Three Primary Factors Combine to Determine the Salary of a Yacht Stewardess

27 Apr 2016
 The interior of the yacht and guest service is the responsibility of the stewardess
The interior of the yacht and guest service is the responsibility of the stewardess
27 Apr 2016

The primary factors that determine both the salary and the benefit package scale for the position of stewardess or steward on a yacht are:

  1. The Yacht Program and Length
  2. Experience and Credentialing
  3. Functions and Responsibilities

Salaries for stewardess or steward positions aboard yachts range from $24,000 to $108,000 annually. In addition to base salary, there are additional benefits which may be added to the salary package. Dependent on the position, those benefits may include insurances, bonuses, tips, flight expenses, paid vacation, and training costs. Because the positions of stewardess/steward position require living aboard the yacht, additional items are included - uniforms, linens, meals, and sundries.

The salary range chart below is derived from the Luxury Yacht Group database of crew placement. Base salary is cited using the industry standard of a monthly reference. Although the majority of persons working in the positions discussed are female, the responsibilities, salary and benefits would apply to both stewards and stewardesses and will be referenced as “stew” for the remainder of the article.

PositionSize of VesselSalary Range
Chief Stewardess 140 ft - 400 ft+ $6,000 - $9,000 per month
100 ft - 140 ft+ $3,000 - $6,500 per month
2 Stewardess 130 ft - 400 ft+ $3,500 - $6,000 per month
Stewardess All yachts $3,000 - $5,000 per month
Junior Stewardess All yachts $2,500 - $3,500 per month
Deckhand / Stewardess 110 ft - 250 ft+ $2,500 - $3,500 per month
60 ft - 110 ft $2,000 - $3,000 per month
Cook / Stewardess 60 ft - 110 ft+ $3,000 - $4,500+ per month

Yacht Program and Length

How the yacht is used by the owner is the basis for defining the yacht program. Some owners reserve the boat for personal use, other chose to charter (lease to others) the vessel. Amongst the owners who maintain the boat for personal use, time aboard varies from an occasional vacation period to regular use. Personal use can also be defined within the extremes of a circumnavigation or an annual departure from the dock to enjoy a fireworks display. Each program will require different levels of crew count.

Whether the yacht is power or sail also impacts the staffing requirement of the program. Sail yachts are frequently labelled “casual” programs. In terms of staffing that may mean shared positions like a stew/deckhand to accommodate the physical demands of sailing. Some owners also choose to de-emphasize the silver service component of a stewardess position due to the physical challenges of a heeling vessel.

Vessel length not only determines the level of staffing, it also defines accommodation for crew. Aboard smaller vessels, positions of cook/stew or deckhand/stew are frequent adaptations to cover service requirements. On super yachts, a fully staffed interior could exceed a dozen. On every vessel, a stew must be willing and able to assist with lines and fenders on deck.

Experience and Credentialing

Basic STCW and an ENG 1 seafarer medical certificate are requirements for any rookie stew to work on a charter yacht. As interior experience is accumulated, additional credentialing is required to move into positions with higher salary or managerial duties. Most stews are expected to serve meals and assist as necessary in the galley. Certification in food handling – which teaches storage, allergies and safety – is a good credential to enhance a resume

A junior position on a large vessel is an excellent first job to get experience. Direction from individuals with established skills and proficiency can accelerate the learning curve of a rookie. Promotion within the industry is prefaced on the detailed knowledge of interior care, fabric cleaning and maintenance. After at least a year in an entry level position, a stew may reach the level of performance required to move into a 2nd stew job and continue learning the ropes.

Five plus years of training and experience (actual time with guests aboard) would be the minimum period to establish the professional standards of a chief stew. During that period a stew should add to their knowledge of wines, cruising geography, and silver service.

A yachting veteran (10 plus years) is able to provide distinctive guest service in every encounter. Certifications in first aid and emergency response are assets to a stew. Regulatory knowledge of ISM (International Safety Management Code) and ISPS (International Ship and Port Security Code) protocols is important. The codes are complex and the consequences of violation are severe.

Proficiency at each level is determined through references. Testimonials about performance by owners, captains and managers are the basis for assessing experience.

Functions and Responsibilities

The stew is responsible for all basic tasks of interior maintenance and guest service. The person might be acting in a solo capacity, combining the role with another position, or managing a staff. Basic requirements for any level of stew are the ability to work hard as part of a team, excellent service skills, and discretion.

An entry level or junior stew will be assigned tasks like laundry, cabin detailing, valet services, beverage restocking, inventories, polishing, meal service and bartending. As the stew is promoted managerial and accounting tasks will outweigh the hands-on tasks of maintaining the interior.

Hospitality standards are set by the chief stew who will schedule, manage and train the interior team. Once the stew has reached the level of chief, the career requires more event management skills - sourcing, décor, guest activity planning - and liaison with the galley. On some vessels, all financial management and paperwork related to the interior is done by the chief stew who reports to the captain. Multitasking and the ability to delegate are essential to success.

At all levels, understanding cultural differences in communication and being able to manage through stressful circumstances (with a smile) are key to attaining the superior service expected of a yacht stew.

The position of stew is fundamental to the guest experience. The stewardess who demonstrates skill, experience and credentialing that match the yacht program can command an annual salary and benefit package over $100,000.

  1. Luxury Yacht Group website
  2. Salary Guidelines