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You Know You're a Superyacht Steward/ess When...

STEW tips new6

For this column, I'm stepping away from the educational side of Facebook group, Yacht Stewardess Tips, and I'm taking a light-hearted look at our ‘more serious’ personality (dis)orders and how these affect us each and every day, even after leaving the industry.  

Many of our members contributed to this hilarious discussion and we now realise we're not alone out there... As one member said: “When OCD is not a disorder, it's a job requirement!” And another summed it all up: “All this time I thought I suffered from OCD, turns out its just SOY (Stewardess on Yacht).” 

Showers, Mirrors & Heads

You've turned the shower on accidentally while cleaning it. (Underestimated the pressure of the bidet too).  I can remember numerous times on and off charter where I stood (soaking wet) in the shower I just buffed, wiped, polished and cleaned for the past two hours, realising I would have to start all over again…

  • You clean fingerprints off glass and mirrors in public...  No? Just me? Ok

  • You think of ear buds as cleaning tools (and not for your ears)

  • You want to cry with happiness when guests have not showered. Got to love a dirty guest :)

  • You want to make sure there are no water marks in the shower and no marks on the mirrors and door handles, so you open everything with your hand wrapped in your T-shirt

  • While sitting on the loo in public places, you think how that stainless rubbish bin needs a good clean

  • When you collect used condoms – anywhere but in the rubbish bin

  • When you clean someone else's poop in the shower

  • I found myself cleaning my own electric toothbrush with a toothpick yesterday…

  • Cleaning the guest head toilet brushes with toothpicks and tweezers

    cotton buds Flickr

  • You are regularly cleaning vomit and poop and you are NOT a mother 

  • Folding the towels into 3 becomes a way of life and you cannot help yourself - Is there any other way to fold them?

  • I still squeegee our shower EVERY time I shower – only problem… I left yachts nine years ago

  • When you always have a set of ten surgical gloves in your pocket, in your caddy, in your handbag – and you are not a surgeon

  • When you are training greenies and you explain all these little details and they look at you like you're insane…

  • Having a guest on board who is so hairy, you have to hoover the shower!!!  Guest was a female

  • Having to use a lint roller every morning on the owner's bed sheets, because he has so much body hair


  • When you vacuum the vacuum…  And then vacuum that vacuum

  • When you clean the vacuum and accidently realize you became a vacuum cleaner – now this is something only a yacht Steward/ess can understand. And of course, seeing “DETAIL VACUUM CLEANER” on the Stew daily job list makes total sense to you and all the other Stews.

  • When any other vacuum besides a Miele © is unacceptable

  • That happy feeling you get when you can actually hear little bits of dirt being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner (Now where did Mrs Jones’ diamond earrings go??)

toilet paper origami 2   toilet paper origami 

Toilet Paper

  • You want to fold everyone's toilet paper into a pretty fan

  • You go to your friend’s house and turn the toilet paper around... You just can't leave it in the wrong position  

  • I still buy toilet paper in bulk (we are two in the house)

  • When you work on a yacht where you are only allowed to use one ply – and you find yourself excited about going to a Restaurant tonight and hoping they have two ply… 

Your Pockets and (Prada ©) Handbag

(Well, you have been in the industry a while and you really deserved the bag – or just insert whatever justification you gave yourself at the time)

You have sharpies, cigars, storm lighters, nappies, sun cream, a leather man and a collection of credit cards with different names in your handbag.

  • Every plant you see in public becomes a table centrepiece - who doesn't want leaves in their purse on a night out?!?

  • When your pocket consistently contains lint, a pen, a beer cap, six lily stamens, a shell fragment, three chest hairs, two crumbs and a crumpled list of the stuff you ended up forgetting to do today – and always a white glove and a cleaning glove. Always. 

Stews on Holiday, or After Leaving the Industry... 

  • When you go around people houses organizing their things... Or put the drinks - label facing forward in the drinks fridge, or the shampoo bottles all lined up at your parents' house...

  • You go to a restaurant, and fold your napkin or try to learn the fold that the restaurant did – or you're looking up new napkin folds on your phone when on a date

  • You walk around a five star hotel and think - I could clean this better

laundry detergent flickr pixel drip2


  • When you clean the shower at someone else's house...

  • You walk into a fast food chain and think how they should sanitize the place

  • When you return home for a few months and decide it's time for a new sofa – and off to the sofa shop you go... Only you cannot help but plump and position EVERY CUSHION ON EVERY SOFA, BECAUSE WHY WOULD PEOPLE LEAVE THEM LIKE THAT!!! 

  • When you clean around your bathroom taps with a toothbrush and then polish them to a shine

  • When you clean the kitchen worktop edges with a toothpick and when you wipe all your toiletries and place them in the cabinet with the labels facing forward

  • You see fingerprints everywhere

  • When you are continuously brushing the suede with a dry sponge – and then you realise you are living in a rented apartment and the couch is not yours…

  • You go to your friend’s house and just start cleaning and organizing EVERYTHING when they aren't looking

  • The mountains of napkin rings, place mats and matching napkins I have collected on my journey that now lay (neatly) in my drawer and have NEVER been used

  • At home you keep your own laundry bag in your room and use a chamois for the shower...

