Packing Essentials For Your First Yacht Job

Packing your suitcase for a job on a luxury yacht is not like being a guest on a luxury yacht. You have limited space, so you need to pack light. As a first time yacht crew member, this might seem like a near impossible task! But we have tips to help you to pack the essentials for your first yacht job.

Choosing A Good Suitcase, Bag Or Travel Backpack

Before you even start deciding what to pack, you need to know what you’re going to be packing your stuff in. A hard, square-type suitcase is not going to cut it, as hard suitcases are really problematic for onboard storage. Use a collapsible bag instead, such as a backpack, sports bag or duffel bag that has wheels at one end for ease of lugging from one point to another.

Try to pack your clothes as efficiently as possible by rolling each item rather than folding (which helps with wrinkles), which also helps leave space for bulkier items like toiletries and gadgets.


No yachtie could live without flip-flops. You may wear deck shoes while dockwalking, but as soon as you get that job you will live most of your yachting life in flip-flops, or even barefoot. Also pack a shoe that can be solely used indoors on the boat, as it will improve your life a great deal!


Storage space in crew cabins is extremely limited – you risk getting off on the wrong foot with your cabin-mate if you try to force masses of clothes into the tiny shared hanging space. Once the season starts you’ll be wearing your uniform or PJs most of the time anyway.

Weather and season also plays a big role in what you pack. Make sure that what you have is interchangeable and can be layered: a couple of sets of warm clothes and a warm jacket such as a puffer that squishes up small for packing is perfect. Other than that, bring casual summer clothes and opt for a few tops and bottoms in basic colours that you can easily mix and match. Swimwear, a beach towel or sarong and sunglasses really are the staples of a yachting wardrobe. On that note, good sunglasses are really important: get polarised lenses if possible, especially if going for a job on deck. It’s a good idea to pack a good pair of sneakers too, and a comfy pair of tracky pants and sweater top or hoodie for chilling out watching movies on watch or in the crew house. And of course a watch to help you stay punctual.

But you also need to pack some stuff if you’re not going to be casting off right away, and for your landbase whilst you wait in-between charters. But keep this to a minimum as you can always buy whatever you need once you’ve got that job – or are back from the job.

Pack mostly casual clothes. If you have a pair of old shorts and an old Tshirt, pack them too – you may be asked to do some grubby work while dayworking, and while most boats will provide a uniform for you to daywork in, others won’t. You don’t want to be paid, only to have to spend a chunk of your pay on a new pair of shorts because you ruined your good ones.

Another tip for female crew is to pack a white or skin-tone tank top, as sometimes your uniform may be transparent, so that tank top will be more than welcome! A nude bra is another good item to have for the same reason.


When you get a job on a yacht you won’t have to buy the basics such as: shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, razors and blades (some yachts), sunscreen or moisturizer as many yachts provide basic crew toiletries. However, bring small travel size versions of specific brands you like, to tide you over whilst on-land, and also just in case your vessel doesn’t have all of the above. Don’t bring a truckload of cosmetics and other products to clutter up your cabin bathroom with though, instead, if you are wearing make-up, consider basics that don’t take up a lot of space – like a multi-purpose base/BB Cream or moisturiser and mascara.


As you’re going to be working long hours, Red Bull or other energy drinks may work for a while, but is not a long-term solution. Bring vitamins and other health supplements, that will help keep you healthy on board.

Tech, Gadgets & Books

A USB stick (and a spare) for your CV and other documents. Laminate original documents such as certificates and email yourself scanned copies of these, your passport, driving license and credit cards. Get an international driving license if possible, but this is not critical. Don’t forget your global adaptor plug and an unlocked smartphone you can put a local sim card in. Some movies on your hard drive and books on your Kindle for those occasions you want to hide out in your cabin and get some ‘me’ time.

If you have a light, small laptop or iPad do bring it, but make sure you have travel insurance (health and theft). Forget your massive camera with all the fancy lenses and stick with your smartphone camera. Less is more! Tip: download books or movies before you leave your strong land internet connection-you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at how slow the internet is on many superyachts, and captains often will restrict your access to preserve bandwidth for the guests.

You might also want to pack noise cancelling headphones for watching movies, and/ or ear plugs to help you sleep (close quarters).

Personal Items – Sentimental Stuff

Items that might help you relax, feel at home and less homesick might be nice to pack as well. Some ideas include photos of family or friends (remember that the internet might be really slow, or sometimes restricted for crew to use – so you’re going to have to live without Facebook & Insta!), journal, essential oils, a sleeping mask etc. You’ll need moments of comfort when stress runs high.

Nice to Have Items Where Space Allows

For the days where you do get a break, it’s really nice to have your own set of beach basics/equipment such as a snorkel, mask, fins and possibly a wetsuit. But again – only if you really have the space, you might be able to borrow from another crew member, or the extra equipment on the yacht.

The best way to decide if you should pack something or not, is “when in doubt, leave out”. This little mantra should help you get through your packing for your first yacht job.

If you have any questions or queries, or would like suggestions on travel bags, get in touch with us, or download our ultimate guide to working on a yacht which has all our personal tips inside!

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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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