Understanding Cruise Line Tipping Etiquette
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Automatic Tipping Many cruise liners charge guests a fee for the service they receive while aboard. A few examples of this are: Carnival which automatically adds $11.50 per person, per day for gratuity, or automatic 15% on all bar tabs; $12 per day on Celebrity Cruises; and anywhere from $9-$28 per person, per day with Disney Cruise Lines depending on the length of your trip.
While it seems unusual, often these policies are created to help provide income for crew members who depend on tips as part of their salaries. When tipping was up to the guests, many cruise passengers from the U.K., Europe, Australia and South America for example would remove auto-gratuities and sometimes not bother to tip at all, as it’s simply not what they’re used to doing. While automatic tipping is now apart of guest’s daily rates and harder to remove, its to be expected that cruise lines will continue to tweak their tipping policies in order to better serve their employees, so always double check about your cruise’s tipping policies at the time of your booking.
Non-automatic Tipping While bartenders and spa hosts receive an average of 15% of automatic tips for each order, a majority of the others helping improve your stay during your vacation, family reunion or business incentive travel have to split the automatic tipping of $12 a day. When you factor in how many crew members make up the cruise ‘experience’ you will see that although the average of $12 per day seems like a lot, it comes down to far less than $1 per staff member per day. Given that the average crew member makes minimum wage and they can be gone from home for months at a time, a little extra financial nod is always appreciated.
Therefore, it’s suggested to always show thanks by tipping your dining room waiters, shore excursion hosts, kids’ club counselors (if used), baggage handlers, cabin stewards and room service stewards. A simple $1 here and there is not only appreciated, but remembered, and will often provide you with an overall better experience thanks to your generosity. If questioning how much to tip, consider how much you would typically provide elsewhere and use that as your guide. Finally, it’s important to note that money is not a substitute for saying thank you; in being a guest, you should still provide verbal thanks to your servers during your stay.
While tipping is certainly a controversial topic for cruise lines, in being aware of automatic tipping, and knowing when to provide your own additional tips, you can feel better prepared upon boarding your cruise of these “hidden” costs, and be more knowledgable of when to provide additional tips as deemed fit.
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