Bravo’s highly successful Below Deck, which debuted in 2013 and has since evolved into a franchise that includes four spin-offs — Below Deck: Mediterranean, Below Deck: Sailing Yacht, Below Deck: Down Under, and Below Deck: Adventure — chronicles the trials and tribulations of the yachting industry through the eyes of its hard-working crew on superyachts as they deal with demanding and oftentimes embarrassing charter guests. With lavish escapism that doubles as perfect "eat the rich"media and juicy, never-ending drama, Below Deck is mystifyingly addicting.
The success of a reality series ultimately hinges upon the eclectic group of bold individuals that are brought on as its stars. With over 160 crew members appearing throughout its 21 seasons, the franchise has mastered the art of crafting ensembles of yachties who make for fantastic, binge-worthy TV. Naturally, every season includes a mix of frustrating, villainous crew members, and the rare gems you’d actually want to work with.
It’s safe to say that Below Deck’s casting department deserves several Emmy awards for always managing to find the most absurd group of adults to charter around the world. As the OG Below Deck series premieres its milestone 10th season, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst crew members to grace us with their presence across the franchise’s history.
Lee Rosbach, Below Deck
Captain Lee has been with Below Deck ever since it premiered in 2013. Now entering his 10th season chartering with absurd guests and crews, he has experienced a handful of highs and lows but overall runs a tight ship. Captain Lee is a fair leader who only gets involved in crew drama when it reaches the point of termination, and he bears a likability that some other Below Deck captains haven’t quite been able to attain. It’s impossible to imagine the show working without the "stud of the sea" and his incredible one-liners.
Kate Chastain, Below Deck
It wasn’t until Kate Chastain joined as a seasoned chief stewardess in Season 2 that Below Deck really took off. While she had her fair share of bad moments in terms of personal attitude, Chastain was a hard worker who went the extra mile when it came to making charters as successful (or at least memorable) as possible. Plus, her compelling drama and storylines, snarky commentary, and sassy personality makes for a perfect Bravoleb. Chastain’s six seasons on the show set the standard for the franchise’s chief stews, and her departure fundamentally changed the OG.
Ben Robinson, Below Deck and Mediterranean
As Below Deck’s first ever chef, Ben Robinson raised the bar for future chefs that would join the franchise. He may be prone to temper tantrums, but he is undeniably a talented person who brings just the right amount of chaotic goodness whenever he makes a delightful appearance in the franchise (the latest being in Mediterranean’s fourth season as a last-minute replacement). As everyone who is familiar with cooking TV knows, chefs can be hot-headed characters, but Ben is charming and hilarious in a way that you can’t help but develop a slight crush on him.
Aesha Scott, Mediterranean and Down Under
Ever since she graced Mediterranean as a second stewardess in the France-set fourth season, eventually returning as a replacement stew for part of the following season, Aesha Scott has been a delightful breath of fresh air. Scott made her triumphant return to the franchise, this time as part of Down Under’s cast, with the well-deserved title of chief stewardess. It’s a joy to watch her genuinely put effort into working with her stews, and her infectious energy and kindhearted nature makes it impossible not to love her.
Rachel Hargrove, Below Deck
Now entering her third season as a chef on Below Deck, Rachel Hargrove may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but she sure as hell makes for highly entertaining reality TV. She is arguably one of the most skilled chefs to work in a Below Deck galley, constantly turning out mouth-watering dishes, but her pure chaotic energy is what truly lands her on this list. Hargrove has never been one to mince words, hilariously delivering some of Below Deck’s most iconic one-liners to date (declaring "Eat my cooter" during a preference sheet meeting, for instance, is an all-timer).
Colin McRae, Mediterranean
Joining Sailing Yacht’s second season as a chief engineer, Colin McRae has easily been one of the most down-to-earth people to appear in the franchise. McRae is perhaps a bit too normal for Below Deck’s hijinks, seeming much more interested in being an observer of his crewmates’ ongoing antics as opposed to being the subject of gossip. In this way, he sort of serves as a proxy for us entertainment-fueled viewers. We stan a drama-free king who knows how to do his job!
Daisy Kelliher, Sailing Yacht
Chief stewardesses who are actually open to teaching and helping out their greener stews are rare to find, so Sailing Yacht’s Daisy Kelliher is an absolute gem who walks among us. For two seasons (and hopefully more), Kelliher has been amazing at her job whilst also being a fun person to watch let loose during crew nights out. It speaks volumes that she doesn’t ever pull rank when something goes wrong, instead carrying herself with a self-awareness and opting to work things out.
Tumi Mhlongo, Down Under
Of the majority of the stewardesses on any Below Deck installment, second stew Tumi Mhlongo from Down Under has always been one to go above and beyond to leave a lasting impression. Her presence is never not graceful, and she always pours her heart and soul into crafting stunning, not-so-tacky table settings. Mhlongo is chief stew material, and we can only wish that she’ll one day return to the series with a new stripe on her epaulets.
Glenn Shephard, Sailing Yacht
Sailing Yacht’s Captain Glenn has a genuine passion for sailing that shines in every single episode. The majority of the time, he’s calm, cool, and collected, and is largely unbothered in regards to the crew’s actions during nights off — to the point where he finds it entertaining to witness them make fools of themselves. Captain Glenn trusts and gets along with every single crew member while also knowing when to put his foot down when it comes to the safety of the ship and everyone onboard. Although a relatively newer captain in the franchise, Glenn is easily deserving of being a favorite among fans.
Colin Macy-O’Toole, Mediterranean
Of all the toxic men that clouded the third and fourth seasons of Mediterranean, deckhand Colin Macy-O’Toole is a glorious ray of sunshine. He got along with everyone during his two-season run and was always open to learning from his mistakes, to the point where he is likely one of the sweetest and most likable people to ever appear on reality TV while simultaneously never being boring. A momma’s boy at heart, he was clearly raised right.
