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Details For Tipping on a Cruise - Plus Cruise Tipping Calculator

Updated: Jan 19

Are you estimating how much to set aside for tipping on a cruise? Are you unsure what cruise tipping standards and etiquette are today? If so, you are in the right place!


Learn who to tip, how much to tip, and when to tip and try out our cruise tipping calculator to estimate tips for your entire cruise.


Also be sure to check out the downloadable and printable PDF comprehensive guide for tipping on cruises.


Table of Contents for Tipping on a Cruise

cruise tipping gen x solo cruising

1. Introduction


Overview

Tipping can be one of the most misunderstood and perplexing aspects of traveling, especially when it comes to cruising.


With so many services being offered and various staff members going the extra mile to make your journey comfortable, it's only natural to wonder: "Who should I tip? And how much?"


This article aims to demystify the world of tipping on cruises and provide clear guidelines on gratuities from the moment you leave your home until you return.


Disclosure: genXsolo is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Objective

Whether you're a first-time cruiser unsure about tipping etiquette or a seasoned traveler looking for some clarifications, this article will serve as a useful resource.


We will cover everything from basic tipping norms to specific recommendations for various service personnel you're likely to encounter before, during, and after your cruise.


2. Cruise Tipping Calculator - How Much To Budget for Tipping on a Cruise?


Below are common scenarios where tipping is recommended or standard. Next to each tipping scenario, a general guiding standard is in ( ). While tipping is generally guided by % of total bill, many items on a cruise don't have a set dollar associated with them, such as dining meals, room service etc.


Read more below for additional context and guidelines regarding tipping.

 

Cruise Tipping Calculator

 

3. The Basics of Cruise Tipping


Explanation of Gratuities

In the world of cruising, the term "gratuity" often refers to the tips automatically added to your onboard account, covering services like dining and room cleaning.


Some cruise lines include these gratuities in the initial fare, while others add them during or at the end of the cruise. These are usually divided among the room stewards and dining staff, who form the backbone of the service you receive onboard.


Mandatory vs. Discretionary Tipping

There are two primary types of tipping on cruises: mandatory and discretionary.

  • Mandatory Tipping: This refers to the gratuities that are either pre-paid or added automatically to your bill. In most cases, you will have the option to adjust these amounts at the Guest Services desk if you feel the service either exceeded or failed to meet expectations.

  • Discretionary Tipping: These are tips you give out of your own volition for service that goes above and beyond your expectations. Even if you've pre-paid gratuities, you might find occasions where you'd like to offer additional tips for exemplary service. This could be anyone from your room steward to a particularly entertaining bartender.


Cultural Variations

Tipping practices can differ significantly depending on your cultural background and the itinerary of the cruise.


While tipping is standard practice in countries like the United States, it may not be customary in places like Japan or certain European countries. However, it's essential to remember that cruise ship staff often rely on tips as a significant part of their income. So when in doubt, it's usually better to tip.


4. Detailed Tipping Guide for Cruising - Downloadable PDF Table

tipping on a cruise line major cruise lines cruise fare cruise ships automatic gratuities crew members shore excursions cruise tips
TippingTablePDF
.pdf
Download PDF • 114KB

NOTE: These are estimates for your use as a planning tool only, and individual circumstances could mean you'll spend more or less than these ranges. Always consult your specific cruise line for the most current tipping



5. Tipping As You Leave Home: Who to Tip and How Much


Before the cruise even starts, you'll likely encounter several opportunities for tipping. Whether you're hailing a taxi or employing an airport shuttle service, understanding tipping etiquette during this pre-cruise stage can set the tone for the rest of your trip.


Taxi/Rideshare Driver

As you make your way to the airport or directly to the cruise port, tipping your taxi or rideshare driver is standard practice. In the United States, a tip of 10-20% of the fare is generally considered appropriate.


This is an instance where tipping is customary and usually not included in the initial charge.


Airport Shuttle Driver

If you're using an airport shuttle service to get to the cruise port, tipping is usually expected if the driver assists you with your luggage. A general rule of thumb is to tip $1-$2 per bag. If the shuttle is complimentary, especially provided by a hotel, a tip is still a kind gesture for good service.


