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How Much to Tip a Charter Boat Captain in 2023?

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how much to tip a charter boat captain

Figuring out how much to tip staff at a nice restaurant may be easy, since most people will dine out at least a few times in their lives. Knowing how much to tip a charter boat captain and crew is a different beast. What is the right amount?

Different factors affect the acceptable amount for tips, but a range of 5 to 20% covers different charters. We’ll take a look at tipping norms and etiquette.

Keep reading to learn more.

Tipping on a Boat Charter


When you rent a boat with a captain and crew, a 15 to 20% tip is the accepted standard in the US whether you tip sunset cruise or any other touring vessel. This tip amount is based on the basic charter fee and is meant for the captain and the entire crew.

If you find yourself needing to give tips individually to the first mate on charter boat or any specific crew member, 5% is usually the standard for any one crew member while the captain receives 10%.

However, this is not standard practice, and the best way is to give the entire tip to the captain, who will then split this amount among the crew.

Charters adhere to the above-specified amount, but the destination affects the rates applied. Locations outside the US such as Mediterranean territories have a lower standard rate of just 5 to 15%.

Since tips for charters follow a specific rate based on your charter fee, it doesn’t matter if it’s a tip for 4 hour fishing charter or a whole week; the 5 to 20% rate still applies. This is also how it works for larger vessels such as a yacht or a catamaran.

Let’s use a base price of $5000 to illustrate the varying amounts for different circumstances. This is a very low price for a private charter, but it makes the difference more apparent. Below is a table showing estimates of how much you should expect to spend on tips.

Charter Type Customary Tip Good Service Excellent Service
US charter $750 $1000 Over $1000
Mediterranean charter $250 $500 $750
Fishing charter $750 $1000 $1250 and above

As seen on the table, US charters are expected to receive a higher amount of tip compared to those on Mediterranean destinations. Caribbean destinations and the Bahamas are on par with US tipping rates.

The quality of service you get may also affect how much you are willing to give. The tip for yacht week will be higher if the service is excellent, at 15 to 20%.

Fishing Charter Tip Amount


Tip for fishing charter follows the same standard as other boats, with around 15 to 20% as the common rate, although going up to 25% is accepted for exceptional service. While this seems like a large amount, considering the 20% upper standard for private charters – including yachts, it is reasonable.

There is a good reason for it, aside from the fact that fishing charters are usually less expensive, with the $5000 sample being on the high end.

Consider the amount of work needed to get a boat working, and add to that the amount of labor needed for a successful fishing trip.

For a private fishing charter, it would not be strange to have just a few people for the crew or even just the captain, and all this work still needs to be done.

Think about how willing you would be to prepare angling and safety gear in addition to crewing the boat, and tipping the fishing charter crew this amount makes sense.

How to Tip


The tip is given at the end of the charter, and it’s also a good idea to discuss this matter with the captain, including how to give the tip.

Cash is usually the easiest way to go about doing this, especially when you tip on a fishing charter or smaller vessels, but bigger charters may offer other options such as wire transfers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you tip a charter boat captain?

Yes, as stated above, it is the captain that receives the tip for the entire crew and is tasked with distributing it. The captain’s work may not be easy to appreciate because we do not see what they do, but they deserve the reward for steering the boat alone.

It is the captain’s job to keep the passengers safe, and the trip being uneventful is already proof that the captain did a good job.

Why should you tip?

Giving a tip is more than a way to show generosity; it’s an expression of gratitude and appreciation for the hard work that people did for you to have a good time. This also encourages people to continue working hard and giving exceptional service.

Why is a boat captain important?

Aside from directing the boat to its destination, it is also the captain’s responsibility to ensure that everything on the boat is in good condition. This usually involves planning the trip while considering water and weather conditions as well as dealing with any problems that may arise, such as equipment failures or medical emergencies.

What’s the difference between a fishing guide and a charter captain?

The differences between a fishing boat captain and a fishing guide are not obvious because they seem to do the same things. They both serve as a guide on a boat; however, a charter captain needs to go through certain coast guard certifications like marine safety exams, while a guide does not.

This means that while a fishing guide can help you fish, they are not able to provide paid boating services unless they also have a Pilot License. As for the tip for the fishing guide, it follows the fishing charter standard of 15 to 25%.

Should I withhold the tip for bad service?

No, it is always recommended to leave a tip. This is about private or fishing charter tipping etiquette and your reputation as a client. Captains, crew members, and guides may talk to others about their experience with you and give you a bad rep.

This may result in less-than-desirable treatment or being withheld service altogether. You can just leave an amount equivalent to the low end of the rate for the bad and reward quality service instead.


Tipping is always a sensitive matter if you’re not used to it or if it is not a standard practice where you’re from. Hopefully, the info here helps you be more comfortable with handing out tips. It’s most important to enjoy ourselves out on the water after all.

Do you struggle with deciding how much to tip a charter boat captain and crew? Share your experience with us and leave a message in the comments section below.

Remember to boat safely.

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