Ship steward/ship stewardess

A cruise ship


Ship stewards and ship stewardesses work on board the vessel to provide services to passengers such as serving meals, housekeeping, welcoming passengers and explaining safety procedures.

The duties of a ship steward/ship stewardess include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining inventory levels of food and drinks, including ordering new supplies as needed
  • Providing first aid and medical assistance to guests as needed
  • Dressing appropriately for social events, such as formal dinners or cocktail parties
  • Taking inventory of all food and beverage supplies on board the yacht at the start of each charter trip, and restocking supplies as needed throughout the trip
  • Helping with deck work including cleaning and polishing surfaces, scrubbing the hull, or organizing storage areas
  • Participating in safety drills, lifeboat training, and other emergency procedures
  • Greeting guests upon arrival and departure, as well as during social events onboard the yacht
  • Preparing food and drink orders for guests, including preparing special dishes upon request
  • Making sure that cabins are clean and orderly at all times, and that guests have everything they need while on board

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to ship steward/ship stewardess:

ship guest services associate
cruise ship guest services officer
ferry steward
ship stewardess
ship steward
cruise ship steward
cruise ship guest services professional
ship guest services professional
ship guest services officer
cruise ship guest services associate
ferry stewardess
cruise ship stewardess

Working conditions

Ship stewards and stewardesses work aboard ships, providing service to the passengers and crew. They work in close quarters with other members of the vessel’s staff and must be able to get along well with others.

Ship stewards and stewardesses typically work long hours, often more than 12 hours per day, and may be required to work on weekends and holidays. They may also be required to work overtime when the vessel is in port for extended periods of time. The work can be physically demanding, and they must be able to lift and carry heavy objects, such as luggage and supplies. They also must be able to stand for long periods of time and be comfortable working in close quarters.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as a ship steward/ship stewardess. Some yachts may prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or a related field. These degrees can help candidates get a head start in the industry and learn valuable skills.

Most ships will train their crew members, but the length and type of training will vary. Some ships will train their crew members in the basics of the job, such as cleaning and serving, while others will train their crew members in all aspects of the job. Some ships will train their crew members in first aid and safety procedures.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Ship steward/ship stewardess is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Ship steward/ship stewardess career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to ship steward/ship stewardess.

train attendant
hotel butler
hotel concierge
flight attendant

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of ship steward/ship stewardess. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of ship steward/ship stewardess with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

accommodation manager
hospitality entertainment manager
travel agency manager
camping ground manager
rooms division manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of ship steward/ship stewardess.

  • Health and safety measures in transportation: The body of rules, procedures and regulations related to health and safety measures intended to prevent accidents or incidents in transportation.
  • On board hazards: Prevent on board (electrical) hazards and effectively deal with them should they occur; ensure safe embarkation and disembarkation of the vessel.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of ship steward/ship stewardess.

  • Communicate verbal instructions: Communicate transparent instructions. Ensure that messages are understood and followed correctly.
  • Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
  • Help to control passenger behaviour during emergency situations: Know how to use life-saving equipment in emergency situations. Provide assistance if leakages, collisions or fires should occur, and support the evacuation of passengers. Know crisis and crowd management, and administer first aid on board.
  • Facilitate safe disembarkation of passengers: Assist passengers when they leave the vessel, aircraft, train, or other mode of transport. Keep the safety measures and procedures in mind.
  • Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
  • Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
  • Serve food in table service: Provide food at the table whilst maintaining high level of customer service and food safety standards.
  • Manage the customer experience: Monitor, create and oversee customer experience and perception of brand and service. Ensure pleasant customer experience, treat customers in a cordial and courteous manner.
  • Communicate reports provided by passengers: Transmit information provided by passengers to superiors. Interpret passenger claims and follow up requests.
  • Check passenger tickets: Check passenger tickets and boarding passes upon entrance. Greet passengers and direct them to their seats or cabins.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Deliver outstanding service: Provide outstanding customer service by exceeding customer expectations; establish reputation as an exceptional service provider.
  • Provide information to passengers: Provide passengers with correct information in a polite and efficient manner; use proper etiquette to assist physically challenged travellers.
  • Demonstrate emergency procedures: Provide information on and demonstrate emergency procedures to passengers. Explain the use of emergency equipment and direct passengers to the nearest emergency exits.
  • Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
  • Assist passenger embarkation: Assist passengers when they embark vessels, aircraft, trains and other modes of transport. Keep safety measures and procedures in mind.
  • Provide food and beverages: Provide people with food and drink during trip, a flight, an event, or any other occurrence.
  • Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.
  • Follow verbal instructions: Have the ability to follow spoken instructions received from colleagues. Strive to understand and clarify what is being requested.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of ship steward/ship stewardess. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Physical parts of the vessel: Detailed knowledge of the different physical components of the vessel. Provide maintenance and care to ensure optimal operations.
  • Vessel safety equipment: Gain theoretical and practical knowledge of safety equipment used in vessels, including devices such as lifeboats, life rings, splash doors and fire doors, sprinkler systems, etc. Operate equipment during emergency situations.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of ship steward/ship stewardess. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Distribute local information materials: Hand out leaflets, maps and tour brochures to visitors with information and tips about local sites, attractions and events.
  • Oversee guest laundry service: Ensure that guest laundry is collected, cleaned and returned to a high standard and in a timely fashion.
  • Implement marketing strategies: Implement strategies which aim to promote a specific product or service, using the developed marketing strategies.
  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Give instructions to staff: Give instructions to subordinates by employing various communication techniques. Adjust communication style to the target audience in order to convey instructions as intended.
  • Use riverspeak to communicate: Use Riverspeak to communicate in technical and nautical terms.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Service rooms: Offer room service and, where appropriate, service public areas, including cleaning surfaces, bathrooms, replacing linen and towels and restocking guest items.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Perform small vessel safety procedures: Implement emergency measures of health care to sick and injured on board, according to established procedures to minimise potential injuries or illnesses.
  • Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
  • Manage lost and found articles: Make sure that all articles or objects lost are identified and that the owners get them back in their possession.
  • Prepare mixed beverages: Make a range of mixed alcoholic drinks, such as cocktails and long drinks and non-alcoholic drinks according to the recipes.
  • Assist clients with special needs: Aid clients with special needs following relevant guidelines and special standards. Recognise their needs and accurately respond to them if needed.
  • Implement sales strategies: Carry out the plan to gain competitive advantage on the market by positioning the company’s brand or product and by targeting the right audience to sell this brand or product to.
  • Prepare simple meals on board: Prepare simple meals using healthy ingredients; work hygienically.
  • Read stowage plans: Read and comprehend content of stowage plans; basic knowledge of how to stow various types of cargo.
  • Maintain stock supplies for guest cabin: Keep supplies of toiletries, towels, bedding, linens and manage supplies meant for guest cabins.
  • Perform services in a flexible manner: Adapt service approach when circumstances change.
  • Maintain vessel safety and emergency equipment: Maintain and inspect all safety and emergency equipment such as life jackets, inflatable life rafts, flares, EPIRB, first-aid kits, AED, skiff emergency packs, emergency flashlights, and hand-held radios. Ensure that safety equipment is organised, available for emergency use, and re-stocked as necessary. Record inspection of the equipment in appropriate logbooks.
  • Handle guest luggage: Manage, pack, unpack and store guest luggage on request.

ISCO group and title

5111 – Travel attendants and travel stewards

  1. Ship steward/ship stewardess – ESCO
  2. Yacht Stewardess Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: Photo by David Dibert from Pexels
Last updated on November 3, 2022

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