Confused about tipping policies on a cruise? Discover the dos and don'ts of cruise ship gratuities and determine how much you are expected to tip.
Deciding whom to tip and how much to give can be a perplexing task for cruise passengers, especially first-timers. In the past, passengers used to offer cash-filled envelopes to their favorite crew members, like the favorite waiter or bartender, on the final night, but some behind-the-scenes workers were often overlooked as they rarely had direct interaction with guests. To address this issue, most major cruise lines automatically add gratuity fees or service charges to passenger bills, distributing the funds among crew members, including behind-the-scenes workers. These amounts vary by cruise line, ship, stateroom, and other factors.
Many staff members rely on gratuities as part of their income. Here's a guide to help you navigate tipping etiquette on a cruise.
The daily tipping rates for cruise personnel, including the waitstaff, room attendants, and cabin stewards, are typically provided in passengers' pre-cruise documents and on the cruise line's website. The gratuity amount varies based on the stateroom category and cruise line. For example, Princess Cruises charges $16 per day for each guest staying in ocean-view, balcony, and interior staterooms, $17 per day for guests in mini-suites, and $18 per day for those in suites.
Further, the charges for Celebrity Cruises start from $17.50 per day for those staying in ocean-view, veranda, and inside units, $18 per day for guests in Aqua Class and Concierge Class rooms and $21 per day for those staying in the suites in The Retreat area. Oceania Cruises charges gratuities of $18 per day for guests staying in regular staterooms and $23 per day for those in suites. So, all in all, for a 7-day cruise, you can expect to tip from $112 to $161 per person.
In most cruises, service gratuities are automatically added to the stateroom account every day, typically ranging from $16 to $23 per day per passenger. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line are among those that follow this practice. While most cruise lines strongly encourage guests to pay the automatic gratuity charge, it is not mandatory. Technically, it is a discretionary charge that can be adjusted based on your overall experience. If you wish, you can even have it removed altogether and opt to individually tip cruise workers with cash.
In the past, the custom of personally handing out an envelope with a few dollars to your favorite cruise ship worker was common. However, in today's world, automation has replaced this tradition. The convenience and hassle-free nature of automatic cruise tipping policies have made it the norm for many cruise lines. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and other major cruise lines typically set the level of gratuities daily for each passenger and charge it to your onboard account.
Alternatively, some cruise lines offer the option to prepay gratuities when you book the cruise or before the cruise departure. This approach has two advantages. Firstly, it reduces worries about onboard spending and helps manage your vacation budget effectively. Secondly, as cruise lines often increase gratuity rates annually, pre-paying allows you to pay the lower price even if your cruise dates are after any rate increases.
During promotional offers, cruise lines occasionally waive gratuities, adding more value to your cruise experience. Whether you choose to go with automatic gratuities, the pre-pay option, or tipping the cruise members individually yourself, the idea is to ensure that the hardworking crew members who contribute to your enjoyable cruise experience are properly appreciated and rewarded.
On a cruise, while generous tipping is common, there are certain situations where tipping is neither necessary nor appropriate. For instance, it is usually considered inappropriate to tip the officers, the captain, or the management team, which includes the cruise director, hotel director, and executive chef. Similarly, the entertainment team is not typically tipped, except for a piano player at a bar who may have a bowl for song requests and tips. Youth counselors who supervise children at onboard kids' clubs are not expected to be tipped, though passengers have the option to offer a gratuity if they wish.
Also Read: What is the tipping policy on a cruise ship?
Tipping on a cruise can be complex, especially for first-time passengers. To address the issue of overlooking some crew members, major cruise lines now add automatic gratuity fees to passenger bills distributed among various workers. While the amounts vary based on factors like stateroom category and cruise line, it is generally recommended to tip the crew, as many depend on gratuities for income. Whether you opt for automatic gratuities, pre-pay, or individual tipping, the aim is to show appreciation to the hardworking crew members who contribute to a memorable cruise experience.
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September 07, 2023