Ever wondered what is like to be a yacht stewardess working in the ultimate lap of luxury?
I’m so excited to be hosting Gemma (@theyachtstew), an International Event Planner turned Super Yacht Chief Stewardess and the young woman and professional behind The Yacht Stew, who was kind enough to answer my questions and generous enough to share some cocktail recipes with us.
Flightess: How did you get into yachting? What drew you to it initially?
Gemma (The Yacht Stew): I initially wanted to be a Wedding Planner and I honestly blame J-Lo for that decision, she made it look so fabulous in the movie! After going to school for Event Management & planning a few weddings, I realized I had zero passion for weddings & needed to figure out my ‘plan B’ ASAP!
One of my classmates had just completed 5 years on yachts and after hearing her stories of travel, high end service and planning large events onboard, I just knew.
I didn’t think about it for too long because it was the first thing in months that just made total sense to me. It was everything I wanted.
Flightess: You’ve been in yachting for a while and are definitely recognized as the Ultimate Yacht Stew among your peers. What makes a great Yacht Stew?
Gemma (The Yacht Stew): Gosh, that is really kind of you! I am only the Stewardess I am today because of the incredible teams I have been a part of over the years.
There are honestly thousands of talented, strong and outstanding women on yachts and I feel very lucky to work in the same industry as them.
Becoming a Stewardess takes time in the sense that majority of us are not born with the eye for detail that is expected onboard or have the knowledge to execute a perfect dinner service for 14 guests without having to start with the basics. What I always look for when hiring is finding a stewardess that is confident in her ability to LEARN, humble enough to ask questions and appreciate the experience of her peers. You have to have that unique desire to constantly go above what is expected and meet that seven-star standard.
At the end of the day, you just really need to really care about your job – it’s very easy to tell when you don’t! As a Chief Stewardess, it is my job to teach and train the girls, they just have to be willing to learn.
Flightess: The clientele we serve can be a bit eccentric at times (understatement but lets go with it), what is the craziest request you’ve ever had on a charter?
Gemma (The Yacht Stew): One guest several years ago asked for her bath to be filled using bottled Fiji water and 2 bottles of Johnsons baby oil. The ENTIRE head (boat terminology for bathroom) became a massive slip and slide after the guest was done with the bath and us girls spent more time on the floor laughing than we did cleaning. It feels like yesterday, when it was actually almost 8 years ago now!
My responsibilities have grown so much since then and now I can totally understand why the Chief Stew wasn’t happy with us when she found out how long it took to clean the head!
Another Owner demanded his socks to be washed individually on separate washes, a pair of socks could never be washed together. I found it outrageous at first, then quickly realized that we can’t question the Owner! Instead, we have to respect that the boat is an extension of their home – if we have to do 4 washes to get through 2 pairs of socks, then so be it.
Flightess: What has been your favorite place you’ve gotten to see for work?
Gemma (The Yacht Stew): For several years I was based close to home in Victoria, Canada. It’s a few hours away from where I grew up, and the time I spent there onboard with my husband was just incredible. We loved it so much we are now saving to buy a family home there!
Some people laugh when I saw Canada is my favourite destination and while Europe, the Caribbean, New England, etc. are all incredible in their own right, nothing compares to Canada. Seeing orca whales off the bow of the boat, building snowmen on the swim platform and sailing through the wilderness is an experience I hope every Yacht Stewardess gets to experience.
Oh! And France. My first few dates with my husband were in the South of France and it’s a totally fairytale destination! We love it so much that we got married in Provence, only a few hours from the Yachting marinas.
Flightess: What has been the highlight of your career as a Yacht Stewardess?
I have two, I hope that’s okay!
- Meeting my husband in 2013, he was working on yacht docked next to mine in Italy and I saw him through the porthole. He’s the most beautiful human being I have ever met.
- Last October I was awarded Best Chief Stewardess 2018 and it was the ultimate honour to accept the award. I was surrounded by crew that I’ve worked with over the years who all flew to France for the ceremony. I actually cried after my speech, I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude for what this industry has done for me and my life.
Flightess: I have to ask, because readers want to know, how close does the Bravo Show “Below Deck” depict life on the yacht from the crew’s POV?
Gemma (The Yacht Stew): HAHA! Sorry, I just had to let out a giggle there. Honestly the answer is NO. The crew sit around the guest dinning room table as if they own it! On my last boat only the interior team were allowed in the guest area and they had to have white gloves and socks on the entire time.
The lack of respect for that boundary between guest and crew is completely lost on the show and that is crucial part of our job.
At the end of the day, it’s a reality tv show and while I’ve seen a fair few episodes (more than I care to admit), it’s simply that, a reality tv show.
Flightess: If you could go back in time, what would you tell the young Gemma stepping onto her first job as a yachtie?
- Listen more and ask as many questions as needed to feel totally confident doing the task at hand
- Don’t neglect self-care! We live, eat, breath serving others and so often forget about ourselves
- Not everyone is going to want to be your best friend and that is totally okay. However, the ones that take the time to develop a friendship while onboard are the ones to keep close.
The Yacht Stew Cocktail Recipes
After Eight Mint Cocktail
- 1 oz. Cream
- 1 oz. Green Mint Liquer
- 1 oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liquer
- 10 Mint leaves (keep one to the side for garnish)
Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice & shake for a good 30 seconds. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Parisian Salty Dog
(a guest FAV!)
- 1 oz. Gin
- 1 oz. St. Germain (Elderflower)
- 1 Heaped teaspoon of marmalade (grapefruit works best)
- 1/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- Club Soda
- In a shaker add Gin, St. Germain, marmalade and lemon juice.
- Shake and pour into a chilled tumbler glass.
- Top with club soda and garnish with a grapefruit.
*Super easy and well liked by beer lovers
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 bottle IPA in a tall glass
Add together both ingredients & stir together.