Crew in the spotlight: chief stewardess Natalie Oliveira
This May Camper & Nicholsons interviewed Natalie Oliveira, chief stewardess on board award-winning 40m charter yacht MY Thumper.
Could you tell us a little about your background: what were you doing prior to yachting and how did you end up working in the yachting industry?
Originally from London, yachting was not something I’d ever considered as a career. I studied to be a Financial Advisor but when the economy hit rock bottom I decided to go and live in Spain where among other things I was a wedding planner. Working in Gibraltar I had friends on yachts (but land based) and whilst lamenting my lack of holiday options it was suggested to me by a very good friend that maybe I should give yachting a go! A couple of weeks later I had completed my STCW 95 and was on a plane to Mexico….
When did you first become a Chief Stewardess and onboard which yacht?
I first became a Chief Stewardess in 2012 on MY Honeybear, actually with the same Captain and owners I work for now. The Captain really pushed me to take the position as he believed I was ready and with his support I did it. It was a great opportunity that I’m still thankful for.
What do you like most about working in yachting / being a Chief Stewardess?
I absolutely love making people smile! I go out of my way to make even the smallest of details really mean something; whether it’s a crew birthday, new charter guests or owners, everyone should feel appreciated.
What do you think is the secret to a successful charter?
Having as much information prior to the charter as possible. Also take the time to research the guests, where are they from? Are there any cultural differences you should know about? I knew of one charter that got off to a terrible start when the guests complained about the flowers in their room, apparently they were only used as funeral flowers where they were from and the principal absolutely hated them. Also being genuine; a genuine smile all the way through ensures that everyone has a good time - guests and crew!
What do you like about being in the Camper & Nicholsons fleet?
I really enjoy the interaction with the Campers crew, it's lovely to meet everyone you have spoken to/emailed etc. They really look after us yacht crew, from drinks & nibbles parties for us to all get to know each other to the wonderful recognition in the ‘Crew Stars’ initiative. It’s lovely to get recognition for all our hard work.
What is the best thing you ever learnt from another crew member?
Work smarter not harder. This can be in so many ways, from ‘never waste a trip’ to being more mindful about what you do, your role and the role of others around you. When a crew all work in harmony it's a beautiful thing and makes everything that little bit easier.
What is your favourite tool / piece of equipment or resource onboard?
Usually it's a mix of yachting directories and the internet, and I've recently discovered some handy apps that save me valuable time and resources, which in this industry is truly priceless.
What advice would you give a new crew member joining the industry?
Work hard and be nice to people. It seems obvious but so many people just seem to want to sit on a beach and expect a job to come up. No one is going to knock on your door out of the blue and offer you an amazing pay cheque! Get out there, dock walk, be nice to people - this is a very small industry and people talk. Be positive - don’t moan!! Your feet will hurt, you will be tired and you will miss loved ones but as the saying goes - we’re all in the same boat. Lastly, get your finances in order early, organise an offshore account and save, save, save! Make sure you get out with something to show for all your hard work that isn’t just designer shoes or a hangover!