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TIPS on TIPPING your charter crew…

As with everything, be it eating out at a restaurant, putting fuel in our car or booking a charter with a skipper/crew, the question of tipping often pops up. Certainly in yacht charter planning this is an expense to bear in mind.

How to tip, how much to tip, when to tip, whom to tip — and perhaps even why you need to tip at all? Here are some tips (excuse the pun) so you won’t be lost when it comes time to showing your appreciation for the crew.

While, technically speaking, tipping isn’t mandatory it is after all considered to be a voluntary expression of thanks and therefore you have the right to weigh this up against the service you receive. All charter companies say that ‘it is not expected’ and if you don’t feel your crew ‘is deserving’, don’t do it. This relates to ‘standard’ charter types and not Super Yacht, fully ‘crewed’ or ‘all inclusive’ type charters, which are slightly different (see below).

A tip is a reward for a crew that has done a fabulous job….!

This system being a little ‘flawed’ (for want of a better term) by the odd customer who doesn’t tip at all, even after great service and then those who over-tip just because they can… we will try to supply you with some middle ground and from there you decide.

HOW MUCH – For standard charters, international ideals suggest between 10 to 15% of the skipper or crews fee……not of the ‘charter fee’.
So if your skipper costs €1,050 for the week and he is wonderful, then €100 to €150 is the perfect ‘thank-you’. A chef or hostess whose fee may be say €800 for the week and they deliver great service, could be rewarded €80 to €120.

NB – Should you be chartering a CREWED boat – this is a little different as these are employed staff who work on the same boat as their job and although they do earn a salary, their tip makes up part of their earnings. (Unlike skippers or hostess’s who are hired to come in for individual jobs, as above on standard charters, and are paid per booking.)
These full-time crew work exceptionally hard 24hrs a day, are highly trained and very professional. In this case the tip is based more on the actual CHARTER fee – so for example your boat costs €10,000 for the week, you could be looking at €1,000 BUT our contacts in the industry all indicate that this would be too high as a tip and the preferred or correct tip in this case, for excellent service, would be around €200 per crew member. On a typical crewed charter to the value of €10,000 there would almost always only be 2 crew to this equates to €400 at most 3 crew and so €600.

A gulet again being different, would have 3 to 5 full-time crew and here ideally it is best to look again at 10% of the charter fee and then gauge it against the service. An €8,000 charter fee = €800 tip divided by 3 to 5 crew for excellent service, is a great reward. Less is still acceptable.

I have had many discussions about this matter with some of our fantastic contacts in the MED, all who has been in the charter and boating industry for at least 30 years. They state clearly that the tip is a ‘thank-you’ and if not earned, need not be offered and that the figures I have shown above are absolutely spot on. These crew all earn a salary and your tip is just a bonus. They also suggest that tipping too high is not helpful to the industry in general.

Another suggestion is to offer something useful or sentimental as part of the tip, so perhaps lower cash value + a South African related t-shirt or gift. Perhaps bear this in mind upfront and plan for something special along these lines.

THE SKIPPER – A skipper is hired to assist you while you charter, guide you where necessary and to share his local knowledge. He is not there to tell you what to do, to lay down the law each day of where you will go and what you will do and this choice remains your. In the case of safety or emergency, his decision then overrule yours!
A skipper is not there to cook and clean for you but rather to the drive and look after the boat, to share some boating knowledge and help you to enjoy, sail and experience the boat yourselves.
A skipper need not be included in all your plans and does not have to take his meals with you, go to restaurants with you nor be part of your daily activities.
Should you really find that you enjoy their company and wish to include them, this is wonderful and entirely up to you but if you prefer to keep your distance, your privacy and keep things purely professional, this is 100% acceptable AND normal.

How they handle all of the above will be part of the impact they have on your charter and your feelings towards offering a tip.

HOW TO DO IT – A tip is always in cash so remember to have this handy before you leave the boat at the end of the charter and if you only have a skipper then obviously this is handed directly to him. I find it best to slip the cash into an envelope with a note. If you have a skipper and other crew, it is up to you how you split this and if you prefer to hand this directly to each person, that is fine, or just give it to the skipper to share out. Again also nice just to slip this into an envelope with a note.

On a crewed yacht, the tip is a one sum and always handed to the Captain who will then hand it out accordingly. There is a level or hierarchy in such cases and the Captain will know best how to handle this.

Feel free to ask us, if we don’t know, we will find out for you.