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Is Reality TV Series ‘Below Deck’ a True Reflection of Life as a Yachtie?

We interviewed a former yachtie to find out.

a waitress onboard a yacht carrying a tray of drinks
Credit: BravoTV

Bravo TV’s hit reality series Below Deck follows a group of people working on a superyacht during summer. Tensions run high as the crew must live and work together for weeks at a time. But between the generous tips, glamorous scenery, and drama below deck, is the show a true reflection of what it’s like to work onboard a luxury yacht? I interviewed a former yachtie to find out.

The guests onboard are amongst the rich and famous and expect a luxury experience. Below deck, however, drama often arises amongst the staff. They live and work in such close proximity, and the stakes are high – the quality of service determines how generous the tip is at the end of the charter.

Credit: BravoTV

Interview With A Former Yachtie

I asked Cairo Ferguson from a few questions to see if her experience working on a luxury yacht in Cyprus is similar to the show.

1. I don’t know whether you’ve seen the show, but do you think the close proximity of living and working together increases tension between people onboard? 

The yacht I worked on in Cyprus had a crew of about 20 people. While generally speaking everyone got along really well, there were times when tensions would run high. If we were hosting a particularly stressful event, then there would likely be sly words spoken, niggling and even arguments. And this would often be exacerbated after the event was over and the staff would come together for an after-work drink. In fact, the drama sometimes would be very much televisual!

2. What’s your relationship with the captain usually like? 

The captain of the yacht I worked on was a family friend – that’s how I got the job! My relationship with him was very professional and to be perfectly honest I would not see him very often.

The ethos of the yacht would stem from the captain – but the managers on board would normally direct this. Our captain was really nice, and you always felt like you were in very safe hands when at sea!

3. Is it the norm for guests to leave tips at the end of the charter?  

This is a particular bone of contention. Tips depended on the event type, guest ages and backgrounds, and the time of year. The best tips would be from local Cypriots for weddings during the summer. I could often make more than a week’s worth of wages in a single night’s tips! The worst combination would be older groups at Christmas parties – which is very surprising!  

4. How long is a typical working day? 

This would all depend on the event type and how long we were to be at sea. But generally speaking, we would work 12-hour days – and often much more! However, there was a social aspect to the evenings that would fade the line between work and socializing.

5. Has it enabled you to travel the world/whereabouts have you been?

I have been all around the Cypriot coast, North Africa, and Israel – and it’s always fun to go to Egypt with a name like Cairo!

Sounds Like The Show!

Cairo’s experiences match up with how the show presents working on a yacht. In both cases, tensions run the highest when stressful charter guests are onboard and the staff must work long hours.

On the show, the size of the tips left by the guests at the end of each charter varies considerably, which is what Cairo also found whilst working in Cyprus.

Credit: BravoTV

Both Cairo and the show present working on a superyacht as being a short-term way to make a lot of money whilst also traveling the world. Of course, this lifestyle also has its downsides, which the series highlights. The drama between crew members makes for some dynamic and highly addictive reality TV, so the emphasis is naturally placed on these aspects for television purposes.

Catch the show on BravoTV, Sky or All 4. The first three seasons of its spin-off show, Below Deck: Mediterranean, are also available on Netflix.

Written By

Hey! I'm Chloe, an aspiring culture and lifestyle writer. Interested in all things internet culture, food, and TV & film. Currently an intern for Trill Magazine and undergrad at Durham University studying History and English. Follow me over on Twitter @chloetypeswords to see what I'm doing elsewhere.

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