Insight: How to navigate the festive season on board a yacht

By Georgia Tindale

With its twinkling lights, turkeys, singing and snow, Christmas is often dubbed ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. However, the lived reality of Christmas and the wider festive season for those working on board a superyacht can be a little more complicated. 

Far away from family, friends and one’s support network, however much crew enjoy both their work, and the hugely memorable travel experiences which are facilitated by spending prolonged periods on board, Christmas can feel like a very isolating time when you’re thousands of miles away from those you love and care most about. 

Following our recent article on suicide prevention and mental health awareness, here we look at a few ways in which you can keep yourself safe and well this festive season, even when times are getting a bit tough. 

1. Ignore social media: it is a lie 

If you only take one thing away from reading this article, it is this: social media is a lie. It bears repeating: social media is a lie. Other people’s seemingly picture perfect lives and Christmases are that to a tee – seemingly picture perfect. 

Although it can doubtless be a time of joy, giving, togetherness, connection and kindness, for many people, the image of Christmas which is painted as as an idyllic time of family perfection only serves to highlight all of the elements in their own lives which are not perfect and in which they feel that they fall short. 

What is the solution to this? I find it helpful to remember that there are many people for whom this time of year is difficult – there’s certainly nothing wrong with you or anything ‘weird’ about you if you do fall into this camp. 

Indeed, if Christmas is a tricky or emotionally complicated time for you, you could perhaps consider limiting your social media access (which might even be easier to do on board a yacht than in other scenarios!) 

2. Make the most of the connections you have 

Even though your yachting work companions are probably a little different to people you might elect to spend time with back home, for many crew members, the wacky and weird world of working on a yacht can create its own (sometimes slightly dysfunctional!) family on board. 

Depending on where everyone in the world hails from, you may well have some pretty diverse festive traditions amongst the crew – meaning that you could even create an onboard Christmas of your own, bringing together some custom or tradition from everyone’s country of origin. 

As we all know, this season can be an extremely busy period on board yachts, with charters up to your ears and plenty of demanding owners and work schedules to contend with. 

This might make it tricky to organise anything too complicated amongst the crew for Christmas, but a festive singalong, snack or even a silly game could be just the thing to get you all in the mood and keep those spirits up. 

3. Embrace the video call

Although it’s not quite the same as face-to-face contact, navigating COVID-19 has taught all of us the importance of maintaining connections with family and friends virtually. 

It is amazing how, when you’re having a tough time and feeling overwhelmed by stress, a familiar face on a video call can lift you up as a reminder of what is waiting for you on the other side of the trip. 

4. Speak to your crewmates – and don’t be ashamed to ask for help

If it all gets to be a bit much and you are struggling to manage over the festive period, it is always advisable to speak to your crewmates, or reach out to one of the helplines listed below. Yacht Crew Help was specifically set up to address this need among crewmembers and they do a fantastic job of helping those who need it on board yachts. They are available to take calls 24 hours a day, 365 days per year (so, yes, that includes Christmas!).

It might be helpful to know also that research published by Yacht Crew Help (YCH) on welfare issues within yachting has found that 82% of respondents had experienced low crew morale on board at least ‘sometimes’, and 45% of crewmembers have suffered from social isolation or loneliness on board.

In short, however many benefits there are to be found from working on board a yacht, there are times when it can be a difficult and overwhelming experience – and the industry has support available for when it is. 

At Yotspot, we wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas and new year – and look forward to helping more of you find your perfect position on board a yacht in 2023 and beyond! 

For more information about current support available both within yachting and more broadly, there are some useful links below. 

Yacht Crew Help 

The Crew Mess