What Are Cruise Gratuities?
Tipping on a cruise is a well-known method of saying thanks to the staff for their service. Just as you would not go out to eat without leaving a tip, you should not go on a cruise without tipping. Cruise gratuities, also known as “service charges,” are fees for tips to the staff on a cruise ship. These fees are typically assessed on a per-person, per-day basis and are meant to cover the cost of service provided by the ship’s crew.
The amount of the gratuity can vary depending on the cruise line, the type of cabin, and other factors. Some cruise lines include the gratuity fee in the overall cost of the cruise, while others allow passengers to pay the fee separately or adjust the amount.
What Items are Included in Prepaid Tips?
Prepaid tips, also known as “pre-paid gratuities,” are added to your bill when you book a cruise.
Typically, the items included in prepaid tips are services provided by the crew members such as:
- Waitstaff and bartenders in the dining rooms and lounges
- Room stewards who keep your cabin clean and tidy
- Assistant waiters who help with the service
- Head waiters who manage the dining room staff
- Maitre d’ who oversees the dining experience
- Room service staff
It’s worth noting that depending on the cruise line, some additional tips may be suggested for other staff members like the shore excursion team, spa staff, and other crew members who go above and beyond their duties.
How Much Is Charged for Tipping on a Cruise?
The amount of cruise gratuities can vary depending on the cruise line and the type of cabin. On average, it is expected that tipping on a cruise will be about $15 to $21 per person, per day, but can be higher or lower depending on the cruise line and the type of cabin. Some premium or luxury cruise lines may charge more, while other budget-friendly cruise lines may charge less.
It’s always best to check with the specific cruise line or travel agent for advice on what is actually included in the prepaid gratuities.
Do I Have to Pre-Pay Tips for My Cruise?
If you do not want to pre-tip on your cruise, you have a few options. Some cruise lines allow passengers to adjust the amount of the gratuity or to pay the fee separately, while others may offer the option to opt out of pre-paid gratuities altogether. However, many times it is a fee that is collected at the beginning of the cruise, and no exceptions are allowed.
You can check the cruise line’s website or contact the cruise line directly to inquire about the options for tipping on a cruise. If you’re booking through a travel agent, you can ask them about the gratuity policy and if there is an option to opt out of pre-paid gratuities.
It’s important to note that if you choose to opt out of pre-paid gratuities, you will likely be expected to tip the crew members separately at the end of the cruise. You can choose to tip individual crew members in cash, or through a credit card, and the amount is at your discretion.
It’s worth noting that gratuities are not mandatory, and passengers are free to adjust the amount or not leave a gratuity at all. However, it is important to remember that the crew members work hard to provide a high-quality experience for passengers and gratuities are an important source of income for them. There is more information on cruise ship tip policies on the respective cruise websites including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity.
What Other Tips Will Be Expected on a Cruise?
Besides pre-paid gratuities, there are a few other items that may be expected when tipping on a cruise. on a cruise for which you may be expected to tip:
- Room service: If you order room service during your cruise, it is typical to leave a small tip for the staff who bring your food and drinks to your cabin.
- Spa and beauty treatments: If you use the ship’s spa or beauty salon, it is customary to leave a tip for the staff who perform your treatments.
- Shore excursions: If you take a shore excursion, it is typical to tip your tour guide and/or driver at the end of the excursion.
- Bartenders: If you order drinks at the ship’s bars, it is typical to leave a small tip for the bartenders.
- Specialty dining: If you dine at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants, it is typical to leave a tip for your server.
It’s worth noting that the amount to tip for these services is at your discretion, and you may choose to tip more or less depending on the level of service you received. However, most times an extra 18% for gratuities are added to your bill for most cruise services.
A tip is usually added to your drink bill before you get it. Be careful when tipping on a cruise, you may unknowingly be double tipping.
You will have to settle the bill by the end of the cruise. The cruise generally has a credit card on file from you so they already have a method of payment for these additional charges. You can always add an extra tip to your invoice or pay in cash. Just be aware that the tip has been added to the cost of the drink for you.
Tipping is just one of the many items and cruise “secrets” you need to know about before booking a cruise. Often, you can do nothing about the extra fees the cruise line adds to your bill. However, knowledge is king and if you are aware of the charges, you can adjust your budget accordingly.