Blog > Yacht Crew: The Heartbeat of your Charter

Yacht Crew: The Heartbeat of your Charter

by Dayle Reimer on Aug 03, 2023

Yacht Crew: The Heartbeat of your Charter

Photo by M/Y Emina. Used with permission.

The appeal of a private yacht charter is not only a luxury vessel in a picturesque destination, but also the unforgettable experience provided by a stellar crew. No matter what size or type of yacht, the crew is always at the heart of a great charter. These are professionals in hospitality hired by the yacht owner to build a successful charter reputation that will keep the yacht busy with charter bookings. While they must have the appropriate licenses and training, the crew must live together onboard 24/7 and usually with guests, so having a respectful personality and being able to adapt to unscripted situations is also imperative.

At Ritzy Charters we have worked with many charter crews through the years and have inside knowledge we are able to share with our clients. Each year we attend the charter yacht shows where we board each vessel and spend time getting to know a bit about the crew. It’s an invaluable snapshot of the experience our guests will have onboard with them. Our brokers also attend lunches and dinners at the invitation of yachts that are attending the shows, and thereby have an even greater opportunity to make informed recommendations to clients about the overall vibe of the crew as well as the culinary talents of the Chef. Of course, we have the feedback from charters that adds real world experience to our broker team’s crew knowledge base. 

Let’s explore the roles of the crew members and we’ll share some tips for what to look for when choosing your yacht and crew.

Crew Positions

All crewed charter yachts have at least two key positions: Captain and Chef. The Captain is the highest-ranking authoritative figure on board and is responsible for the yacht and the safety of everyone on board. The Chef prepares all meals, always a highlight of a charter.

  • A yacht up to 55 feet in length always has these two critical positions. On a typical Caribbean sailing catamaran, the crew is typically a couple sharing a cabin. In the Med, the smaller sailboats often have a hostess rather than a Chef who prepares breakfast and lunch.

  • As the yacht size increases, the number of positions required to operate the vessel and provide top-notch service to a larger group also increases. Yachts up to 80 ft range typically add a Mate to assist the Captain with boat handling and a Steward/Stewardess to handle housekeeping and assist the Chef. The skill level of the Captain and Chef are elevated with advanced training and greater experience.

  • Yachts up to 100 feet will typically have 4-6 crew while a 150+ ft yacht may have 10+ crew. Crew members of these large yachts include a First Officer to assist the Captain in all aspects of operating the vessel, an Engineer to ensure the yacht’s systems function properly, additional Deck Hands, and a Chief Steward/Stewardess heading a team of interior crew.


What to Expect from the Crew

When you charter a private crewed yacht, it is as though the yacht is yours for the week and the crew is there to curate the perfect charter that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. From the time leading up to the charter and initial conversations with the crew, to being met on the dock and having all luggage magically appear in your guest suite, to being pampered every moment on board, the crew wants you to have the best possible vacation. 

Safety and Expertise: Safety is paramount on any vessel at sea, and a highly skilled crew is integral to ensuring a safe charter. From the Captain's expert navigation to the crew's ability to handle unexpected situations, a well-trained team instills confidence in the guests, allowing them to relax and enjoy their time onboard without worry.

Personalized Service: A first-class crew is dedicated to creating a personalized experience for each guest, anticipating needs before they are expressed, attending to requests promptly, and going above and beyond to exceed expectations. From gourmet meals tailored to individual preferences to anticipating preferred activities, the crew's attention to detail sets the stage for an extraordinary charter. 

The Chef is typically well versed in many types of cuisine, as well as in handling food allergies and dietary restrictions, so your mind can be eased about your teenager who is a picky eater, your family member who has a severe food allergy, or friend who keeps a regimented diet, all the while appeasing the foodies of the group.

Local Knowledge: A knowledgeable crew with experience in the region essentially act as tour guides, able to answer questions the guests may have, introducing them to little-known “secret” spots they’ve discovered. They know the overnight anchorages which offer a secure "hold," and the knowledge of when to arrive or depart specific anchorages to beat the crowds and ensure you have a quality experience, whether that be for a sunrise hike, a mid-morning snorkel, a trek through an iconic landmark, or a unobstructed sunset.


Tips on Choosing Your Crew

Qualifications and Experience. When we offer a portfolio of yachts to clients for consideration, you can be assured that all these yachts have crew who meet the mandatory certifications. The more experienced the crew, their list of certifications and qualifications will increase. Some questions to ask:

  • How long have the Captain and Chef been working onboard the vessel under consideration?

  • How many previous yachts have they worked on?

  • Is the crew experienced working together as a team?

  • How well does the crew (or at minimum, the Captain) know the area? Local knowledge is essential. 

  • If there are foodies in the group, look for a Chef with specialized culinary training from a recognized institution such as Ashburton’s in the UK.

Guest-to-Crew Ratio: Consider the size of the yacht and the number of guests on board when deciding on the desired crew size. An adequate guest-to-crew ratio ensures that each guest receives personalized attention and excellent service throughout the trip. For example, if there are active teens, having a third crew member (mate or stew) will ensure great activities for all guest activities and interests.

Special Skills: Depending on the type of charter and the guests' interests, consider crew members with specific skills or specializations. If there are small children in your group, make sure the crew is good interacting with the wee ones. Hunting for pirate treasure may be the most memorable event of the trip for a young charterer. If the group is interested in scuba diving, a crew offering that special underwater adventure will enhance the vacation.

Reviews and Recommendations: Last but not least, reading reviews written by prior charter guests provides valuable insights into the crew's performance and the overall charter experience. If there are no recent guest testimonials, it can be a red flag. Also, make sure the crew named in the testimonial is the crew that will be onboard for your charter.

Ask your Broker: Having trouble deciding on the best yacht and crew for your group? Ask your broker for advice. They will be happy to guide you to the best choice.

Sometimes during the charter season, and more often between seasons, a crew change may occur on a yacht that you have booked. Because there’s a human factor involved that is outside of our control, the contract does not name the crew that will be aboard for the charter. However, be assured that the owner will be motivated to replace them with a crew of the same caliber to ensure that bookings continue at the same pace. 

In summary, the crew is the beating heart of a private yacht charter, shaping the entire experience from start to finish. Their expertise, dedication, and personalized service are essential in ensuring a safe, seamless, and unforgettable journey for the guests. By choosing the right yacht and crew, guests can embark on a private yacht charter that surpasses expectations and creates cherished memories that last a lifetime.