Making it thru the holidays onboard

Dec 22, 2015 by Angela Orecchio

Most crew celebrate their holidays with guests onboard or getting ready to have them onboard for New Years. Either way, they most likely aren’t home with family and friends.

This can be tough, especially if it’s their first time working on a yacht and away from family.

For those crew who choose yachting as a career will deal with this every year, and it might not get any easier emotionally.

Here are five healthy ways to learn to deal with being away from home and family on any holiday or occasion.

  1. Drink and swallow a healthy dose of yachtie reality. We are in a service industry where holidays are reserved for those who pay our salaries and afford us this lifestyle. The quicker we accept this, the quicker we can start enjoying holidays with our temporary families and start having some fun.
  2. Start new traditions. How many cultures are there on board right now? Surely, all of them have some sort of holiday tradition. Think of all the new and fun ways to join international traditions together.
  3. Take the initiative. Be the one who brightens up everyone else’s holiday. Do other crew members mope around, missing family and home. Be the happy Elf in the group and plan some fun activities. Even smiling at other crew and being there for them will change their day and holiday experience more than you can ever imagine. This is also called “fake it until you make it,” and it works.
  4. Be grateful for what you have. I know it sounds like a cliché, but when we feel down, it is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have these jobs. Even though we are away from home, we likely are in some beautiful location, living on a yacht, with money in the bank. So many people would give their left … ahem …reindeer antler for a life like that.
  5. Keep in contact with family. Arrange a holiday or occasion Skype date or something similar to stay connected. After years in the industry, crew begin to lose connection to family over holidays. It could be a coping mechanism or just something that happens after being away so long. Make an effort to stay in touch, and let family and friends know you still care.

A merry yachtie Christmas

For those crew spending Christmas onboard this year, not to worry. It can be a lot of fun. Even for those working, keeping in the spirit will make a noticeable difference in crew morale. A few weeks before Christmas, get the crew together and draw names for a Secret Santa. Agree upon an amount each person will spend on a gift. Buy and wrap the gift anonymously, and stuff in a stocking to be opened with the group on Christmas day. Find a small tree in a pot, a rosemary bush or a plastic tree with lights, and put it in the crew mess. Buy reindeer antlers, Santa hats and maybe some ugly cheap holiday clothing to wear on the day. Play a holiday-themed movie to watch together, sipping hot cocoa or hot cider. Make holiday foods such as Christmas cookies or a birthday cake. Cover the table and/or crew mess with festive decor. Take photos and place them around the crew mess the next day. Being away from family and friends is hardest when the holidays come around. But our crew mates are our temporary family and friends. Make the best of your situation, and you just might make some lasting memories and friendships.

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from her blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting. Contact her through


About Angela Orecchio

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting. Contact her through

View all posts by Angela Orecchio →