Cannes: Irena Medavoy Reveals Yacht Do's and Don'ts (Guest Column)

Illustration by Kirsten Ulve

The fest regular and wife of producer Mike Medavoy shares etiquette secrets for guests aboard the world's most luxe boats: social media silence and $10,000 tips.

My family and I usually spend a week or two every summer as guests on a private yacht — boats like the sublime Enchantress, owned by our friends Sybil Robson Orr and Matthew Orr, and some of the most extraordinary yachts in the world. Boat size, by the way, like other important sizes, does not matter — unless you own a smaller boat than your friends'. I've been on the biggest and the smallest and normal-size boats, and at any size, the people make the experience — the captain, crew and owners set the pace.

Having said that, being on the biggest boat in the world is a heady experience. Jennifer Stallone and I went on a girls' trip to Cannes one year on the largest boat in the world (for that one moment), and we were the only ones who didn't want to leave the boat. Some bread, wine, cheese and a robe — who needs more red carpets and premieres? We had to be literally forced out of the VIP cabin to go on land. Another great trip was when Pat Riley won his first championship with the Heat, and I saw my husband wearing a fez trash can on his head and dancing in Saint-Tropez. So there's a time for decorum and there's a time for letting go, but whether you're invited for a week in July or one star-studded May night in Cannes, there are a few things for a yacht guest to know.

Never invite yourself — or anyone else. Boat people are casting a movie — they know who they want on board. After all, cruising waters 24 hours a day, you'd better enjoy the people. Tight quarters make for tighter relationships. And if it doesn't work, you won't be back. On my very first boat trip, there was an Oscar-winning actor who brought his friends — Mike and I went to the side and said to each other, "Oh my God, how could you?" Luckily there was an extra cabin. There are no rules for A-list stars. What's amazing is they turn out to be the most gracious, kind and generous — and grateful.

Go with the flow. Your hosts are the captains of your stay — where you go, what you eat and what you do — so you need to follow the program. Some want to go to Capri and disco and eat at the best restaurants, like Fontanel, which you can only get to by boat. Others want to see nature — places like the Porquerolles in France, where you can swim on deserted beaches and eat a lunch served by a crew more beautiful than anyone in Sports Illustrated.

Bring something to the party — and oh, behave! Tell stories, be present and suggest interesting people they might like to meet on land. Jet ski, swim, explore, snooze, dance. Be yourself. Period. Just a better-mannered self. I once saw a major singer get his laptop ruined by a drunk clubgoer coming to visit the boat and hitting on him. You do not want to walk the yacht plank and be escorted off by security in your black-tie dress and heels.

Tip the crew. The right amount for you and your family is about $10,000 for a week. You take care of everybody who took care of you. (And by the way, don't take the masseuse or the manicurist away from the owners' time.)

Know the social media policy. The most beautiful boats I have been on, I'll never talk about — the owners are that private. So you don't post it. You don't write about it. And you never say the name of the yacht or your hosts.

This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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