12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (2024)

For TV critics, describing Below Deck and its spin-offs is relatively straightforward: a reality show that takes you behind-the-scenes of crazy, real-life superyacht charters aboard a luxury superyacht.

With a professional crew working tirelessly to provide a first-class service to discerning guests that aren’t backwards in coming forwards, the show provides delicious insight into just what happens ‘below deck’ during a busy season. Throw in the inevitable personality clashes and a sprinkling of relationship drama and you have the recipe for the perfect 21st-century TV series.

12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (1)

The cameras are EVERYWHERE, meaning viewers are privy to everything the producers can cram into each episode. There’s nothing the audience doesn’t know… or is there?

As it turns out, yeah there is. Until now.

We’ve done some super-sleuthing and have uncovered 12 production facts that even the most ardent Below Deck fans are unlikely to know. Join us as we spill the beans on the logistical and financial realities of the world’s most popular on-water TV show.

1. Guests pay for the charter

The charter guests you see on the show are genuine charter guests. They pay their own money to secure a space within the six weeks of filming time each season.

It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to charter any of the superyachts featured in the series. The rate is discounted (up to 50%) compared to the standard price of chartering these yachts outside of Below Deck filming.

Below Deck executive producer Courtland Cox previously told Bravo, the production company behind the show, that the charter guests are usually seasoned charterers rather than individuals looking to appear on TV. This means the show isn’t staged or rigged by producers in advance of filming.

2. Guests pay tips

Similar to the charter fee, guests also fund the tip that gets handed to the crew at the end of each charter. It’s customary for this to be around 15-20% of the full amount for a week-long charter on the yacht in question (not the discounted rate), though some guests choose to pay less.

3. Bravo covers the airfare of guests

Given that the cost of using/hiring each superyacht is covered by the charter guests themselves, Bravo factors their airfare into its production budget. This means the company pays for each guest’s flights, making the charter even more attractive. A nice perk.

12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (2)

4. Guests can’t play their own music

Guests that have enjoyed Below Deck charters previously have revealed that they were not able to play their own music on board. This might seem odd, but there’s actually a very simple explanation for it.

A significant number of songs are licensed, meaning a fee needs to be paid each time it’s broadcast on TV. If guests were able to play any songs they liked, Bravo would rack up a huge bill.

5. Some rooms are off limits

It might surprise you to know that there are some rooms on the yacht that are strictly off-limits. Production creates a control room in one of the yacht’s staterooms, while the master suite is taken by members of the crew. Guests are not given access to these areas and they are never shown on camera, for obvious reasons.

6. Shoes are not usually allowed on deck

Generally speaking, crew members and guests are not permitted to wear shoes on board to limit wear and tear to the floors or decking.

Walking around barefoot all day inevitably has an impact, which is why the crew are often shown with dirty feet. It’s not because they don’t wash; merely a reality of working aboard a luxury superyacht.

7. Cast members aren’t guaranteed to return for future seasons

Producers think long and hard about the long-term show futures of each crew member. A number of factors come into their thinking, including the individual’s personality, personal circ*mstances and popularity with viewers. They consult both Bravo and the captain before making any decisions on who stays and who goes.

12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (3)

Just because somebody departs the series, however, doesn’t mean they can’t reappear again in future. Producers have gone on record as saying that the aforementioned personal circ*mstances of each crew member can change from one year to the next, meaning an invite back is never out of the question. If the individual is keen to return and viewers clamour for them to return, the chances are a reunion will be discussed.

Producers like to keep the captain and chief stew in situ where possible, but nobody in the cast signs on indefinitely.

8. Crew members earn a salary from the charter company

The charter company responsible for the featured superyacht pays each crew member a base salary. The amount is dependent on their position, experience and the size of the boat.

A chief stew can make upwards of $62,000 (c. €64,000) for one season.

9. Crew members earn an appearance fee from Bravo

In addition to their salary, crew members also get paid a small fee by Bravo for appearing on the show. It seems fair given their personal lives are documented on camera for six weeks straight.

10. Living costs are covered

The cast doesn’t pay living expenses when working on board. It’s all covered.

This meansthey can very quickly earn a lot of money.

11. Sackings can happen whenever, wherever

The captain runs the boat and is ultimately responsible for its successful and safe running. If he/she feels somebody is failing to pull their weight or breaks a rule, they have the authority to dismiss them – irrespective of when and where. No ifs, no buts.

12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (4)

12. Meals are prepared by the chef

Every meal that gets served on board is produced by the yacht’s chef. It’s one of his/her main responsibilities on board – and it’s vital. The energy levels of the crew hinge on the food they consume at mealtimes, so they’re relying on the chef to work his/her culinary magic to keep them nourished.

Putting together a show like Below Deck isn’t easy: it’s multi-layered and requires significant logistical consideration. When you next watch an episode, think about the work that goes into making it such an addictive show!

Read more Below Deck articles in our dedicated library. Alternatively, if you're inspired by the thought of working on a yacht, you can search for a Crew Agentnear you.