Sandy Yawn, Mediterranean
The first and only female captain on Below Deck, Captain Sandy has been part of the franchise’s family ever since taking over for Captain Mark in Mediterranean’s second season. Captain Sandy has spent every single charter ever since micromanaging and undermining her crew, hovering over guests as they eat their meals, poorly treating former chief stew Hannah Ferrier, and clearly playing favorites. Although other factors are likely at play when it comes to who gets hired, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Captain Sandy has an awful track record when it comes to picking which yachties get to join her crews.
Mila Kolomeitseva, Mediterranean
If "fake it till you make it" was a person, it would be chef Mila Kolomeitseva. On paper, her impressive resume, which listed her as a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who could make upscale cuisine, was everything one could want in a luxury yacht chef. Her time on Below Deck: Mediterranean, however, was cursed from the moment she set foot in the galley. During the first charter, she whipped up a horrifying plate of nachos and microwaved pieces of steak that she had licked. Not only did chef Mila have no clue how to navigate the galley, but she also outed herself as a vile homophobe who was immediately shunned by the rest of the crew prior to getting the boot a few episodes into the season.
Magda Ziomek, Down Under
While trying to justify dancing with bosun Jamie Sayed in the hot tub early on in Down Under, former third stewardess Magda Ziomek exclaims in a talking head, "I like to dance, I like to feel hot. I'm Latina, so I just wanna have fun!" After a producer asks if she's really Latina, she responds that she only is on the "inside." The now-viral moment is a perfect encapsulation of her messy time on the show. Ziomek spent the majority of her time being preoccupied with texting her long-distance boyfriend during charters to actually focus on getting work completed, which ultimately led to her departure.
Lexi Wilson, Mediterranean
Second stewardess Lexi Wilson (who eventually got demoted) was the most nightmarish yachtie we have ever seen on Below Deck. From getting into several drunken altercations to sexually assaulting deckhand Lloyd Spencer and assaulting multiple other crew members to constantly gloating about her money to, most alarmingly, frequently describing herself as "Satan" and having a literal burn list, Wilson's behavior and attitude was absolutely atrocious. It's a crime that Captain Sandy allowed her to continue working for as long as she did.
Leon Walker, Below Deck
Again, chefs are often stereotyped as being tough people to work with, and the OG Below Deck's Leon Walker certainly makes a case for that. In addition to taking shortcuts (like using frozen fish as opposed to fresh-caught seafood) and not quite putting effort into making 5-star quality dishes, Walker had a rude and off-putting attitude, frequently gaslighting and insulting chief stew Kate Chastain. The highlight of his time on the series was his departure, which opened the door for a comeback from chef Ben.
Ashton Pienaar, Below Deck
Joining the sixth season of Below Deck as a deckhand, during which time he almost died after going overboard, Ashton Pienaar eventually got promoted to bosun for the following season. His terrifying near-death experience doesn’t excuse the fact that his behavior was awful all throughout. While decent at the duties his job requires of him, Pienaar was a walking red flag underneath his flirtatious exterior. A member of the Brü Crew with his fellow male deckhands, Pienaar fostered a toxic atmosphere and was a misogynistic nightmare who poorly treated chief stew Kate Chastain and female deckhand Rhylee Gerber.
Peter Hunziker, Mediterranean
A deckhand on Mediterranean’s fifth season, Peter Hunziker exhibited weird behavior toward his women co-workers. To add onto his already shady actions on-screen, it was discovered that he shared racist and sexist posts on social media as the season was in the midst of airing. Bravo producers made the wise decision to edit him out of the rest of the season as a result.
Ashley Marti, Sailing Yacht
One of the biggest mysteries of Below Deck is every woman on Sailing Yacht’s obsession with first officer Gary King. Ever since she set foot on Parsifal III, third stewardess Ashley Marti was intent on hooking up with King despite his expressions of having no desire to take things further, culminating in an uneasy moment in which she had sex with him while he was highly intoxicated and unable to consent. Marti's entire time on Sailing Yacht was a massive mess, since she wasn’t great at her job yet believed she was deserving of a promotion.
Ryan McKeown, Down Under
There are times when reality TV villains are the compelling types you sort of develop a love-hate relationship with rather than just flat-out loathing their presence. This is unfortunately not the case with chef Ryan McKeown, who is simply just an evil TV personality who basks in the fact that he treats people terribly. Chef Ryan is lazy, passionless about his work, and fully uninterested in accommodating the guests' requests, so it's baffling why he would choose to work in such a demanding setting. Moreover, anyone who messes with Aesha Scott, the kindest chief stew on Earth, deserves to be thrown overboard in our book.
Kyle Dickard, Adventure
Even though the debut season of the newest Below Deck spin-off, Adventure, has yet to even reach the halfway mark, deckhand Kyle Dickard — who has the word "cowboy" tattooed on his inner bicep — has already solidified himself as one of the most frustrating crew members of the franchise. Making racist remarks and aggressive comments, in addition to having far too big of an ego, Dickard is the poster child for toxic masculinity and joins the ever-growing list of former Below Deck yachties who aren’t afraid to display their true colors on national television. It’s for this reason that he was sent home packing only three episodes into the season.
Jihane Bousfiha is a culture writer based in Florida.
TOPICS: Below Deck, Bravo, Below Deck Adventure, Below Deck Down Under, Below Deck Mediterranean, Below Deck Sailing Yacht, Aesha Scott, Colin McRae, Glenn Shepard, Kate Chastain, Kyle Dickard, Lee Rosbach, Mila Kolomeitseva, Ryan McKeown, Sandy Yawn, Reality TV