Below Deck and Break Time: How Stray Cats Connected US Reality Show and Split Nautical Jewelry

Daniela Rogulj

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The Croatian National Tourist Board reports that the new season of the highly popular American reality series Below Deck Sailing Yacht, filmed in Croatia last summer, began airing on American cable television Bravo TV, the head of the Croatian Tourist Board in Los Angeles, Iva Bahunek, revealed on Monday. 

“The show will last at least 16 weeks, which is the perfect time to additionally promote Croatia because it is the period when Americans most often book their trips. An additional benefit is that this series is shown in other countries. We are especially pleased with the production team’s assessment that, of all previous seasons, the most attractive and interesting season was filmed in Croatia,” said Bahunek, adding that the recent Golden Globe Awards broadcast an advertisement for the new Below Deck season, which gave the series, but also Croatia, additional visibility on the American market.

This famous American reality show has been airing since 2013, and the concept of the show includes following the professional and private lives of the crew and their guests on mega yachts. The new season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht 2 – CROATIA was filmed in the Split waters during July, August, and September 2020. During the filming, the 54-meter-long Parsifal III sailboat was used, anchored in front of the Le Méridien Lav Hotel in Podstrana near Split. It is also interesting that this was the first Hollywood production that was filmed entirely and without interruption outside the United States during the coronavirus pandemic, in which a significant contribution was made by the Split Institute of Public Health.

Just how much they liked Croatia and their kind hosts was confirmed by the $40,000 donation from the production company 51 minds and Bravo TV through the Global Giving Charity to help earthquake victims in Sisak-Moslavina County. Furthermore, all fans and viewers will also be able to donate to the same cause.

Namely, during the premiere of the first episode of the series, the show’s biggest stars invited viewers to donate, which will be shown during the broadcast throughout the spring and early summer of 2021. Fans of the show will be able to donate through the Ministry of Finance portal, and the entire action was initiated by Iva Bahunek, head of the CNTB in Los Angeles.

But that’s not all. 

During their time in Split, Below Deck’s main charter guests were connected with one local nautical jewelry shop TCN fans know well – and it was all thanks to stray cats. 

“On August 11th, 2020, a group of cool American tourists entered our shop. If you watched episode 1 and 2 of the Below Deck Sailing Season 2, then you know them: the main charter guests Nikki and Rusty, along with their friends, came to our Trogirska 8 Split Atelier & Outlet Store in Split to leave a very generous donation of 1200 USD on behalf of their ARNI Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida to help with the stray cat situation in the Split area, a donation which was put to very good use by the ladies who run the Macke & Co. Group

They read Daniela Rogulj’s article in Total Croatia News about the work that the ladies from the Macke group are doing and about the bake sale we organised in our shop to support the stray cats of Split. They came to us straight after getting off Parsifal III,” said the Break Time owners Mirela and Leonard on their blog about the news, which they were only now able to reveal to the public! 

And it gets better.

“Nikki and Rusty had no idea what our shop was actually about, but they immediately fell in love with our nautical bracelets and, besides getting some for themselves and friends back home, they ordered 12 of our Yacht Club anchor bracelets for the crew of Parsifal III, all custom engraved with the message “Live long, sail hard” to honour Nikki’s father (you probably say also the Tshirts they were wearing in episode 1 of Below Deck Sailing).


We also made a special Captain by Break Time all-black nautical bracelet for Captain Glenn, engraved with PARSIFAL III (and from what we could gather from the teaser images, he is wearing it),” they added. Being big fans of the show, they decided to deliver the bracelets to the Le Meridien Lav marina themselves. 


While Mirela and Leonard could not meet the crew due to COVID-19 restrictions, the story uncovers an even happier ending. 

“A couple of weeks later, Nikki wrote to us and asked us to make 80 more custom engraved “Live Long, Sail Hard” anchor bracelets from our YACHT CLUB by Break Time original collection for the entire production team of the Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 2 Croatia. It was our biggest private order in 2020, and we were happy to oblige. My partner, Leonard, worked non-stop for a whole day to make them and engrave them while I helped packing them nicely.”


The Below Deck series is shown on the Bravo TV network, one of the most-watched American cable channels, which in 2020 recorded a large increase in “on-demand reviews,” 427 million to be precise, as well as 222 million “live broadcasts.” So far, a total of 15 seasons of this TV franchise have been filmed, consisting of Below Deck, which is filmed in tropical destinations, Below Deck Mediterranean, which is filmed in the Mediterranean, and the latest Below Deck Sailing Yacht, which is filmed on large sailboats unlike other variants of the series that are filmed on motor yachts.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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