“All crew, all crew…guests car has come through the port gates, eta, 2 minutes.”
22 crew stand on the aft deck, in epaulets, at attention, ready to shake the hands of 8 new guests.
5 days of 13-hour work days (at least) to “turn the boat over”
2 days of non-stop guest food and drink deliveries.
1 day of flowers and fresh fruit delivered to the guests.
Endless phone calls, checklists ticked, carpets dry cleaned, curtains steamed, toilet paper folded, uniforms ironed, beds ironed, mirrors buffed, music on.
Guest preferences studied, guest music downloaded, security checks in place, itineraries planned, provisions lined up along the route, parties lined up, musicians lined up, “turn down notes” printed, labeled, and ready to go.
Shit, I forgot to buy the essential oils. Quick text to the agent – she will…The guests start to step onto the passerelle, and you feel everyone holding their breath.
“Hello Sir, welcome on board, My name is Natasha, and I am Chief Stew on board, did you have a good flight?” I say as the principal charter guest steps on board and hands me his shoes. I slide them behind my back to Paula, our housekeeping stew. She runs them behind the bar to brush them off, wipe them, and then starts collecting the other shoes to do the same.
My second stew steps up to hand them all a heated arrival towel (sans essential oil….agent is standing at the gate with the new oil bottles, she is THE best!). I see the deckhand scurrying around to the crew entrance, crumbling underneath the 30kg bags that are lined up from the dock to the side boarding gate. 8 guests, I count 18,20, 24 BAGS!!!!
Third stew steps up, and she hands them a glass of very cold Dom Perignon 2010 (The Principle’s preference, he doesn’t like 2008). I check to see if she remembers that the daughter is not allowed to be offered champagne – drinking problem. No alcohol was to be served to her on this trip. Well done, she successfully hands her the non-alcoholic cocktail we had prepared. I smile.
The boys are labeling the bags, I notice out of the corner of my eye as the Chief Officer is radioing me in my earpiece, “Tash, Tash can we start distributing bags?”
“Natasha, what time will lunch be?” The principle guest throws my way as he slurps down an oyster, spilling onion on the teak (note to self, K2R the deck when they go inside- Jack will kill me). I try to fight the surprise, their PA had sent us a text from their private plane, they had eaten lunch on the flight, 45 minutes ago. The chef makes evil eyes at me as he walks down the side passage towards the galley in a rush.
“Whenever you like, Sir, it is completely up to you,” I say to him. “Yes, Jack, you can start taking luggage down, Emma is coming down to help you now,” I say to Jack, our chief officer in my earpiece as I gesture to Emma to leave the heated towels behind the bar and head to the guest corridor to facilitate the luggage.
“15 minutes,” Sir says to me. I silently gulp, and turn my head, “Chef, chef, lunch 15 mins, confirming menu now.”
I grab the lunch menu I had printed just in case and gestured to my service stew to please action the table setting for 8 that we had prepared in the pantry, just in case. She nods and scuttles off to lay the table. The chef is screaming expletives in my ear. The captain is demanding to know if we can leave the dock. Jack is counting the number of bags and relaying information to me.
Sir wants to change the menu. Madam doesn’t feel like duck. Daughter is gluten free.
“No problem, Sir….”
Charter, has begun. 12 days, let’s go.