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Yet another tipping thread...

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by TipsyMcStagger, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. TipsyMcStagger

    TipsyMcStagger Angel Fish

    I completed my open water a few weeks ago with my LDS. After the pool dives, we were scheduled to have two days of boat dives. But day-one was rescheduled as a beach dive due to sea conditions. On day two, we did our boat dives and completed the open water certification. I noticed a placard aboard that read, "Crew works for tips." Prior to leaving the dock, tipping hadn't crossed my mind. After returning to the dock, I grabbed a $20 from my truck and gave it to the Captain, having no idea if this was "in the ballpark.". The other two professionals aboard the boat were the two instructors.

    A few days after competing my OW, my LDS advised they are having a two day drive trip, led by my instructor. I figured this would be a good opportunity to continue my education in a somewhat supervised environment, so I signed up.

    The trip is a few days away and we received an email indicating that the cost of the trip does not include "boat crew tips and trip leader gratuity." So, I searched SCUBA Board and see there are plenty of threads on tipping. Several threads advise simply asking the instructor about tipping etiquette, assuming the instructor has not already discussed this topic (mine had not). I contacted my instructor and asked what was proper etiquette. He replied, "it's just like your bartender...10%-20% of your boat charges, 10%-20% trip price for the trip leader and 10%-20% course price for the instructor."

    I now feel quite awkward because my instructor's reply seems to imply that he anticipated a tip at the conclusion of my OW course. I honestly had no idea. In the early days of my career, I worked as a flight instructor earning $200 a week and never received or anticipated a tip. Tipping for a paid course never crossed my mind. I feel odd about this. In searching this forum, I see that many have written that they didn't tip their OW instructor and many OW instructors have written that they didn't expect a tip. But the reply from my instructor seems to indicate otherwise.

    With regard to my upcoming weekend trip, I'm guessing I should anticipate tipping the boat crew for the two days (four dives) and a separate tip for my instructor, who in this situation is "the trip leader." The trip price includes one nights hotel stay and four tanks over two days on the boat. Is it really normal to tip a percentage of my hotel fee to the trip leader?


  2. Caveeagle

    Caveeagle Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: High Springs, FL
    As you have noticed.. There are varied opinions on this. My wife worked as a DM in the Keys during the 80's and says tipping was NOT expected or typical. However, she was paid staff for the dive shop.

    It seems lately that a $5-$15 / tank tip is pretty normal for dive boats and I just plan it this way. (even though I tend to dislike the 'tipping' culture. When it's made known that DMs work for tips only, and they are very helpful and friendly, I am much more likely to tip a higher amount.

    Tipping a paid instructor is a totally different animal. I feel like its contrary to the student-teacher relationship to "expect" additional gratuity for "good" service. If (as an instructor) you are not prepared to give excellent service for the course prices you charge, then you are in the wrong vocation. Now, If as a student, you want to give you teacher some time of extra appreciation... I think that's great. In our case, we gave an instructor a gift cart for a local restaurant that we know they frequent as a "Thank You". I did not consider it a tip.
  3. James R

    James R PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Austin, TX USA
    As an instructor, being paid per student by the LDS for teaching a course, I never expect to get tips from students. I prefer they tip the DMs that help me as they are not paid by the shop. That being said, sometimes they do, and I thank them, but if they don't I am never upset about it and don't feel slighted.

    The 10-20% of the liveaboard fee is pretty common.

    I explain the tipping culture during classes, too. For classes, at least to me, it's like a restaurant: Instructors are the chefs, getting paid by the restaurant. DM is like a waiter, working for tips so if you think they did a great job and helped you during class, taking care of them goes a long way etc etc.
    BDSC likes this.
  4. BurhanMuntasser

    BurhanMuntasser Dive Charter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Nomad
    30 years as an instructor and I never thought about getting tips or being entitled or accepting tips as an instructor. I have been invited for meals by grateful students but I never accepted tips or thought about being entitled to one.
    Caveeagle and Brandon like this.
  5. TipsyMcStagger

    TipsyMcStagger Angel Fish

    I assume a liveaboard is a boat on which you spend the night? That's not the case with this trip. We're staying in a hotel. I'm not going to cheap-out - I'll tip what's expected. But including a hotel fee as part of the trip (which I could have just as easily booked myself for less money) and then saying that it's normal to tip 10%-20% of the trip cost, seems a little self serving.

  6. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    I tip DM's or deckhands (usually there's a "pot" for the boat). I don't tip instructors. I do usually buy lunch or whatever for them, but I figure I've already paid the instructor hundreds or thousands of dollars directly. Not so with DM/Deckhand people.

    I tip $10/tank if the service was good, so $20 for a 2 tanker. That's not $20 for the dm and $20 for the deckhand it's $20 total. How they split it if both are present is their call.
    motorref, BDSC and Newdiv like this.
  7. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Jersey
    $10/tank for day boats. 10-15% on liveaboards. Never occurred to me to tip an instructor. Never expected one since I've been an instructor.
  8. Newdiv

    Newdiv Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    I have commonly heard that $10 a tank is sufficient.(what I generally give). Of course one may receive additional help or assistance and could warrant a higher tip.

    I don't think students should be tipping at all. I agree with taking instructor out for a dinner or beers, but a new student shouldn't be tipping for checkout dives since they are part of the requirements of the class. Any tips for boat or dm should be included in the price of the class.

    A new student isn't going to be aware of the tipping culture of a new hobby and not all new divers are on scubaboard asking if they should be tipping.
  9. DiverDownD3

    DiverDownD3 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: SOBX, NC
    $10/tank is what I tip as well.
  10. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    "and 10%-20% course price for the instructor."

    No way. If I pay someone to instruct me--whether scuba or guitar lessons or anything else--their fee is all they are going to get from me, except perhaps if I really thought they went above and beyond, then some small non-monetary token of gratitude like a six-pack of beer. Same regardless of whether I directly pay my instructor or indirectly pay my instructor through my instructor's employer. Should I have tipped my college professors a percentage of the tuition I paid?

    It's an instructor's job to be critical. If an instructor were to expect tips and be disappointed with a student's lack of tip, could that, perhaps even subconsciously, affect instruction quality/enthusiasm in the next course taken with the instructor? The idea of instructors--again, whether scuba or anything else--working for tips just doesn't sit well with me.
    kelemvor and Brandon like this.

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