By Shelly Volner

Imagine this…you have just flown in to a scenic location. A car and driver await and in short order escort you to a destination like no other…a floating paradise, a chartered private yacht.

From the moment you step on board you’ve officially “left” reality and have landed safely in a state of bliss. A line up of meticulously groomed male and female crew members stand before you ready to oblige your every desire.

And while many guests have no problem kicking off their shoes and making themselves comfortable on board, there are still some that are not used to having their own staff. Often there’s a period of adjustment while they get used to asking for a drink or accept that they don’t need to help clear the table!

It should be noted that crew members prefer to do these things for you, hospitality is part of their job. Accord them your respect, be polite and you should be assured of superb service throughout your holiday, which brings me to the delicate subject of tipping.

Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association reported, “it is considered proper etiquette to tip your crew from 10-15% of the charter fee based upon services rendered. It is customary for the charter party to leave the gratuity with the captain, with suggestions on how it should be distributed.”

Mark Elliott, an American who served as captain aboard the 170- foot charter yacht Nadine before becoming a charter broker, tells clients that the top-end suggestion-15 percent-is actually a customary average for yachts charging $100,000 per week or less. “I was a charter captain,” he says. “I worked from dawn till midnight. I wanted to be rewarded according to my efforts. I didn’t feel 15 percent was unusual.”

On yachts with weekly rates higher than $100,000, though, Elliott says a 15-percent gratuity can be “crazy money.” With those bookings, he suggests a per-diem bonus for each crew member, say $200 or $250 per day.

Typically when it is just the owners it is much less labor intensive for the crew due to fewer demands. “If the owner is on board the workday is eight hours, on charter the typical day is 16 to 18 hours,” Elliott says. “That’s what the $200 extra per day pays for. The crew are working an extra shift.”

And for those travelling as guests of the yacht owners, it is still advised and appreciated to tip the crew. Since there is no charter fee in this case, it is suggested that each couple leave at least $100+ per crew member at the end of their stay. So if there were seven crew, you would leave $700+ which would be given to the boat captain with instructions on distribution. Personally, I like to show my gratitude with a personalized note of thanks to each crew member with their tip. It shows you are appreciative for their service and also shows that you have class. Plus, you never know if you might be a guest on board again, always good to leave people with a smile.

Keeping this in mind, you can factor it into the overall cost before you decide to book your charter or accept your friend’s invitation to join them on board for a once in a lifetime experience.

I’ve had the joy-producing opportunity to travel on a private yacht and by the end of my stay I was ready to hand over my check book to the crew and tell them to fill in whatever they wanted, they had earned it!

During your stay aboard, the crew has been your navigation team, wait staff, bartender, gourmet chef and housekeeper. Not to mention, dinghy driver, tour guide, diving instructor and backgammon opponent.

And in addition to whatever beautiful or interesting destination you have visited, the crew will be the reason why you left feeling relaxed and yearning to come back.

If you take all of the above into account when determining your tip you can take comfort in knowing that you’ve been a first-class guest.

Bon voyage!