Take a peek behind the curtain of a day in the life of a superyacht purser. Purser Samantha Morris shares a slice of her life — check out her daily routine as she details her job for a single day on board.
6:30 a.m.: Wake up
7 a.m.: Shower
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
Arranging a routine shoreside medical appointment for a crewmember. I speak to the medical officer and the nurse on board to find out what the symptoms are with the crewmember so that when I arrange an appointment, I can ensure it’s with the correct medical practitioner. I then liaise with the captain, so he/she is aware of what’s happening with the crew on board. I then speak to the port agent to arrange the appointment locally.
When sending a crewmember ashore for any medical appointments, they must always take their passports, Seaman’s Book, visa, and an insurance indemnity form for the doctor to complete. I will collate all documents and give these to the crewmember along with their collection time and driver’s details to take them to the appointment.
A crewmember has requested a clear copy of her certificates to be sent to her email. When a crewmember joins the yacht, they must send as part of the recruitment process clear copies of all their maritime certificates to their head of department (HOD), who forward these to the purser. Therefore, as a purser, I will check these copies and if some are unclear, I will make new copies when the crewmember comes on board. It’s very often that a crewmember will come to the purser to ask for copies of their certificates to be emailed to them as it is normally easier and more convenient for the crewmember than to find them amongst their emails.
I check my other emails and action these accordingly.
Today we are sailing from the marina to the port, and I am arranging security access passes to the marina for each crewmember by contacting the marina office and providing a copy of the crew manifest. The marina office will produce access passes for each crewmember using the information given. This ensures that nobody can access the marina that has not been given authorized access.
The passes also allow the crew entry to the free gym, paddle courts, and local restaurants with 25 percent [discount] given on food and beverages.
I send a departure soul on board report, including guest, crew, and non-op list to the designated person ashore (DPA), shore security officer, management company, local port agent, next destination port agent, and HODs on board. These are manifests of both guests, non-ops, and crew that are on board during the maneuvering. If the vessel is in any kind of accident or collision, the local authorities and the management company need to know which “souls are on board” to ensure everyone is accounted for.
I print the new guest, crew, and non-ops list and display these in the fire locker, on the bridge, and next to the sign on/off desk accompanied by the muster lists.
We have some crew ashore in a hotel, so I make sure that there is a record of any crew in shoreside accommodation.
Arranging all the paperwork required for a Schengen visa application. When a crewmember needs to apply for a Schengen visa, it is the purser who will assist them in the application process by preparing the paperwork that the crewmember needs to take with them to the appointment at the consulate in their home country. I would ask the travel agent for a refundable e-ticket and collate a copy of crew insurance, a travel letter, an itinerary letter of the vessel, OKTB letter (issued by the local port agent to ensure safe guarantee that they oversee the crewmember from the airport to the yacht), the yacht’s insurance certificate, the yacht registration certificate, and the crewmember’s signed Seafarer’s Employment Agreement (SEA) contract.
I will send these to the crewmember’s email address and ask for confirmation of the date of appointment.
Attend the monthly Health, Environment, Safety, Security (HESS) meeting on board with all the HODs to talk about any accidents on board and the best operations to ensure that the highest standards of safety and security are always in place on board. It is my job to actively listen and give my input of suggestions of change and improvement to practices on board when necessary.
Once the team on board have authorized the invoices, and they have been coded and signed by the captain, these are sent to the management office for payment. Occasionally the suppliers will contact the vessel asking about payment and as purser I will contact the office and ask for the bank transfers of the payments so I can forward to the confirmations to the suppliers.
When the provisions (food and beverages) are ordered by the head chef and brought to the boat, it requires that the whole team help to load them on board. Some yachts are loading products for four-month periods, and this can take almost two to three hours to bring them onto the vessel and get them into the correct storerooms.
For lunch it's chicken thighs, sweet potato, beetroot, and goat cheese salad (yummy.)
