The untold truth of Below Deck Mediterranean

Below Deck Mediterranean hit our screens in 2016, and follows the lives of a yacht crew and the charter guests they have to entertain. Much like its parent Bravo series Below Deck, Below Deck Med takes viewers on enviable journeys to idyllic locations, serving up some hefty drama along the way. Basically, the spin-off continues to prove that it's every bit as addictive as the original, and not only because we'd all love to charter a yacht that comes fully staffed with a ridiculously good-looking crew.

While chief stew Hannah Ferrier is the only crew member to appear in all four seasons, as of this writing, Captain Sandy Yawn has become indispensable since joining the show in its second season. And with recurring crew members like Colin Macy-O'Toole and Ben Robinson, fans of the series continue to tune in to find out who's fighting, who's falling in love, or who is failing at their job, each week. From terrible crew members, to relationship mishaps, to unexpected career paths, to seriously fussy guests, join us as we explore what goes on behind-the-scenes of Below Deck Mediterranean

The boats on Below Deck Mediterranean are seriously crowded

If you've ever thought that the Below Deck Mediterranean yacht looked a little cramped at times, that's because it was. According to chief stew Hannah Ferrier, the boats featured on the show — the Sirroco, for example, which measures an impressive 154 feet — simply wasn't designed to hold all of the people that make the TV show happen. She told Forbes, "The difference with having a film crew is that there are fingerprints everywhere. There are 30 or 40 extra people stepping on an off every day." Basically, all of the extra bodies make a ton of extra work for the stews. Former deckhand Bobby Giancola agreed with Ferrier's assessment and told Forbes, "Yes, there are six or seven camera guys, the microphone guys, the control room, a lot of the producers are there."

Fans of the show will have noticed the camera operators breaking the fourth wall occasionally, when a staff member or guest is in trouble, for instance. But according to Ferrier, there have been plenty of times when members of the crew can't help but come into contact with production staff. As she told Forbes, "You find yourself almost hoping you don't have a sexual harassment claim from a camera guy. You're like, my butt is too big to squeeze by without touching him." Sounds as though there's a lot of action behind-the-scenes, which viewers don't get to see.

Below Deck Mediterranean doubles as a fitness program for Hannah Ferrier

If you thought the boat's crew looks seriously busy whenever charter guests were on board, that's because they are. Speaking with Decider, chief stew Hannah Ferrier revealed that while the show is filming, she's often so busy that she forgets to eat. Ferrier explained, "People didn't realize that I never eat until I ate and then they're like, oh, wait a sec, we never see her eat. Season 1 I lost 18 lbs, Season 2 was 12 lbs, Season 3 was about 16 lbs, and this last season I lost about 8 or 9 lbs, but nothing crazy. I lose a lot of weight when I'm filming." As well as constantly trekking all over the huge yacht to ensure that guests have everything they need, literally forgetting to eat had a huge impact on the chief stew's wellbeing.

Ferrier also revealed that when Below Deck Mediterranean first started filming, she "felt really uncomfortable eating on camera," which is more than a little understandable, especially as almost every aspect of her life was being broadcast on television. There is a plus side to running around so much and forgetting to eat though. Per Ferrier, "People are like, 'How do you stay fit on the boat?' I'm like, have you watched the f***ing show? Are we watching the same thing? Because all I do all day is run up and down stairs. Like, all day. So yeah, I work out enough."

Chef Mila's controversial views rocked the boat on Below Deck Mediterranean

Season 4 of Below Deck Mediterranean served up some not-so gourmet drama when Mila Kolomeitseva, a supposedly Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, didn't exactly deliver on her resume. When Kolomeitseva began to send out less than perfect food, and was even caught licking a steak on camera, some viewers were suspicious that she was a plant to boost ratings. And when she started to express her seemingly homophobic views on television, cast, crew, and viewers were all horrified. However, bosun João Franco insisted on Twitter, "It's not for ratings. The process we go through is a long one. These are real events that happen and you never know what people are like until they're already there. We were all as shocked as you after watching this episode." 

