Crew Management

Tips for Being a Courteous Crewmate

11 November 2020 By Kylie O'Brien
female crewmember on yacht

Kylie O’Brien has worked on some of the world’s most magnificent vessels with amazing people for more than 13 years. A graduate of The Australian College of Applied Psychology, she is the author of Crew Wanted, The Stewardess Bible, The Chief Stewardess Bible, The Inside Job, and has been a monthly contributor to Dockwalk magazine for more than five years.

Humans are creatures of habit and typically like to do things their way. Sharing a house with other people can be tricky even under the best of circumstances, but what about superyacht crew who live where they work? A place where there is limited personal space, virtually no room to vent, or to get a moment’s peace. There are several common courtesies and etiquettes that are important for a harmonious existence aboard a superyacht (which are often forgotten).


To begin with, let’s discuss the noise. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp! There is nothing worse than being woken by this deep thudding sound on deck or crew rushing through the corridors. Someone may simply be going about their daily duties but end up sounding like a baby elephant frolicking in the field. This noise not only disrupts the crews’ much-needed sleep but can be problematic for the guests. And that is never a good thing in a world where the guest’s comfort and cruising experience is of the utmost importance. A simple remedy for this problem is to step lightly by walking toe first, then heel to reduce the sound of the heavy footsteps.

Superyachts are known for a luxurious, high-end appearance and the crew are expected to keep up to the same standards.

Keep the Party Contained

Next, keep the party on the dock and in the bars. The personalities of superyacht crew — like many other workplaces — consist of a broad mix of weird, wacky, and super cool people. And while the crew tends to be outgoing, sometimes someone will just need a little time to themselves and may choose not to go out. So while it may be a great idea at the time to bring the party back on board, please be respectful of your crew who need that quiet time out and, of course, the watchkeeper, who has to keep the yacht safe and should not have to babysit those in a drunken state.

Slamming Doors and Cabinets

This is a common complaint amongst crew when they are in the middle of a long charter or cruise. Preparation is the key here, so if you know that you’re on the morning shift, have your uniform prepared in the bathroom so that you are not rummaging in the cupboard while your roommate is trying to sleep. Similarly, for those on the late shift, try to change in the bathroom and quietly get into bed without turning on too many lights. In addition, a considerate idea here would be to hold the door handle down and close the door softly before releasing the handle. This will stop the heavy door from slamming shut.

Pick Up Your Stuff

This one is pretty self-explanatory. No one likes to, or should have to, pick up your mess on deck, in the crew mess, or the cabin. The teaspoon in the sink, the wet towel on the cabin floor, or the water bottle on deck is just an irritating detail for your superior who must correct you time and time again. The one-off mistake is expected and will happen to everyone, but if this is a continuous pattern, then it’s a sure-fire way of getting the negative attention of your manager.

Maintain a Professional Appearance and Attitude

We all know that working as a stew is no easy task, with the long shifts and constant demands from others. It is common to forget about yourself because you spent so much time working and taking care of the guests’ needs. But this should be avoided at all costs.

Superyachts are known for a luxurious, high-end appearance and the crew are expected to keep up to the same standards. This can relate to a tidy, wrinkle-free uniform to good personal hygiene and overall appearance that emanates professionalism and good etiquette. In addition, it is especially important to always have a polite attitude towards the guests and crew alike without using any profanities or slang. Remember to say please and thank you, introduce people by their names and rank, be friendly, helpful, and polite. You are part of a team and bad behavior can misrepresent them as well, not to mention there could be negative feedback about you — and possible repercussions.

Mind Your Own Business

Stewardesses spend a lot of time in the room of the most powerful and demanding guests and may witness poor conduct, gossip, and unfortunate etiquette during these moments. Regardless of your personal opinion on the circumstances, the best thing you can do is to simply remain silent because it usually has nothing to do with you. The only viable reason when you should intervene is if the situation escalates to a dangerous predicament, in which case you will need to inform the captain immediately.

Minding your manners simply means to be mindful of the way you behave towards other people. Professional etiquette is a set of rules that determine your work conduct on board. Things like being respectful to others, minding your noise level, taking care of your personal appearance, respecting the crew’s quiet time, and not gossiping about the guests (or crew, for that matter) are all important elements of creating a positive work and living space on board a superyacht.

This column is taken from the November 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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