THE LOWDOWN ON CREW TIPS: HOW MUCH WILL I MAKE AS YACHT CREW?
Written by Nathan Bees
Last updated: 22/01/2020
One of the many benefits of working as yacht crew is financial; most yachties earn a good base salary and have next-to-no living expenses on board, making it quick and easy to save (and spend!) considerable sums of money.
Factor in the tips and gratuities that crew are often awarded on top of their regular salaries, and you’d be forgiven for getting carried away about how much you could earn working as yacht crew. But it’s important to be realistic about the financial benefits of a career at sea before jumping aboard for this reason alone, as not every trip will end in a hefty tip – no matter how hard you work or wish for it.
So if you’re a yachtie wanting to get clued up on how tipping works on board, here’s a quick rundown of the unwritten crew-gratuity rules.
How and why do yacht crew get tipped?
While the industry has dictated that all crew have the opportunity to be tipped for their hard work on board, it’s far more common for those crewing charter yachts to receive larger and more frequent tips than they may do in the same position on a private yacht, due to the turnover of guests on board.
Of course work on board a charter yacht often means busier days and longer periods without any time off and away from the yacht. When working near-18-hour days to assist guests and their every request over the span of a four-week charter, a liberal tip is therefore likely justified, but it’s worth bearing in mind that not every guest will leave as generous tip as may be expected, or even tip at all.
How will a yacht guest come to decide what to tip the crew?
There are a number of factors that come into consideration when yacht guests come to tip at the end of their time on board, including their overall experience and the attitude and demeanour of the crew on board. Other contributing factors may include crew going above and beyond in their work, and the culture and customs of the guests themselves.
As with any industry, consumers have the right to tip as much or as little as they like, reflecting their personal feelings as to whether they received value for money during their charter or trip. But, just how generous is the typical yacht-crew tip?
While you may have read past stories about yacht crew receiving staggeringly large tips for their work aboard a superyacht, the days of impressive 25% tips are almost all a thing of the past – as a direct consequence of generous charterers in the noughties.
Why? Well, problems started to arise in the charter industry when guests began tipping so much money to meet the expectations of the crew working on charter yachts. Of course, when this didn’t happen, there was some pretty disgruntled yachties around – and some were very vocal in voicing their displeasure.
It led the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) to issue a tipping policy guideline that stated five to 15 per cent as the customary range, offering the industry a helpful reference point, and, in some cases, reducing the overall amount gifted.
Whilst this did mean tips decreased in size, it’s arguably had the desired effect, realigning crew expectations and what’s now accepted as the ‘norm’ – which is of benefit to both crew and charter guests. Ultimately it's often down to the charter broker to relay information to guests on tipping etiquette and expectation.
How are crew tips distributed on board?
The way that tips are shared and distributed on board is handled differently on each yacht. When leaving the yacht, charter guests are generally advised to give all money directly to the captain, so they can be split fairly between the crew. This is often a win-win situation that avoids bad feelings and unfairness on board, including guests unknowingly overlooking those that may be working just as hard behind the scenes.
If the captain is in control of tip distribution, everyone is rewarded equally for their efforts. Of course, nothing stops a guest from tipping an individual member of crew out of sight of other staff, but it’s not advised to do so, or for crew to accept.