Ferrier also replied to a fan who suggested that the chef was a plant. She tweeted, "Not sure where you are getting your info from but it's not correct. There really isn't any way to know if someone is going to be homophobic in a normal job interview and her CV looked great. She's OBVIOUSLY not great but it wasn't set up like that." Bravo's senior vice president of current production confirmed the cast and crew's shock regarding the chef and told The Washington Post, "If you had seen the control room on the [production] boat when those nachos came out, you would see that [what happened] is equally surprising to us."

Did Anastasia Surmava quit yachting after Below Deck Mediterranean?

One of the stars of Below Deck Mediterranean's fourth season was Anastasia Surmava, who started out as third stew but stepped into the role of chef when Mila Kolomeitseva was fired. And despite doing a great job in the galley, Surmava appears to have left yachting behind altogether since the show stopped filming. Speaking with Decider, Surmava revealed that she's opened an eco café in Sri Lanka with its own yoga studio. The former third stew explained, "It's called Ajna which means the third eye chakra. I met my business partner back in July and he was like, when you're done with your boat stuff can you move to Sri Lanka, and we built it from the ground up." 

And for anyone worried that Surmava has given up on her culinary dreams, Surmava told Decider, "I'm the executive chef and creative director of this company." Basically, she's putting her multitude of skills to great use in her new business. And if you're thinking of visiting Sri Lanka anytime soon, Surmava seems excited about her business's future plans. "We got great reviews, people loved it, and I'm going back in September to finish building everything and then train my staff on the rest of my menu and staff it with yoga teachers and rock it," she told the outlet. She's on dry land now, but she's still in the high-end vacation business.

Chef Ben has other fish to fry

Chef Ben Robinson has appeared on both Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean, most recently saving the day on the latter show after third stew Anastasia Surmava stepped down having covered the stressful position. But in an interview with People, Robinson revealed that during his break from the show he's started a business on land, and is now hoping to settle down and start a family. He explained, "I've reached that age where I'm really trying to settle down now in terms of grounding myself with a land-based business. And in turn, I want to find a viable partner who I can maybe marry and have a kid and everything." However, anyone hoping he was still dating Below Deck alum Emily Warburton-Adams will sadly be disappointed.

Robinson told People of his relationship with the former stew, "We're friends. Our romance ended, and on good terms. Emily is a London girl and very close to her mother. I lived in London for quite a few years and that was a chapter that I was quite happy to close in my life." Although couple's fledgling relationship came to an end, by the sound of it, Robinson might finally be ready to start his own family and leave Below Deck behind for good.

What happened to Below Deck Mediterranean's original captain?

It might be impossible to imagine Below Deck Mediterranean without Captain Sandy Yawn, but avid fans will remember that the spin-off's first season had a very different lead in the form of Captain Mark Howard. The stoic and traditional captain was the opposite of Captain Sandy in many ways — most notably, in his totally different, and much more formal relationship with the crew. However, chief stew Hannah Ferrier still has fond memories of her former captain. In August 2019, Ferrier shared a much-needed update on Howard to the Daily Dish. She said, "Captain Mark and I, we send a message maybe once a year, just to touch base." She continued, "I really like him," which as fans of the show will know is seriously high praise from the sometimes thorny chief stew. 

But as for what became of Howard after he helped launch the inaugural season of the popular sister series, Ferrier is as in the dark as the rest of us. She joked to the Daily Dish, "I don't really think I knew what he was up to when I was working with him, let alone three years later." Below Deck's beloved Captain Lee also tweeted his support for Howard when he wrote, "Capt Mark is an outstanding mariner with out a doubt." But it appears that Season 1's captain has left the world of reality TV behind him, as of this writing, at least.

Travis Michalzik hates reality TV

Season 4's Travis Michalzik caused quite a stir with his onscreen drinking, but the deckhand apparently won't be watching any of his antics anytime soon. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Michalzik revealed, "I would never watch reality TV with my time. So watching myself would just be the ultimate waste of time and also mega cringe." Despite now being a star on Bravo, it seems that Michalzik is just as happy to be out of the spotlight.

He also told the publication, "The editing is crazy," suggesting that his story might have been embellished, or certain details could have been left out. But as he hasn't watched any episodes as yet he claimed, "So I don't know what they have left in." However, despite apparently hating the medium on which he's now a star, Michalzik isn't afraid to connect with fans on social media, and has a very active, yet unverified as of this writing, Instagram account.