12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP (2024)


12 mind-blowing Below Deck production facts | YP? ›

So, is Below Deck authentic? As we have now established that the show is an unscripted reality show following yacht crew, this doesn't mean that it's an accurate depiction of a yachtie's real life. The life of a yachtie as portrayed on the show is a bit different than what a yacht crew experiences in real life.

How much do charter guests pay on Below Deck? ›

Below Deck SerieSeasonYacht charter price / week
Below Deck Sailing YachtAll$237,000
Below Deck Adventure1$170,000
Below Deck Down Under1AU$310,000
Below Deck Down Under2$161,700
19 more rows
Jun 21, 2024

How fake is Below Deck Sailing Yacht? ›

So, is Below Deck authentic? As we have now established that the show is an unscripted reality show following yacht crew, this doesn't mean that it's an accurate depiction of a yachtie's real life. The life of a yachtie as portrayed on the show is a bit different than what a yacht crew experiences in real life.

Do the crew on Below Deck get paid to be on the show? ›

Crew members on Below Deck not only get paid for their job on the superyacht but also receive a fee for appearing on the reality series. The cast members of Below Deck make impressive salaries for working just four months out of the year.

How much of Below Deck Med is staged? ›

Q: Is Below Deck scripted? A: No. The direct answer to this question is a definitive 'no'. Nobody appearing on the show is reciting lines from a script, nor is anything staged in the strictest sense of the word.

Who pays for dinner on Below Deck? ›

It's also believed the crew receives a small extra fee for being part of the TV show - and the food and drink they consume on the boat is all paid for. The crew are able to save up a lot of cash while they're away, as they don't have to pay any bills or tax.

What is Captain Sandy's salary? ›

But the mega bucks go to the top dogs, Captain Lee and Captain Sandy, who on a 185-foot superyacht make between $150-$210,000 a year. Then you have to add on the tips, reportedly average at around $15,000 per person for about six weeks of work.

What is the Below Deck scandal? ›

7 episode, producers thwarted boatswain Luke Jones and second steward Laura Bileskalne after they entered other crew member's bedrooms without their consent and attempted to make sexual advances on their shipmates. “Our cabin is our safety zone,” the captain of the superyacht, Jason Chambers, told his crew.

Is Kate from Below Deck in jail? ›

Below Deck's Kate's Disturbing Assault Explained

After litigation, the charges were eventually dropped. Though Kate maintained her innocence, she and Ro parted ways following the incident.

Do they really tip on Below Deck? ›

Tipping is crucial on Below Deck charters, and crew members can expect to receive anywhere in between $1,000 and $2,000 from each guest on average. Typically, the primary charter guest gives the Captain an envelope with tips for the entire crew, which are then split up among them evenly.

Who is the highest paid on Below Deck? ›

The head of the boat, Captain Kerry Titheradge, is, of course, the highest earner with the most responsibility. To captain a vessel of that size, Captain Kerry would be looking to be compensated at $228,000 annually.

How long is a yachting season on Below Deck? ›

How Long Are the Below Deck Charters? Here's a little-known secret about Below Deck: The “charter season” on the show is just a few weeks. In fact, the yachts are actually booked for about six weeks, and their regular crews are sent home.

Does Bravo pay Below Deck cast? ›

According to a report by Business Insider, the Below Deck cast salaries fall somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 a month—that's $60,000 to $72,000 a year, which is about what the average American earns (according to Forbes, the average salary in the United States in 2023 was $59,428).

Where does the camera crew stay on Below Deck? ›

Production crew don't sleep on the yacht

With limited space on the yacht, it's already hard enough for the yachties to pretend the cameras aren't there. So when it comes time for the TV crew to clock-off for the day, they sleep on a separate boat or head to shore to stay in a hotel.

Why do you never see the engineers on Below Deck? ›

Whilst it may look like all the yacht's crew are included in the show, the boat's first officer and engineer are not generally seen on screen. They stay on board to ensure the smooth running of day-to-day operations, but don't typically get involved with any of the charter drama.

Are the guests real on Below Deck? ›

The charter guests you see on the show are genuine charter guests. They pay their own money to secure a space within the six weeks of filming time each season. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to charter any of the superyachts featured in the series.

Do the charter guests on Below Deck get a discount? ›

Being filmed while enjoying a sailing trip isn't everyone's idea of a good time, so the rich and famous have the cost of their charter slashed by 50 per cent. Their airfare is also covered.

How much is a 3 day cruise on Below Deck? ›

Based on past seasons of the show, the cost of a 3-day charter on a luxury yacht can range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 or more. However, the cost of a 3-day charter can vary depending on several factors such as the size and luxury level of the yacht, the location of the charter, and the time of year.

Do Below Deck guests pay for alcohol? ›

That's right, none of that is included in their price and they're billed at the end of their trip. "Nope," Lee replied to one follower who asked if the extortionate six-figure fee covered fancy meals and endless booze on-board the flashy yachts. "Food and drinks not included!!!??? My god," Tweeted one follower.

Who was the richest charter guest on Below Deck? ›

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow's estimated net worth: $40 million

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow had viewers seething after he only tipped the crew a mere $15,000 on Below Deck Sailing Yacht. During their three-night, four-day charter, Drewitt-Barlow and his (huge) group of guests had extremely high demands, especially with the food.


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