Yachts normally work in seasons. The best time to find employment is between busy seasons, as many crew change jobs during this time and many other positions open on board luxury, or super-yachts.
There are many locations (or ports) where luxury yachts launch from – as you can imagine, they are usually the most beautiful of locations.
Can You Get A Job Without Being At The Location?
The short answer is, no. You need to move to where you think you’ll find work as many crew are picked up with very short notice, sometimes even the same day, or the day before launch! The captain or owner of the vessel usually does the interview, and they want to see you in person. So you have to make yourself physically available in these main hiring ports.
Book short-term accommodation, as you hopefully won’t be at this location very long before getting a job on a luxury yacht! This process could be a week if you’re very lucky, or sometimes up to two months – so budget accordingly! While you’re waiting on getting placed, perhaps consider one of these jobs to earn money in-between yacht jobs.
Top Yacht Crew Hiring Ports
Best for Newbies
The six locations below are the hiring hotspots and will offer far greater access to quality job opportunities for those individuals just entering the industry.
Sails Marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Rybovich, West Palm Beach, Florida
IYCA Port Vauban, Antibes, France
Port de Palma, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Port Vell, Barcelona, Spain
Newport, Rhode Island
Second-Tier Yacht Crew Hiring Ports / Locations
The following is a list of what we’ll term “secondary” options for worthwhile hiring ports. Mega-yachts pass through these destinations, but not in vast numbers or as frequently as with the list above. These places also have STCW-recognised training schools, or at least some crew-recruitment agencies in the area, so you can get take your STCW certification and register with a placement service before heading to where more boats are located, if you have not already qualified in South Africa:
St. Martin/St. Maarten in the Caribbean
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Auckland, New Zealand
Antigua in the Caribbean
San Diego, California
Third-Tier Yacht Crew Hiring Ports / Locations
And while they may not be the key spots for finding an actual position, the destinations below can be considered a third tier. Experienced crew tend to do okay basing themselves in these locations, but we do not recommend them for entry-level job hunters. For some individuals, however, these locations may be the only option due to proximity and the inability to travel far:
U.K.—London, Southampton, and Dover
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Galle Harbor, Sri Lanka
English Harbor, Antigua
Top Mediterranean Ports & When To Go
Ports: Spain, Italy, France
The best time to be in the Mediterranean is March/April/May/June.
The reason for this: there are plenty of ports that are extremely accessible. Trains run the entire length of the French and the Italian Riviera, so crew simply need to go from port to port meeting captains and crew.
The end of the Northern Hemisphere summer season, September, is also good to find employment as an entry-level crew member. During this time, our suggestion would be to go to Antibes in the south of France, Mediterranean or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA (however, USA has become very difficult to find work, as USA visas have become very difficult to attain).
Some yachts will also be looking for crew to complete the Atlantic crossing from the Med to USA or the Caribbean.
Speak to us for advise on the correct visa requirements for working on board any of these luxury yachts.
Most yachts will go into a Shipyard period once or twice a year for maintenance, and this is also a great time to look for daywork. This varies, but many yachts will complete their maintenance periods from February – April, normally in the USA or even some Caribbean Shipyards.
Another important factor to remember, is that yachts are often registered Offshore, therefore, working on board a Cayman Islands registered yacht in the USA, is not considered illegal by Maritime Law.
You cannot, however, work on USA flagged vessels without a legal US Passport, US Working Visa or Green Card.
Getting Placed From South African Ports
Getting placed directly from South Africa is a little harder for newbies, as most vessels hire only more experienced crew.
Locations of travel from South African ports include: Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Maldives / Seychelles) and South Atlantic (Brazil, Caribbean).
Best time for work is December through March and May through July.
Need more guidance on where you should be headed? Or what you’d enjoy most? Download our ultimate deckhand ebook for more answers on yacht life or book a private consultation with us where we will guide you on all your yacht job questions!