how much to tip boat captain

Tips on Tipping! Here’s How Much You Should Be Tipping Your Boat Captain

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 16, 2021

Rent a Boat With a Captain And Travel in Style

Chartering a boat is a great way to enjoy some quality outdoor time, no matter if you are fishing, diving, or simply sunbathing while you cruise around with your boat rental. The fresh wind, the sense of adventure, and the lack of distractions by overbearing technology can easily be achieved by a sailboat rental vacation all on its own, whether it’s as short as a daily getaway or an entire island-hopping cruise. But there are always some tricks, secret places, or simply familiarities with the area that allow you to maximize your experience on the boat. That is where a captain comes in.  So let us dive into the responsibilities, the proper tipping etiquette, and the value of having a boat captain on board.

Hiring a Captain Disclaimer

Everyone can benefit from even the smallest crew, and of course, the more passengers there are, the more work there is to be done. We encourage you to seek a professional captain and crew on certain occasions like hosting a boat party, sightseeing, or even for a boat memorial service. However, for the record, in this article, we are talking about professional and licensed captains, and it’s important to make that distinction. Every boat owner can be viewed as a captain of his boat, but not all have the actual license to be one. That depends on the laws of the country where you are boating and whether it’s legal to drive a boat without a special captain license or not.

What are the Duties of a Boat Captain

In simplest terms, the job of a captain is to make sure everything goes smoothly. Boat charter captains are aware of all the safety precautions and communication with coastal guards to get the weather and safety reports to make any trip worry-free. They assign and monitor duties performed by the crew, keep a well-documented log of the journey. In the case of international travel, the captain must meet the requirements of local and international customs and inspections. Combine that with their knowledge of how to deal with all kinds of mechanical problems and operate all of the machinery onboard along with first aid training and much more, to get the idea that having a captain on board is definitely something you should think about.

Hire Local Captains

But there is more. When you hire a charter boat captain, his expertise also includes knowing the best places for sandbar partying, snorkeling or fishing, and dockside dining. Also, most can share a thrilling story or two when the sailing goes smoothly. As a general rule of thumb, captains tend to be locals and as such are more familiar with the best spots and even some hidden places of beauty and interest.

So to summarize, the duties of a captain are to make sure the sailing goes as smooth as possible through the combination of safety protocols, understanding of the local weather, knowledge of the area and of their crew. Captains also supervise passengers and crew as they embark and disembark from the boat. While having a captain is not always necessary on a boat, it can surely be of great help, especially if you are more inclined toward leisurely sailing and sports activities.

Why You Should Tip Your Boat Captain

First, let’s clear up a couple of things. A tip is not mandatory, it isn’t a salary, and there are no hard outlined rules. A tip is a customer-driven act that usually shows appreciation of the level of service. The “rates” of a tip vary worldwide going from 5-20%, but there is a certain etiquette. The tip is always given to the captain, in cash, who then distributes the tip among the crew equally. If there is a crew, of course, the thing to consider here is that charters aren’t like restaurants. The people who work charters would compare it more with a lifestyle because their shifts are usually longer. In some countries, seasons are only good for 12-16 weeks, and they have to work every day. Even when the captain owns the boat, most of the money goes to maintenance of the boat and the expenses of owning a business.

Secondly, as mentioned, the tip is a way to show appreciation of the quality of service. Even inexperienced people can tell a rushed service from a really good one, and it is said that no good deed should go unnoticed. People in this industry are usually devoted to ensuring their customers get the best possible service. Here’s what boat crew members say about tipping. You can always feel when someone is genuinely giving their best, so you can enjoy your boating summer vacation the most.

Recognizing a Good Service With a Tip

These extra things can be small, like giving you an honest drink recommendation or a tip on where to go for a nice meal among boat up bars. They can be bigger things like taking extra care of all the allergies, likes, and dislikes in food preparation and personalized service on a more individual level. You can tell that the captain is giving his all when he changes the routes to give you a little something extra or to show you some natural wonders like potential whale watching, a secluded location, or “the best” fishing or diving locations. This is in no way an expansive list, but it is a good indicator to give you a feel of what constitutes as a better service.

Boat Captain Tipping Etiquette

It is good to look into tipping customs in the specific country where you rent a boat with a captain. Also, while asking the crew members on tipping etiquette may create awkward situations, discussing it with the captain is perfectly fine. In fact, it is always a good idea to double-check the plan and expenses with the captain before the trip. And yes, it is a good opportunity to discuss the proper tipping etiquette. Usually, if the service was fine, people leave 5-10% of the whole price as a tip, but the more effort they put in and the better quality of service, the appropriate tip can go as high as 20%.

The Value Of Having A Boat Captain

Whether you rent a boat with a captain or just hire a captain, you will have a professional who can keep an eye on everyone and everything, help things run smoothly, and let you focus on the stuff that matters to you. Even a small crew can go a long way in making the best of your leisure cruise that can include snorkeling, fishing of even sandbar partying. And the extra cost is well worth it. Tipping, on the other hand, when done properly, is taken as a sign of your appreciation of the effort the captain and the crew took to make you enjoy your time together.


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