Case studies

Gemma Willis

UKSA’s Hospitality Course has been designed to train future stewards and stewardesses in the exacting standards required by superyacht industry employers.

As the superyacht industry continues to expand year on year, so does the demand for exceptionally well-trained interior crew. UKSA’s Superyacht Hospitality Foundation course delivers all the qualifications, practical skills, industry guidance, knowledge and support required by stewards and stewardesses at the beginning of their careers in this luxury industry.

What were you doing before you came to UKSA?

My background is Dance & Musical Theatre High End Retail (Harrods, Selfridges, Chanel) Hospitality & Events where I worked for 10 years covering various roles. For 3 years before joining the yachting industry I was the manager of a yoga studio and worked part time in a Florist shop.

What course did you decide to study at UKSA and why?

I decided to attend UKSA to follow in my brothers footsteps who had joined yachting in 2011. I had watched his amazing life for a few years before deciding I wanted that too. While on holiday in the Bahamas in 2015 I saw lots of Superyachts around where we were staying and every morning I watched the crew going about their daily work and decided when I got home I was going to go for it.

Coincidentally when I got home I came across a Superyacht Seminar being held in London for people interested in joining the industry. I already knew a lot about it from my brother but I went along anyway, this is where I first met Vanessa Hodgeson. I then went to the Monaco Yacht Show later that year to see my brother where I met Vanessa again and took part in service workshops which I really enjoyed, I also met a lot of other people all working in the industry in various roles who I spent time with as well as girls from various roles on the yachts.

Monaco & Vanessa as well as my brother were some of my reasons for pursuing a new career.

I attended 2 open days for Stewardess training courses but UKSA was the one that I felt would be good for me, I really liked the campus and how every part of the course was held within that campus.

I took The Superyacht Hospitality Training and also The UKSA Superyacht Cookery Foundation course, I took this course as I love cooking.

What is your best memory of training at UKSA?

All my memories from UKSA are good, I enjoyed everything about the course. I made new friends all from different places with different backgrounds, I am still in touch with some of them through social media and WhatsApp and if we are in the same country we will meet and catch up.

We all supported and helped each other through the course but my best memory is the support I had from everyone when it came to sea survival and fire fighting, having to enter a burning building is something I really didn’t think I could do but when I did I was so proud of myself and thankful for the support I had from everyone there.

Some of us moved over to Antibes at the same time, it was nice to have friends there when everything felt so daunting, some of us spent time together during the day dockwalking, visiting agencies and job hunting and we would meet up for beach time, drinks, lunch or dinner at weekends.

Where has your career taken you since you trained at UKSA?

I started as a Junior Stew / Florist and I am now Head of Housekeeping / Florist. I went into yachting with a very strong background in service from working in hospitality & events for 10 years so I thought I would progress through service but I found I have a passion for Laundry & Housekeeping.

So far I have spent time in and around the South of France, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sardinia, Corsica, Ibiza, Antigua, Bahamas, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, St Petersburg, West Palm Beach & Thailand.

What are you doing now?

I am currently taking some time out due to health reasons so I am at home in the UK where I am working on my new Floristry business ‘Floating Florista’ an onboard floristry training service for stews where I will go onboard to provide floristry training around working freelance and covering temp positions.

What advice would you offer someone studying at UKSA?


Always have a notebook and pen with you to take as many notes as possible about everything and don’t be shy or afraid to ask if you’re not sure about something.

Practice makes perfect

If you’re not confident in napkin or toilet paper folds or anything practical like table settings, flower arranging, polishing, ironing, folding clothes, or making beds practice as much as you can, YouTube is brilliant for watching and learning.


Talk to everyone around campus and swap contact / social media details, it’s not always about what you know but who you know when seeking your first position.


While studying at UKSA look into moving over to Antibes or Palma as soon as possible once you finish your course. Research where you can afford to live, crew

houses are the best place to stay if within your budget as they have lots of contacts in the industry. They have daywork come through to them regularly which you need to do to gain experience while seeking your first permanent position, seasonal and permanent positions come through to them as well.

Look up all the agencies, joining them online is very time consuming but it has to be done so start the process while at UKSA, you don’t want to be stuck inside when your finally in Antibes or Palma spending hours on the computer signing up to all the agencies when you could be out early dockwalking and hopefully securing daywork or relaxing on the beach 🙂

If you’re all signed up while at UKSA then once you are there you will be ready to visit the agencies to introduce yourself straight away, check the times they see ‘green crew / newbies’. Check online with agencies everyday to apply for jobs relevant to the position you are seeking.

Business Cards

Have some simple business cards made up with your name, contact details and professional looking headshot on, always have some on you for networking.

If there is anything else you are interested in that you feel may help you to secure a position such as hairdressing, massage, beauty treatments, floristry, fitness, watersports or wines, look into doing a or some short courses if you have the time to add to your CV. Wset Level 1 is a good one to do for wine training.

Extra skills aren’t necessary but can be a good thing to have as some yachts like their crew to be able to multitask.

Ready to launch your professional career?

  • 3 week all inclusive course
  • Expert tuition
  • Industry guidance & support throughout your career

Find out more about our Superyacht Hospitality course

Share your #SeaChangeStories

You can share your #SeaChangeStories across social media, please email us with your story and remember to send us your photos too.