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The Easiest Guide to Cruise Tipping Ever

If you are new to cruising, or even if you are a seasoned veteran of the process, you might have questions about tipping on your cruise. Specifically, you might be wondering who you should tip, when to tip them, and how much to tip.

To help you out, we’ve created what we think is the easiest guide to cruise tipping. These few simple guidelines will help you become an expert on the topic, without a bunch of fuss.

Guideline #1: Expect to tip — It’s widely-known that cruise lines pay relatively low wages compared to the amount of time cruise employees put into the job. Gratuities are a major part of a worker’s pay. Expect to tip on a cruise. Think of it as a cruise tax. And if you are doing well enough to pay for a cruise, you can cover the extra amount for tips.

Guideline #2: Tip those offering direct, personal service — This includes staff like waiters and your stateroom attendant. It also includes others like bartenders, spa attendants, and room service. But don’t forget about baggage handlers like those who work at the port taking your bag to the cruise ship (these porters don’t work for the cruise line, rather, the port). It also includes tour operators on your shore excursions, who are usually independent of the cruise line.

Guideline #3: Most cruises use automatic gratuities — Most cruises (including Carnival and Royal Caribbean) have shifted from having guests pay out gratuities manually at the end of the cruise to a system that automatically charges your shipboard account.

For instance, on both Royal Caribbean and Carnival, guests are automatically charged $12 per person, per day for gratuities. These are split among the housekeeping staff and dining services. You can see the breakdown for Carnival here and Royal Caribbean below.

If you aren’t comfortable being charged automatic gratuities, you can turn them off. All you have to do is visit the guest services desk on the ship after you board.

Guideline #4: Most (but not all) tips are automatically built into your charge — If you visit a bar or the spa on the ship, expect to have your tip automatically added to your charge. You will see it on your receipt. Gratuity rates are typically 15%.

This doesn’t mean every tip is automatically paid, however. People not associated with the ship’s services — baggage handlers and tour operators, especially — will need to be paid out of pocket.

For more on tipping, you can read Royal Caribbean’s policy on the sheet below: