‘Below Deck:’ What’s the Difference Between Working on a Yacht vs. A Cruise Ship?

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Below Deck fans may recall when chief stew Kate Chastain eye rolled chef Leon Walker’s cruise ship experience in season three. His constant one-hit beef cheek entrees produced more than one quip from Chastain about how his cruise ship experience wasn’t cutting it in the yachting industry.

Walker eventually parted ways (got fired) from the show mid-season over a kitchen fire. But did his cruise ship experience prevent him from becoming a great yachtie? The deck was certainly stacked against him as one yacht stew blogged about how working on a yacht versus a cruise ship is “a vast sea of difference.” So what how is yacht work different than working on a cruise ship?

Superyachts versus cruise ships

Most people understand the general difference between a superyacht (or a yacht) versus a cruise ship. Working on a superyacht means you will likely make more money than on a cruise ship, plus serve a much smaller number of guests, according to Cruise Ship Jobs. Also, Cruise Ship Jobs reports that yachties receive private accommodations whereas cruise ship workers bunk together. However, Below Deck cast members double up in bunks.

Yachtie duties vary based on the voyage, plus crew members only get paid when the vessel is in use. Cruise ship crew members can generally work year round and typically work a 10 hour day, seven days a week. Guest contact cruise ship crew members may also receive tips directly from guests too.

Target versus Neiman Marcus

In a blog post, stew Julie Perry candidly explained how yachties view cruise ship jobs. She was working on a superyacht when her vessel encountered a cruise ship. Perry and crew members observed the cruise ship employees herding guests back on board as instructions droned on a loudspeaker.

“We watched and listened in horror before one of our deckhands finally spoke up,” she wrote. “He made the comparison between cruise ships and superyachts as being similar to Target vs. Neiman Marcus. To top that, one of my fellow stewardesses chimed in with, ‘Or perhaps even more appropriately: Walmart vs. the Gucci store on the Champs Élysées in Paris.’”

When asked about her job Perry says she cringes when people link what she does to cruise ship work. Why? According to Perry, she is tasked with providing beyond five-star service, waiting on the super wealthy. And duties that may be parsed out among a number of employees on a cruise ship is all funneled through the stew on a yacht. One of Perry’s biggest differences was she gets paid “boatloads of money to travel by sea to some of the most beautiful and exotic ports in the world.”

The biggest differences of what it means to work on a yacht versus a cruise ship

Perry also offered a frank comparison of what it means to be a superyacht stewardess versus working on a commercial cruise ship. One big contrast is that a yacht is privately owned whereas cruise ships are owned by a corporation.

Also, as seen on Below Deck, one group of passengers privately charter a yacht. When you go on a cruise you are traveling with a bevy of strangers. While big cruise ships offer many amenities, yachts provide a higher-end experience. Additionally, staffing is more intimate in yachting. On a superyacht, you may have up to 36 co-workers. Whereas on a cruise ship you could be working with as many as 1.200 others. And while pay may vary, Perry asserts that the tips are “infinitely juicier.”

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