Cruise Gratuities: What You Need to Know
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Tipping on a cruise is a hot topic among cruisers.
Mainstream cruise lines try to make it less stressful by incorporating an automatic daily gratuity, while luxury lines include them in the base cruise fare.
While automatic tipping is supposed to streamline crew appreciation, it’s a little confusing.
It’s common for passengers to be unaware of the daily gratuity charge. It’s safe to say they are surprised when they see their onboard account balance at the end of the cruise.
To ensure there are no surprises, here’s everything you need to know about cruise gratuities in 2022.
A gratuity is simply a tip given to cruise ship staff to thank them for their service. Cruise lines have a suggested amount that guests should tip crew members, known as a gratuity.
Cruise lines distribute the collected cruise gratuities among passenger-facing crew members like cabin stewards, waiters, and waitresses.
The cruise lines might call it a gratuity charge, service fee, or a similar name. Most cruise lines charge an automatic gratuity each day of the cruise.
Often it’s possible to prepay the service charges before sailing to avoid sudden charges at the end of the cruise vacation.
Cruise gratuities are, on average, between $11.50 and $20 per passenger, per day. The gratuity charge is often automatically added to your onboard account each day of sailing.
Luxury cruise lines like Azamara, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, and Virgin Voyages include gratuities in the cruise fare.
You can monitor your daily onboard account through the cruise lines app, guest services, or the stateroom television.
You might be shocked when you receive the final bill if you’re unaware of the automatic gratuity charge.
Below is a breakdown of the cruise line tipping policies and automatic gratuities charged by each cruise line.
Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line charges a daily $14.50 automatic gratuity for standard staterooms and $16.50 for suites. There is an additional 18% gratuity charge on beverage purchases, drink packages, and specialty restaurants.
Celebrity Cruises: $14.50 per person per day for standard staterooms, $16.00 per person per day for Concierge and Aqua class cabins, and $19.00 per person per day for suites. The cruise line charges an 18% gratuity on drinks and beverage packages.
Costa Cruises: Costa cruises calculates cruise gratuities based on the ship and the length of sailing. Sailings departing from US ports typically have a $12 daily gratuity charge.
Cunard Line: $11.50 per person per day for Britannia Class and $13.50 per person per day for Grills’ Suites. The cruise line has a 15% service fee for beverages.
Disney Cruise Line: The cruise line has a daily automatic gratuity of $13.50 for all stateroom classes. There’s a 15% beverage gratuity charge and an 18% service charge for spa services. According to Disney Cruise Line, the gratuities are dispersed among the dining room server, dining room assistant server, dining room head server, and stateroom host.
Holland America: $14.50 per person per day for standard staterooms and $16.00 per person per day for suites. There’s an additional 15% beverage charge on drinks and drink packages.
MSC Cruises: $12.50 for adults aged 12 and older and $6.25 for ages 2 to 12. There’s no automatic gratuity for kids under two. Cruises departing outside the US charge gratuities in Euros at a comparable exchange rate.
Norwegian Cruise Line: $16 per person per day for standard cabins, $18 per person per day for Club Balcony suite, and $20 per person per day for The Haven and suites. There’s also a 20% beverage charge for drinks and beverage packages.
Oceania Cruises: $16 daily for guests in a standard stateroom and $23 per guest booked in Penthouse, Oceania, Vista, or Owner’s Suites.
Princess Cruises: $14.50 per person per day for guests in standard staterooms, $15.50 per person per day for guests in Mini-Suites and Club Class, and $16.50 per person per day for guests booked in Suite accommodations. Princess Cruises charges an additional 15% gratuity on beverages and drinks packages.
Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean has a daily automatic gratuity charge of $16 per person per day for guests in Junior Suites and below or $18.50 for guests in Grand Suites and above. The cruise line charges an automatic gratuity of 18% on beverages and drinks packages.
Viking Ocean Cruises: $15 per person per day plus an automatic gratuity charge of 15% on beverages.
Windstar Cruises: $13.50 per person per day.
Many luxury cruise lines have gratuities included with the cruise fares. Guests may tip additionally at their discretion, but tipping beyond the automatic gratuity isn’t mandatory or expected.
Below is a list of cruise lines that don’t charge daily gratuities:
Some cruise lines allow guests to pay the automatic gratuity in advance. We recommend prepaying gratuities when possible because it makes it easier to budget costs.
When you prepay cruise line gratuities, you’ll lock in your rate.
If you wait until the end of your cruise and the cruise line increases the daily gratuity charge, you’ll have to pay the higher price.
The difference might not be too bad if you’re sailing solo, but it could be costly if you’re paying for a group.
Bottom Line: Whether you prepay cruise gratuities or wait until the end of the cruise is a personal choice. But we generally recommend prepaying because it makes budgeting easier and locks in the current rate.
Cruise lines split the gratuity charge amongst the hardworking crew members, including servers, stateroom attendants, and the entertainment staff.
The crew member roles that receive service fees may differ between cruise lines, but it’s generally split between the behind-the-scenes crew members.
Some staff roles may not receive any tips from the automatic gratuities. The roles may include:
The roles above don’t receive tips from the daily gratuity charge collected by cruise lines. However, bartenders receive gratuities from the service charges applied to beverages and drink package purchases.
And some cruise lines charge a service charge on spa services, which goes towards the spa staff.
There’s no requirement to tip, but it’s nice to show your appreciation for the staff in the above roles as they don’t take part in the regular automatic gratuities.
The staff who delivers your room service may not participate in the automatic gratuity. While many cruise lines charge a room service delivery fee, it may not be shared with the crew member delivering your meal.
Further, cruise lines often ask staff members to volunteer for delivery service.
The employee delivering your food may not receive any money for their work.
It’s not mandatory to tip for room service delivery, but we typically tip $1 to $5, depending on how much we order.
The vast majority of cruise ship passengers are charged an automatic gratuity. However, some cruise lines make exceptions for small kids.
Below are the cruise lines that have exceptions for young travelers:
No, you don’t have to pay gratuities on a cruise.
Many people mistake the automatic gratuity as a mandatory charge. And while most guests happily pay the daily cruise gratuities, it’s not mandatory.
There are several reasons why you may not want to pay the automatic service gratuity:
You can have the automatic gratuity removed from your account by visiting the Purser’s Desk or Guest Services.
Most cruise lines offer exceptional service. The service you receive is thanks to the hardworking crew members who work long hours, with few days off.
If you choose to thank the staff for making your trip enjoyable, you can choose to tip extra by giving them cash or adjusting your automatic gratuity.
If we receive outstanding service and want to provide an extra tip, we do so in cash. By giving our extra tip in cash, we know it’s going directly to the crew member who gave us the outstanding service.
If you choose to show crew appreciation by raising the automatic gratuity charge, you can do so by visiting Guest Services.