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Tipping during cruises is somewhat bewildering.  Recently the cruise lines have attempted to simplify the procedures and we review the three most common practices.  Read our article for background and ask your travel agent for your cruise line's policy as they all differ in minor ways.


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Travel Advice/Travel Tips -  Tipping on cruises

Tipping policies vary between cruise lines. If you are considering a cruise, visit the Web site of the cruise line to determine the company’s policy towards tipping.

 In general, there are three forms of tipping (or gratuities as the cruise lines like to refer to the practice).

 No official tipping policy.

  • The companies in this group indicate that tipping is not required; however, they do point out that you can tip if you want to and should do so if you feel that the service provided was exceptional.
  • Companies in this category include Windstar and Seabourn


Tipping Guidelines

  • The companies in this group recommend a gratuity structure and allow you to either pay it in cash at the end of the voyage or have it added to your tab, which will be closed out before you disembark.
  • The suggested rates vary by cruise line, but the 2011/2012 suggested rates are as follows:
    • Stateroom attendant $5.00/day per guest
    •  Senior dining room waiter $6.50/day per guest
    • Waiter - $3.50 per guest
    •  Alternative Services $1.50/day per guest
    • Dining manager Discretionary
    • Room service Discretionary
    •  Specialty restaurants -  $8.00 per guest per dinner.
    • Spa and salon services $16.00
  • Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival, and Crystal Cruises are companies that provide tipping guidelines, as do many other organizations, so check their websites before you depart.

Automatic Deduction

 Many cruise lines recommend a gratuity and automatically add it to your onboard account.

  •  Many cruises  add a $12.00 - $17.00 per day, per guest charge for dining and stateroom services.
  • Most lines discount the fee for kids.
  •  Some lines allow you to prepay this amount, others add it to your tab at the start of the voyage, and some companies add it to your onboard account at the end of the trip.

Gratuities for drinks.

All of the cruise lines mentioned add an automatic gratuity of 15% to bar bills or wine checks.

Specialty restaurants

Most of the large cruise ships have a variety of specialty restaurants in addition to the main dining rooms.

  • Dining in the specialty restaurants is usually a separate fee and you should tip the staff as if you were dining in a fine restaurant (that is, staff members of these restaurants do not share in the general gratuities discussed above).

Other Services

Cruise lines seem to differ in their approach to tipping for services such as spas or beauty treatments.

  • Some cruise lines automatically add a 15% gratuity to the bill while other cruise lines suggest you tip the attendant 15%.

Be sure you understand the policy of your cruise line before you depart. Your travel agent should be able to help you with the specifics.


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