Am I too Old for Yachting?

I’m a 42-year-old woman who wants to get into yachting as a stewardess. From what I hear, this is pretty rare, and it seems to be a young person’s game, particularly for stews. I don’t want to be discouraged. 

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Q: Am I too old for yachting? (Jess, 42, stew)

I had kids young, they’re all grown up now, and I feel like it’s my time to travel, make some money, and have some adventures!

I’ve got a strong service background as I’ve been in high-end hospitality forever. I’m fit and look pretty good for my age, but I know that the odds are against me finding a job easily.

Nobody seems to be giving me a straight answer, so I want your honest opinion. Am I too old to get into yachting?

A: The Crew Coach

Great question! To be honest, due to the nature of the industry, you may feel discriminated against due to your age. However, it doesn’t mean you won’t find the position you are looking for. I know of several women like you with grown-up kids who have found stew or chef positions for the first time in their forties. However, they would concur with you and say they too found the job-hunting process difficult and frustrating at times.

Unfortunately, this is primarily an image-focused and ageist industry, and you will likely be passed over for a younger applicant. So if you’re going to go for it, you need to accept this and maintain a positive attitude, as it will increase your chances of securing a position onboard.

Yachting has changed over the 18 years I’ve been in it. Hundreds of young hopefuls turn up every year with very little work and life experience, and Captains, crew agencies and management companies are increasingly desperate for professional crew with the maturity and determination to stick the job out for the long-term. You need to make it clear that you have the life and work experience the industry is looking for and the determination and work ethic to go after what you want and stick to it.

For the right Captain, your maturity (and winning personality) will be the thing that gets you hired, rather than the thing that rules you out. To smooth your path into the industry, I recommend targeting smaller yachts with more mature, long-serving crew. Young crew tend not to want to work on these yachts, so you may find you have less competition and a Captain more willing to consider you. Your maturity indicates you will need less hand-holding and should be able to get on with the work with little supervision. Small teams, i.e. Captain and stewardess, working for a low-key family or older couple, are even likelier to hire a more mature crew.

In short, you’re not too old for yachting, but you should still prepare yourself for a potentially more challenging job hunt. Networking is even more critical for you than for the younger crew, as people will need to meet you and know you to vouch for your zestful nature and energy. 

This may not come through as much in a CV, so you will be your best ambassador in person. I suggest connecting with as many people as you can when you get to your job-hunting port and joining as many yachting forums and Facebook pages as possible.

You are welcome to join our Facebook yachting community hubwhere you’ll find a lot of support and opportunities and access to our CV Toolkit and Yachting 101, which is packed full of information about the industry and job-hunting strategy and interview techniques.

Finally, as well as obtaining all the compulsory entry-level courses, you can increase your employability and impress people by enrolling in additional industry courses, such as the introductory GUEST program. This is an excellent foundation for interior work and shows prospective employers that you are serious about working in yachting. You could also do a powerboat course and get a tender license to increase your chances of joining a smaller yacht.

Last but not least, keep in mind the strong reasons you want to do this and let that continue to motivate you even when the going gets tough. I believe there is a place for everyone in this industry if you persevere and don’t give up. You can make this happen, and beautiful adventures await you! I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear how you get on.

Am I too Old for Yachting