22 Jul 2023

Aesha Scott: the reality of life below deck on super yachts

From Saturday Morning, 10:45 am on 22 July 2023

Superyacht stewardess Aesha Scott is a fan favourite on the American reality show Below Deck for her work ethic and relentless positivity.

The Tauranga-born TV personality tells Kim Hill that delivering five-star service with TV cameras around 24/7 is easily the hardest thing she's ever done.

"It's not all fun and games but I'm determined to keep doing it as long as my sanity will let me."

New Zealand superyacht stewardess Aesha Scott stars in the Bravo reality series Below Deck

New Zealand superyacht stewardess Aesha Scott stars in the Bravo reality series Below Deck Photo: Maree Wilkinson Photography

Below Deck is such an addictive show, Aesha says, because it's a mix of relatable and unrelatable – overworked crew, demanding guests, luxurious boats, sex, drama and beautiful food.

She tells people it's the most "real" reality show you'll ever see:  "[The producers] are very strict about the fourth wall and they can't interfere with us at all. And they don't need to - it's such a pressure cooker, everything will explode anyway."

In Below Deck Down Under, Aesha made no secret of how "infuriating" she found chef Ryan McKeown.

"His whole day was mistakes and he just couldn't see he was doing anything wrong, he was that arrogant. And it was everyone else's fault."

People who don't come across well on the series tend to defend themselves by claiming they were misrepresented by the show, Aesha says, but she knows otherwise.

"I was there and I saw it all and if anything they made you look better than what you were."

The producers of Below Deck are the real stars of the show, Aesha says, for their clever and factual storytelling skills.

"When I watch it back and I see them very masterfully put together these clear storylines it really fascinates me and it's always accurate."

Regular yachting is exhausting in itself, but Aesha says the time constraints of filming add even more pressure.

"We arrive and the day we walk onto the boat is the first time we've seen the boat, it's the first time we've met our crew."

In the 24 hours before guests arrive, Aesha has to get to know the boat and team, get provisions, and figure out storage spaces and uniforms.

"There's no time to do inventories and set up systems and get to know how to manage your team well. You're just chucked in the deep end so it's like yachting on steroids."

Before filming a season of Below Deck, she doesn't let herself get too worried about stuffing up something like a drink order.

"At the end of the day, even if I'm terrible, isn't that such brilliant TV? You just have to take it in your stride."

Stewardessing on yachts is something Aesha says she'll do for as long as she can.

Women often leave superyachts in their 30s because the lifestyle doesn't lend itself to settling down, Aesha says, but there's also the fact that crew members don't tend to get hired after the age of 30.

"I'm 31, I'm gonna have to start getting Botox otherwise they'll be kicking me off, too!"

Aesha is realistic about the aesthetic requirements for superyacht crew members.

"I'm not saying this is right, I'm not condoning whatever, but the thing with yachting is you kind of do have to be somewhat attractive to work in the industry … These really wealthy people, their boat is their toy, it's their prize, it's the thing they use to peacock and show off to other people how much money they have, so they want attractive people to be working on it."

She says being from New Zealand is an asset, too.

"The way guests respond to us, especially the American guests, I could be saying the most boring thing and they just think it's so charming. We've got this accent where everything we say they're like 'oh my god you're so funny'. They're just enthralled by it. I think it is the accent, our laidback lifestyle and our humour where we just rip everything a bit and create this really even playing field. All those things have definitely contributed to my success."

Before signing up for the show, Aesha had already made the switch from working full-time on superyachts to part-time.

Spending too long in the "bubble" of boat life comes at the expense of family and friends, she says, and wouldn't "work" for her relationship with fiance Scott Dobo.

When the couple gets married, he plans to take Aesha's last name and become 'Mr Scott Scott'.

"We just think how many people in this world get the opportunity to be called Scott Scott? We'll do it until it stops being funny."

Aesha Scott appears in the second series of Below Deck Down Under, which is currently airing on Bravo and streaming on Three Now.