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How Much Should You Tip on a Cruise Ship?

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My wife and I are currently on our first cruise. Cruises can be very expensive, and one of the things many people fail to consider is how much they will spend for tipping the crew, wait staff, bartenders, and everyone else who makes your trip as enjoyable as they can.

Tipping is different on each cruise line, so the best thing to do is check with your cruise line and determine how tips are handled, or if there are suggested rates for tips.

Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding tipping on cruise lines:

Automatically added to onboard accounts: Some cruise lines automatically add a predetermined amount to your onboard account. The rates are usually determined on a per-person, per-day basis and are later split among the staff by the cruise line. Some cruise lines have different rates for adults and children, and some charge the same rate for everyone.

Many cruise lines also give passengers the option of increasing or decreasing the amount they tip to either the entire staff or to individual crew members if the passengers believe they deserve more or less than the predetermined standard. If the tips are automatically calculated and you wish to adjust them, you should go to the Purser’s Office to make the changes.

Recommended Tips: Instead of automatically adding tips to onboard accounts, some cruise lines give recommendations for tips. Celebrity Cruises has a long standing tradition of having their passengers pass out envelopes to crew members on the last night of the cruise. They provide their passengers with a list of “suggested” gratuities, but of course, guests can tip at the level they feel is appropriate.

Additional Charges: Most cruise lines automatically add 15% gratuity to all bar bills. Expect to give a similar tip for a visit to the health spa, masseuse, stylist, fitness classes, or other services. However, tips for the other services may not be automatic.

How much should you expect to spend on gratuities?: Automatic or recommended rates usually add up to around $6-10 per person, per day on the cruise. While this does seem expensive, the service on cruise lines is usually top notch and should be rewarded.

While it may seem like an easy way to save a few bucks on your vacation, shortchanging your tips to save money is probably not the right thing to do unless the service you received was substandard. After all, this is the crew members’ livelihood.


Published or updated October 12, 2008.
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