had money

Recently, a yacht owner who follows me on my personal Instagram page, asked me “Marcela, I have a question, do owners tip their crew after using their own yacht? I personally do, but wanted to know if other owners do it too.”  

We discussed it and then he asked, “Please talk about crew tips on your page,” so I made a post on Linked-in. This featured a high engagement with a lot of interesting comments, and I also had a lot of private messages about it, so I decided to collect them all into one full blog, so here it goes!


The yacht is being chartered when they don’t use it and they use it as a family summer vacation.

This discussion is more about yachts that are commercial, meaning that they do charter and the owner can ‘charter his own yacht for his private use’. It is rare to see crew gratuity on private yachts. However, if their guests, friends or family coming onboard for a few days at no charge,  are happy with the experience and crew service, they can, at their discretion, compensate the crew for a great trip.

Should yacht owners tip their crew when they use their own yacht? 

The answer is YES and NO! Read below.

On one side, the yacht owner is paying monthly salaries to the crew, and the crew gets a lot of tips when the yacht is being chartered by other guests. A yacht owner should not pay tips while using his own yacht. One owner stated “I am very generous in salaries, and the boat is used only 20% of the year, the rest of the 80% there are no guests onboard. The salary and the benefits package are already above standards, so crew should not be ‘indirectly’ expecting tips.”

On another side,  if the crew went above and beyond to create a unique quality safe time with memorable moments with your family then a reward may be due. The famous saying in the industry is “Happy crew, Happy owner” so it is important to meet their expectations in order to keep them happy and motivated.

As Ian Petts says, “People forget that to create that one week of amazing experience, has sometimes been 9 months of preparation.”

However, some say that not all crew deserve a tip. If the crew is always dramatic and creating problems, then it is up to the owner’s discretion if he wants to tip them or not.

Crew POV 

The comments from captains were clear:

  • “Answer is NO and NEVER.”
  • “No, that would be totally weird if the owner does.”
  • “Usually it is rare to see private yacht owners giving tips, but it is not rare to see their guests, friends or family coming for a few days at no charge and then compensating the crew if they had a great trip.”
  • “On the yachts, we worked on, definitely not – only charter guests tipped.”
  • “You do not tip your own people, but rather pay out a bonus at the end of the season or year based on some predictable mathematical formula.”
  • “Yacht owners who put their yacht for charter are making a profit, and receive big financial benefits from the charter program, so it is nice if the crew works hard for that to happen, and the owner shares that success with them.”
  • “I have a good salary anyway, I don’t need the tips, but my crew who gives 200% and does not feel recognised, will only do 100% the next time.”

In summary, captains feel that owners already give a fair share as employers as well.

Yacht Manager POV 

Viktoria Zentai, a fantastic yacht manager, says “Everyone is different. Some crew may prefer financial reward, some free time, some recognition of their personal needs over anything else.”

You must know that even overpaying your crew and tipping them may not keep them too long onboard! Crew retention is difficult nowadays. Viktoria says “Some crew leave for personal reasons – family plans, life in general etc – no matter what extras they are given, and some would stay regardless. I suppose the question is how to express recognition in the best way, without it being awkward and if that is a must.”

Your yacht manager (or whoever is managing your crew) should have good Human Resource strategies in practice, like one-to-one yearly meetings to understand what makes your crew tick.

Hotel Benchmark 

One owner, who does tip his crew, gave a perfect response when I asked ‘why is he tipping his own crew?’

“Should an owner of a hotel, tip staff when staying in his hotel? Absolutely! Because a hotel is a commercial business and people there are employed by a company not a person. They work the same amount of hours, regardless of who is the guest. Same goes for owners of charter yachts, when using yachts. The yacht is owned by a company, not a person, and is used for commercial activities. To use it, owners are officially paying a charter fee, so officially they are guests. Staff shouldn’t care who owns an asset.”

How much should I tip? 

Yacht charter tips are not mandatory, they are a generous gratitude to thank the crew, and usually they range between 5-20% depending on the nationality of the client. Americans chartering in the Caribbean, for example, are usually more generous.

Annual Bonus

Most yacht owners give annual bonuses, which is part of the employment contract and included in the manager’s annual budget.

13th month

 Most common practice is to give a 13th month salary at the end of the year.

Tips Vs Bonus

An owner asked me “So should I tip them after using the yacht or give them a bonus at the end of the year?” Well, that depends on the leadership onboard. The best is to discuss it personally with your captain and yacht manager.

One captain told me, “A tip given in the moment, is so much more valuable than an end of year bonus.”

Tipping Etiquette

If you are going to tip them financially then make sure that the tip is distributed evenly. Give the tips to the captain AND purser together at the same time. There have been instances where the captain pockets the majority of the tips and then distributes them to the rest of the crew saying “the owner did not tip a lot this time.”


No alt text provided for this image

In order to avoid any drama, perhaps it is better to thank them in other non-financial ways. Here are some ideas:

Sponsor a crew event

A captain on a 65m yacht told me that a nice way to thank their crew for their hard work and a successful season, is to sponsor a crew event like chartering a sailboat or catamaran where the crew can spend the day sailing, on the beach, having lunch and drinks.

“We did it in Turkey and St Maarten and it was a hit with the crew,” the captain said.

Pay to rest

Crew can also be motivated if they get extra time away to rest, so giving them some extra paid vacation goes a long way.

Career training

Crew can be motivated if they get paid to pursue their careers and go for training that is paid by the vessel.


Even low value items can be motivational. Letting an engineer have his own set of tools, or giving a deckhand a new Leatherman with the cash, is a good way to inspire your crew.

Although do be careful with what you give and where you are in the world.

Ian Petts, Director of Equiom – who provides ownership structures and tax consultations – shares a valuable tip. “Make sure the crew member gets the receipt with tax paid, or it’s held by the family office. I’ve seen crew stopped and asked to justify that tax was paid on their watch – on not being able to justify it, 2k was paid at one airport in France.”

No alt text provided for this image

Random question: I often hear the words ‘tips’ and ‘gratuity’. I personally prefer the latter, as it sounds more elegant,  but I don’t know if it’s an US/UK difference in terminology?

What term do you use? Tips or gratuity? Leave your comment on this blog.

so now tell me, in your opinion SHOULD YACHT OWNERS TIP THEIR CREW? AND IF SO, HOW MUCH?


Personal point of view:

What I love about social media is that you are able to take the conversation further and have many points of view to be shared. When you read an article in a magazine, for example, first of all, you don’t know who has seen it and secondly, you don’t know how they felt about it. I had over 55 direct conversations with people about this topic! And that was on LinkedIn alone! this was over several media platforms, showing just how effective social media can be.

Power of Data

On my Linkedin post, I can see the analysis of who viewed it, and it had over 7,000 views in the first 2 hours! At this time of writing, it currently has over 18K views, and I am able to see that the majority of people are owners, CEO’s, founders, and industry professionals. I am able to see that they are from the UK, The Netherlands, Miami, Monaco, Italy – essentially all the top yachting hubs. I am confident that I am posting content to my right target audience of yacht owners, yacht managers, sales and charter brokers, shipyards and yachting aficionados.


If you are a yacht owner and want any type of (unbiased) advice, feel free to reach out to me.

No alt text provided for this image
Photo by Chevanon Photography:

If you like this type of content and find it useful and unique you can invite me to a virtual coffee with you 🙂 thanks in advance

If you like my content, you can buy me a coffee for $3