Cruising: Tipping Practices

Over the weekend I was in Indianapolis visiting a friend and seeing a concert. It was a little chilly but fun.  While I was up there a message came across on my phone from a friend and it read like this:
“Random cruise question for you: when you cruise do you keep the automatic tipping thing they setup, or do you independently tip everyone? We found a cruise to the Bahamas for Dec. and I’m in the process of talking Eric into it … Just wondering”
Now since I know them, they are either talking about Royal Caribbean or Carnival Cruise lines leaving out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 
Royal Caribbean 

Royal Caribbean is tipping in envelopes still, at $9.75 per day. The choice is yours whether is be cash or a voucher. 

You can buy vouchers though so you don’t have to hassle with cash. I always tip cash because personally I think that the guys bust their butt and deserve more than the standard rate. 

Royal Caribbeans tipping break down per day is:
Stateroom attendant: $3.50 a day per guest
Dining Room Waiter: $3.50 a day per guest
Assistant Waiter:$2.00 a day per guest
Headwaiter: $.75 a day per guest
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival has automatic gratuity at $10 per day.  Soon as you check in at the pier and they swipe your card your gratuity is charged (it’s actually one of the first charges on your card). Once aboard the ship you can go to the pursers desk and ask for a increase or decrease in the amount you pay. 
Carnival Cruise Lines tipping break down per day:
Stateroom attendant: $3.50 a day per guest
Dining Room Services: $5.50 a day per guest
Alternative Services: $1.00 a day per guest distributed to other kitchen and hotel service staff
Remember a few of other things too:
  • Tipping is per day  and per guest
  • Children are not exempt from tipping
  • Its customary to tip your casino staff
  • Some entertainers work on a tipping system
  • Trips to no where may have a different tipping policy
  • Always tip cash at your own discretion on board the ship
  • Some entertainers work on a gratuity
  • Trips to no where may have a different tipping policy
  • You can always add more gratuity on bar items for extended or great service
  • Always tip cash at your own discretion on board the ship
Advice or comments?

3 Responses

  1. Tipping – now THATS a subject that can really get me fired up quick. Tipping is what it is….excellence in service. Iif it is automatic – remind me not to cruise with THAT cruise line. Royal is very gracious in the guidelines. Meaning – they TRULY “get it” when it comes to customer service. Keep in mind – the head waiter is salaried, so, it is what it is. Personally I have never been so overly impressed that I was a big tipper to the head waiter. Its akin to tipping your waiter at a restaurant and also tipping the owner. I believe this is out there somewhere, yet here is my strategy. I start with the whole amount for each for the length of the cruise in envelopes (usually in $5 increments). If the service goes above and beyond, I will add to it, if it does not meet my expectations, then I adjust accordingly.

    Keep in mind that a small gratuity is added to drinks, so be careful and read your bill.

    It really is very touching to the staff to deliver the envelope in person on the last night of the cruise. At dinner, leave it at your seat (on the table of course), in the stateroom, leave it where you know the steward will see it. On Royal, it is not mandatory, yet the service I have received as a Platinum Crown and Anchor member has been exemplary.

  2. Excellent information. For years, Holland America which is a premium cruise line (primarily for folks 40 plus) had a so-called, “no tipping policy”. This lead cruisers to falsely believe that tipping was included in the price of the cruise. Wrong. A couple of years ago, HAL instituted a policy where tips were automatically added to your onboard account. I told the CEO of HAL in a face to face meeting that I was concerned that since tipping was automatically charged to cruisers that the level of service would go down! He strongly disagreed with me saying that cruisers always had a hard time finding those one or five dollar bills to give out on the last night of the cruise to the waiter, asst waiter, cabin steward, etc. I haven’t been on HAL recently, but I do prefer Royal Caribbean’s tipping policy.

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