An Extensive Guide To Cruise Tipping

All travellers who wish to book a cruise will sooner or later come up against one of the most debated topics: how to tip? On the other hand, more experienced cruisers may still struggle to understand why they need to tip at all.

Whether you are going to embark on a private cruise in a few months, or you are still in the process of planning your next holidays, finally you can find out all you need to know about cruise tipping.

Don’t forget that, although money is important, your tip should always be accompanied by a verbal expression of gratitude. In other words, always thank the crewmembers. Sit back, relax, and get ready to enjoy your next holiday!

Why you should tip

As a general rule, tipping isn’t mandatory. In fact, it is usually considered a voluntary expression of thanks. In other words, you should look at tipping as you were to thank the cruise personnel for all the gratuities distributed onboard.

Although they receive regular pay for their services, crewmembers are sometimes dependent upon your generosity. This means that often cruise lines rely on tips as a way to incentivize higher service standards.

Why is tipping important?

Some mainstream cruise companies do not have a tipping policy in place. They prefer to place automatic service charges on their passengers’ shipboard accounts. Or, alternatively, you can prepay any gratuities you wish when booking your cruise.

This automation of the tipping process comes in handy for different reasons. First, it takes into account that our willingness to tip is often related to our cultural background. While in America, tipping is a common practice, travellers from different countries may not be used to it.

Besides, it allows passengers to create their own travelling experience based on their preferences. For example, flexible dining plans or options, from buffet to high-end meals cooked by the most famous chefs, translated into different services offered to the client. For example, when cruising on a luxury and boutique ship, you will be assigned a dedicated waiter, who you are expected to tip at the end of your meal.

How to tip

Long-time cruisers may remember how, in the past, tipping was based on a cash-in-envelopes method. However, things have changed, and in the majority of cases, passengers are not even allowed to bring cash onboard.

When you book your place on the ship, you automatically opt into the cruise line’s automatic service charges. This means that all the expenses, including the fee for your gratuities, will be added to your shipboard credit card account. In some cases, you can also prepay at the time of your cruise booking.

Do children need to tip?

Many cruisers travel with their family, and they often wonder if their children are requested to tip. As a general rule, children of a certain age (which depends on the cruise line’s rules) are exempt from auto-tipping. However, luxury cruise lines may still apply a small fee for each little passenger, since they tend to require as much attention as an adult, especially when food and entertainment are concerned.

When you should tip

Sticking to automated tipping is the easiest and quickest way to enjoy your holidays without worrying about money. Most importantly, this automated service charge can be adjusted – either increased or decreased – at the end of your vacation. However, don’t forget that some cruise lines may allow doing this only before disembarking.

If you wish to show your gratitude to the cruise personnel through additional tipping, you can just hand out some cash tips on the last day of your vacation.

Some exceptions may apply, based on the gratuities and additional services that you enjoy while onboard. For example, room service stewards should be tipped on the spot, as well as bartenders or other cabin stewards that helped you with any special requests.

How much should you tip

Evaluating how much you should tip can certainly be a thorny issue. As mentioned above, tipping is usually regulated by an automated system. However, there are still some out-of-pocket extras that you may wish to take into account. There are no fixed rules you should follow in these cases, although the size of your tip should reflect the excellence of the services.

Whom to tip

Although some members of the staff are already covered by your auto-gratuities, you may still want to demonstrate how much you appreciate their help. This includes dining room waiters, shore excursion guides and bartenders.

If you are enjoying a luxury cruise, you should take into account that there may be more crew members who may be worth your tips. It is the case of wine sommeliers, head waiters, and spa services. Do not tip the captain or other ship officers, since this can be a source of embarrassment for them. 


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