get a Yacht Job

Best Locations and Seasons to Land a Yacht Job

Yachts normally operate seasonally. During these times, there is plenty of opportunity to find a position aboard a luxury or superyacht, no matter your level of experience. There are several different yachting hubs from where you can launch your career – usually the most beautiful places in the world! To ensure that you secure your spot on deck, it’s important to know where to be and when. 

Can you get a job from home?

The short answer is, no. Crew members are often picked up with very short notice, sometimes even on the same day of applying! The captain of the vessel usually conducts the interview and will want to meet with you in person, so you have to make yourself physically available in these main hiring ports. Book short-term accommodation, as you hopefully won’t be at this location very long before getting a job on a luxury yacht! The process could take a week, if you’re very lucky, but sometimes up to two months – be sure to budget accordingly! Perhaps consider doing other jobs like waitressing on land while you wait for a yacht job.

Top yacht crew hiring ports 

Best for Newbies

The six locations below are the hiring hotspots and will offer far greater access to quality job opportunities for those individuals freshly entering the industry:

  1. Sails Marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  2. Rybovich, West Palm Beach, Florida
  3. IYCA Port Vauban, Antibes, France
  4. Port de Palma, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  5. Port Vell, Barcelona, Spain
  6. Newport, Rhode Island

Second-Tier Yacht Crew Hiring Ports / Locations

The following is a list of what we’ll term “secondary” options for worthwhile hiring ports. Mega-yachts pass through these destinations, but not in vast numbers or as frequently as with the list above. These places, however, have STCW-recognised training schools, or at least some crew-recruitment agencies in the area, so you can get take your STCW certification and register with a placement service before heading to where more boats are located (if you have not already qualified in South Africa):

  1. St. Martin/St. Maarten in the Caribbean
  2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  3. Sydney, Australia
  4. Auckland, New Zealand
  5. Antigua in the Caribbean
  6. San Diego, California
  7. Viareggio, Italy

Third-Tier Yacht Crew Hiring Ports / Locations

While these may not be the key spots for easily finding a position, the destinations below can be considered a third tier. Experienced crew tend to do okay basing themselves here, but we do not recommend them for entry-level job hunters. For some individuals, however, these spots may be the only option due to proximity and the inability to travel far:

  1. U.K.— London, Southampton, and Dover
  2. The Netherlands
  3. Sweden
  4. The Bahamas
  5. Singapore
  6. Croatia
  7. Brazil
  8. South Africa

Other ports to consider:

  1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  3. Phuket, Thailand
  4. Gibraltar
  5. Galle Harbour, Sri Lanka
  6. English Harbour, Antigua

The Mediterranean 

Ports: Spain, Italy, France.

The best time to be in the Mediterranean is March/April/May/June. Plenty of ports are extremely accessible during this period as trains constantly run the entire length of the French and Italian Riviera. This means that you could simply go from port to port to meet captains and crew. September, which nears the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, is also a good time to find employment as an entry-level crew member. We recommend heading to Antibes in the South of France.


Some yachts will be looking for crew to complete the Atlantic crossing from the Mediterranean to the USA or the Caribbean. Yachts are often registered offshore, therefore, working on board a Cayman Islands registered yacht in the USA, is not considered illegal by Maritime Law. You cannot, however, work on US flagged vessels without a legal US Passport, US Working Visa, or Green Card. Chat to us for advice regarding the visa requirements for working on board any of these luxury yachts.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a popular port to find work. Visas for entering the USA have become more challenging to attain, however, so this option isn’t the simplest. Most yachts will go into a Shipyard period once or twice a year for maintenance, which is a great time to look for daywork. This varies, but many yachts will complete their maintenance periods from February – April in the USA.

The Caribbean and Bahama Islands

This is one of the most beautiful routes in the world – understandably making it one of the most popular. Super yachts sail to the Caribbean and Bahamas from December to May, the Northern Hemisphere winter months. Most vessels are based in South Florida, making Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach the places where most people find crew work. We recommend finding ways of boosting your skill set before applying for any positions, as it will help you stand out from the many people keen to land a job on vessels sailing this route. Consider getting a scuba diving licence or growing your knowledge of the local marine life. 

