What is On/Off Rotation on a Superyacht?

While rotational crew schedules have been the norm in the commercial shipping industry for years, it has only recently been accepted as a standard in the private sector of superyachts. The benefits of running a ship under a rotational crew schedule go beyond affecting just the functions of a superyacht. As engineering became more complex and the market for engineers expanded, it has become a challenge to find qualified engineers – plenty were sought from the commercial sector where rotational positions are the industry standard. Once rotational positions have been accepted into the yachting sector, other senior crew onboard yachts began to express interest for rotation to be extended to other positions such as Captains, Officers, Head Chefs, etc.

In the short term, there are cost increases incurred with hiring two people to cover a single position. This is to be expected and is now a common practice. In even the medium term of operating a superyacht, the costs of replacing crew members who have departed the ship due to burn out and the costs of training up their replacements to approach the proficiency and skill level of the departed crew member go far beyond the costs of implementing a rotational schedule for that position. The most expensive issues associated with errors caused due to exhaustion, or the costs of replacing a valued crew member who left due to burn out are all far more expensive than the cost of implementing a rotational schedule, even if you implement it for your entire crew.

The most common rotational positions are:

1:1

1 month on, 1 month off

2:2

2 months on, 2 months off

10:10

10 weeks on, 10 weeks off

3:3

3 months on, 3 months off

5:1

5 months on, 1 month off

Rotational positions vary from yacht to yacht – some more open to most crew onboard (not only engineering officers) to have a rotational schedule and some yachts which are only open to either engineers or senior crew. The situation for superyacht crew are slowly improving due to this change towards accepting rotational crew schedules. In addition to that, situations for superyacht owners are improving as well due to the minimization of risk, rehiring and burn out.