The Job of a Purser

Pursers are more common on cruise ships than yachts, but as the number of large yachts that offer special travel packages for passengers increases, so does the number of pursers. There is usually no need for pursers on smaller yachts or privately owned yachts, but on superyachts that offer cruises to the public or chartered yachts, the pursers perform essential and important duties.

One of the primary responsibilities of the purser on a yacht is to supervise the stewards/stewardesses. The purser is the person ultimately responsible for the comfort and experience of the passengers, and so he or she supervises the stewards to make sure the guests are receiving the highest quality service. In addition, the purser must ensure that passengers’ papers and travel documents are complete and in order. As the name indicates, it is usually the purser who is responsible for keeping the accounts during each cruise, including handling customer transactions, paying for excursions, and a number of other financial-related responsibilities. There is usually only one purser onboard a yacht.

Since on a very large specialty yacht there can be dozens of passengers making special purchases, the purser is in charge of all of these, ensuring that all accounts balance. The purser may also work with customs officials and passengers to help them with any necessary paperwork for purchases they’ve made during their cruise. Some pursers are also responsible for tracking cargo, including receipts and payments, if the yacht also transports additional cargo.

Pursers have many key responsiblities. They must be very detail oriented, as well as know basic accounting and cash handling procedures. This is not an entry-level job. Most captains hire pursers who have at least three years or more of experience as a steward/stewardess or other position onboard a yacht.

Purser Job Responsibilities:

  • Supervise stewards and/or stewardesses.
  • Answer passenger questions or address concerns as well as any complaints about service.
  • Responsible for keeping passengers’ valuables secure in a safe on the yacht.
  • If guests can make onboard purchases, the purser handles all passenger accounts and balances cash payments, or submits statements to passengers that must be paid before the passengers disembark.
  • Can be responsible for freight documentation.
  • May be responsible for tracking crew member hours during a cruise for payroll purposes.
  • Works with passengers to ensure that customs paperwork is filled out properly.

In the yachting industry, there are no formal training programs for people who wish to become a purser. If you’re interested in this job, one of the best career paths to take is to become a steward or stewardess. Most pursers are hired from a pool of stewards/stewardesses. It is also important to learn excellent customer service, which you can receive in a Silver Service program available at a yacht training school. Once you have a few years of experience as a steward/stewardess, let the existing purser or captain know of your hopes to become a purser and find out if you can assist in these duties to get the experience.

In addition to the Silver Service Training, you will need to receive STCW 2010 training and pass a medical exam. For more details about the training you may need, visit our Yacht Crew Training page.


Anywhere between $36,000 per year to $75,000 per year, depending on the size of the yacht and your level of experience.

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