Do dive crew deserve a tip? Scuba Diving Puerto Vallarta Silent World Divers
What better way to end a pleasant day’s diving than by hitting a bar and ordering some vacation food? While you’re there, why not kick back with an adult beverage, too? The bar staff of whatever establishment you care to decompress in will no doubt be more than happy to furnish your table with food and drinks, and in return the vast majority of North Americans will be equally as happy to leave a tip for their efforts. The unwritten rules of paying gratuities on food and drinks, like many other services in life, are clearly understood and adhered to. My experience of working as a diver, however, shows me that for some reason the etiquette of tipping culture in the aquatic service industry is far more blurry. When I think of times that I have worked like a dog on a dive charter only to be rewarded with a smile and a thanks, to other times when I have been tipped generously for very little effort, I have to wonder why is the act of leaving gratuities for the dive crew such a wild and untamed beast?
The comparison between the dive industry and the service industry only has a certain amount of mileage. Both typically pay salaries of absolute minimum as far as base rate is concerned, which means in certain parts of the world, staff rely on tips to make a living. The main difference here is that dive crew should be working a job that they love doing, and therefore should not need to be compensated as heavily. Often the typical dive bum would be young, single, no kids, and will be intending to work in the industry for a few years at most before returning to the real world where he or she can pick up a steady job. Having said that, many career dive crew and mostly the captain of the boat, absolutely rely on tips to make ends meet.
The perception of the world that the divemaster (DM) inhabits that somewhat reduces the potential to receive gratuities. Many of the divers who have not shown their appreciation with extra cash, did not neglect to do so because of poor service or even because they are miserly; often it simply didn’t occur to them to do so. I feel that divers often imagine that the role of the dive crew is simply floating around in the water looking at fish and if that is the case then why would they deserve a tip? When divers travel as part of a group, often the group leader who is more savvy with the industry workings will advise the divers of how much they should tip and might even make the collection themselves to hand in. Having said that, some people simply don’t like to part with their money and these are usually the folk who like to think that “Tipping” is a place in China.
DMs who are successful in making their extra earnings did so by visibly going the extra mile. I also noted that this seemed to have a positive effect on the overall experience for the customers. Dive crew would be jolly, swapping jokes and stories with the divers, carrying their bags, remembering people’s names, helping them underwater and finding the kind of creatures that they wanted to see. Crew members who work for tips are motivated to be more attentive to diver’s individual requirements and needs, helping set up gear or even offering information and recommendations for things to do in the area outside of the dive trip. The latter can often earn a lucky DM an invitation to dinner in one of the fancy restaurants that their hungry selves can only usually dream of. The potential to earn such financial bonuses creates a scene that is far more enjoyable to be a part of for the divers and crew alike.
Extensive time, money and effort is required to climb the ranks into dive professionalism, and this can be mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. Even so, divers often seem more inclined to give tips to people who bring them food and drinks than those who keep them safe and comfortable on and under the water.
The dive industry is a notoriously tight one to operate in, due to the finances that feed it. Whether you think that the pleasure of getting to dive every day is in itself enough of a tip, I ask you to look beyond the hour in the water and consider the great deal of work that goes on throughout the day. You may not feel that tipping dive crew should be as obligatory as waiters, but at least consider that DMs can be rewarded for their efforts, too. If you turn up to a dive site and have a pleasant experience that was enhanced by the crew, then find the jar and put your tip in. I promise it will make you feel good.
Provided the experience was good then somewhere between $USD per diver on a two tank trip seems to be about normal. Dive crew have a genuine impact on the outcome of the day; remember that boats can tip, so can you.
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