Why Cruise Ship Crew should make the shift to Superyachts!
When you work on a superyacht, people not ‘in the know’ often mistake what you do for working on a cruise ship. Most people in our industry find this a little annoying. It’s kind of like mistaking economy class for flying private jet. I guess a certain amount of ego is involved in that thought process, however, I understand where the confusion comes from. I mean essentially, a cruise ship is a superyacht for the common person rather than the 0.01%, and throughout my career, I’ve met many ex cruise liner staff who have shifted their job at sea for the luxury alternative.
Recently, in the wake of Covid19, I’ve been contacted by cruise ship crew whose careers have been extremely affected by the outbreak, and are now looking for advice on pursuing the superyacht industry instead. Ryan Bishop, an assistant Cruise Director reached out after having his livelihood from cruising completely cut, ‘In my case, I was all ready and packed to fly to Sydney to join a ship and they cancelled me four days before I was flying. This has then had a big knock on in regards to our financial stability – we don’t get paid as crew when we are at home and not onboard so essentially, I’ve had no salary since January.’
Since the outbreak of Covid19, the cruise ship industry literally halted over night with the impression given by the media that these liners- with thousands of people sharing relatively small amounts of common space — were like “floating Petri dishes”.
‘I don’t think the cruise industry will ever be the same again. It won’t be as we know it. The biggest part of cruising is the social side – both for crew and guests. So taking away the ‘social’ aspect, I feel, will make it more like a ferry rather than a cruise!’ Ryan told me.
Superyachts on the other hand, are an extremely controlled, immaculately clean and safe environment. Passengers are in small family and friendship groups with their crew being constantly tested for the virus. This combined with the fact many of these owners and charter guests will fly privately to get to the yacht, make it an extremely low risk vacation.
Of course, like all travel and tourism industries, superyachting has been affected, but as travel restrictions have eased, and with their accessibility to private aviation, the recovery is phenomenally different to that of the cruise ship industry.
With my limited knowledge on cruise ships and before an in-depth chat with Ryan, the image I had built up was an average age of 75, obese families, fanny packs, all you can eat buffets, pre mix cocktails and Bingo- I’m just being honest! How exactly would the crew have developed skills in this environment fit for the seven star expectations required onboard a superyacht?
As I chatted to Ryan, I quickly realised that superyacht crew and cruise ship crew are a lot more similar than I first thought, ‘I wanted a job that wasn’t the typical 9-5 routine. I wanted a job that would excite me and be different every day. I always wanted to travel and see as much of the world before I settled down. Going into the ‘cruising’ world seemed like the perfect combination of these elements – plus, getting paid at the same time!’
As well as the initial reasons for joining this parallel industry being almost identical to my own, it seems both careers involve some similar challenges, ‘You can be working for long hours over a four or six month contract. You are always battling with wifi (which isn’t free or speedy!) plus the majority of the time you are in a different time zone to your country so staying in contact with home and loved ones is restricted. The biggest one is missing big events such as weddings, birthdays and Christmas.’
Ryan went on to explain to me exactly what it means to be an assistant cruise ship director, ‘Our main responsibilities are to provide and organise entertainment, leisure and events across the voyage to keep our guests entertained from start to finish. This includes shows, live music, deck events, games, lectures, classical recitals and special events such as cocktail parties and social gatherings. The stigma that comes along with cruise line entertainment is that people presume it’s all glitter, jazz hands and sequins – that couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s more about being a people person and being able to adapt to different situations and different guests by providing a consistent and continued high level of customer service.’
It became apparent how that experience was perfectly transferrable for working onboard a charter yacht where a diverse range of clients want to be entertained and to make the absolute most of their charter experience. With a passion for guest experience, and a skill to adapt to all situations already embedded, it’s very obvious how ex cruise ship crew are successful in super yachting.
Ryan believes the demands of cruise ship work- ‘delivering a high standard of service, working with constant pressures, working to a deadline and always finding a way of saying yes to any request from a client,’ are similar to the demands of superyachting, to which he added, ‘Be a people person. Always be professional. Always strive to learn more. Be the person that people can rely on. Be a leader, a team player and a friend when your fellow crew needs it’.
Based on my encounter with Ryan and having a chance to educate myself on the cruise ship industry, I learned how the skills acquired, personality profile and lifestyle of the crew, makes the perfect combination to be successful in the luxury world of super yachting.
If you’re thinking of making the shift from cruise ships to mega yachts and need advice or more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch!