Want to Work on a Yacht? ‘Below Deck’ Star Daisy Kelliher Shares Tips on Breaking Into the Industry

Daisy Kelliher .Photo:

Fred Jagueneau/Bravo

Daisy Kelliher, chief stew on Below Deck Sailing Yacht may be a star in front of Bravo cameras — but her role behind the scenes doesn’t stop when filming does. In fact, despite how cool she makes the high-pressure job look, it’s taken her years, and a variety of gigs, to get to where she is today.

“I got into yachting because I wanted to travel,” she shared with Travel + Leisure. “So I went and studied hotel management and then went and worked in London for two years, but quickly I realized this isn’t really for me.”

Rather than work behind a desk, Kelliher jetted down to Antibes and hopped aboard her first two boats that stopped in Cannes, St. Tropez, and Monaco. And now, she’s here to share her tips on breaking into the industry — cameras not included.

Get Some Hospitality Experience Under Your Belt

According to Kelliher, a good yachting career begins with gaining basic hospitality experience, be it in restaurants, cafes, hotels, or anywhere consumer-facing.

“You need to have every edge right on your CV to make you stand out,” she said. The next step is to pair this with what she calls the “essentials,” which are your basic certifications, which cover safety and medical emergencies. 

Daisy Kelliher.

Fred Jagueneau/Bravo

Try an Agency 

Those starting out, or even seasoned veterans looking for new roles, should try signing up for the various agencies like The Crew Network, which help match crew members with available vessels.

“I definitely recommend that people sign up for the agencies. There are endless amounts on the internet. Small ones, large ones, loads of Facebook groups,” Kelliher said.

Additionally, location is everything — make sure to physically be where the boats are, should you get a call.

“If you want it, go to where the boats are at,” she said.  

Be Ready for the Reality of Six Weeks at Sea 

If you’ve seen the show you know what crew quarters look like. The rooms are small, and roommate relationships can be tough, so be certain you can stomach both the rocky waters and rocky relationship dynamics.

“I think you either get it or you don’t,” Kelliher shared. “For me, it was kind of a no-brainer. I went to boarding school. I shared a room with my sister. It was so natural for me. Even now, it just doesn’t phase me. Yeah. Sharing a room, sharing my space.”

If you’re heading out for your first work trip, Kelliher suggests paring down your toiletries and personal items to the bare essentials to ensure you’re not encroaching on your roommate’s space, and to maximize your own living area.

“There really is no middle ground,” she said. “I really think you’re either okay with it or you’re not.” 

Decide if You’re Better Suited for Adventure or Luxury

Not all boats look the same. Be it sailing — like Parsifall III, which viewers have seen Kelliher flex her skills on — or motor, charter or private yachts, there are options for everyone. You just need to think about what kind of career path you’d prefer.

“I definitely think people who work on sailboats and people who charter sailboats really do want to be out in the water a bit more,” Kelliher said, adding that sailing is “a little bit more relaxed. It’s smaller.”

Additionally, Kelliher notes that the service on a motor yacht can call for a bit more luxury, as sailing vessels can’t run washing machines and dryers while sailing, nor can they put out fine dining plates and cups with the sails up, meaning the crew can get away with a little more low-key of a setup. That said, it also means crew members need to make up for the difference in providing a lot more fun, and working even harder to adapt to elements — so no matter what you’ll be working hard. 

Understand That Traveling Is For Down Days 

Yes, this job will most certainly help you get to different destinations around the world, but as Kelliher points out, it’s still a job. And that means that all personal travel will be done on off days or in between seasons.

“You’ve got boats like Below Deck that are heavy charters, you’re not going see anything,” she explained.

However, the trade off here, she notes, is on the boats doing longer sailings, there’s serious cash to be had.

“But if you’re there to travel, definitely they’re not the boats you want to get on,” she said. “You want to get on the private boats.”

On the privately owned vessels, Kelliher says, crew are more often treated as family as they stay with the families for longer stretches of time, allowing for more of a personal relationship, where crew are often invited on outings or allowed more personal time to enjoy a destination.

“It usually doesn’t pay as well, but, in my opinion, I think the experiences make up for it.”

As for if she’d do it all again, Kelliher didn’t hesitate.

“I definitely would…I think I made a good decision. It really suited my life.” She paused, and then gave a knowing grin before reiterating, “I think I made a good decision.” 

Below Deck Sailing Yacht airs every Monday on Bravo or can be streamed the next day on Peacock.

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