Tipping is a standard practice aboard the majority of vessels today, and should simply be considered as part of the cost. It’s true that cruise companies count on most of the waiters’ and stewards’ salaries coming from tips, but just grin and bear it, unless you opt for a “No Tipping Permitted” ship (usually the most expensive). There are few areas of the cruise experience which confuse passengers more than tipping, and unfortunately cause problems aboard some vessels with crew who let you know it’s expected (I tip less when encountering such a person). Fortunately, suggested tipping amounts are fairly constant from one ship to another and haven’t increased much over the past decade.
Most cruise companies tell you suggested amounts in pre-departure information and aboard ship. A new trend is allowing you to prepay set amounts by credit card at embarkation. Personally I prefer to wait until the last day — invariably there’s a particularly attentive staff member I want to tip a bit extra, and sometimes service and attitude haven’t been good and I’ll leave less.
How much should I budget for gratuities? Between $10-12 dollars per day.
How do I tip? Depending on the cruise line, you can pay cash on-board, pre-pay during initial cruise booking, put cash or vouchers in an envelope, or attach it to your on-board spending account.
When to tip? The cabin steward, the dining room servers, and assistant waiter are tipped on the last night of the sailing.
Whom to tip? (At your discretion, tipping is never mandatory)
- Baggage porter: $1 per bag
- Cabin steward: $3.50/per day
- Dining room staff: $3.50/per day
- Youth counselor $15 per day
- Spa services: 15-20% of bill
- Bartender: Included in purchases but depending on service, you can add more.
- Shore excursion guide: $2-$4 per person
- Room service: $2.00 per order
- Wine sommelier: $10 per bottle
- Butlers: $5.00 per day
- Cocktail server: Included in purchases but depending on service, you can add more.
- Table hosts in casino: Your discretion
- One-on-on instructional services (personal trainer, etc.): Your discretion
Photo credit: Creative Commons