For six seasons the fan bait for the ocean-going-reality-television brand “Below Deck” has been a combination of armchair fantasy and intra-crew drama. This season adds a new element: an onboard cigar-smoking room.
This summer’s spinoff series, “Below Deck: Mediterranean,” debuts its biggest vessel yet, a 184-foot motor yacht. Refurbished four years ago, the yacht became cigar-friendly with a custom humidor in a club room decorated with images of smoking icons like Churchill, Fidel and Che. It doubles as a brandy and wine tasting room and matches the overall luxe demeanor of the boat.
The show consists of short cruises on the Med that typically feature friction among crewmembers, while guests enjoy the many amenities. According to the even-keeled Captain Sandy Yawn who skippers the ship on television, charter participants get a deep discount in exchange for appearing on television and sharing the boat with the large film crew. “The show is very demanding. I take 38 people out at a time. It’s pretty crazy.” (Under normal conditions it carries 12 crew members and sleeps 12 guests.)
Guests are minimally involved in the dramatic scenarios, but are encouraged to use the many water toys (jet skis, banana boats, paddle board, slide, etc.) and a Jacuzzi and gym. (At press time, the cigar room hadn’t made its on-screen debut.) Occasionally, guests promote their own products, such as the urologist/sex expert who presented Yawn with one of her “toys” on camera.
If you prefer to remain anonymous while puffing at sea, there’s another option. For the purposes of the Bravo network, the yacht is temporarily dubbed The Wellington, but the mega yacht is named The Wellesley in its off-screen life, when it is available for charter for about $250,000 a week. It is the namesake of London’s boutique Wellesley hotel, which operates one of the premier cigar programs in that city—so you can trust that such available smokes as Cohibas and Montecristos will be shipshape.