Tipping tips for cruise ship travel


After two years of warnings about cruise ship sailings due to the pandemic — including an initial “no-sail” order issued in March 2020 — the CDC finally dropped its risk warning on March 30, 2022.

This news opened the door for fleets of ships to finally return to the world’s oceans with a full range of passengers. While some cruises can offer unbeatable values ​​for travelers, if you’re new to the industry, be aware that tipping workers on board is usually part of the process – and isn’t always included in the price offered.

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Whether you’re a first-timer or a cruise veteran, here’s a look at the current tipping guidelines for cruise ship travel, including their purpose and how they work.

Why do I need tips on a cruise ship?

Just like restaurants that generally pay servers below par and rely on diners to make up for lost income, cruise ships also pay a lot of service personnel and expect their customers to make up for the extra cost. When you see a tip fee on your cruise ship bill, it’s not a wrongly named surcharge that covers the cruise line’s pockets. You actually help support the workers on board who do everything from serving you drinks and cooking your food to making your bed every morning.

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How far do you expect to lean on a cruise ship?

The amount of bonus on board varies slightly from ship to ship. This also typically depends on your choice of accommodation.

Guests in cabins, Oceanview, or Balcony typically pay about $15 to $17 per day in tips, or about $112 for a seven-day cruise. Those who stay in suites or other first-class cabins may see this figure as high as $20 per day.

According to The Points Guy, guests staying in the best suites on Oceania Cruise Lines currently pay the highest daily tip among major cruise lines at $23 per guest, although passengers at UnCruise Adventures are encouraged to pay more than $35 per day.

Keep in mind that these bonus numbers are per person and not per cabin. If you have four adults in one cabin, or even two adults and two larger children, you’re probably looking at about $450 in total gratuities for a week’s cruise.

How did tips become “automatic”?

The so-called “automatic” perks that most cruise lines charge actually serve a specific purpose. In the past, guests were encouraged to tip wait staff, cabin attendants and the like in cash in various envelopes on the last day of the cruise. Since many passengers do not carry much cash, this has become stressful, and many workers have ended up. This system also left out many behind-the-scenes workers who do not interact face-to-face with guests on a daily basis.

Is tipping included on some cruise lines?

On some cruise lines, especially the higher-end options, daily tips are already factored into the total price of your cruise. Major cruise lines that fold this cost into the total fare include:

  • it will continue
  • Celebrity trips
  • Celestial cruises
  • Lindblad Tours
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Regent Seven Seas Cruise
  • Scenic luxury cruises and tours
  • Seaborn
  • SeaDream Yacht Club
  • Silversea cruises
  • Virgin Voyages

Note that for some of these lines, you can choose to pay crew tips separately. There may still be gratuities on board for some services, such as the purchase of alcohol or the spa.

On some ships with supermarkets, like the Princess, you can sign up for a package that includes a variety of amenities, from specialty dining and unlimited drinks to daily gratuities. While these types of packages will add hundreds of dollars to your cruise fare, they’re generally reduced to what you’ll pay if you opt for a la carte services instead.

Disney Cruise Line doesn’t automatically charge crew gratuities, but it does strongly suggest passengers pay $13.50 per day per person. Automatic tips are also tied to spa and alcohol purchases.

Similarly, other lines, including Star Clippers and UnCruise Adventures, encourage passengers to tip the crew without automatically tipping.

Is tipping really mandatory?

Although it may seem like it is, the “automatic” perks that cruise lines charge are not officially “mandatory”. If you wish, you can go to your designated ship representative at any time and request that it be removed from your bill. However, you should expect some drawback, as you will deprive employees who work hard on board of some of their salaries.

The bottom line is that tipping cruise ship workers is the same thing as tipping a delivery driver to bring your food or your servant to bring in your car. At the end of the day, they are providers who work hard to ensure you get the best vacation possible, so the daily bonus is very appropriate in most cases.

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About the author

After earning his BA in English with a major in Business from the University of California, John Caesar has worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both the chartered financial planner and registered investment advisor designations, as well as his license as a lifetime agent, while working for both the major Wall Street news agency and for his own private investment advisory firm. During his tenure as an advisor, Csiszar has managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individual investment plans to hundreds of clients.

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