A day in the life of a Superyacht Purser

Superyacht Purser Samantha Morris has been nominated for a Purser Crew Award, she talks to Bluewater about her career so far.

By Sarah Smith-Garrison • 01 June 2021

You worked on P&O Cruises for several years, what was your role?

I was a Finance Manager; I had the responsibility for all the financial transactions onboard.

This included payroll, “cash in hand”, currency exchange for both the guests and crew, and settling onboard accounts at the end of each cruise.

I was the auditor of each float holder and performed random float checks. I myself had a cash float of over £1 million, and we were not allowed variances above or below £1.00 without receiving a warning.

Aside from my regular role, I was also a representative of the Ships Welfare Committee, we as a team would help to promote the wellbeing and fun activities for the crew on their home away from home.

How did you make the move in to yachting from cruise ships?

Often docking in St Maarten alongside some of the largest yachts, I decided when I no longer wanted to work in the cruise ship industry I would move into yachting.

The transition was not an easy process and took well over 18 months, but I was always taught never to give up until you succeed.

What training did you need to become a yacht purser?

Personally, when I did my research of the purser role onboard the yachts, I compared it to four roles from the cruise ship industry.

The HR manager for the welfare aspects.
The Administration manager for all the port clearances.
The Crew manager for all the crew certificates, visas, etc.
The Finance manager for the budgeting, invoices, credit cards and petty cash reconciliations.

As I believed my knowledge was only a quarter full, I enrolled on a Purser Course to fill in the gaps, but a lot of my training came from being on the job.

What would you say to someone who is considering a similar move from another maritime industry in to yachting?

Never give up!
Even if you are knocked back over 100 times, still do not give up on your dreams.

It takes 1 yes to get you through the door.

In recent years, the yachts being built are becoming larger and larger and the requests for commercial tickets and more experience is of higher demand.

I often see on job advertisements that they are requesting “cruise ship experience”, in my eyes this is a positive change as previously the cruising industry was seen as a step down from yachting but in fact, they are the pioneers of the wider shipping industry.

Tell us what a day in the life of a superyacht purser looks like?

Every day is surely a school day in my role as purser, no day is the same as the previous 😊

I support the captain to control all the financial aspects onboard the yacht, ensuring that we remain aligned with our operational budgets.

I am processing invoices, receiving HOD approvals and reconciling credit card and cash accounts.

I organise both guest and crew travel logistics including PCR test requirements, local transfers, and flights.

It is my responsibility to arrange a smooth journey from the crew repatriation ports until they board the vessel and visa versa.

I oversee the crew payroll, medical claims, and appointments, I am signing on crew entering these movements into the official logbooks.

I am arranging crew visa appointments and supplying all relevant paperwork to accompany the application.

I try to include activities for the crew when we are not guest cruising, like master chef, murder mystery, quiz and band nights etc.

I have now a mammoth task to successfully vaccinate all of my crew so we can start to see our onboard rotations go into the “new normal” contract lengths onboard.

What is the favourite part of your job?

I am enthusiastic about building relationships with people, crew, port agents, management teams and more, the list is endless, this is my most favourite part of the job for sure.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Finding a healthy work / life balance!

Being as dedicated as I am to my role onboard in keeping on top of the mammoth tasks, I often forget to take some time out for myself.

You have been nominated for the ACREW Purser Award, tell us about that.

VOTE FOR SAMANTHA MORRIS - Voting opens 24th May.

I’ll let my nominator answer this one!

Here is Samantha’s nomination provided by Laura Kirsty, a fellow purser who Sam had supported in her goal of moving from cruise ships to super yachts:

I write this from my bunk of an 85-metre Lurssen motor yacht, but without Sam I would still be plodding along on my quarantined cruise liner.

If I was a crew member, coming on to my very first yacht, I know I would want ’a Samantha’ to be my purser.
Someone who cares about others before herself, giving up opportunities for others to better themselves.

She’s my mentor and my inspiration. She never gives up - no matter what.

I will never be able to thank Sam enough for what she’s done for me, but I hope we can get her this ACREW Award to have the world and a wonderful industry give her exactly what she deserves - the accolade of Award Winning Purser.

After my decade long career in cruise ships I was lost. On the outside I looked like I had it all.
The truth is I had lost my ambition. I was stuck, watching people with less experience than me being promoted over me, and then having to continue to support them.

I decided to give yachting a try, but even though I had nearly 15 years on cruise ships over a varied number of roles, I still needed to study and work towards becoming a qualified Yacht Purser.

It was time to invest in me!

I signed up along with the Purser course to the Advanced Leadership course with the Crew Academy, where I met Sam, this bubbly, vivacious woman from Manchester with a similar career background to me. .

Over the twelve weeks on the course, we confidentially shared and explored difficult situations.

Each week Sam inspired me more and more with her strength and courage.

Following this, I then reluctantly re-joined my vessel, struggling to break in to the yachting industry.

Until when Sam was presented with an opportunity, which she selflessly recommended me for.
She prepped me, supported and guided me through an emotionally challenging recruitment process every step of the way.

Everyone needs a Sam, not only as a purser but as a friend, a colleague and a supporter who whole-heartedly believes in them.

If you could swap for one day, what role onboard would you try out and why?

From an outside perspective the role of the deckhand looks fun, all day in the sea, swimming, diving, and water sport activities with the guests.

But taking an inside evaluation they are spending long hours outside in all types of weather conditions to boost the enjoyment for the guests.

During “boss on” we all have our parts to play to ensure we meet the same goal of “the best cruise experience” for our guests.

What’s next for you?

I plan to complete the Helvellyn Walk in the months of June or July 2021, the set date is not yet confirmed as my contract keeps extending onboard.

This is to raise money for “Mental Health Awareness”, please donate anything you can to the Mental Health Foundation, every penny counts.

- Helvellyn is the 3rd highest mountain in the Lake District and England.
- The distinctive corries and sharp ridges of the mountain were carved by glaciers during the late ice age.
- Helvellyn has claimed a few deaths over the years, the most famous being the artist Charles Gough, who was virtually unknown until he died on Striding Edge in 1805. He was found three months later, with his loyal dog Foxie surviving!
- Standing tall at 950 metres / 3117 feet, the shortest route takes around 3 hours if you’re suitably fit.

Click here to discover all the walking routes and for more fun facts.