Drama always seems to be following the cast and literal crew of Below Deck, the Bravo produced reality TV show that follows an eclectic selection of characters as they make their way across the high seas. How much did second-longest-running crew member Kate Chastain make for her role of chief stew aboard the ship?
Kate Chastain likely makes somewhere in the region of ten to twenty thousand minimum per episode. The estimation is speculative, based on comments she has made about earnings per charter.
Although when it’s all aired on television there’s a veneer of glitz and glamour common to the style of show that Below Deck adopts, the reality is that being a crew member aboard a cruise ship is hard work.
The role of chief stew certainly demands an amount of work deserving of a hefty paycheck, but exactly how do we get to the quoted number?
Like the beautiful piece of engineering featured on the show, luxury yachts like the one on Below Deck are typically 150-foot paradises that are designed to cater to the needs and desires of high-end guests.
As you can imagine, the kind of affluent clients that are eyeing up the chartering of a yacht will be expecting to pay a premium for the kind of once in a lifetime experience that a yacht provides.
In total, chartering a yacht can be expected to cost up to $150,000 a week. It seems steep, but when you factor in the size of the crew, the maintenance required, and the length of some of the cruises, the numbers start to make a little more sense.
So how does that number relate to the multi-season long chief stew Kate Chastain, how are the charter costs divided up between the crew?
The Chief Stew
Aboard a ship of the size and quality of the one featured on Below Deck, a chief stew can be expected to earn between $60,000 and $80,000. That’s the salary for an entire season aboard a ship, but the problem is figuring out exactly how long a charter season on the show actually is.
It would seem that the seasons on Below Deck will last for a couple of months of filming, meaning that if Chastain is paid the expected salary for a ‘season’, then she’ll be making a fairly hefty chunk of cash for each episode, once potential show salaries and tips are included.
Is It Worth It?
It might all seem like fun and games to work aboard one of these ships, but it’s not a typical nine to five job. The salaries listed might seem attractive, and they are likely even larger for someone like Chastain, but it’s not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
You’ll be working hard every hour of the day, and you’ll never know when you have to be ready to spring into action or what the problem will be when you do. The tips that can be received must be a big boost to morale, but according to Chastain, it does little to alleviate the toll that the charter seasons can take.
According to Chastain, each crew member on a normal cruise would usually receive around $5,000 per head, but due to the time constraints thanks to filming, both the hours and the tip sizes will be significantly cut down.
This means that each crew member will usually get $2,000 to $2,500 for their blood, sweat, and tears. With the thought of putting that much work in, and potentially not seeing your family for days, it’s understandable that Chastain sees the idea of tips below a certain threshold as being depressing.
Chastain appears to give more than her money’s worth on the cruises and was a favorite chief stew of Below Deck Captain Lee. She had been with him on cruises since season 2, proving herself to be a solid and dependable crew member even in the worst of times.
Lee even claimed to be ‘anxious’ about the idea of not having Chastain with him, a statement that echoes the sentiment of her importance aboard the ship perfectly. With a track record and being a cornerstone of the crew, it would be no surprise if Chastain earned far in excess of the estimations per episode.