I know tipping isn't unique to Alaska, but I thought I'd post on this forum because a) gee you're a friendly helpful bunch here, and b) my trip in June is to Alaska anyhow.
I'm from Australia and we simply don't understand the practicalities of tipping as it's not part of our custom.
I want to be able to tip the correct amount to the correct people - at the right time - and in the right manner - and I'm just not sure how to get it right. I'm not the only Australian with these questions, because my whole office are currently discussing it at the moment and talking about how anxious it makes us feel when we're not sure how to do it properly.
So I thought I'd explain a couple of scenarios, with the hope that someone could explain to me how much to tip, and how/when to do it please.
And yes I really have done my research but I get such conflicting responses - and I'm never sure whether the answers come from locals or tourists, and whether they're right or wrong.
1) We will be taking a 90-minute excursion to a glacier in a helicopter to go dog-sledding. The cost is approximately $500 per person
How much should we tip the helicopter pilot and the dog-musher please? (what's considered a normal amount?) If the pilot isn't the person who's acting as tour-guide too, i.e. there's someone else in the chopper pointing out the scenery and explaining things, does that mean we reduce the amount tipped to the pilot?
Is the tipped amount relative to the cost of the excursion, the level of service provided, the length of the tour - or all of these variables?
2) If I arrive at our hotel and find there are no towels in the hotel-room and I phone house-keeping and someone delivers towels to our room - do we tip the delivery person? (Yes they're providing a service but it's a service that should already have been provided) If so, how much please?
3) If we sit in a bar/pub/tavern (I'm thinking Salty Dawg in Homer for example) and want to have a few drinks each, do we tip in cash to the server after every drink? Or if the answer is to tip at the end, do we need to make a note of who the server(s) were and hand the tip to the correct people at the end?
4) If we do the Tundra Wilderness tour (the guided one), and say it costs $150 per person for 8 hours, how much should we tip the driver and how much should we tip the guide please?
5) If we have a restaurant meal and we receive the bill/check, and it has a spot to write the tip amount on it, is it OK to pay the whole amount including tip by credit card? Or should the tip be paid in cash?
6) If we take a hop-on/hop-off bus, or a trolley-ride for example, do we tip the driver? What if all they've done is drive, and not explained the tourist sites etc? Do we need to tip more/less depending on the number of passengers?
7) In the hotel room, I understand that it's correct to leave a tip for housekeeping. Is that done on a daily basis, or at the end of the stay please? Does the amount correlate to the price of the room or to the level of house-keeping that's been provided?
Sorry for all the questions, but the answers will definitely remove the stress for me and enhance my time in Alaska :)
Thanks in advance