To Tip Or Not To Tip?

Key West Charter Boat  32' Yellowfin
This charter boat is heading offshore to fish the wrecks of the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on the number of times I am asked about this particular subject, I think that tipping etiquette is one of the most confusing things for visitors to our island community to grasp. Some people just don’t know if they are supposed to tip or how much. While tipping is certainly not mandatory in any case, it is expected for most service jobs as this makes up a large portion of the worker’s pay. It also gives the worker a barometer of sorts as far as his or her work performance; no tip or small tips typically show that the customer was not happy with the service that they received while large tips show that the customer was extremely happy with the quality of service received.

Below is a quick guide for tipping while visiting the Florida Keys, and applies to pretty much all service industry jobs such as: food servers, bartenders, charter boat captains, charter boat mates, taxi/limo drivers, and spa treatment technicians.

  • For poor service, 10% of the bill is sufficient.
  • For average to above average service 15 – 20% of the rate is the norm.
  • For excellent service above and beyond what was expected, then 25% of the cost will show that you are appreciative of that extra mile.

Notes about Boat Charters – Is there just a captain? In this case, the captain is working his butt off for you so he deserves a gratuity. Is there a captain and a mate? If there is, it is customary to tip the mate. This is how they make their money. In most cases, if they do not get tipped then they are not getting paid for the day. Tipping applies to all types of boating charters: fishing, snorkeling, water sports, sunset sails, etc.

Notes about Bars and Restaurants – Please make sure that you look at the bill when it comes, as more and more restaurants are beginning to add a gratuity to the bill because there are so many people not tipping. And tipping is how the servers make their money as they are paid well below minimum wage. Also, it is not customary to tip at fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s unless someone really goes above and beyond to help you out.

Other services workers:

  • bellmen/porters – $2.00 per bag
  • hotel maids – $2.00 per night

To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

And before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West, be sure to read my  restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our restaurant reviews. Learn from my mistakes, lol.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!! Or give me a call at 305-292-7212. 

Island Genn

— Key West Concierge

About the author: Island Genn

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