If you’ve been watching the dramatic season nine of TV show Below Deck, then you’ll know that superyacht charter guests can be quite demanding clients. We hear from yacht captains and crew as they talk about the scandalous stories of their time on board and reveal the most outrageous requests they’ve ever received from millionaire and model superyacht charter guests. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent – and not so innocent…
"One guest once asked me to serve chicken carpaccio. I always adopt a 'yes, can do' attitude toward yachting, but I had to let him down with a big no."
"On a previous yacht, I had to organise a melon in Italy for a guest onboard. Not a difficult task in August. However, the guest wanted one from Japan – a very rare strain of Hokkaido melon. It took more than six days, many emails, phone calls, tenders and a helicopter flight to bring the melon on board, but we did it. The guest did not touch it in the end!"
Volcanic black sand
"I remember once we had to travel hundreds of miles to go to some small volcanic island because the owner's wife had asked for 'some black sand'. Once we arrived, she didn't even go on the beach, but just sent a crew member with a jar to collect some, but then she left it on the boat when she left. It was really odd."
Live baby octopus
"A guest once requested live baby octopus; literally serving a squirming bowl of octopus. You eat it with chopsticks, put it in your mouth and swallow it whole. That was bizarre!"
Out of season papaya
"I was once woken at 3am and asked for an out-of-season papaya. The guest wanted both the seeds and fruit for their holistic skin regime."
"I heard our owner ask the captain: 'could you please get some better looking girls to work on this boat?” It happens a lot, of course, that owners have certain specs for crew, but the downside is you have more turnover this way so it’s really not an ideal way to run the boat. Of course, it’s also incredibly shallow."
"I was doing a charter in St Barths and the primary charterer requested: 'Can we convert one of the suites into a gym with state-of-the-art equipment?' After a scramble, a lot of phone calls and about $60,000, the gym equipment was delivered and set up. But not once during the entire charter did a single guest use it. Instead, they got drunk and smoked cigars. When they left we were due to pick up another charter in 24 hours, so we put all the unused gym equipment on the dock with a “free” sign."
Flavourless Italian food
"The strangest request I received was Italian food with no garlic, onion, olive oil, salt or herbs (except basil, which could be put in whole and steeped but had to be removed before serving), Needless to say, that job did not last long."
"We got a very specific request from a client who wanted to know strange details about the in-mast rigging and roller furler. They very clearly had a fetish about being tied up and were hoping to act out this fantasy on a sailing yacht. It was too detailed for it to be a hoax. I don't think the yacht owner accepted the charter."
500 white roses
"One of the craziest requests I had was when I was working as a stewardess on a charter. The Mrs was the type who would ask for ridiculous stuff just to see if we could do it. We were anchored in the middle of nowhere in the Caribbean and it was already the middle of the afternoon. We had these huge vases in the main saloon and she said: ‘I want these full of 500 white roses and I want white roses everywhere by dinner.’
I had to first source that many roses, which I found in Miami, then had to hire a private plane to get them to the Caribbean, then a seaplane to land next to the yacht. Then, of course, I had to get them on board and have them ready by dinner. I did it and she loved it, but as soon as dinner was over, she said: ‘Get rid of them. You can throw them overboard if you want.’ I couldn’t bear to do it! So I took them down below and the crew mess and cabins were full of white roses for a week! I couldn’t believe how much it cost, probably close to $100,000 between flights and hundreds of white roses."
New York bagels
"We were in St. Barths and the guests had to have bagels from Zabar's in New York for the next day. We did it. We got a private jet and flew them in: the pilots taxied them to us."
"The strangest request I've ever received is probably to cook a sea slug that the young kids picked up off the ocean floor... It was a joke in the end, but I made them cookies with a worm coming out of one of them, while the others were filled with jam."
No topping pizza
"I love being able to use my creativity to concoct new dishes. Someone once asked me for a Margherita pizza without cheese or sauce."
"I once had a guest who wanted cucumber cubes cut to exactly 10 millimetres for breakfast. I had to use a ruler to ensure they were accurate."
The party yacht
“One client had a fleet of yachts but would always charter an extra yacht as the after-party venue. As part of his crew, I had to go clubbing with him and give all the ‘hottest’ girls a stamp to go to the party on the yacht. (I was allowed to stamp some guys — about a 4:1 ratio.) By the end of the week everyone knew me as the gatekeeper to get on the party yacht. The parties were really intense. I was pretty much nocturnal working for him.”
Dom Pérignon delivery
“A common occurrence on a charter is getting Champagne flown in by seaplane when the guests are partying too much and we’ve run out of Dom Pérignon.”
“I had a client who wanted to charter a certain yacht but he was kosher and the kitchen was not. So he brought in all new cutlery and plates and redid the galley to make it kosher. He even brought in his own chef, all because he wanted that specific yacht.”
“I worked for owners once who had sex toys and pornography books all over the boat, which we were instructed to keep out as part of the décor. Funnily enough, it was a really popular charter yacht, so every time we had a charter we had to make sure it was all put away. One time we thought we had removed everything but forgot to put a book away, and the charter clients found it. Thank God they weren’t offended and thought it was hilarious!”
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