Below Deck: We asked real luxury yacht stewardesses how accurate the show really is
‘Prostitutes come onboard’
By now we’ve all been glued to our screens solidly ever since Below Deck dropped on Netflix. From the drama lurking around every spotless corner to the light it sheds on a career path that not many people have ever thought to venture down, this show is absolute class from start to finish. However, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s produced to show only the richest clients, most dramatic scenes and biggest fights for the camera.
Seriously, so much goes on that makes you question just how real Below Deck really is. Like, do people really spend this much money on a holiday? Do staff really go out and party that much? Do people SHAG?! We spoke to two women who have worked on chartered superyachts to find out just how real Below Deck really is.
Guests regularly ask you to come out for drinks so… you do
Staff are regularly seen going out and partying with each other as well as guests on the show, and this is no different to reality. In fact, as Abbie* puts it: “50 per cent of your off time is spent sleeping, the other half is spent drinking.”
All boats have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs
Just as is shown in Below Deck season one, the group of photographers are on the boat for one night when a bag of coke is found. They’re told that they must leave immediately, which Lucy* says is exactly what would happen in real life: “The captain loses their licence straight away if drugs are found onboard, so they will do their utmost to ensure that none of the guests are doing anything they shouldn’t be doing.
“This starts with a briefing, and then if either the captain or the crew find that there are drugs onboard, they have the full right to kick guests off the boat.”
Whatever the guest wants, the guest gets
The rich and famous are able to buy their way into anything, and this mostly stands on chartered boats as shown in Below Deck. Any request within reason that guests ask for has to be met, as Abbie tells us: “If they want to take out the jet skis you prepare the jet skis. If they want sushi on board then you must go and get it. If they want a beach party you must organise it.
“Your job is to ensure that they enjoy their holiday as much as possible, and that often means going out of your way to ensure that this is the case.”
Staff would never be allowed to do anything rude towards guests
When Kate gets told she has a resting bitch face by one of the clients in Below Deck, she decides to give him a bit of revenge by going into his cabin and turning his blanket into the shape of a penis because, you know, funny. In reality, Lucy says, this would not be tolerated in the slightest.
“When working on a yacht where people are paying hundreds of thousands to be given the full experience, you are expected to uphold the one basic customer service attitude – that the customer is always right. You must not and are not expected to tolerate abuse in any instance, but to retaliate in this way is wholly unprofessional and likely scripted in Below Deck.”
The entire cleaning and maintenance of the ship is a round-the-clock job
The hard work of being on a yacht is no more apparent than when the stewardesses in Below Deck are constantly busy doing something – it seems like they don’t have a minute to themselves other than when they’re sleeping, and both stewardesses that The Tab spoke to said this was completely true.
The tips are as big as they’re presented in Below Deck
The average pay is dependant on the size of the boat, but Lucy is paid £100 a day for her work, which is in the upper category of pay for most stewardesses. In addition to this, it’s common for staff to take home at least 10 per cent of what the clients pay for their entire stay on the boat: “Some boats even automatically factor this tip into the initial chartering of the boat so, say the boat costs £100,000 for the week, the owner will charge an extra £10,000 upfront to be split between staff.”
You’re not allowed to drink if guests are on board
Just like any other hospitality job, you have to be presentable with everything you do including drinking on the job, unfortunately.
Staff shag staff, staff shag guests, people shag
Yes, staff do have sex with each other, as well as occasionally with clients onboard and even with the actual owners of the boats when they return.
Abbie told The Tab that everyone has sex out there: “It 100 per cent happens, although it’s supposed to be forbidden so it is always kept away from the captain. Prostitutes come on board occasionally too with some of the guests, and we just have to act like we would with anyone else.”
If you don’t like the work then you can just walk away
Unlike other jobs with a contract, this is work with a daily rate of pay that gets invoiced, so if you’re not enjoying being on the boat, there’s no obligation for you to stay. Many of the walk-offs seen on the show, such as CJ going to join another boat in season one, are completely allowed to happen.
*The names of the staff have been changed due to confidentiality agreements