  • When my boyfriend moved in to my apartment after last season, I gave him a laundry bag for his clothes  

  • When you use Febreze or Downy on your own bed linen to get rid of the wrinkles...

  • You keep three different sized boxes of Ziplocs © under the sink (in your own home because it's the one product you could never live without after boats). The nappy bag - full of them. Beach bag - same again. Car glove box... 

  • When you temporarily rent an apartment and start cleaning it with a toothpick - every single hole of the shower and unscrew the kitchen tap full to get rid of the lime scale. Then use magic eraser for dirty spots you see all over and dry every water stain after using the bathroom...

  • You lie on the floor, then on the bed , even upside down to see if there are any finger prints on the mirrors, the cupboards, or anything - even at home. And, then think to yourself.......hmmm, maybe I am a bit of a sad sod…

  • When I left the industry, I called my dog Miele   

German Anni ironing 600

  • When you vacuumed your apartment twice today… And it's a Saturday

  • You can walk into a five star hotel and immediately spot places the cleaners have missed - then your boyfriend reminds you that you are on holiday and tells you to chill and enjoy - but this boyfriend also works in the industry and also notices every little thing..

  • And you would probably make the bed as soon as you wake up because if you don't "the cleaners are going to think I'm a messy dirty person!"

  • You test drive vacuum cleaners on your day off.

  • You have to clean the bathroom in the movie theater before you can relax and enjoy the movie

  • You've bought a label making machine for your own home...

  • When you are using museum gel in your own house - does your house move?!? Museum gel is the work of the devil and should never ever be used - anywhere! 

  • You still eat like you're in a race  

  • You have so many belongings around the world that you make your own inventory for them 

Laundry Room 

  • When you know exactly what kind of underwear every crew member wears (and who doesn’t)

  • What about when all the Stews from the same yacht are talking about the crew boys' underwear and people think you're all sharing the same boyfriend?! 

  • The first place you always visit in the supermarket is the laundry section to see if they have any new gadgets/products. And you know all the names of all the different laundry and cleaning products all over the world

  • We get particularly passionate about our special cleaning products and tricks

  • When you get to France you're not (just) excited about the Rose wine - you're excited about their awesome laundry products!  

  • When you get excited about new cleaning products or gadgets in general. How about the happiness you feel when a cleaning product actually works!

  • When guests leave and you fall into the biggest pile of sheets that ever existed...

  • When you spend your birthday in the laundry until 23:00h but with a glass of champagne! 

Anni having too much fun

General Life Onboard... 

  • Change of plans is part of the plan! 

  • When you brush the fibres in all kinds of carpets so they all go in the same direction

  • When a glass that falls on the floor doesn't smash, it makes your day!

  • You clean the clean – no additional comments needed. You stand back and smile when you finish "detailing" a room for eight hours and start all over again!

  • You wait for guests to arrive and you spent your last five minutes of free time to find that speck of dust, that fingerprint, that one piece of hair on the floor (let’s not forget the "look" in the mirror of day head with no lights on!) 

  • When you look at greenies and you can't conceive how they can't see the cushions need fluffing, or the mirror has a hazy layer, or they forget to pick up stuff around the boat as they walk by and get all ship shape, "How can they not see this?" We forget we were once very similar, takes a while to develop the ‘stewie eye’

  • You're excited about new sponge in the sink... 

  • 'I'd like to purchase ONE of those', said no steward/ess ever. Go Bulk or Go Home – even with your underwear! 

  • You furtively check where the zips or openings are on every cushion you see and turn them back the "right" way  

  • When you know too much about your boss (ie How many bowel movements they had yesterday because you clean the loo every time they use it) 

  • When you create a cleaning schedule.... for yourself.... at your own apartment

  • When you spend your birthday with guests on board and your boss didn't even realize it was your birthday

Anni on deck 

  • When you have been given shoes (slutty looking ones from some Ibiza-party animal guests, I've gotten clothes, jewellery, and dinners...  from my owners, good thing they were mostly women...)

  • When people make assumptions about your love life when you tell them your expensive handbag/watch/sunglasses were a gift from your "owner"  

  • You're washing glasses after dinner and suddenly find yourself wondering where the pips are from the three olives in the owner's pre-dinner martini... because they didn't come back with the glass and they're nowhere in the Sky Lounge! This is when you cross your fingers and hope he threw them overboard or you'll never sleep!

  • When you catch yourself in the mirror, vacuuming the ceiling, and wonder what you're doing with your life...  I used to be in the middle of ‘earbudding’ something and think, “if my parents could only see me now, putting that college education to work!”

  • You label your label maker

If we, as current and former Stewies, can relate to pretty much all of these, we can conclude that we're not crazy if everyone's doing this stuff, right? Gotta run, I'm about to detail the interior of my car with toothpicks and ear buds… Sigh!

* Images courtesy of German Anni; flickr; Dave on Flickr

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