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How To Tip Your Yacht Charter Crew [Travel Guide]

Marina Nazario | November 17, 2020

A guide for tipping a successful yacht charter.

Tipping is normal for Americans. We tip after dining at a restaurant, getting a haircut, or riding in a taxi. But for those in Europe, Australia, and Asia, tipping is a big question mark and often not customary as it’s not factored into their daily life. Yet, even for Americans, tipping at a larger scale — say, for a yacht charter — can also raise a few questions. What’s an adequate amount? Who do you tip? Do you have to tip in cash?

Whether you’re chartering a catamaran for a day in Key West or yachting for a week in the Mediterranean, here’s everything you need to know about tipping your yacht charter crew.

How to tip on week-long charters?

Booking a week-long charter in the Caribbean means plenty of sun, relaxation, and fun on the water. But as with staying at an all-inclusive resort, there are people who contribute to the overall enjoyment of your vacation. The captain, stewardesses, deckhands, and chef are all committed to a successful yacht charter. They make sure you’re comfortable, safe, and well-fed, and usually work odd hours to do so.

The Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) set a guideline so that tipping yacht charter crew isn’t so ambiguous. According to MYBA, yacht tips should be between 5% and 15% of the total cost of the charter. This rule of thumb applies primarily to the European yacht market as those travelers tend to tip less than those in the United States or the Caribbean where 15% to 20% gratuity is closer to the norm.

This guideline provides charter brokers and their clients with a reference point before embarking on the yacht charter. Tipping charter crew — as much as it’s dependent on the quality of service — also depends on the guests’ nationality, location of the charter, and chartering experience of the guests. First-time charterers from France may tip differently than a seasoned charter client from New York.

As a charterer, ask your broker if the yacht you’re booking supports the MYBA recommended guidelines. Then you’ll know what is expected before your vacation.

How to tip on day charters?

There’s not a specific guideline for tipping on day trips, such as a catamaran charter, as they often range in length from 4 to 8 hours. The captain and crew work as they would on a term charter by preparing the vessel, planning the route, welcoming and hosting charter guests, and ensuring the safety of everyone on board. It’s customary to tip between 10% and 20% of the base rate of the day charter. A broker may or may not be involved in the booking process, so you have to remember at the end of the day that a tip is suggested for hard work and a job well done.

How to tip on event charters?

Yacht charters hired for private events are a bit different than a typical day or week-long charter. Event charters are commercial and usually booked for weddings, corporate, or other social events. When hosting a private event on a boat, you may hire additional event staff such as servers, caterers, entertainers, or bartenders who are separate entities from the captain and yacht crew.

The captain’s job is focused on the logistics of travel, navigation, and safety, while the event staff is focused on the guest experience. There’s not a standard guideline as it’s advised to use your discretion based on the level of service you experienced among hired teams, so generally tip between 10% to 20%.

Is there a tipping etiquette on yachts?

As with tipping in other industries, the tip should be proportional to the service you received. It’s an expression of satisfaction and a job well done. Yacht crews usually go above and beyond and work about 16-18 hour days. A professional crew will always perform their duties to a high standard as your safety and hospitality onboard the yacht is their priority.

The crew works as a team, so it’s not customary to tip or recognize a specific crew member. The tip should be given directly to the captain at the end of the charter experience. He or she will divide the amount among the crew, including deckhands, stews, engineers, and chefs.

Do you have to pay in cash?

The big question — how do you pay for a tip if you don’t want to carry a large sum of money with you on vacation? You can tip the captain via cash, check, or wire transfer. (Although check and wire transfer isn’t advised as it may not get to the crew until a few weeks later.)

When you book your luxury yacht charter, there’s an Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA), which is an additional amount of money set aside (on top of the charter fee) to be used for consumables during the charter including food, wine, and fuel. Charter brokers usually suggest a high amount up front as a cushion so that expenses don’t run over in the middle of your holiday. At the end of your charter, the captain should sit down with you to discuss what was spent and what’s leftover from your APA. So if you’re left with $5,000 in your APA, you can use that as part of your tip. Talk to your charter broker ahead of time to learn more about different options for leaving a tip.

Yachting is one of the safest ways to travel during the COVID-19. Yet no matter where you’re from, tipping can be confusing, especially in the instance of a charter experience. Gratuity to yacht crew can be anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars. Whether it’s for a week-long charter or quick day trip, ask your broker ahead of time about what’s expected for tipping the crew. Consider a private yacht for your next holiday — contact Denison Yachting to book your next superyacht charter.