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Packing Essentials for your first Yacht Job

Packing your suitcase for a job on a luxury yacht is nothing like packing as a guest. You’ll need to pack light due to limited space, which may seem like a near impossible task if you are a first-timer! We have tips to help you to pack only the essentials.

Choosing a good suitcase, bag or travel backpack

Before you even start deciding what to pack, you’ll need to know what you’re going to be packing your belongings in. Stay clear of hard, square-shape suitcases, which are challenging to store on board. Instead, look for a collapsible bag like a backpack, sports bag, or duffel bag that has wheels at one end for ease of transportation from one point to another.


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. 

In addition to your flops, pack a pair of shoes that can be used purely indoors on the boat, like sneakers. 


Pack only what you need. 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 your tiny, shared hanging space. Once the season starts you’ll be wearing your uniform or PJs most of the time anyway. Weather and season play 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 jacket such as a puffer that can easily be compacted. Bring along some casual summer clothes – opt for a few tops and bottoms in basic colours that you can easily mix and match. A pair of old shorts and t-shirts is always a good idea in case you are asked to do some grubby work during the day.

Swimwear, a beach towel or sarong, and sunglasses are staples. Get sunglasses with polarised lenses if possible, especially if going for a job on deck. Wear a watch at all times to help you stay punctual, as this is a vital aspect of working on a yacht. Pack a comfy pair of track pants and a hoodie for relaxing and watching movies in the crew house. For female crew, a skin-tone tank top or nude undergarments are a good investment as white uniforms may be a bit transparent. Try to pack your clothes as efficiently as possible by rolling each item rather than folding. This not only prevents wrinkles, but creates more space for bulkier items like toiletries and gadgets.


When you get a job on a yacht, you likely won’t have to worry about buying standard toiletries. Many yachts provide the basics like shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, razors and blades (some yachts), sunscreen, and moisturiser. Small travel-size versions of specific brands that you like are useful to make up for the products your vessel doesn’t provide and will tide you over whilst on land. Avoid bringing a truckload of cosmetics and other products to clutter up your cabin bathroom. If you are wearing make-up, consider onlpacking those that don’t take up a lot of space, like a multi-purpose base/BB Cream or moisturiser and mascara.


You will be working long hours and it’s important to stay on top of your health. Energy drinks and coffee may work for a little while, but are not a long-term solution. Bring vitamins and other necessary supplements to help you stay in top shape! Of course, if you require any special medication, be sure to check that you have packed those too.

Tech, Gadgets & Books

There are a few tech essentials you may want to pack, as well as things to keep you busy in your off time:

  • 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 licence, and credit cards. Get an international driving licence if possible, but this is not critical as you’ll be spending most of your time on the boat.
  • A global adaptor plug and an unlocked smartphone you can put a local sim card into. 
  • A Kindle or other device for reading when you want to hide out in your cabin and get some ‘me’ time.
  • If you have a light, small laptop or iPad, feel free to bring it, but make sure that you have travel insurance (health and theft). 
  • If you enjoy taking photos, a smartphone will have to do. It takes up much less space than a big camera!
  • Noise cancelling headphones for watching movies, and/or ear plugs to help you sleep (close quarters) are a good investment.

Tip: Download books or movies before you leave land – you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at how slow the internet on many superyachts is and captains will often restrict your wifi access to preserve bandwidth for the guests.

Personal Items – Sentimental Stuff

Think about small items that will help you relax, feel at home and less homesick when stress runs high. 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 likely won’t have access to Facebook or Instagram), a journal, essential oils, and a sleeping mask. 

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 and equipment such as a snorkel, mask, fins and possibly a wetsuit. Only pack these if you really have the space. You may be able to borrow from another crew member or from the yacht.

A good mantra to help you decide if you should pack something or not, is “when in doubt, leave it out”. We hope that you have fun gearing up for your journey. If you have any questions or queries, or would like suggestions regarding travel bags, get in touch with us, or download our ultimate guide to working on a yacht (which includes all of our personal tips!).

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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 info@get-onboard.com 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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