The Ins and Outs of Tipping On a Cruise
What’s the deal with tipping on a cruise? Are you supposed to tip on a cruise? Are cruise gratuities mandatory? Should you prepay gratuities? In this guide, we answer all these questions and more.
When planning and budgeting for your cruise vacation, one of the things you’ll need to think about is tipping. Tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for good service.
Paying for cruise gratuities is something that cruise passengers are expected to do. Gratuities are typically added to your onboard account and paid at the end of your cruise. You can also choose to prepay gratuities before embarkation day.
Cruise gratuities typically are as low as $14.50 per person, per day, and as high as $20 per person, per day, depending on your cruise ship cabin.
Any additional tipping on the cruise is not mandatory. The amount you decide to tip on top of cruise gratuities is entirely up to you. It is a way of showing appreciation for the hard work of the ship’s staff.
As Americans that have worked in the service industry, we see the importance of tipping. We probably overtip while cruising and traveling. What about you?
Once you see how hard crew members work on cruise ships, you understand why cruise gratuities are important. The ship is always being cleaned. Guests are being looked after, some more than others.
Running a cruise ship takes a lot of hard work by hundreds of people to keep the cruise ship maintained as well as make sure guests are happy.
Gratuities are well-deserved, and we don’t mind paying them. Tipping beyond that is always appreciated but never expected.
In this article, we answer the ins and outs of tipping on a cruise. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about cruise gratuities, from what’s mandatory to when you should consider tipping extra.
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Are you supposed to tip on a cruise?
While paying the gratuity charge is required by most cruise lines, any additional tipping is at your discretion.
You may want to tip extra for outstanding service or if you receive special treatment during your cruise vacation. Tipping is also a way of showing appreciation for the hard work of the ship’s staff.
What happens if you don’t tip on a cruise?
If you decide to request a refund for cruise gratuities this will ultimately affect the crew members working on the ship. The gratuity charges are considered part of a cruise ship worker’s salary. The crew members are the ones who suffer.
Tipping on a Cruise
What are cruise gratuities?
Cruise gratuities, also called service gratuities, are a daily service charge that is added automatically added to your onboard account. The total cruise bill is charged at the end of the cruise to the credit card on your account. Cruise gratuities are used by the cruise line to tip crew members throughout the ship.
Gratuities are not just for the waitstaff in the main dining room or buffet. The tips also go to other crew members who work behind the scenes to make your cruise ship vacation one to remember.
How much are cruise gratuities?
Cruise gratuities typically are as low as $14.50 per person, per day, and as high as $20 per person, per day. On the higher end, it’s because you have booked a cabin with a suite that provides butler service or equivalent.
Do you have to pay a gratuity on a cruise?
Yes, most cruise lines add a gratuity charge to your onboard account. This charge is for the entire voyage and is usually divided among the ship’s staff members.
Do you have to pay a gratuity on a cruise? Are gratuities mandatory on cruises?
Yes, most cruise lines automatically charge gratuities to your onboard account. This charge is for the entire voyage and is usually divided among the ship’s staff members.
And, even if you booked a cruise that you don’t to be billed separately for this service charge, it probably is already included as part of your cruise fare.
Can you get a refund on cruise gratuities?
Yes, if your cruise is canceled or you don’t board the ship, you can request a refund for prepaid gratuities.
You can also request a refund if you are not satisfied with the service onboard. You can submit a form at guest’s services before the end of your cruise to request a refund of cruise gratuities. We do not recommend you do this as it is the equivalent of not tipping at all.
How much are the cruise gratuities on cruise lines?
|Cruise Line||Cruise Gratuities (USD $)|
|Norwegian Cruise Lines||• $20.00 per person per day The Haven and Suites
• $18.00 per person per day for Club Balcony Suite
• $16.00 per person per day for all other stateroom types
|Celebrity Cruise Line||• $15.50 per person, per day for standard staterooms
• $16.00 per person, per day for Concierge Class & AquaClass staterooms
• $19.00 per person, per day for guests of The Retreat
(only if you book Simply Sail cruise fare, otherwise it’s included in the standard cruise fare)
|Royal Caribbean Cruise Line||• $14.50 per person, per day for Junior Suites and standard staterooms
• $17.50 per person, per day for guests in Grand Suites and above
|Carnival Cruise Line||• $14.50 per person, per day for standard staterooms
• $16.50 per person, per day for suite staterooms
|Princess Cruises||• $14.50 per person, per day for standard staterooms
• $15.50 per person, per day for Mini-Suites and Club Class
• $16.40 per person, per day for Suites
|Holland America||• $15.50 per person, per day for Non-suites
• $17.00 per person, per day for Suites
|Disney Cruise Line||Starts at $13.50 per guest. Click the link for more info.|
Cruise Essentials to Pack
Before you set sail, be sure to pack these essentials that will help make your cruise even more enjoyable. These items include everything from sun protection essentials to must-have medications. So don’t forget to add them to your cruise packing list.
