Is Below Deck Scripted? – What’s Real and Not Real

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  • Bravo’s Below Deck features cast members working on yachts in locations around the world.
  • Fans might’ve wondered if the show is scripted.
  • According to former cast members and charter guests, the show straddles the line between the actual yachting world and that seen on the series.

    So you’ve binge-watched another season of Below Deck, a series that exposes the working conditions of crew members working on luxurious mega yachts. With its exotic locations, difficult charter guests, and oftentimes questionable romances, you likely aren’t alone in your BD fandom.

    But just how real is the show, you might’ve thought to yourself? As it turns out, for a reality show franchise, Below Deck is surprisingly genuine. As far as we know, nearly every confrontation between crew members is real, according to producers of the show. The romances are authentic, with some even dating well after the show. It’s all happening in real time, which if you think about it, is actually really impressive. Here’s what we know about the series:

    The crew members do actually work in yachting.

    In an interview for, executive producer Courtland Cox revealed when they were casting for the first season of Below Deck, many yachties were afraid to join the series. “Initially, it was very hard to get yacht crew members to commit to doing the show because it was an unknown entity,” he explained. “People didn’t know what Below Deck was.”

    Thankfully at least some members of the yachting industry have gotten over their fear of being on the show and continue to work on boats well after their 15 seconds of fame are up.

    The “difficult” guests featured on the show are not actors.

    While fans love seeing the eccentric and difficult charters guests who come aboard the yachts, you might’ve wondered whether they’re planted by production to get a rise out of the crew. Although production does vet the charter guests and puts them through a rigorous interview process, they don’t have a say as to their actions on board.

    “I think the guests that come on and have an amazing time, and you look at them as a producer and go, ‘I want to live that life,’” Cox told Bravo about how they choose those charting the yachts. “Those are the guests I love seeing.”

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    The amount of money the crew gets in tips is not realistic.

    While the tip meetings at the end of each charter are real, the amount of money they receive isn’t exactly accurate given the nature of the show, as former cast member Kate Chastain broke down for Entertainment Tonight back in October 2019.

    “On a yacht of that size, [a good tip] would be $5,000 a person for seven days of work,” she explained. “Our charters are a little bit shorter, just so we can make the show. But everything else is the same… we usually get around $2,500, $2,000. Anything less than $1,000 would be depressing, which sounds crazy, doesn’t it?”

    The other thing that’s not real: How the tip is delivered to the captain. While the crew does line up at the end of each charter to escort the guests back onshore, the envelope handoff is strictly for cameras.

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    Most of the boat names on Below Deck are not real.

    As it turns out, the majority of the boats on the OG Below Deck use aliases, most likely to protect their reputations once the show wraps for the season. According to, of the original series, only one boat actually went by its real name on-camera, which was My Seanna from season six. The other four names featured on the show have very different names than one would expect: Lumiere (Honor, season one), Rhino (Ohana, season two), Mustang Sally (Eros, season three) and BG (Valor, seasons four, five and seven).

    There are some moments even production can’t predict from happening.

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    According to producers, some of the more jaw-dropping moments on the show are entirely unscripted. As Cox assured fans on, all the moments you couldn’t get over are actually real, to the point that the crew has to re-route their plans to accommodate for the situation.

    “That’s the kind of thing that keeps me from coming back to the show,” Cox told the publication. “Every season, there are five or six moments that so completely engage me and so suck me in that I’m like, ‘this is why Below Deck is an amazing show that you can’t do anywhere else.”

    Among some of the most shocking moments for the production team: Kat Held sneaking off the boat on BD season one, finding out Malia and Adam knew each other on Med season two, Rocky and Eddie secretly hooking up in the laundry room on BD season three (prompting production to add cameras there), and Ashton Pienaar going overboard in BD season six, prompting one of the cameramen to put down his camera and to save the deckhand’s life.

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    A charter guest commented on the show’s authenticity.

    In a lengthy blog post, Linda P. Jones, a charter guest from season one of Med and season six of BD, broke down her experience aboard the My Seanna while filming took place. She wrote about the crew, food, and an argument one guest heard between some of the cast members below deck.

    One thing she wished the cameras showed more of was Captain Lee’s sense of humor, which she says got cut out of her episode. “Captain Lee is every bit as funny, charming and smart as he appears on the show,” she wrote. “He’s the real deal.”

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