"I think I'm ready for a new adventure," Kate Chastain said in the Below Deck season 7 finale

By Dave Quinn
February 17, 2020 09:01 PM
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Kate Chastain is saying goodbye to Below Deck.

After six seasons serving as the Chief Stewardess on the popular Bravo series, the reality star won’t be returning for its upcoming eighth season, PEOPLE can confirm.

News of her exit was posted on Chastain’s Instagram on Monday night moments after the Below Deck season 7 reunion, in a cheeky statement mimicking Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s headline-making royal exit announcement.

She wrote: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, I have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new land-based role. I intend to step back as a senior member of the Below Deck family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support His Majesty Andy Cohen.”

Chastain, 36, has been on Below Deck since its second season, which debuted in August 2014.

Her no-nonsense management style, dry sense of humor, self-described “resting bitch face,” and penchant for planning and executing lavish theme parties instantly made her a fan favorite — and helped the series become a big hit for Bravo.

The success has even inspired two franchise extensions: Below Deck: Mediterranean, which premiered in 2016, and Below Deck: Sailing Yacht, which debuted just in February.

Kate Chastain
Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU
Kate Chastain
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

However, Below Deck hasn’t always offered calm seas for Chastain. In fact, her exit comes after a particularly challenging season for the Florida native.

This year, she found herself at odds with the majority of the all-male deck crew — including chef Kevin Dobson, who repeatedly berated her with complaints that she had mentally checked out of her job and purposefully kicked sand at her in the finale.

She feuded with Boson Ashton Pienaar, too, over their different management styles. In one episode, during an argument in a tense van ride home, Pienaar lunged at Chastain before taking his frustrations out by punching the car door. He also kissed Chastain multiple times, instances Chastain has since said were unwanted advances.

Things got so tough that night that Chastain quit, walking off the boat in a fit of rage.

Though she returned the next morning, Chastain said that she was left questioning her future in yachting.

“Personally, this has been a very challenging season for me,” she said on the season 7 finale. “I think I’m ready for a new adventure.”

Captain Lee and Kate Chastain
Bravo

Throughout it all, Chastain has had one steady support: Captain Lee Rosbach.

The boat’s head honcho recently revealed on the Below Deck After Show that he will always stand by Chastain’s side.

The thing with Kate and I is, she’s one of my best friends,” Rosbach said. “I’ve got five fingers and…she fills up one of those hands. And I don’t have many more than that.”

“It’s always going go that way, I’m always going to have her back, because she doesn’t shy away from doing the right thing,” he added. “And I’m such a firm believer in that. It may be uncomfortable, it may feel like s—, but you have to do it.”

“She’s a really, really caring person,” he continued. “I don’t look at Kate as an employee. We’re co-workers. She runs her department, and I run mine. She’s the best there is.”

Kate Chastain
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Chastain began her yachting career in 2007, starting as a third stewardess on her first yacht and then working her way up to the top.

Before reality TV came calling, she had worked on boats throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Central America, and New England, entertaining royalty, celebrities, and business tycoons in the process.

Back in 2016, Chastain compiled stories from her adventures into Lucky Charming, her first book. Its popularity shot it to the No. 1 spot on the Amazon best-seller list.

She’s also the owner of Genesis Boutique, a non-profit upscale resale store she opened in Melbourne, Florida in 2016 to help profit Genesis House — an organization that, for over 40 years, has helped provide emergency and transitional housing to homeless women and children.

In 2019, Chastain moved to New York City where she lives with her dog, Halo.

A premiere date for season 8 of Below Deck has not been announced.