YACHT TO TROT Fridges full of lobster and champagne, £15k tips… but having to join the boss in his hot tub: what it’s really like working on millionaires’ yachts
The rich and famous live a life of luxury on their impressive boats – but the same can’t always be said for their staff. Here, two stars of Bravo’s reality TV show Below Deck reveal ALL to Sun Online
LIFE on the open sea is great for the millionaires who can afford to spend months travelling the world and partying on their £200 million superyachts.
But the same can’t always be said for the people who live below deck and are paid to look after them.
Emily Ratajkowski is one of many celebs who holiday on luxury yachts in the Med – though neither Conrad or Brooke have ever worked for her
Brooke has to wait on her guests hand and foot
The lucky ones could get tipped with a brand new Cartier watch, a £60,000 diamond bracelet or an all-expenses-paid weekend break in New York by the superyacht owners.
But others are woken up in the early hours of the morning by their filthy rich bosses who fancy a massage – and miss family weddings and funerals as a result of their long and gruelling contracts.
The Below Deck yacht crew travelled to the glamorous south of Italy
While yachties earn around £4,000 per month tax free – plus tips and no living costs – the price they pay for travelling the world and earning big money isn’t always worth it.
Sun Online spoke to Bosun Conrad Empson, 24, and Chief Stewardess Brooke Laughton, 27, who both starred in Hayu’s yachtie reality show Below Deck, to find out what working on a superyacht is really like.
“I’ve been tipped $15k but was asked to join a male boss in his hot tub”
Brooke Laughton, 27, is a stewardess from Manchester
Brooke says: “When I was a little girl, I holidayed on luxury yachts with my family around the Caribbean.
But working on them is definitely different from how I thought it’d be. The movies glamourise superyachts, but you’re really just working crazy hours – sometimes for not very nice people.
Life as a yachtie isn’t plain sailing
All owners are different, so when you start working on a new boat you never know what to expect.
These are extremely rich people, and some are absolute a******s who are demanding and rude.
Others appreciate what they’ve got and treat you like family.
These are extremely rich people, and some are just absolute a******s who are demanding and rude.
I had one lovely owner who flew us stewardesses – four in total – to New York for a long weekend, all paid for, taking us to amazing restaurants and invite us to their family barbecues.
Another time I worked for a family for a year-and-a-half and they didn’t even know my name.
On one charter, I was tipped £15,000 for one week, and one girl I know was given a yellow diamond bracelet worth £60,000.
But there was another time a family gave me a cheap keyring as a tip after a season.
Brooke was tipped £15,000 for one season
Girls do feel pressure to please their bosses – I was once asked to join a male boss in his hot tub. I felt uncomfortable so I said I was working and it wasn’t very professional.
The owners also want their crew to be glamorous and well put together at all times – manicured nails, no chipped polish, lipstick, immaculate hair.
But it’s hard to maintain this when you’re working all the time and hardly have time to sleep.
Brooke has travelled the world thanks to her job on a superyacht
When I went into yachting, I was in a relationship for five years, but we were in different time zones and I was constantly working so we ended up splitting up.
The worst days are when things happen at home that you can’t be around for. My granddad passed away when I had just started a charter.
I was stuck in the middle of the south pacific so I couldn’t get a flight home for the funeral.
The work didn’t stop so I just had to keep my composure and carry on. It was really awful.
Superyacht owners often leave champagne behind – which the crew take advantage of
Posh seafood dinners are a staple on many superyachts
The days you drop off the charter are the best – there’s fridges full of lobster and Champagne left over and the crew are allowed to have it.
I’ve worked for a lot of A-list celebrities but I can’t say much as you’re made to sign a confidentiality agreement for every yacht you go on – they don’t want what they get up to leaked.
My first high-profile yacht was for a big name in the film industry. We were at Cannes so there were all these Hollywood stars on board.
It was surreal and I was starstruck – I was shaking when I was pouring drinks for them.
I also worked for Oprah Winfrey. She’s such a welcoming person: she learned the entire 22 crew members’ names within two days.
Yachting is a young person’s game. You have to work hard and have thick skin.”
“I’ve been asked to wake the girl yachties up to flirt with the bosses in the middle of the night- they get no respect”
Conrad Empson, 24, is a Bosun from Bournemouth
Conrad says: “When my friends look at my Instagram – which has 50,000 followers – they are jealous.
In one year alone I travelled to 18 countries and I drive yachts that cost £210 million on average and are owned by billionaires.
Conrad’s Instagram gives an insight into his job on a yacht
However, in reality the crème de la crème moments are few and far between.
Season generally lasts for about four months, twice a year, where you’ll cruise around the Mediterranean or Caribbean.
Conrad has been asked to wake up female crew members by charter guests
When the owner of the luxury yacht is on board, you put in long shifts.
You don’t get much sleeping time, and the cabins tiny: you’re paired up, literally sleeping on top of each other. There’s no privacy.
Yacht crew such as the Below Deck stars often have no privacy from each other
You’re expected to always be at the beck and call of your boss. I had one who was horrific.
While I was driving, I had her guest tell me that if a wave came up that she didn’t think I could handle, she would knock me out and do it herself.
Behind the smiles, Conrad works tough 19-hour shifts
Female stewardesses get it toughest. The bosses don’t always give them respect.
My requests were things like “can you wake up female crew members and get them out of bed to come and flirt with me?”
I’ve even had colleagues paid a ridiculous amount of money to give an owner a massage.
Guests have been flirty with me, but haven’t come on to me in an obscene way like that.
You’re taught to always say yes to the bosses, you never say no. You always give them everything they want.
In return, it’s not uncommon for girls to receive gifts. I know one girl who got a brand new Cartier watch, costing about £5,000.
Lots of things are kept hidden though, because you have to sign privacy agreements for each vessel you work on.
The one thing you learn is that romantic relationships can’t really work.
It’s part of your job to be called up whenever the bosses want, so there are times you have to up and leave without a chance to say a proper goodbye, which understandably a partner would get upset by.
Dating other crew members is hard too. I dated Hannah Ferrier when we were on Below Deck together, and it’s very, very difficult when things aren’t going well between you.
In normal circumstances, if you argue then you can leave and get some head space, but on a yacht you have to constantly communicate with each other about what’s happening on deck.
Me and Hannah broke up and I can tell you first hand that the next day is awful: it’s like being in the Love Island villa.
A lot of captains don’t have a family, and if they do they never see them.
That’s why it’s called ‘The Golden Handcuffs’ – you earn great money but you’re putting your own life on hold to make someone else’s even more privileged.”