Stacy Wise, author of Beyond the Stars, is back with another behind the scenes look at her experience with being on Below Deck Mediterranean! If you missed part one, you can check it out here!
On reality shows, it seems like people appear at their destination in a mere five minutes. It adds to the luxury and excitement. The truth is, we took a plane, a car, a ferry, and then a van, over the course of a gazillion hours, to reach our destination.
I won’t lie—it was a lot of traveling. The upside is, WE WERE IN GREECE! That first night, we stayed in a lovely hotel that was tucked into hill, just like all the pictures I’ve seen.
Shot glasses filled with green and blue liquids were presented to us on a silver tray. Not being a shot-swilling kind of gal, I sipped one, only to pass it to my husband as I gasped for air. I can eat ghost pepper salsa without blinking an eye. But high-octane alcohol? Forget it.
The next morning, the sky was postcard blue. We caught our first glimpse of the Ionian Princess where it sat next to the dock as though the entire ocean existed only to provide a place for it to reside.
The stone street was difficult to navigate in my stacked heel sandals—I’d wished I’d worn flip flops—but since we were going to be filmed, I’d opted for the prettier shoes. Tiny open-air shops filled with colorful beach toys, souvenirs, and T-shirts lined the street, along with cafes, where octopus legs were draped over stands, drying in the sun. The occasional fly buzzed near them, and I wondered if the tentacles were decorative, or if they’d later be served as calamari, plated with fresh lemon.
We made our way into a cafe, and it was there that we had our first official briefing with the production crew. They were armed with walkie-talkies and cell phones and a sense of harried authority. We were taken one by one to the back of the cafe to get fitted with our mics. A small box with a long wire was fastened with stretchy band, not unlike an Ace bandage, to my lower back. The wire ran up to a tiny microphone that was taped to my chest. We were told to be ourselves—to talk freely and forget about the cameras. They insisted we’d forget about them. (We did.)
“But what about going to the restroom?” someone asked. “Will they hear us peeing?”
I hadn’t considered that. One of the PAs assured us they wouldn’t. Another quietly told us that if we tapped the mic, they’d only hear static. Good to know.
We finally were ready to board the yacht, with strict instructions to take off our shoes and place them in a chest by the entrance. No shoes on board. (This would’ve been super helpful to know when I was packing. Because I *might* have brought several pairs of athletic shoes since I was told we’d be doing lots of exercise on the trip.)
The crew greeted us warmly and gave us a tour of the Ionian Princess. It reminded me of seeing Hearst Castle for the first time—lavish and lovely, but not necessarily homey.
We finally converged on the sundeck for cocktails delivered by crewmembers Hannah and Julia. They were real and friendly and I liked them immediately. It was interesting to watch the show after, and hear first-mate Bryan speak about not fraternizing with the guests, because I loved getting to know the crew.
They were there to help with any and every little request. To be honest, it was initially difficult for me to let them clear my plates and take my towels. I won’t even ask the bagger at the grocery store to help me take my bags to the car on a rainy day, so having someone pick up after me was just strange. Nice, but strange.
My favorite part of the trip was having stand up paddle boards and WaveRunners at our disposal. Added bonus? We had to take off our mics before getting in the water. As much as I forgot about the cameras, we were always aware of the mics. What if they took something we said out of context and we sounded bad? (That happened—not to me—but to some of the guys. It was made to sound like they were complaining about an amazing meal. They weren’t.)
The water was smooth as glass—very different from the California beaches I’m used to. It felt thick against my skin, salty and warm, and apparently, shark-free. We were anchored in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, with only a sprinkling of other boats off in the distance. It was like having the entire ocean to myself. I paddled and paddled until the boat was a speck. In that moment, I felt tiny too, but also bigger than life.
On my way back, I paddled quickly. I might’ve imagined pirates were chasing me, but then, that’s what writers do—we make stuff up all the time. I can never turn it off. As I cruised toward the yacht, I wasn’t clear on how to navigate the paddle board so it’d run parallel to the yacht. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to walk across the board to step onto the deck. The board flew out from behind me and I flopped onto the deck like a fish out of water. Fireman Bob (the super cute one) was there to help. It would’ve been exciting if I hadn’t been mortified with embarrassment. He pulled me to safety and smiled. I wondered if he was holding back laughter. Thank goodness they weren’t filming at that moment. Although, in hindsight, I’m sure I would’ve had a good laugh at my not-so-graceful dismount.
And then it was over. Our three days on the boat vanished as quickly as the golden sun dipping into the sea. My husband flew to New York for work, and I went home to California. I took a cab, bleary eyed but excited to see my kids. My car was at our friends’ house. I could’ve taken another cab there, but I needed to stretch my legs after the long flight, so I walked. A heat wave had consumed L.A. while we were gone. I was wearing sweatpants in ninety-degree weather, but I started to run.
My son, still dressed in his damp swim trunks and rash guard ran to me. I scooped him up and he wrapped his arms and legs around me like a little barnacle. I squeezed him tight and kissed his wet head. My girls came out next and threw their arms around me. And as much as I loved the trip—it truly was a once in a lifetime experience—coming home to my reality was the best part.
Curious to see how things went on the show? Check out episode 1 and episode 2 which featured Stacy and her husband.
About the book:
Most girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Jack McAlister, Hollywood’s hottest actor, but twenty-one-year-old Jessica Beckett is ready to kick him out of her red Ford Fiesta and never look back. She should be spending her junior year in France, eating pastries and sharpening her foreign language skills. Instead she’s reluctantly working as Jack’s personal assistant, thanks to her powerhouse talent agent aunt.Jack is private, prickly, and downright condescending. Jessica pushes his buttons—she’s not the type of girl to swoon over celebrity heartthrobs, precisely why her aunt thought she’d be perfect for the job—and Jack pushes right back.
But as she begins to peel away his layers, Jessica is shocked to find she craves her boss’s easy smile and sexy blue eyes. The problem is, so does the entire female population. And what started out as the job from hell soon has Jess wondering if a guy like Jack could ever find love with a regular girl like her.