Getting Placed From South African Ports

Getting placed directly from South Africa is a little harder for newbies, as most vessels hire only more experienced crew. Locations of travel from South African ports include: Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Maldives / Seychelles) and South Atlantic (Brazil, Caribbean). Best time for work is December through March and May through July.

Necessary Qualifications

To qualify for work on board a yacht, you will need to complete:

  1. The STCW Basic Safety Training course, and
  2. An ENG1 or seafarer medical certificate

To work on a boat cruising the Caribbean it is advisable to have both a Schengen and B1B2 visa as some of the Islands still fall under European and US dependency. It is also highly advisable to have many spare pages in your passport for a Caribbean season as there is immigration control and an entry and exit stamp on your passport for every Island.

Speak to us if you’d like to discuss possible courses that could benefit you; our academy is internationally accredited. If you’d just like to get an idea whether a yacht job is really for you, consider downloading our ultimate yacht crew handbook that will give you the ins and outs of yacht crew life, with additional tips to help you get that job on a private yacht.

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There are two basic yacht training requirements that you need to complete in order the legally be eligible to work at sea. This includes the STCW’10 basic training course the ENG 1 medical the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties. These are compulsory courses and must be completed no matter which job or position you are applying for.
STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. The STCW’2010, previously referred to as STCW’95, is a compulsory requirement for any seafarer in order to be eligible for employment at sea. The STCW 2010 has replaced STCW 95 and is the new code that all seafarers working on board commercial vessels must adhere to. If you are planning on joining the superyacht industry to look for a yacht job as a stewardess, deckhand, engineer or chef, you will need to complete this STCW course. The course runs every week from our academy in Cape Town and takes 11 days to complete.
The ENG1 Medical is a basic medical certificate and is as essential as your STCW’10. It is a mandatory requirement to prove you are fit to work as a yacht crew member at sea. Only MCA-approved doctors can perform an ENG 1 medical exam. The exam takes around 1 hour to complete, and should you pass you will leave with your certificate immediately. Our facilities enable you to complete your ENG1 medical at the same premises as your STCW’10 for your ultimate convenience.
The yachting industry is predominantly a career focused on hospitality. While various skill sets may assist you in finding a job, they are not enough to fully prepare you for a job on board. You will still need to complete the correct Maritime Training to be fully equipped for a job as a Super Yacht Crew member. The following skills/ experience are beneficial: – Hospitality training, including waiters, bar tenders, event staff, hotel training, cruise liners – Au pair, nanny and child care, tutoring, child entertainment – Beauty therapists: nail technicians, hairstylists, beauty therapists – Trade skills including: carpentry, varnishing, building, plumbing, tiling, engineering – Watersports: scuba diving, wakeboarding, sailboarding, waterskiing – For Chefs: A natural ability and training/experience as a Restaurant, Estate, Hotel Chef – Personality traits: Social skills, cultured, good work ethic, good manners, well presented, self— confident, a positive attitude.
There are usually four departments onboard a super yacht including the deck department, engineering, interior and galley.
Completing your deckhand courses prior to looking for your first job, demonstrates to your employers that you are dedicated crew member that understands what is required in order to be successful as an entry level crew member in the super yacht industry. Our industry leading standard of training ensures all our candidates enter the super yacht industry. The primary duties of a deckhand are shared between the maintenance of the yacht exterior and looking after the guests. Maintenance tasks include painting, filling and fairing as well as 1- and 2-part varnishing jobs, plus all other cleaning, polishing and scrubbing duties. Guest related tasks vary from tender driving, beach set ups, water sports, jet skis, anchoring or manoeuvring of the yacht. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Practical
  • Specialist Super Yacht Training Course (Deck Hand Training Course)
  • RYA Power Boat Level II
  • RYA Personal Watercraft Course
  • RYA Competent Crew Certificate
  • RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical Certificates
  • RYA Radar
  • VHF Radio Operator’s License
