Cruising And Gratuities

Tipping And What You Can Expect On A Cruise

If you’re new to cruising it’s important to calculate gratuities into your thinking when considering the cost of a cruise booking. At the time of booking you will usually be quoted the base fare along with port charges, fees and taxes but that’s not all your costs. You also need to be aware of what gratuities you should expect.

Tipping on a cruise ship often is a cause for confusion. When to tip, when not to tip and what gratuity charges to expect while onboard. To add to the confusion, cruising is becoming popular with people around the world and many international passengers have different thinking about gratuities.

While policies and amounts can be different for different cruise lines, it can also vary with ports of departure and regions. For most American based major cruise companies there are many similarities. In most of those cruises expect similar gratuity policies.

Expect cabin gratuities to be automatically added to your onboard account. That amount can vary some by cruise line and depends on the class of stateroom. Additionally the amount can be adjusted up by cruise companies from time to time*. Any amounts you’ll find published are usually per person per day. Some cruises will charge them to your account each day while others post at the end of the cruise. At the least expect $12.00 per person, per day. Charges for children in a stateroom are, on average, half the adult amount and infants aren’t charged. With higher priced cruises and more expensive staterooms expect to pay more, usually somewhere around $30 per person, per day.

Another area where you can expect to see gratuity charges is on drinks in lounges, bars and food venues. Today it’s common to have gratuities added automatically to your check, usually about 18% but many checks will also provide room for an additional gratuity. Before you sign a check and add a tip, see if the gratuity is already listed. Gratuities are normally offered for tours (cash and what you think is fair), spas and room service (some cruises are now automatically charging gratuities to room service checks).

A Tip On Tipping – While tipping for good service is what it’s all about, on a cruise tipping for better service is usually worth its weight in gold. Most service staff on ships do their best to provide good service but to get special treatment try providing cash tips special servers on a regular basis. Want special service in a lounge? Try giving the server a few dollars when your drink arrives, he’ll pay special attention to you on your next visit. We have a habit of carrying a number of two dollar bills on board – they get attention because they’re unusual and it gets us noticed and remembered.

Why Are Gratuities Goin Up?

The gratuities have always been an incentive for working on a cruise, and in recruiting. One reason for current increases has to do with increasing staffing problems post Covid pandemic. As cruise lines continue to deal with the aftermath of economic disruption and increased debt due to the global pandemic increasing overall gratuities is a logical move to keep good people working on ships.

*Issues With Tipping Internationally

If you travel internationally one area where you need to do your homework is gratuities. While things are changing it is still not a common practice in many countries. Many places in Europe tipping wasn’t common and at most it was leaving the loose change. Because tipping isn’t common internationally, cruise companies are always struggling to get passengers to understand the practice.

Because some cultures and countries do not believe in the practice of gratuities it presents cruise ships with a challenge at times. For example, Australians simply do not tip. Going to a restaurant in Australia the check will only have the charge for food and drinks – no taxes or gratuities and you aren’t expected to leave any additional tip. Because of that Australians will go to guest services on a cruise and insist gratuities be removed. For that reason Australians booking in Australia or cruising from Australia will often be charged a higher fare to compensate for providing crew with gratuities.

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