Valentina Susa and Tea Kundic
From lifelong experiences to life skills that are invaluable for other careers, crewing on a superyacht is one of the most rewarding experiences – as Valentina Susa and Tea Kundic will attest.
Whether crewing as a long-term career or working on board as a stepping stone to other things, the superyacht life presents opportunities to travel, explore, learn and grow both in a physical and an emotional sense. With the right attitude, there are few bars to success and few doors that remain closed – as Valentina Susa and Tea Kundic both prove. The 31-year-old Susa and 24-year-old Kundic have several things in common – both hail from Croatia, both are stewardesses on board the 49-metre charter superyacht Ohana, and both are seizing the opportunities that superyachting offers to grow personally while they also work toward ambitious plans for the future.
With a quest for exploration and measure of youthful restlessness, Susa left home at 18, trying her hand at numerous jobs – retail sales, cosmetology, a barista in coffee shops, and serving and bartending in restaurants. “A couple of years ago, I traveled to Sweden and found work in a fine-dining hotel restaurant,” she says. “I enjoyed learning about gourmet cuisine, and I met all kinds of new people.” Keenly curious about other cultures, in addition to her native Croatian Susa speaks German, English, and a little Italian and a bit of Swedish.
Susa is close to her family but has chosen her own unique path. “Following my passions is very important to me,” she says. “As long as I have no boyfriend, no children, and no responsibilities other than to myself, I want to travel, live life to the fullest, and experience new things.” Last year, Susa heard through a friend that Ohana was looking for a stewardess and she jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
Born and raised in Rijeka, the largest port in Croatia, Susa says she always had an affinity with the sea. “My father was a fisherman, so I grew up around boats,” she explains, although she admits that “fishing boats are nothing like Ohana.” The summer of 2022 was her first season working as a crewmember on a yacht, and the travel and a new port every day appeals to her sense of adventure.
Working on Ohana has encouraged Susa to learn new skills. She has perfected her cocktail recipes— she makes a mean espresso martini and an equally inspired mojito – but mostly she enjoys meeting guests from all over the world. And while she imagines working on yachts for the near future, she also has a very specific dream. “I’d love to open a coffee shop in Hawaii,” she enthuses.
For Kundic, working on Ohana also gives her a chance to learn new things – in addition to her all-consuming work schedule aboard Ohana, she is also studying to be a pediatric physical therapist. Her courses are now mostly online so she juggles her schedule to accommodate study, work, and play.
She grew up in Split but moved to Zagreb her first year of college, and is in her last year of a five-year PT university program. Growing up as the middle of three siblings, she always had a strong work ethic. Indeed, as a student, she worked many part-time jobs in shops, bars, and restaurants. “I love people,” she says, “so anything involved with working with others is interesting to me.” In many ways, crewing on a busy charter superyacht – where guests of all ages and from a diverse range of nationalities change every week or two – is the perfect outlet.
Ohana is not her first experience crewing – two years ago, she worked on a yacht called YOLO, owned by the brother of Ohana’s captain, and she feels lucky to be cruising the Dalmatian coast in the summers. “I have learned so much working on boats,” she says. “It has changed me. Working with high quality chefs has taught me a lot about food preparation and being with guests and serving them has taught me how to deal with many different personalities. I feel a lot stronger and a lot more patient than I used to be.”
Kundic is a not only a dedicated medical student, but she is also a quick study of all things that come her way. Take oenology – ask her about any number of the Croatian wines that are served on Ohana, and she authoritatively can describe the grapes, the regions, the notes, the proper pairings, even though she herself doesn’t drink.
She intends to work on Ohana through the 2023 season as well, although she is also dedicated to continuing to educate herself about any new topic that comes her way. She also truly enjoys helping others, and her intended vocation has helped her be empathic toward others – a key facet for working on board a yacht where you can end up working long hours and living alongside fellow crewmates in close proximity for days or weeks at a time. “A healthy atmosphere among me and the rest of the crew is very important,” she asserts. ”Working as a team makes our job easier and more enjoyable.”
Clearly, the can-do attitudes and positivity of both Susa and Kundic play a large part in Ohana’s success with charter guests, and to the crew’s success as a cohesive and dedicated team. They are the epitome, perhaps, of the saying ‘maximum effort, maximum return’ – something that also happens to be true of the superyacht industry as a whole.