Lauren Norton has crossed the Atlantic four times, sailed most of the Mediterranean Sea and ventured into the Caribbean – all while working as a stewardess on board luxurious yachts. She shares a bit about her adventures and her role as a new mom and owner of a luxury hospitality training company.
fter spending 10 years working as a stewardess on the ocean, Umhlanga mom Lauren is still pursuing her career in yachting – but on land.
It was at the age of nine that Lauren’s interest in travel was first piqued. Her parents sold their business and took Lauren and her younger sister to the US where they lived in a caravan travelling around the States for a year. This experience, she says, sparked her love for travel and gave her itchy feet!
Searching for some adventure in her life in her early 20’s, Lauren made her way to Europe where she started working on yachts. Over her ten-year career Lauren worked her way up from junior stewardess on a 41m charter yacht to chief stew of a 60m New Build where she was responsible for overseeing the interior build of a yacht, which went on to win Best Yacht of the Year, which she says is like the ‘Oscars’ of the yachting world.
Lauren met her Australian husband Simon on the first yacht she worked on and the couple have travelled the world together. When she fell pregnant with their son, Lauren decided it was time to settle back on land and focus on her family.
“I felt that I had gained all this amazing knowledge and it was just going to waste. It was quite strange as I was so happy to become a mom and had gained that identity but felt like I had lost who I was before,” says the 37-year-old.
But Lauren was lucky enough to get a job with a company in Sydney doing yacht recruitment which afforded her the flexibility she needed to work from home with a new born, and she realized she could still use the knowledge she had gained over her career.
When she planted her roots firmly back in Umhlanga, Lauren started offering steward and stewardess training in Durban for people wanting to enter the yachting industry, which led to her opening her company, Trilogy, full time last year. Her focus is not only on yachting, but land-based training as well.
“I would like to eventually cover training for all three areas of luxury hospitality: sea (yachting), land (private residences) and luxury brands and air (private jets and first/business class on commercial airlines). I want to provide high quality training that gives people an excellent grounding to offer a top level of service.”
With various courses on offer, including an introduction into yachting as well as a senior steward/stewardess course, Lauren also offers one-on-one consultations for people to come and find out more about the industry before committing to anything. “Often young people attend with their parents and I always give them the ‘non-rose-tinted’ version of what being a yachtie involves so they are under no false illusions as to what they are getting into.”
Despite the hard work involved, Lauren says she loved her time working on yachts. “It’s hard to pick one single thing that I loved the most being a yachtie. I learnt so much about life, myself and people and I realized that you are always capable of so much more than you think you are. And, even when you have done something really well, you can always make it better. Also, money can’t buy manners, class or taste,” laughs Lauren.
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She strongly believes that yachting is one of the best ways for youngsters to get ahead in life financially whilst seeing amazing places. “You make lifelong friends and meet some really interesting people along the way, good and bad. I think travel broadens your horizons and experiences in life and yachting allows you to do this on a whole new level.”
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