Megayachts are booming. Jeff Bezos is building a $500m “gigayacht” in the Netherlands, boatyards are full and charter businesses are turning away customers. But dealing with the obscenely rich passengers is a nightmare, says former deckhand Brandon Presser in Bloomberg. One famous American basketball player trashed a boat by lunch on day one of his charter, spraying champagne over the interiors, “then clogging all of the cabin toilets with his vomit”. No wonder it can take six people 10 days to clean a superyacht. Then there are the clients’ “day-use girlfriends”, who often wander around semi-naked – one big spender filled a separate superyacht with prostitutes, “swapping them on and off 10 at a time” over several days.
Catering is a challenge. Middle Eastern guests eat like Americans, but want five times as much, served as a buffet – then only eat about 10%. The most ostentatious Russians helicopter in a fresh supply of caviar after a few days. Basic pay for crew is typically about $3,000 a month, but when passengers go on seven-figure shopping sprees, the staff can keep what guests discard on board (such as a scarf by Hermès). On a charter it’s customary for the client to tip each crew member 1% of the total rental cost – that often works out at $2,000-$3,000 each a week. A good summer can mean $50,000 in tips. And then? The yachties party hard and splash out on Gucci – “as though we owned our own boats”.
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