Superyacht workers have revealed what it’s really like to work on these multimillion-dollar vessels.
Superyacht workers have revealed what it’s really like to work on these multimillion-dollar vessels.

Startling confessions of superyacht workers

LIFE on the open sea is great for the millionaires who can afford to spend months travelling the world and partying on their $370 million superyachts.

But the same can't always be said for the people who live below deck and are paid to look after them.

The lucky ones could get tipped with a brand new Cartier watch, a $110,000 diamond bracelet or an all-expenses-paid weekend break in New York by the superyacht owners.

Luxury yachts are a popular possession of the super rich.
Luxury yachts are a popular possession of the super rich.


But others are woken up in the early hours of the morning by their filthy rich bosses who fancy a massage - and miss family weddings and funerals as a result of their long and grueling contracts.

While yachties earn around $7400 per month tax-free - plus tips and no living costs - the price they pay for traveling the world and earning big money isn't always worth it.

Working on one of these luxe vessels can be rewarding — but also difficult.
Working on one of these luxe vessels can be rewarding — but also difficult.

Sun Online spoke to boatswain Conrad Empson, 24, and chief stewardess Brooke Laughton, 27, to find out what working on a superyacht is really like.


Brooke Laughton, 27, is a stewardess from Manchester, UK. This is her story:

"When I was a little girl, I holidayed on luxury yachts with my family around the Caribbean.

But working on them is definitely different from how I thought it'd be.

The movies glamorise superyachts, but you're really just working crazy hours - sometimes for not very nice people.

All owners are different, so when you start working on a new boat you never know what to expect.

These are extremely rich people, and some are absolute a******s who are demanding and rude. Others appreciate what they've got and treat you like family.

I had one lovely owner who flew us stewardesses - four in total - to New York for a long weekend, all paid for, taking us to amazing restaurants and invite us to their family barbecues.

Another time I worked for a family for a year-and-a-half and they didn't even know my name.

Life as a yachtie isn’t plain sailing.
Life as a yachtie isn’t plain sailing.


On one charter, I was tipped £15,000 ($27,700) for one week, and one girl I know was given a yellow diamond bracelet worth £60,000 ($110,000). But there was another time a family gave me a cheap key ring as a tip after a season.

Girls do feel pressure to please their bosses - I was once asked to join a male boss in his hot tub. I felt uncomfortable so I said I was working and it wasn't very professional.

The owners also want their crew to be glamorous and well put together at all times - manicured nails, no chipped polish, lipstick, immaculate hair.

But it's hard to maintain this when you're working all the time and hardly have time to sleep.


Brooke says you need thick skin to make it in yachting. Picture: Instagram
Brooke says you need thick skin to make it in yachting. Picture: Instagram


When I went into yachting, I was in a relationship for five years, but we were in different time zones and I was constantly working so we ended up splitting up.

The worst days are when things happen at home that you can't be around for. My grandad passed away when I had just started a charter.

I was stuck in the middle of the South Pacific so I couldn't get a flight home for the funeral.

The work didn't stop so I just had to keep my composure and carry on. It was really awful.

The days you drop off the charter are the best - there's fridges full of lobster and Champagne left over and the crew are allowed to have it.

I've worked for a lot of A-list celebrities but I can't say much as you're made to sign a confidentiality agreement for every yacht you go on - they don't want what they get up to leaked.

My first high-profile yacht was for a big name in the film industry. We were at Cannes so there were all these Hollywood stars on board.

It was surreal and I was starstruck - I was shaking when I was pouring drinks for them.

I also worked for Oprah Winfrey. She's such a welcoming person: she learned the entire 22 crew members' names within two days.

Yachting is a young person's game. You have to work hard and have thick skin."


Conrad Empson, 24, is a boatswain from Bournemouth, UK. He said:

"When my friends look at my Instagram - which has 50,000 followers - they are jealous.

In one year alone I travelled to 18 countries and I drive yachts that cost £210 million ($387 million) on average and are owned by billionaires. However, in reality the crème de la crème moments are few and far between.

Season generally lasts for about four months, twice a year, where you'll cruise around the Mediterranean or Caribbean.

You're expected to always be at the beck and call of your boss. I had one who was horrific.

While I was driving, I had her guest tell me that if a wave came up that she didn't think I could handle, she would knock me out and do it herself.

Female stewardesses get it toughest. The bosses don't always give them respect.

My requests were things like, "can you wake up female crew members and get them out of bed to come and flirt with me?"

I've even had colleagues paid a ridiculous amount of money to give an owner a massage.

Guests have been flirty with me, but haven't come on to me in an obscene way like that.

You're taught to always say yes to the bosses, you never say no. You always give them everything they want.

In return, it's not uncommon for girls to receive gifts. I know one girl who got a brand new Cartier watch, costing about £5000 ($9,200).

Lots of things are kept hidden though because you have to sign privacy agreements for each vessel you work on.

The one thing you learn is that romantic relationships can't really work.

It's part of your job to be called up whenever the bosses want, so there are times you have to up and leave without a chance to say a proper goodbye, which understandably a partner would get upset by.

Dating other crew members is hard too … it's very, very difficult when things aren't going well between you.

In normal circumstances, if you argue then you can leave and get some head space, but on a yacht you have to constantly communicate with each other about what's happening on deck.

A lot of captains don't have a family, and if they do they never see them.

That's why it's called "The Golden Handcuffs" - you earn great money but you're putting your own life on hold to make someone else's even more privileged."

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.