Yacht Life While Confined Onboard with Desiré Truter

Running a team on a yacht & entertaining guests can be a tremendously challenging task. Add in the COVID pandemic with its restrictions and life becomes even more complicated! Being confined onboard, senior crew are faced with several additional pressures in the workplace. They need to prioritise keeping their guests entertained and safe, as well as ensuring crew well-being. Chief Stewardess, Desiré Truter, gives us first-hand insight into guest & crew life whilst being confined onboard. She also reveals what measures her team are taking to create a daily positive environment.

How are the crew keeping their spirits up during the pandemic?

Although we have some restrictions, spirits are still high, and the team grows stronger day by day! We make a huge effort to host weekly activities onboard. We’ve hosted a number of events while being confined onboard, including quizzes, movie nights and even bingo!

Are there any activities or routines to make sure the crew are keeping healthy?

Even before lockdowns our crew have been an active bunch, we really encourage a health-conscious environment. Our team is exceptionally fit and have excellent routines that include daily workouts; it’s amazing what workouts you can do with minimal equipment! I personally use an app called CompTrain, it offers free home workouts and all you need is a skipping rope and a dumbbell, or kettlebell and is perfect for when you are confined onboard! Other crew love yoga and Pilates, but HIIIT and kettlebell circuits are the most popular. We are also lucky to have nutritious food, with a huge thank you to our wonderful chefs. Proper nutrition and easy workouts make living a healthy lifestyle while confined onboard completely achievable!

What COVID friendly activities are you providing the guests with to keep them occupied?

Although they are not confined onboard, shore excursions have been limited as guests want limited exposure. We have covered all of the classics including Guest and Crew Olympics, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed! A lot of our themed entertainment takes place at mealtimes as the guests are quite active during the day. We recently did a karaoke evening where dinner was a bougie take on classic snacks, did somebody say truffle popcorn?! My favourite evening so far has been our disco themed night. We had our cocktail station all set-up and encouraged our guests to get creative behind the bar. Before we knew it, they all got stuck in and were learning how to make their favourites!

The deck department have also been very proactive in entertaining the guests with all sorts of water sports. We have had some very athletic guests this season, who have been participating in everything from jet-skiing to diving. It is fair to say that the eFoils have become especially popular! At the end of the day, the yachting experience for our guests has continued to be just as wonderful and has not changed immensely. We have our incredible crew to thank for that!

What additional measures is the boat having to take during this time?

There have been several additional measures, with both guest and crew health & safety being our number one priority. For guest trips, the crew quarantine and are confined onboard prior to guest arrival. Extra precautions are taken when receiving provisions, all packaging is removed prior to items coming onboard which are then fully sanitised. For crew returning from leave, we have imposed mandatory hotel quarantine as some countries have no quarantine rules at all.

Has the pandemic affected crew turnover at all?

COVID has definitely put things into perspective for many yachties and some of our crew. A few have chosen to leave the industry entirely due to the heightened risks and complications that now come with air travel. I would say our turnover has stayed the same, however, the reasons for leaving have shifted. Ultimately, crew have to do what is best for themselves and it’s really important that they are happy onboard.

Do you have any recommendations for keeping your team motivated while they are confined onboard?

The pandemic has been a tough time for everyone and especially seafarers. It is essential to shift from a purely outcomes-based approach and check in with your team. Are people okay? Do they require support? What can you do to help? Sometimes it could be in the smallest gesture but now, more than ever, mental health awareness should be a priority. You should see your fellow crew not just as colleagues, but as family! Using this time for professional development has been a key motivator. There are great courses offered online, especially for interior and are a perfect way to keep occupied when you are confined onboard. Why not study for your WSET II, learn a new language, or even get another department to teach you a skill!

What do you predict for the upcoming season?

I doubt that we will see any immediate changes. However, there are now more systems in place for handling the curveballs that the pandemic has thrown at us. I predict that charter and private yachts will see more usage and job opportunities will increase. I urge crew to be proactive when it comes to being informed about restrictions, travel advice and keeping their certificates and visa’s in-date.

What have the positives been in this unprecedented situation?

We have definitely learnt to not take things for granted anymore! As superyacht crew we have always been fortunate when it comes to traveling and seeing all parts of the globe. For many of us, this has not changed. We are also lucky to still be able to be surrounded by other people whilst being confined onboard. Whereas many people on lockdown in our home countries, are extremely isolated. The silver lining is knowing that we would have grown immensely, for smooths seas never made skilled sailors!

Desire Truter & Team

The yachting world has been just as affected by the pandemic as any other. Making the most of any given situation is always a positive way to deal with a tough time. It sounds like Desiré and her crew are certainly making lemonade out of lemons, despite being confined onboard. We would love to hear your ideas some activities you use to keep your guests and crew occupied during this difficult time!