Working in luxury hospitality aboard a cruise ship or superyacht while earning a nice salary and travelling the world certainly sounds like a dream job. And it very well can be, which is why many young people seek employment in the cruise ship and superyacht industries.
However, these industries are not for everyone. Only those who possess a service-minded attitude and who are prepared to work exceptionally hard will succeed in such demanding environments. They need to have a passion for outstanding hospitality standards and for offering guests the ultimate service experience.
Training the next generation of crew
While young people are eager to enter the cruise and luxury yachting industries, those very same industries are eager to receive well-trained staff. Put simply, it’s a win-win situation, which is what prompted luxury hospitality specialist and trainer Peter Vogel to establish the Hospitality & Maritime Host Level 3 certificate course at vocational training institute ROC Hospitality & Maritime in Amsterdam two years ago. At that time, Peter connected with David Schomus, Hospitality ROC Amsterdam coordinator, with whom he developed the course curriculum.
“As a trainer of professional crew already working onboard superyachts and high-end cruise ships, I see a constant demand for skilled new crew,” said Peter. “Through the Luxury Hospitality Academy, of which I’m a co-founder, I provide 7-star interior and hospitality training for employed crew members. But I wanted to target young people looking to enter the industry, to equip them for getting their foot in the door of what is becoming a highly competitive industry.
I was fortunate to be able to do that in cooperation with ROC Amsterdam, by taking what I already teach via Luxury Hospitality Academy and tailoring it to young people just out of high school who have no prior hospitality knowledge or experience.”
In just 12 months, students learn to serve at the highest level and, on completing the course, have unlimited career options. “We think of it as lining up our students to shoot for an open goal. All they have to do is shoot the ball in the right direction”, says Peter.
Passion, hard work and commitment
To successfully complete the course, students must have a passion for hospitality and service, says Claudia Hilster, trainer and hospitality expert who was previously employed in the cruise industry. “Without that they are not going to succeed”, she says.
“The course isn’t easy. For a year, the students need to work hard and give it everything they’ve got. In addition, they must adopt the right attitude. They must be able to deal with authority and strict rules, while still being able to stand their ground in a professional manner. It’s a tough job”, admits Claudia.
Because a traineeship onboard a cruise ship for two days a week is not possible, all students get their experience in five-star hotels and Claudia says the trainers expect 100% participation and effort from every student.
“They need to be focused on everything, including the smallest of details. For example, are the lights dusted and are they all working? Are the sugar jars filled and clean? Are all the chairs in line with the table, is the table set with the best care and is the linen unblemished?”
And that’s not all. Students learn how to perfect serving wine and how to fillet a fish at the table, in front of guests. They also learn the necessary skills for how to properly light a cigar and how to prevent guests from ever having an empty glass.
“We ask a lot of our students but, if they succeed, they have the best qualification that will allow them to apply for amazing jobs in luxury yachting or the cruise industry,” says Claudia.
Despite the upfront warning about exactly what’s involved in the training and the level of commitment required, there are still many students who are not quite prepared to stay the course.
At the beginning of this year’s intake, there where 28 students. Now, just six months later, there are only 12 still enrolled.
“This is evidence of just how much we ask of our students,” says trainer and hospitality expert Katia Tiddens. “But we are not doing this to frustrate them,” she says. “By being strict and rigorous, we prepare them for similar environments that they will find onboard vessels.”
Nineteen-year old Dely Drakostamatis is a testament that hard work and commitment pays off. He successfully completed the ROC Hospitality & Maritime Host Level 3 last year and now works as a steward onboard a superyacht.
“The training is demanding but you meet incredible people and learn aspects of hospitality and service standards you never would in regular life,” says Dely. “For example, Peter took me to the Monaco Yacht Show and Palma Boat Show. That’s where you learn what it’s like to work in such environments. It was an awesome first experience.”
Dely chose the ROC course because he wanted more options than working only in hotels. Ideally, Dely would have started his career onboard a cruise ship. “That’s where you learn to work hard, you build your knowledge of human nature and you get a taste of the maritime world,” he says. “But when I visited Monaco Yacht Show, I met so many people and, with my ROC Hospitality and Maritime Host training behind me, I was able to start on a superyacht straight away. It really is my passion to deliver service and hospitality to the highest level.”
With hard work comes rewards
It’s clear that, to successfully complete the course, you need to have a passion for delivering quality service and for travelling. Fortunately, that’s exactly what current students Imane (23), Siham (19), Lincy (19) and Daisy (19) all have. They are all highly motivated to complete the course, be awarded their certification and to start their adventures. Even having to leave friends and family while they’re studying is not an issue for them.
“The positive to that is that we have a longer holidays,” says Lincy. “It is a strenuous course and, when we are home on the couch, we sometimes think ‘we are not going back tomorrow!’ But the funny thing is that the next day we go back, because every day is so exciting and fun.”
“We are constantly learning new things,” says Siham, who commented on the amount of knowledge she has gained about topics such as wine. “I didn’t know that wine was made only from grapes. It’s remarkable there are so many different flavors derived from only grapes. Learning things like this excites me.”
If providing the ultimate level of service in luxury hospitality is your passion, working in either the cruise or superyacht industry is the highest level you can reach and—with the right attitude and commitment to hard work—is attainable.
You will be rewarded with an attractive salary, a work environment in which luxury is mainstream, and the opportunity to learn everything there is to know about food and beverage, service standards and luxury hospitality.
You will also be surprised to find just how much free time you will to have to travel and explore outside of your demanding work schedules.
Peter Vogel has spent more than 20 years working onboard and acting as a consultant to some of the largest yachts and cruise ships in the world. As a former butler, steward, chief steward, interior manager and fleet hospitality and event manager, Peter has overseen hospitality operations for some of the world’s most impressive motor yachts. Peter is co-founder of Luxury Hospitality Group, which is setting the luxury hospitality standard for people and business globally, and inspiring excellence in service by developing caring hospitality professionals.