During the lunch break, I sit in front of the bridge and watch us sailing (I love being at sea) — there is nothing more calming to the mind. Picture the wind in your hair and the smell and sight of the sea.
I book crew travel flights for disembarkation and embarkation and prepare their travel paperwork. This prevents any questions from immigration when the crewmembers arrive at the airport on a one-way flight to join the vessel. The travel letter will give the crewmember’s name, passport number, and seaman’s discharge book details. It will also give information about the vessel and the local port agent that oversees the vessel. If the crewmember runs into any travel problems, they can contact the purser and/or the agent to confirm the onwards travel.
Checking the local visa tracker and extending or cancelling crew visas. Some ports of call require that all crewmembers have a visa to be working on board in that area. These are issued to crew before they fly to the vessel and last for a certain duration. The purser will keep a track of the expiry dates of each visa and work alongside the local authorities to extend or cancel the visas periodically.
As part of crew welfare on board, the purser will print out the crew birthday list for this month and distribute it to chefs, second stewardess, and captain. The chefs will bake a cake and the crew mess is decorated to celebrate the birthday of each crewmember and the captain can give personal wishes. This is normally a tradition on board, which is comforting for the crew while they are working and not able to celebrate with their friends and family.
Each month, I will collate all travel receipts, course reimbursements, new crew contracts, unpaid days, and any severance pays and calculate the payroll. Several vessels calculate the daily date in a similar way: (monthly salary x 12 / 365) x days worked.
I will forward this to the captain for approval and the office for payment.
We have arrived into port and the access passes that I requested earlier have been brought to my office. As these passes have a habit of getting lost, I download a crew list to Excel and type up the number of each access pass next to each crewmember. I then label the cards with the crewmember’s names, allowing them to become identifiable if any go missing. I place these into the respective crew slots in the sign in/sign out board for each crewmember to take ashore with them alongside their ship security ID cards.
3:30 p.m. When a crewmember has been ashore to a medical practitioner and the costs are above the €500 threshold, I will collate all the receipts, medical reports, and claims form and scan these and email to both the management and insurance company to open up a claim.
Every time the vessel comes into a new port, it is vital that their emergency port contact details are displayed around the yacht. I update these and place them on the notice boards around the yacht to be clearly seen by all on board.
I take a break to reset my mind and using my brother’s online platform muvelive.com/classes. I can attend a yoga, pilates, HIIT, or various other training sessions with a live instructor. The platform automatically selects your time zone so you can just book on a class and attend. You cannot see the other participants in the class, and therefore you can give your full attention 1 to 1 between yourself and the instructor. There are no subscription fees; it is purely a pay-as-you-go service.
I collect the “cash to master” from the agent on the quayside. Cash to master (master meaning captain) is the term used when we have requested cash to be sent to the boat.
To receive large amounts of cash on board the yacht, I would arrange with the management company to transfer funds to the port agent’s account and request a specific breakdown of notes for my requirements on board.
The port agent will arrange this for me and then send someone to the vessel to drop off the cash. On collection and dual count of the cash, with both parties signing the delivery note. I scan the delivery note and email it to the management company and the accountant at the port agent’s office to confirm correct receipt of the cash on board. This is then processed as a cash deposit into the system of the yacht’s bank account in Deepblue and a physical cash float balance is done before advising the captain of the completion.
Time for dinner, which is roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, gravy, broccoli, roast potatoes, and cauliflower cheese.
I order some stationery from Amazon due to guests being on board and not provisioning outside as crew are quarantined.
I study my coaching with NLP Diploma online and prepare for my next session with my coachee.
Two drops serenity on the pillow and two drops of lavender in a veggie capsule and I am ready for a restful night’s sleep. One of the main responsibilities of a purser on board is crew welfare. This is not written in our job descriptions, but we do often become the person that crew can come and talk to and lean on us for support. If we do not look after ourselves then we have nothing to give others. Essential oils are part of my daily regime helping me to promote a healthier way of living not only for myself but for the crew around me.