather than going to the Caribbean.

The United States

  • After the Caribbean Yachts tend to head to the East coast, Florida or New York
  • There is some good cruising on the West Coast. Many boats end go to San Diego for refit
  • Of prized schedule is the Alaska run.

The Pacific

  • After the Caribbean a yacht may transit the Panama Canal (March/April)
  • First on the list may be the Galapagos Islands, and then head on to the Pacific Islands such as Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga etc.
  • The season for the pacific islands is May – September
  • After their trip to the islands, many boats continue to Australia or New Zealand for the southern hemisphere summer (November- April). Australia and New Zealand offer good refit facilities all year round

To help you get an idea of Superyacht whereabouts, have a look at the worldwide supermarina guide HERE

Visas And Legal Documents

The first Visas to look at are the United States B1 and B2 as these will give you the best flexibility as described HERE

Ensure you apply to your citizenship’s government for a seafarers discharge book. There are a few benefits to having this some of which are discussed HERE, but by far the most important use is recording all your sea-time which will be gold-dust if you decide to progress your career through the maritime sector.

Don’t forget to arrange appropriate travel insurance that will cover you. Ensure you tell the company what you will be doing otherwise they will refuse cover if you need it when they find out you have been working offshore.


Next, you really are going to need a kick ass CV. As much as this is a pain in the butt, you really need to put time and effort into getting this right as it may be all the captain sees when deciding who he wants to call. Try to set yourself apart. We once had a really smart ambitious guy ask to clean our boat for a month so we could give him a good reference and comment on his performance. This sort of innovative thinking will get you a foothold and should set you apart from the crowd. CV’s for superyachts must be tailored for the role and as a guide should consider the format below:

  • Name ad position going for
  • PHOTO!! Nice professional photo in the top right hand corner
  • Under 100kb in size
  • Two pages NO MORE
  • Nationality, passport, location, marital status, contact details, visa, languages, availability – All in easy to read format at the top somewhere
  • Employment goal/objective – 2-3 sentences max with no fluffy “save the world” ideology and hold off on the ‘I want, I will, I need’. Say things like ‘work hard, smile while i’m tired, earn my way up the ladder’, etc
  • Profiles and attributes or something to that effect describing wat you bring to the role (if your a stew: attention to detail, for a deckie/engineer: good with hands, change the oil on my car, built a house…
  • Maritime qualifications: STCW, Powerboat Level2, Off Shore Yacht Master, PADI dive instructor etc
  • Work experience in reverse chronological order (Ensure you pick out relevant roles directly transferable to the Superyacht Scene)
  • Any additional qualifications (Bachelors, trades, hairdresser etc)
  • Leisure activities
  • List refs (3 minimum)

Register With Agencies

This is the low hanging fruit and is normally the first place to start your search for work, but don’t rely on this alone. There are a many agencies all over the world. It’s a good idea to list with lots of agencies but dont neglect them.. i.e you need to keep logging on daily once youve registered (or as frequently as possible) so they keep you in mind. they have systems thet prioritise those who have logged in most recently for jobs they have available. These Agencies are easily found on Google but to get you started here are a few of the popular ones:

Accommodation During Your Search For Work

We would recommend you choose your start point usually somewhere like Antibes, Fort Lauderdale or Palma and set yourself up in a crew house. This is accommodation dedicated to people working on yachts and are a great place to start your networking. The best way to secure a job on a yacht is normally through contacts and the more you establish, the more likely you are to succeed. Have a look at a small list of crew houses we found in the main ports HERE

Dock Walking

If you have an introverted personality, dock walking may not be the best strategy for you. You really need to be outgoing, chatty and friendly. Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared they may initially say no. If they have met you and liked you, they may remember you when one of their crew has to fly home on an unexpected emergency.

  • Be polite, persistent and consistent
  • The best time is between 8-11am when the Mate’s are most likely doing their deck inspections. 1-3pm is also a good time as crew have just had lunch and are relaxing.
  • Dress in a professional manner don’t wear shorts and T-shirts. Instead opt for a polo shirt, jeans and closed footwear. Women should dress professionally, avoid lots of make-up and jewellery. Also avoid cleavage revealing tops and short skirts.
  • Don’t ask for a job… Get talking.. Find out where they drink. They know you want a job so get to know them or find out details which will help you do that. Where they drink, eat, buy supplies, when do they head off? What are the up coming events such as Monaco grand prix? Cannes film fest? Charter, etc. Normally after a charter they have a quick turn around so need extra hands to clean and prep etc
  • Always try to speak to the decision makers.
  • Try the ship yards not just the international quay with 10 monster yachts on it
  • 20-40m yachts usually need more day workers as they have less full time staff so don’t neglect the “little guys”

Day Working

Day working is a great way to get to know a crew and prove yourself worthy of a full time position. There are a couple of points to bear in mind with respect to day working:

  • Are you on the crew list (if you’re not, you’re not covered by hull insurance so if you get hurt you’re on your own..) in most cases you should be fine but if you are asked to do something you feel uncomfortable doing or you think is unsafe – ask if you are on the crew list or just politely decline.
  • Always ask for payment in cash.
  • If you are doing more then one days work, ask for a reference on headed paper to build your CV up.

Safety And Personal Responsibility

Don’t ever become so enthusiastic you overlook everyday logical safety considerations. The industry is normally quite safe, but particularly when you are new, there is a slightly higher possibility of being taken advantage of. The old adage of, ‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’ needs to be indelibly ingrained on your brain. Also be a little more cautious about smaller boats without many people around.

It is an unfortunate fact but this industry is linked to a higher involvement with drugs and you need to be careful not to be caught up in anything. Don’t forget there are still some parts of the world that you could lose your hands for smoking a spliff! If you are every asked to do anything or transport anything that feels odd or wrong, it’s time to bail ASAP.

Many stunning parts of the world are also developing countries and have elevated crime problems. Stick to common sense rules of safety in numbers and be careful about being in remote locations alone.

Job offers & contracts

  • Get something in writing
  • Sign a contract if you can
  • Agree on your salary
  • Ensure the boat’s itinerary matches your availability

Up skilling and progressing

Once you have managed to get your foot on the ladder in the industry, you may want to develop yourself and your skills. The most important start point is to record all your sea-time in the Discharge book as mentioned above. If you don’t do it at the time of the event, it is nearly impossible to retrospectively track past captains down to get it filled in.

Once aboard a Yacht the crew will advise on your direction forward. However if you wish to progress and become operational crew with an eye on the captains seat you will need to first gain your RYA Yachtmaster qualification which is the entry qualification to becoming a commercial skipper.

We hope the above information is of use to you and we would like to thank Jonathan Caseley for his hugely valuable contributions as he navigates his way through the Superyacht Crew minefield to obtain a position aboard a Superyacht. Good luck Jono.