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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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February 1997 Vol. 23, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Tips on Tipping

from the February, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear In Depth:

When I was on the Belize Aggressor last summer, I was told that it was standard to tip 10 percent of our trip cost, 15 to 20 percent if you got good service. No "no tip" option was mentioned. If all 19 passengers on board tipped 10 percent of the $1,800 cost of the week, that would be $3,420 to split by six divemasters ($570 a week, or almost $30,000 a year). I think the 10 percent tip should be on the proportion of the $1,800 that was for service -- say 10 percent of $500. R. P.

I like to acknowledge good service with a tip, but when it comes to tipping coercion, I believe I've heard them all:

"The crew are feeling really discouraged. They worked their butts off for the last group, and those cheapskates left them nothing. I'm sure you guys will leave them a generous tip."

"Here's the envelope with your name on it for the 10 to 20 percent tip for the dive people, and here's the envelope to be divided up among the rest of the staff. Most people give at least $100, but put whatever you want into this envelope with your name on it . . . "

"Just give me, your tour leader, $350 now and I'll take care of the tips for you."

When divemasters give me good service (don't bang on their tank underwater, don't bitch and moan when I come up a little late, give me a vote in site selection), I'm for tipping. The same with boat handlers and helpers. When someone lugs your equipment and helps you with your fins after a dive, tip him.

On a live-aboard, I like to tip the whole crew, because it's an intimate environment and I can see who does what to make my trip more enjoyable. I'm less comfortable on land-based resorts where I'm expected to tip all the behind-the-scenes people as well as the dive staff. When I go out to eat, I don't tip the chef or the guy who sweeps up the kitchen. There's also little satisfaction in giving a generous tip to someone who won't even know who it's from, but I do it anyway. It's the system, and presumably her salary is based on the assumption that she will be paid partly by tips.

The real question, of course, is how much to tip. I don't believe dive guides are making $30,000 a year from tips. I would like to hear from you, the subscribers. What are your thoughts on tipping? What are you comfortable with? After I read your comments, I'll tell you how much I tip. E-mail me at, fax me at 512-891-9813, or write to P.O. Box 90215, Austin, TX 78709.

J. Q.

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