Popular US TV show puts spotlight on Antigua

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The luxurious superyacht is currently docked in Jolly Harbour

TV viewers across the globe will experience the sights, sounds and social scenes of Antigua when a major reality show currently being filmed here is broadcast later this year.

The team behind fly-on-the-wall programme ‘Below Deck’ is halfway through shooting season eight, set aboard luxury superyacht MY Seanna which is docked in Jolly Harbour.

On Wednesday morning, deckhands and stewards could be seen at the bustling west coast marina preparing the 185ft superyacht, exercising in the adjacent car park and loading up a bus for a day out. Camera crew were capturing every second of the action from the main deck.

The popular show throws a warts-and-all spotlight onto the secret lives of the crew working on multi-million dollar yachts.

The dramatic scenes – featuring the rows, love affairs and hard-partying of workers as they cater to their well-heeled, demanding guests – proved an instant hit worldwide when it was first screened in July 2013.

The show’s continued success saw it reach record ratings of 2.6 million viewers during the recently concluded season seven. It is now the flagship programme of US TV channel Bravo, which is accessible via Antigua-based providers.

Earlier seasons of the show have been filmed in the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and St Maarten, with later seasons based in Tahiti and Thailand. There is also a spin-off show set in the Mediterranean.

Season eight will see the crew return to the Caribbean and the location choice is a coup for the nation’s tourism product.

“We are happy to be in Antigua,” a spokesman for the Below Deck team told Observer. “We typically spend six to eight weeks on location filming and we have around three weeks left here.”

MY Seanna, which was once on sale for a colossal US$24,500,000, has a weekly charter price of US$300,000 a week. Built in 2001, the vessel’s luxurious environs include six guest cabins, a movie theatre, helipad, sauna and gym. The Antigua-based season is set to hit TV screens in October.

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