Tipping on a Cruise Ship: All You Need To Know About Cruise Ship Gratuities

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If you’re planning a cruise for the first time, you might be wondering about cruise gratuities.

Cruise gratuities, also known as tips or service charges, are additional fees that you pay to the crew for service during the cruise.

Automatic gratuities are usually added to your onboard account and these fees can vary depending on the cruise line, the length of your trip, and the type of cabin you choose.

Cruise gratuities are an important part of the overall cruise experience. It’s a way for cruise lines to ensure that their crew members, who work hard to make your trip enjoyable, are fairly compensated for their efforts.

Unfortunately, unless you are made aware of cruise gratuities or cruise tipping in general, they can be a big surprise, especially if you come from a country that doesn’t really have a tipping culture. And a shock to the wallet if you were not expecting them.

In most cases, cruise gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account, so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash or calculating tips.

Before you cruise, it’s important to understand how much you will be paying per day in gratuities and where that money goes.

Why Cruise Lines Charge Gratuities on Cruise Ships – Everything You Need To Know

Cruise Gratuities are also know as tips

If you have been on a cruise before, you will have noticed that cruise gratuities are automatically added to your bill at the end of the trip (or at the beginning if pre-paid). But have you ever wondered why cruise lines charge gratuities? Here are a few reasons why:

A Service Charge That Recognizes the Hard Work of the Crew Members

Cruise ships are like small cities, and the crew members work tirelessly to ensure that you have a great vacation.

From the housekeeping staff to the waiters and bartenders, the crew members are the backbone of the ship. By charging gratuities, cruise lines can recognize the hard work of the crew and ensure that they are rewarded for their efforts over and above their standard rate of pay.

Simplifying the Tipping Process

In the past, passengers were expected to pay the gratuities to each crew member individually in cash.

This could be confusing and time-consuming, especially for first-time cruisers. And from my own experience, I could see there were more than a few people who tried to avoid paying gratuities completely if they did not want to pay them.

Ensuring Consistency

By charging a set gratuity amount, cruise lines can ensure that all crew members are compensated fairly and consistently. This helps to create a positive work environment and encourages crew members to provide excellent service.

Overall, while it may seem like an additional expense that is added to your cruise, cruise gratuities are an important part of the cruise experience.

How To Pay Gratuities on a Cruise

When you book a cruise, you usually have the opportunity to prepay gratuity charges or have what you are expected to tip automatically added to your onboard account.

Gratuity Rates Per Person

The amount of gratuity charges varies by cruise line, but it’s usually around $14 to $20 per person, per day. Gratuities for children are usually slightly lower. This means that if you’re traveling with a partner or family, you’ll be charged this amount for each person in your cabin, every day of your cruise.

Daily Charges

Gratuity charges are applied to your onboard account on a daily basis. This means that you don’t have to worry about remembering to tip your servers, housekeeping staff, or other crew members during your trip.

Charged to Your Onboard Account

Gratuity charges are added to your onboard account, which is like a credit card that you use to pay for all your onboard expenses.

This onboard account also includes your drinks, excursions, and any other purchases you make during your trip. You can view your account balance at any time by checking your cabin’s TV or using the cruise line’s app.

Prepaid Gratuities

If you prefer to pay your gratuity charges in advance, most cruise lines allow you to pre-pay them before you embark on your trip.

This can be a convenient option if you want to avoid any surprises on your final bill. You can usually pre-pay your gratuities by selecting that option when booking your cruise online. Or you can call the cruise line’s customer service department or your travel agent.

Final Bill

At the end of your trip, you’ll receive a final bill that includes all your onboard expenses, including your gratuity charges.

If you pre-paid your gratuities, you’ll see a zero balance for this charge on your final bill. If you didn’t pre-pay, the gratuity charges will be added to your total balance.

While it may seem like an extra expense, it’s important to remember that these charges are standard practice in the cruise industry. By understanding how they work, you can budget for them and enjoy your trip without any surprises.

Which Cruise Lines Charge Gratuities

Some cruise lines include gratuities in the fare, while others add them as a daily charge to your onboard account. Here’s a breakdown of which cruise lines charge gratuities:

Mainstream Cruise Lines Gratuity Rates

Major cruise lines like Carnival Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity cruise lines automatically add daily gratuities to your onboard account. 

Amounts vary by cruise line but typically range from $14.50 to $25 per person per day, depending on the stateroom category. Passengers staying in suites usually pay a little more.

[ Related Post: Royal Caribbean Gratuities Increase 2023 ]

Luxury Cruise Lines

On luxury cruise lines like Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, Ponant, and Azamara the cruise gratuity is added and included in the fare

This means you won’t have to worry about tipping your room steward, waiter, or any other onboard staff. However, if you receive exceptional service, it’s always appreciated to leave a little extra if you can.

Other Cruise Lines

Virgin Voyages includes gratuities in the cruise fare, but they call it a “Voyage Fare” instead of a gratuity. This means you won’t have to worry about tipping your crew members during your voyage.

Cunard, Costa, Holland America, and Oceanic Cruise Lines add gratuities to your onboard account. However, the rates vary depending on the cruise line and stateroom category.

It’s important to note that some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival also offer drinks packages that include gratuities for bar staff. Make sure to check the details of your drinks package to see if gratuities are included.

Overall, it’s always a good idea to research the gratuity policies of your chosen cruise line before booking your vacation. This way, you can budget accordingly and avoid any surprises during your trip.

Can You Tip in Cash on a Cruise?

While gratuities are seen as “expected”, additional cash tipping is optional.

Cash tipping can be handy for certain circumstances on a cruise. For example, your room steward and dining staff will receive a portion of the gratuities, but if you want to give them an extra tip or additional gratuity for exceptional service, you can do so in cash.

Similarly, if you use room service or a cruise concierge, you may want to consider tipping those staff directly.

Whether you choose to tip or not, it’s important to be aware of the expectations and guidelines for gratuities and tips on your specific cruise.

How Much to Tip on a Cruise

When it comes to tipping on a cruise, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, if you are paying the standard gratuities then any additional tips are entirely optional. This means that you don’t have to worry about carrying cash around with you to tip crew members if you choose not to.

If you are already paying the standard gratuities, most staff will be delighted with a couple of additional dollars, so keep small bills handy.

How to Adjust the Cruise Ship Gratuities / Tip Amount

If you want to adjust the amount of gratuities you pay (either up or down), you cando so at the guest services desk.

If you want to reduce the amount of gratuities you are paying, please consider this carefully. The daily cruise gratuities are split among a number of crew members, including stateroom attendants, dining room servers, and others. So, if you want to adjust your gratuities, be sure to consider the impact it will have on the crew.

Cruise Gratuities Are A Dollar Well Spent

Overall, tipping on a cruise is an important part of showing appreciation for the hardworking crew members who make your vacation possible.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that you’re tipping appropriately and supporting the crew.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to cruise ship gratuities. Did you spot any omissions or questions we didn’t cover – then please let us know in the comments.

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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