This has to be one of the most frequent questions I am asked when helping divers prepare for their scuba vacation. “How do I tip and what do you think is the right amount?” Well, to be honest, it varies from destination to destination. For countries who are more used to “Americanized” tourism, their tipping guidelines are probably more like those here in the States. However, for countries that are more remote, or have different cultural values, these guidelines may not hold true. For instance, in Fiji, you may want to tip 15% of your overall package price for the service you’ve received, but you must remember not to distribute this money among individuals. Instead, you put your tip money in one envelope to be given to the resort’s front desk, who in turn sees that it is deposited into a joint “Christmas” fund where it will be distributed among the entire resort staff at a later time. That’s why when I am in doubt of the tipping customs, I go to the resort’s website and look under their FAQ’s to see if they have posted their own guidelines. If I can’t find any help there, then I do an internet search for tipping customs in that particular country. First and foremost though, if you are my client, please just ask me. I will do my best to make sure everything is in order for your comfort and convenience, and all your questions are answered before you depart on your vacation.
What if a resort doesn’t have guidelines on their website?
If this is the case, then I generally recommend following these guidelines below:
Tipping your housekeepers is not common, nor is it un-common. Experienced travelers will tell you, though, that a small tip on the table each morning will insure attentive extra service should you require it. And another tip at the end of your stay, if you appreciated the overall housekeeping service, is appropriate. Leave your daily tip on a piece of paper and write “for your service…thank you!” so they know it’s a tip and not your pocket-change, unintended for a tip. The housekeeping staff generally works hard for small salaries to make you comfortable…$2-3 dollars a day per occupant (or any small denomination in the appropriate currency) would be most appreciated.
Hotel Staff, Whether It Be Housekeeping, Bartenders, Wait Staff, or Other Staff Members
Tips should be placed in an envelope and left with the front desk at the end of your stay. Tipping may be a lump sum or specific amounts may be designated on the envelope. Consider the price of your drink(s) or the meal(s) you are eating each day, and any other service you may of received, then calculate 15% of the total price at the end of your stay. If the service was very good, you may wish to leave up to 20%.
Unless otherwise specified, you may want to tip this staff directly since they are probably the people you spent the most time with. Suggested tipping: Divemaster(s) – $5/tank; Boat Captain – $5/day; Deckhand/Chief Cook & Bottlewasher – $3-5/day
Service Outside Your Resort
It is customary to leave a tip to thank waiters, valets, gas station employees, bellboys and other service providers. At restaurants, bars and coffee shops, it is customary to leave 15% of the total amount of the bill. Some restaurants and bars include the tip in the final bill, so be sure to check this in order not to overpay. Not tipping may be frowned upon in some cultures.
If your vacation consists of a liveaboard adventure rather than a land-based experience, I might suggest you consider tipping 15% of your overall package price. Again, I suggest putting this in one envelope to be given to the Captain for distribution. If you desire, you may specify particular amounts for each crew member, but I believe the tip is generally split evenly among the crew.
As I mentioned earlier, the guidelines above are merely recommendations. Tipping should be based upon the level of service you receive. If you feel you have received a poor quality of service, then this should be reflected in a small tip or no tip at all. If you feel, however, that you have received service that has gone above and beyond the norm, then this too should be reflected with a little something extra in your tip. Tipping is certainly based upon a personal choice and nothing is ever written in stone.
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