Great stews begin with step-by-step lists to work, train

Feb 15, 2016 by Alene Keenan

Last month, we talked about creating a list of items that need to be done every day when in service with guests onboard. We listed 38 standard tasks and reminders to complete each day, which get listed on the schedule or roster.

The next step is creating a separate checklist for each task. This is a bullet-point list of each step that needs to be done to complete the job properly, according to the procedures and protocols of each yacht.

This step tells stews what to do for each area on the schedule. For example, here is a detailed checklist of the sequence of steps to complete morning cabin service. It is from one of my former boats, so it is specific to that vessel and the physical layout of the cabin. I always started at the same spot and worked around the room from left to right, top to bottom.

When I trained new stews, I handed them a laminated copy of the checklist and they checked off each item as it was completed. Before long, the list would be memorized, but in the beginning, it helped to use the list. That way, if work was interrupted, we knew right where to pick up so nothing was overlooked. It was also a useful tool for me to inspect their work.

Checklist for Morning Service in Guest Cabins:

  • Open blinds, remove black-out covers
  • Walk through, tidy whole area
  • Gather laundry and any wet items
  • Make bed, check and dust headboard area
  • Check and clean windows and sills
  • Dust, vacuum or wipe down all surfaces and woodwork with slightly damp cloth as needed
  • Clean TV screen before closing cabinet
  • Check and clean mirrors and art work
  • Tidy all shelves and dust contents as needed
  • Wipe down side tables next to beds
  • Check and clean iPads, remotes, phones
  • Check and replace water pitchers or water bottles
  • Tidy contents of drawers as needed
  • Tidy closet contents as needed
  • Check all light bulbs, replace if needed or add to engineer list
  • Wipe all touch points such as light switches and door handles
  • Vacuum carpet last, after bathroom is cleaned

Checklist for Guest Baths:

  • Put on rubber gloves
  • Tidy whole area
  • Remove wet items
  • Collect laundry and tag properly as needed
  • Apply any antibacterial or disinfectant products that need “dwell” time
  • Dry shower to prevent water spots and mineral build-up
  • Clean shower fixtures and fittings
  • Clean bathtub fixtures and fittings
  • Clean basin fixtures and fittings
  • Wipe and tidy counters, shelves and cabinets
  • Wipe and tidy drawers and contents as needed
  • Clean and replace water glasses and water bottles
  • Check and replenish soap dispensers
  • Wipe down all surfaces and woodwork
  • Clean toilet, including under the rim, pedestal and floor fittings
  • After cleaning toilet, dispose of rubber gloves and replace with new pair
  • Empty and replace trash bag
  • Check and wipe inside of trash bin
  • Check and replenish guest toiletries
  • Wipe and tidy under sink and contents
  • Check and replenish towels
  • Check and replace tissues and toilet paper
  • Wash floors
  • Check sink, basin, glass and mirrors one last time for water spots
  • Check all light bulbs, replace if needed
  • Wipe all touch points

While this is a good start for an effective training tool, the final step is explaining exactly how to do these tasks, and then adding photos to show the final set-up of each area. Great stews have great timing skills and learn to move quickly and efficiently. Knowing exactly what is expected and how the finished area should look is crucial to good job performance.

The standards of service will vary boat by boat, so make sure you know what is expected. Ask for feedback from the captain, other crew, and the owners if the structure of your chain of command allows.

Alene Keenan is lead instructor of yacht interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Ft. Lauderdale. She shares her experience from more than 20 years as a stew in her book, “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht”, available at and on Contact her at


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