From daily towel animals to custom-made cocktails, remembering how you like your coffee at breakfast to accommodating special dietary needs, cruise line service staff regularly go the extra mile to make sure everything is perfect on your cruise vacation. It’s only fair, then, that cruise guests thank them for their efforts – and nothing says “thank-you” like well timed cruise tipping.
But how much should you tip on a cruise? And what’s the best way to ensure your money makes it to the right person? Is it better to carry around a roll of $1 bills and tip on the spot, or to hand out envelopes of cash at the end of your cruise? And should you tip at the beginning or at the end of your cruise?
Cruise Tipping policies among cruise lines
Tipping on a cruise has become such a confusing topic, and each cruise line does it differently. It can be hard to know when to tip and how much is appropriate, especially as it varies by company.
Many cruise lines have simplified the process with the introduction of automatic gratuities, so you don’t have to worry about how much to give to each member of staff. In this case, a recommended daily rate is automatically added to your account, which you can pay when you settle the balance for your cruise. This route is not only convenient, it ensures your tips are evenly distributed among the staff – even those you don’t have direct contact with, such as kitchen staff, cleaners, and laundry workers. If you’d like to adjust the amount, whether it’s to reflect the level of service you received or because you’d prefer to tip in cash, simply talk to Guest Services and they can help.
On some cruise lines, tipping has been replaced by a mandatory service fee. This is in order to ensure that all the staff are fairly compensated.
For other cruise lines, you can decide if and how much you want to tip. They may suggest a recommended amount, but tipping is ultimately up to your discretion. These include Disney Cruise Line and Star Clippers.
Still, other cruise lines have done away with tipping altogether, and the price of service is included in the cruise fare. These companies include most luxury cruise lines and upscale river cruise lines. Here, tipping is neither required nor expected, though you are still welcome to do so if you experience truly exceptional service.
CruiseAway tip: If you come across a cruise with a dollar icon (right) on our website, it means gratuities are already included in the cruise fare.
Additional service charges may apply
To make matters even more confusing, some cruise lines add additional service charges on certain items. A cocktail at the bar, dinner at a specialty restaurant, and a massage at the ship’s spa are all situations where you may be charged an automatic service fee – again, which can be adjusted at your discretion by talking to the concierge. To avoid tipping twice, ask for the receipt before you hand your bartender, waiter, or spa attendant a tip – it may be that a service fee was already charged to your account.
How to tip on a cruise
The easiest way to tip on a cruise is to opt for the automatic gratuities. You can request to pre-pay at the beginning of your cruise, or wait to settle your balance at the end. If you want to adjust the amount, be sure to talk to Guest Services before you disembark your cruise – after you leave the ship, you won’t have the chance to anymore.
Even if you pay gratuities via your cruise account, a dollar in hand is still the best way to make sure a special request gets fulfilled promptly, or to say thank-you for a job well done. Consider carrying a roll of $1 bills with you to ensure you never have to give up your spot by the pool to refill your drink.
For those who prefer to tip in person, the classic way to thank your room steward at the end of the cruise is with an envelope of cash on the last night of your cruise. Similarly, you may wish to show some extra thanks to your favorite server, bartender, or crew member before you go.
When should you tip on a cruise?
While the traditional time to tip is at the end of the cruise, when you can decide the dollar amount based on the service you’ve received, there are certain advantages to tipping at the beginning of the cruise as well. If you’ve got any special requests or just high standards when it comes to service, a tip at the beginning of your cruise can go a long way in ensuring you get what you want throughout the course of your cruise. Love towel animals? Have a special drink request? A polite comment paired with a tip is the best way to make sure the service staff remember your face and your preferences.
How to avoid tipping on a cruise
We don’t recommend skimping on cruise tipping – if you build yourself a reputation for being a poor tipper, the service you experience may suffer as a result.
If you truly feel the service you received was not up to par, try talking to Guest Services first and tell them what you’d like to see improved. If that still doesn’t fix the problem, then you may choose to reduce your tip by talking to Guest Services at the end of your cruise.
Some cruise lines offer prepaid gratuities as part of a special offer or deal. Check out our current cruise deals and you may find an offer where gratuities are being waived.
CruiseAway’s guide to cruise tipping
So how do you stay on top of all these different policies for cruise tipping? Never fear – we have developed this handy Guide to Cruise Tipping, so you can avoid any faux pas on your cruise – or being confronted with any unexpected bills.
|Cruise Line||Tipping Policy||Cost per person, per day||Additional service charges?|
|American Queen Steamboat Company||Automatic||2019: 18.50
|Azamara Club Cruises||Included||18%|
|Carnival Cruise Line||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $13.99
|Celebrity Cruises||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $14.50
Concierge and AquaClass: $15.00
|Cruise & Maritime Voyages||Automatic||Astor: AUD 10-12, depending on voyage length
All other ships: £6-7, depending on voyage length
|Cunard||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $11.50
Grill Suite guests: $13.50
|Holland America Line||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $14.50
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Mandatory||Most ships:
Standard staterooms: $15
The Haven, Concierge, and Suites: $18
Norwegian Sky All-Inclusive and Norwegian Sun All-Inclusive
The Haven, Concierge, and Suites: $23.50
|Oceania Cruises||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $15
|Paul Gauguin Cruises||Included||Included||Included||Discretionary|
|Princess Cruises||Automatic||Standard staterooms: $14.50
Mini-Suites and Club Class: $15.50
|Regent Seven Seas Cruises||Included|
|Royal Caribbean||Automatic||Junior suites and below: $14.50
Grand suites and above: $17.50
|Scenic Ocean/River Cruises||Included|
|SeaDream Yacht Club||Included|
|Seabourn Cruise Line||Included|
|Star Clippers||Discretionary||€8 (recommended)||12.5%|
|Viking Ocean Cruises||Included||15%|
|Viking River Cruises||Included|