What to expect – How to behave
Our crew has a very simple and very complicated job: To do everything they can to make your trip the absolute best it can be. They really do. Therefore, they will cater to all your reasonable requests. In one word, they will be very nice – a) Because you are their livelihood and b) because they do not want you to send a poor after-charter report to the Boss. That would mean trouble for them. Lots of it.
Now, how should you behave? Well, there are two important types of situations where problems can arise.
• Safety: If you request to go to this great anchorage you read about in your magazine, or ask to do anything involving safety, and the Captain says it is presently unsafe, or the sea/weather conditions are not suitable, or whatever, do not insist. He is a professional, you’re not, and he is responsible for your safety. So do not push him, because he will have to change tone and be very firm. If you understand that, you’ll be fine. If you don’t, you’ll have a big problem.
• General Courtesy: I have heard many stories from many crews. One of the situations they dread the most is when guests are discourteous, arrogant, unreasonably messy or dirty, rowdy after drinking too much, etc. You see, some guests view crew members as their servants. Guess what, they’re not. They are professional sea(wo)men and hosts who try to do a very difficult job the best they can. So treat them with respect and friendliness and everything will be fine. The opposite behavior is sure to make for a very short trip.
Lastly, there is one thing you can do.
• Very importantly, if you are satisfied with your charter, you must give a gratuity to the crew. Not all Charter Company brochures or brokers will mention that. And if this is your first time, you’re in for a surprise. So know that the customary gratuity goes from 10% to 15 or even 20% (if you are ecstatic about your cruise) of the cruise total rate. Gratuities represent about 50% of a crew’s earnings.
Rules of the Board
The first priority for a good, professional Captain is the safety of his guests and of his vessel; therefore, when you step on board, it is usual that he give you a briefing of the do’s and don’ts. Just think about the yacht as a luxury guesthouse where the crew are the host/home owners and you’ll get the idea.
Here are a few examples:
• Usually, Captains do not allow guests to wear any shoes while on board. Shoes can damage teak decks or leave skid marks everywhere.
• Zero tolerance on drugs and guns. A Captain has the right to terminate the cruise on the spot if you violate this rule. And good luck to get a refund!
• No smoking in cabins
• Follow instructions on head/bathroom operation. Marine gear does not operate like at home!
• Try to save water, I.e., do not leave tap water flow while brushing your teeth! For the same reason, ladies washing long thick hair are Captains’ nightmare, especially if the boat does not have a water-maker. So simply be considerate and save.
• All crewed yachts have a power inverter, so you can plug any electrical device like at home. However, before plugging your big 1500-watt hairdryer, ask the Captain about any power usage precaution.
• Strictly follow the yacht’s safety rules if you sail at night and decide to go wander on deck or participate in the night watch cycles.
• Do not use the galley (kitchen) equipment/stove yourself unless you are specifically invited to do so: Chefs/cooks absolutely hate that. Similarly, do not help yourself with food and drinks in the fridge unless the chef/hostess has set up an area where such are available at will.
Always remember and respect what the Captain explains to you, and do not dismiss it as mere hairsplitting annoyances. Those are simple, common sense rules that combine your safety, your comfort and allow the crew to do their work to your entire satisfaction. Very often, I heard crews complain that an hour after the briefing, all instructions are out the window and guests are acting as if they had heard absolutely nothing!