Many of you may know that getting to those periodical cleaning jobs is a task like climbing Mount Everest at times, especially during a busy charter season. And, while you may have your daily and weekly cleaning schedule down to a fine art, the monthly and quarterly jobs tend to get lost along the way. Of course, the tell-tale signs are screaming at you that things are not as they should be with your equipment - cloudy glasses from the dishwasher, dirty water from the iron, a stale-dirt smell from the vacuum, and coffee that tastes like creek water from the pot.
Planning the housekeeping schedule requires time to prepare all the elements that you, as the chief stewardess, need. First, consider the following factors:
- How big is the yacht?
- How many interior crew do you have and how trained are they?
- Are you a sole stewardess on a smaller yacht? Or do you have a highly trained team of five under you?
- How busy is your schedule?
- Where is the yacht cruising in the world?
- How old is the vessel?
- How many delicate materials do you have on board?
Review the daily cleaning roster considering when guests are on board and how much downtime you have within a six-month period.
Share the Load
Once you have identified your primary resources and allotted time, communicate with those needed to ensure the jobs get done. By this, I mean other department heads who can help you achieve your goals within the given time. Work with the engineering team to clean the air-conditioning units. And the deck department should tackle some of the drink lockers if they're outside. Embrace the power of communication and teamwork.
You could extend this concept of teamwork a little further. For example, should you feel charitable, offer to deep clean the walk-in refrigerator if the chef is short on time. My point here is to plan ahead and communicate with the other department heads to make light of the weightier tasks.
Cleaning while Guests are Aboard
Look at the types of cleaning jobs that need to be completed. Daily tasks may include vacuuming the carpets and mopping the walkways. A weekly job with guests on board that does not take up extra time would be to vac-dust the skirting boards and wipe over all lower power fittings.
Consider doing a few extra bits of housekeeping when the guests go ashore.
Equally, a daily job in the guest cabins with guests on board would be to make the beds and dust all the flat surfaces. Stretching that further — for example, every Wednesday - would be to wipe down all vertical surfaces and dust all light fixtures. Yes, this will take extra time, but it is something that has to be done, and you will have to make the time, especially with liveaboard guests or an extended charter. If you find yourself alone or with just another stewardess, consider doing a few extra bits of housekeeping when the guests go ashore.
The challenging tasks are those that include moving furniture or require the engineer. These jobs take extra time; for example, sorting out the linen closet or using strong-smelling cleaning products such as Brasso or an antibacterial spray. Ideally, it would be preferable to have no guests on board when you do these, but that is not always the case. In these instances, if possible, the only choice you have is to throw more resources at the job to get it done faster. For example, each quarter, ask the engineer to open the air-conditioning vents and screwed plugs so that you may give the vents and drains a good clean.
Each yacht operates differently, but a few tasks are universal. Daily jobs will consist of washing dishes and fine glassware, making beds, cleaning floors, the bridge, all crew areas, guest bathrooms, and dayheads, taking out all rubbish, and finishing all crew and guest daily laundry.
Weekly jobs may include vac dusting all furniture and blinds, polishing light fittings, cleaning all interior windows, wiping down all vertical surfaces, cleaning out the pantry and crew mess refrigerator, washing crew bed linen, cleaning the crew microwave and toaster, and cleaning the bridge windows if needed.
Monthly jobs usually take a little longer, and can include things such as descaling shower heads in the guest cabins, descaling all washing machines, dishwashers, kettles, and coffee machines, vacuuming the dryer lint traps, steam cleaning the guest bathroom floors, inspecting the crew cabins, and decluttering and restocking the crew medicine cabinet.
Quarterly jobs usually are the messiest or most disorganized - things like inventory control, cleaning all guest mattresses, cleaning and reorganizing under-bed storage and small storage spaces, checking all appliances, smoke detectors, and lights throughout the whole interior, making sure all interior documentation is up to date, and checking the first aid kits.
It can be a juggling act to ensure everything is done on time, but once you have a working schedule up and running, your life will be easier.
This article was originally published in the January 2023 issue of Dockwalk.