The primary task of a Steward or Stewardess onboard is to maintain the interior or the luxury yacht to the highest standard. You will also be required to cater to the needs of yacht owners or charter guests. Service, housekeeping and laundry form the three main departments of the stewardess responsibilities. Food hygiene and safe food preparation are also a major component of working as a stewardess on a super yacht. Our stewardess training certification is run in Cape Town, South Africa. This is an entry level training course, designed for any crew member that is looking to pursue a career as as stewardess. Combining both practical and theoretical course modules, you will spend time working with actual products used onboard as well as familiarise yourself with processes for when guests are onboard. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Stewardess Course
  • ENG1
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
  • MCA Food Safety Level 2
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
Simple. Just email explaining which course you are interested in. We will provide you with a list of available dates and our booking form. Simply return to us with your proof of payment and you place of the course is reserved.
Once you are qualified, what are the next steps to finding your first job onboard? Yacht CV’s are very different to landbased CV’s and are essential when looking for a job on a yacht.
Our courses have been created in order to best prepare our students with the correct qualification, and industry specific knowledge that would be expected of junior crew in the yachting industry. The founders of Get Onboard superyacht Academy spent over 12 years as a senior ranked crew members and so offer our candidates with the most up to date information to best prepare you for the industry. Without your STCW and ENG1 you are not legally able to work at sea, so until you have completed those requirements, finding employment will be impossible. While the other courses are not compulsory, as industry experts we feel it is in our students best interest to educate themselves as much as possible before entering the super yacht industry. We do our best to offer our students the best possible advice on courses that would be most beneficial to their career goals as well as their pockets.
Here at Get Onboard Superyacht Academy, we pride ourselves on offering our students practical and honest advice. That’s why you will never find us trying to sell your courses that won’t be specifically relevant to your department. Landing your first job while you are still in South Africa is almost impossible. The reason for this is because just like you would interview for a land based position face to face.
Day work is a great way of networking, building contacts in the industry, and most importantly finding you first super yacht job. Day work refers to when you do not have a formal contract in place with a yacht, but you help out onboard for anything from a day to several weeks. Day working is a great way for you to get a sense of different roles onboard and whether the industry is right for you. Often the Captain or senior crew member will use day work as a trial or “audition” to see who is the best fit for the crew and is the most efficient worker so it is an excellent tool to use when searching for your first job.
There are two main yachting hubs, the Mediterranean, particularly Antibes in France or Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and Fort Lauderdale or Miami in Florida. We explain the different seasons and best time of year to visit each areas in our article Best Locations To Get a Yacht Job for Time of Year.
The standard entry level salary for a junior stewardess or deckhand ranges between €2000-€2500 or $2300-$2800 per month. This amount is generally tax free, although the onus is on each crew member to check with their home county about tax obligations. Certain countries are tax exempt provided you spend more than 6 months out of the county. Check out our dedicated article on this here. We have covered all of this and much much more in our easily downloadable yachting industry guide eBook. We go into detail of where you should start your career and at which time of year. We offer yachting CV templates, a packing list, course list, accommodation and visa information. We break down the various yacht crew departments so that you can see where might be the best fit for you. We explain what dock walking is, how to get day work, salary expectations and most importantly how to secure that first job.
Working on a yacht is not all fun and games; it means spending great lengths of time away from friends and family, putting in extra-long hours as needed and living in a shared, confined space.
For many, the benefits of a yacht job outweigh the negatives. These include travelling the world, the opportunity to make and save a lot of money, making new friends for life and gaining important skills that will transfer over to many other industries.
Yachting is for anyone who loves to go out of their way to please. However, it is open to all sorts of personalities – every boat is different. Take a look at our page on what makes a great superyacht crew for more information.
The minimum age to work on a yacht is 18 years old. While there is a chance of finding work straight after school, we suggest getting some work experience before departing South Africa.
Get Onboard has partnered with some centrally located accommodation providers as well as premium backpackers. If you require accommodation for the duration of your training, just be sure to mention it in an email and we will forward the options.
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