BOB'S cruises & tours's Blog

Tipping on a cruise can be confusing: how much gratuity has been included in the package? Is it evenly distributed among the staff? When do I tip? Here are some tips to tip appropriately while on a cruise.

Most standard cruise packages set up your shipboard account with an extra (usually $10) gratuity fee per person, per day - and thus no tipping is required.

Or is it? Some luxury cruises have a no-tipping policy, but in many the cruise staff heavily depend on tips as part of their income. Automatically included gratuity picked up steam with an influx of European and Asian cruise travelers, unfamiliar with tipping customs in Canada and the States.

This is common on more luxury-type cruises. Some cruises allow passengers to opt out of the automatic service charge, leaving it up to their independent discretion as to who and when to tip. On more commercial cruise lines tipping cash is acceptable and recommended.

The automatic gratuity does help ensire more evenly distributed tips among the crew. Some of the service staff who work in the breakfast or snack areas aren’t tipped and instead depend on tip sharing with other staff and the automatic gratuity charged to passengers.

It is customary to tip cabin stewards, butlers, dining room servers and assistant servers on the last night of the cruise. You also can tip dining staff every night about $5. For cabin stewards you can give $5 a night and bartenders $1 per drink. The maître d’ does not need to be tipped.

A good estimate for your tipping budget is around 10% the cost of the cabin, so something like $15-20 per person, per day. Envelopes are sometimes left in cabins, or can be picked up at the Cruise Information Center.

Ultimately, tip according to what feels right for you. Gratuity can save you some hassle, like having enough cash to tip with on board. But tipping may help to build more personal relationships with the staff that serves you and your family on vacation. 

And if you have any questions - don't hesitate to contact one of our agents! We know the industry inside and out and want to ensure a smooth, worry-free trip for you. 

Jodi Thompson of brought up this concern: Why Late-Comers to the Main Dining Room Leave a Bad Taste

The issue is this: late-comers to mealtime on a cruise delays service for others as well, putting those who arrived on time behind schedule and possibly late for a show they had planned to attend after dinner.

Is this fair? The obvious answer is no, but most cruise lines are reluctant to enforce a cut-off time and turn away late-comers. You can also make the case that those with plans after dinner should simply change tables or skip dessert, but some old-time cruisers believe this does not address the larger problem.

One commenter summer is up quite nicely:

"Rule and guidelines are in place for a reason, and that is because while one issue may seem like nothing to one person it may be a very big deal to somebody else. Therefore, as a courtesy to other travelers and the staff everyone should follow the rules and guidelines that are in place." - CA girl in TX

What do you think? Should cruisers be able to come and go as they please or is there a line to draw for the greater good?

We all love a good cruise, but who can stand getting those itemized bills at the end, full of nickel-and-dime surcharges and fees that almost come out to what you paid in the first place.

I think I’ve actually paid $25 for a misplaced towel. Pretty awful.

It’s time to fight back. Here’s how you avoid those surprises and keep your money where it belongs - with you.  


Alcoholic beverages are not included in your cruise fare. So if a $10 highball doesn’t appeal to you, BYOB. Most cruise lines allow one bottle of wine per person. Bring it to dinner and pay a small corkage fee.  

Consider getting a drink voucher. Compare prices first - how much per drink vs. drink pass, and decide accordingly.

The Captain’s Party and the Welcome Back party for return cruisers are exceptions to this, so be sure not to miss out on free cocktails! 

Plan Your Own Excursions

Sure, it’s convenient that the ship sets up day trips onshore, but with some planning, you can put together your own excursion at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes just exploring is better than being herded around en masse (make sure you get back to the ship on time - they will leave without you!).


Check prices ahead of time on the cruise line’s website, or consult one of our expert travel consultants for the best deals. 


Spare the Spa

If you can’t go without, wait for special promotions to be announced during port days. If you go during the day tours, you can probably get reduced rate treatments. Ask around!

Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Seriously. You'll pay like $3 a minute. Ship-to-shore can be $10 a minute. Holy mackerel!, right? You might as well just pretend your cell phone doesn’t exist.

Also, skip out on the internet package. They can be a few hundred dollars and for what? To check your email? Use the internet cafes instead wherever you dock. 


Don’t head toward the ship’s casino thinking you’ll win back your cruise fare. Your odds here are worse than in an onshore casino because it’s mostly unregulated. Set aside some money and be okay with losing it.

Watch What You Eat

Food is included, but many cruises now offer separate, fancy dinners for $20-$30 a pop. Not worth it!

However if you do want to try one out, wait a night or two and chat with other passengers for feedback and comparisons.

And take advantage of room service - it’s included FREE of charge. Order up some juice in the morning, or a cheese platter to go with your personal wine bar.


The easiest way to save money on your next cruise is by booking with Bob's Cruises. Not only can we take care of all your travel arrangements, but we can plan and book your trip around your budget and and interests. Just contact us for more information.