Are there any additional gratuities that are not included?
Yes, there are a few additional gratuities that you may encounter on or before your cruise. Particularly, if you decide to purchase a drink package or partake in some cruise activities that may cost extra.
Normally, it would be an automatic gratuity of 18% of the total cost.
Here are some additional gratuities, but not limited to:
- Room Service
- Spa Services
- Specialty Foods
- Specialty Restaurants
- Drink Packages
- Corkage Fee
- Featured Cruise Activities
What are prepaid gratuities?
Prepaid gratuities are when you have the option to prepay your cruise gratuities or they are included as part of your fare.
If you live abroad, like in Europe, your gratuities are already included as part of your cruise fare when you book. Tipping on a cruise is not customary in Europe the way it is in America.
If you’re booking from the United States, after you book your cruise, you will have the option to prepay for your cruise gratuities prior to boarding.
You can avoid having to worry about paying them at the end of your cruise vacation. Prepaying tips may also guarantee that the gratuity amount doesn’t increase during your cruise vacation.
Some cruise lines sometimes offer a discount if you prepay gratuities, so it’s worth checking.
Should you prepay gratuities on a cruise?
We always recommend it. It’s nice to disembark the ship with a $0 bill.
You can choose to prepay your gratuities before embarkation day. If for some reason the cruise is canceled, the prepared gratuities will be refunded to you.
Is it better to prepay gratuities for a cruise?
There are a few reasons why it might be better to prepay your gratuities on a cruise.
- It’s one less thing you have to think about while you’re on vacation.
- You can budget for it and pay it off in advance.
- By paying in advance, you can lock in the current gratuity rate as they are subject to change.
How to Prepare for a Cruise
Here are 11 tips to help you prepare for your first or next cruise. From booking travel insurance to booking tours, don’t let cruise prepping overwhelm you.
Free at Sea Offer Gratuities
Some cruise lines offer what’s called a “Free at Sea” offer. With this promotion, you can get your gratuities prepaid for free. Making tipping on a cruise one less thing you have to worry about.
Many cruisers like to take advantage of this special offer. It doesn’t always come up, but when it does, it’s worth considering. Sometimes it can be great savings, other times, it just seems like the cruise line rolled in the cruise gratuities into the cruise fare.
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Do you save your smaller bills for cruise tipping?
Additional tipping on a cruise, aside from the cruise gratuities is a controversial topic. Especially, depending on where you’re coming from and what your budget is.
Some of the high-end cruise lines have different tipping policies. Usually, no tipping is encouraged as it’s already part of your cruise fare.
A lot of cruisers don’t mind paying the additional tips. They feel it’s worth it to have good service throughout their cruise vacation. Now, that’s not saying you won’t receive good service, but when you tip extra, it’s just ensuring excellent service for next time.
Some believe the cruise gratuities cover it all and there is no need to hand other further tips.
While we don’t have a strong opinion on the matter, we do think it’s worth considering. If you can afford it and you receive excellent service, a few extra dollars here and there for the staff can go a long way.
How much do you have to tip on a cruise?
There is no set additional amount you have to tip on a cruise. Additional tipping is completely at your discretion.
Regardless, if you still looking for some guidance, on how much extra to tip on a cruise, check out our cruise tipping table below. Note, that this is on top of the cruise gratuities.
|Crew||Suggested Cash Tip Amount|
|Bartenders||$1 per drink (if 18% is not added automatically)|
|Waiter||$5 a day|
|Cabin Steward||$3-5 per person, per day|
|Butler||$10-20 per person, per day|
|Room Service||$2-3 per order|
How much to tip your cruise steward?
While your cruise steward is being tipped out of the paid cruise gratuities, this is one crew member you may want to tip extra. They are cleaning your cabin daily, keeping it stocked with towels, amenities, and anything you may need.
If they go above and beyond, a cash tip at the end of your stay to show your appreciation. We usually recommend tipping your cruise steward $3-5 per person, per day.
How much to tip the cruise butler?
A cruise butler is a more luxury option and is usually found on higher-end cruise lines or if you booked a suite. It all depends on how much you request from your butler and how much they do for you.
Sometimes butlers go above and beyond, even unpacking your suitcase, ironing your clothes, running around, and making sure your cruise vacation is special. A nice cash tip at the end of your stay is appropriate.
We recommend tipping your cruise butler $10-$20 per person, per day.
Tipping on a cruise can be confusing and sometimes controversial. At the end of the day, those automatic gratuities that are required by cruise lines will be charged and billed by the end of your cruise vacation.
Remember those cruise gratuities are a way to show appreciation to the crew for the service they provide. Some of the crew depend on these tips.
Whether you choose to prepay your gratuities or tip extra at the end of your trip, know that it’s always at your discretion.
What’s your experience with tipping on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.
Other related reads you may be interested in:
Why Cruise: 25 Best Things About Cruise Vacations
What Not to Pack for a Cruise? 21 Items to Leave at Home