Colin Macy-O'Toole regretted joining Below Deck Mediterranean

One of the absolute rays of sunshine on Below Deck Mediterranean has to be Colin Macy-O'Toole, whose rapping and general lovely behavior can even make João Franco act like a decent human being. But professional musician Macy-O'Toole apparently had his doubts about joining the show in the first place. Speaking with TV Series Hub, he discussed his first season on the show and said, "The first week I realized I didn't belong. I'm the only one that didn't work on a yacht before, but luckily my crew were great teachers and cared a lot and took time out of their day to teach me something new and made me feel really comfortable." But despite gradually getting used to living on a yacht, there was one thing that never improved: "MY BED. It was the size and comfortability of a coffee table," he quipped.

While Macy-O'Toole downplays his musical abilities, fans have seen him rap on the show. As he told TV Series Hub, "I've been involved with music since I was 5. I'm proficient in piano, saxophone and vocals. I made 3 New York State All-State ensembles in high school and earned a Bachelor's degree in Music Education!" Throughout Season 4, the deckhand put his music skills to great use by posting rap recaps on his YouTube channel.

João Franco and Brooke Laughton can't agree on why they broke up

Fans of Below Deck Mediterranean likely tracked the budding Season 3 romance between second stew Brooke Laughton and deckhand João Franco, while secretly wishing that Laughton would come to her senses and date Macy-O'Toole instead. However, now that Laughton and Franco are no longer together, both seem to have alternate stories about what happened. Franco claimed during Season 4 that Laughton cheated on him, which then led to the end of their relationship. However, Laughton had a very different version of events, telling People, "I absolutely did not cheat on him."

Laughton opened up to the outlet about the end of the relationship, saying, "Although it initially hurt to hear João blamed our relationship breakdown on a false claim that I cheated on him, it is very true to his character and allows him some relief for his ego." She continued, "If this theory makes him sleep easier at night, then so be it but him saying this only makes me lose even more respect for him." Basically, we may never know who is telling the truth, but it's probably for the best that these two former onscreen love birds have now gone their separate ways.

How much does the cast of Below Deck Mediterranean really make?

In June 2019, The Washington Post reported on the inner workings of Below Deck and Below Deck Mediterranean, explaining how the charters on TV's most famous yachts work. The outlet reported that, on average, charters are three-days long, and guests pay for their trips, albeit at a discounted rate, "still costing a group anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000, according to yachting industry estimates." Along with the heavy discount, guests are expected to provide "a 10-15 percent cash tip to the crew" at the end of each charter, the exact amount being revealed each episode, and related back to the level of service the staff provided.

Alongside any salaries the crew members receive, which are likely to be in line with yachting industry standards, tipping is expected. Reporting on published rates for one of the vessels featured on Below Deck Mediterranean, Bustle claimed, "Since chartering the Ionian Princess starts at $167,000 per week, that means even for a one-week charter, the crew can expect to share another $8,350 to $25,050" in tip money. Not bad a week's work.

How real is Below Deck Mediterranean?

Any reality TV show should be viewed with a certain level of scrutiny, but just how real are the events of Below Deck and its Mediterranean spin-off? According to one of the show's producers, Mark Cronin (via his reddit AMA), "All reality shows are different. There is a spectrum from the very fake to the very real. I think though, that reality TV tends to be more real than you think. The skeptical audience is giving us too much credit for being masterminds." He also explained, "The contract between the cast and me is: 'Please make us a great show that people will love – and please be fair in portraying who we are and what we do.' I try to keep to that." However, some guests have been less than pleased with their portrayal onscreen.

According to charter guest Jesse Biter from Florida, he was "cast" to play the villain in Season 1, episodes 10 and 11. He told The Sarasota Observer, "I didn't mind being the show's villain." The former guest insisted that his role on the show had been produced, claiming, "We had a lot of fun. It was a great experience. ... it was really a game. And it was fun playing a role." He also told the publication, "People who know me know this isn't real." As for the truth of the matter, viewers will just have to keep on watching and guessing.