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.