Crew on a 160-foot superyacht sleep in tiny hidden cabins and only get paid about $1,400 a month - but the tips can be big




The Ohana is a 160-foot yacht based in Croatia.
The Ohana is a 160-foot yacht based in Croatia.  
  • Crew members on the Ohana, who earn about $1,400 a month, say they often get large tips.

  • It's important to get on well with your colleagues, the superyacht crew told Insider.

  • Working on a superyacht can be taxing, so the captain needs to understand the demands on the crew.

Getting to sail on a superyacht as a guest is an unforgettable luxury experience.

For the crew, however, it's a rather different story: they must spend months working very long days before going to sleep in tiny cabins tucked away on the vessel.

Tea Kundić and Valentina Rijeka were two of the crew who worked this summer on the Ohana, a 160-foot superyacht based in Split, Croatia.

They spent six months catering for up to 30 guests, ensuring everyone is happy from the first moment of the day until the last one goes to bed.

The crew cabins are hidden away at the rear of the main deck. Kundić and Rijeka each have their own en-suite cabins where they go when their working days are finally done.

The hidden cabins are located at the bag of the yacht.
The hidden cabins are located at the bag of the yacht.  
Valentina Rijeka
Valentina Rijeka's cabin.  

Rijeka, 30, is the most recent recruit to Ohana's crew, led by captain and owner, Josip Šerka.

She is paid a base salary of 10,000 kunas (about $1,400), but guests tend to generously tip at the end of their stay.

"Sometimes you get as much as $1,000 more," Rijeka said of a typical tip after a seven-day charter.

Rijeka told Insider she's trying to save as possible to achieve her dream of opening a bar in Hawaii.

Šerka splits tips equally between the crew and does not take a cut himself, according to the crew members.

Kundić, 24, described the captain as a "calm soul," adding: "He just makes some jokes and makes everyone happy."

Valentina Rijeka (left) and Tea Kundić.
Valentina Rijeka (left) and Tea Kundić.  

The captain's right-hand man Zoran Vidović, 39, told Insider that working on a superyacht can be very enjoyable but is often quite demanding. That's particularly true if young people are chartering the yacht because "all they want to do is party," he says.

He recalls an incident where the crew were preparing to raise the anchor when some guests jumped into the water near the propellers: "You've got to be on it -  you must think about safety at all times."

Another skill is being able to get along with your fellow crew members, Rijeka says, "because you'll be stuck with the same people for months." It's important to "respect each other's boundaries" and give people space when they need it, Kundić adds.

Making sure everyone feels supported is also crucial, she says: "Living on a boat for six months is a whole different life than being onshore."

Šerka knows just how his crew feel, because he was in their shoes before becoming captain.

"I was working as a sailor, a waiter in the kitchen - I tried everything, so I know how hard it is," he says. "I want to be the boss I would have liked to have when I was doing these jobs."

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