Skycap

If you're checking bags at the airport, you may interact with a skycap—a person who assists with luggage at the curbside check-in. A tip of $1-$2 per bag is standard here, and it's especially appreciated if your bags are heavy or oversized.


Wheelchair Assistant

Should you or someone you're traveling with require wheelchair assistance at the airport, it's customary to tip the person providing this service. A tip of around $5 is generally considered acceptable, though more may be given for longer distances or additional assistance.


6. Tipping at the Port


Here are the key personnel you might encounter at the port and how to handle gratuities:


Porters

Upon arrival at the cruise terminal, one of the first people you'll encounter will likely be porters. These individuals help transfer your luggage from the terminal entrance to your cruise cabin.


A customary tip for porter services is generally $1-$2 per piece of luggage, or $5 per person. If your bags are especially cumbersome or heavy, you might consider tipping a bit more to acknowledge the extra effort required.


For those who are new to cruising and unsure about whether to check in bags with porters or not, the article "What To Expect On a Cruise Your First Day" provides detailed insights to help you make an informed decision.


Check-in Staff, Security Staff and Customs Officials

Many cruise lines have policies against tipping Check-In Staff, so it’s generally better to show your appreciation through a kind word or positive review.


Security staff at cruise terminals generally don't receive tips. Offering a tip in this scenario could be misconstrued, so it's better to avoid tipping.


Similarly, you should never offer a tip to customs officials as it could be interpreted as a bribe.


7. Tipping Onboard the Cruise Ship: The Main Event


Once you're onboard, this is the stage where the subject of tipping isn't just a passing thought, but a constant consideration.


Now, if you're wondering about pre-paid gratuities — which many modern cruises offer as an add-on when booking — you might be questioning what that covers and whether you need to tip at all.


Pre-paid gratuities usually cover basic services provided by the room steward and dining staff.


The rates are generally calculated per person, per day, and are often mandatory on certain cruise lines.


These pre-paid amounts are pooled and distributed among various staff members, ensuring that

everyone gets a fair share.


How To Find Out If Gratuities Have Been Paid and What They Cover


To find out if you've already paid gratuities and determine which roles they cover, you can:

  • check your cruise confirmation or billing statement

  • log into your booking account online

  • call customer service for clarification.

While pre-paid gratuities cover the basics, the cruising experience is often enriched by a host of other staff who provide specialized services — and this is where discretionary tipping comes into play.


Let's break it down role by role.


Room Stewards


Room stewards are essentially the housekeepers of the cruise ship. They may also assist you with special requests and provide general help and guidance throughout your cruise.

  • If gratuities have been pre-paid: A general tip is already included in your cruise fare. However, if you find that the service exceeds expectations, it's not uncommon to tip an additional $1-$3 per day.

  • If gratuities have not been pre-paid: A tip of $3-$5 per person, per day, is generally considered standard.

Even if you've pre-paid your gratuities, many cruisers find that exceptional service warrants an additional tip.

Dining Room Staff: The Art of Service at Sea


When it comes to cruising, the dining experience is often one of the most memorable aspects.


Wait Staff

The Wait Staff are often the most visible members of the dining team. They take your orders, recommend specials, and ensure that meals are served promptly and accurately.

  • If gratuities have been pre-paid: This is generally covered in your package, but for extraordinary service, an additional tip of $3-$5 per meal per table is a generous gesture.

  • If gratuities have not been pre-paid: Typically 15-20% of the meal cost, or $10-$20 if the meal cost is unknown.

Sommelier

If you're a wine enthusiast, you may have the pleasure of interacting with a sommelier. Their expertise in recommending and serving wine can greatly enhance your dining experience.

  • If gratuities have been pre-paid: A service charge is often added to the cost of the bottle. Any additional tips for extraordinary service are at your discretion.

  • If gratuities have not been pre-paid: A tip of 10-15% of the cost of the bottle is standard.

Note: As with room stewards, if you've pre-paid your gratuities, tipping additional amounts for exceptional service is not only allowed but also highly appreciated. Each staff member contributes to your overall dining experience, and a little extra shows you recognize and appreciate their hard work..

Bartenders and Specialty Restaurant Staff

These are often overlooked when it comes to tipping, but the service they provide can greatly enhance your cruise experience.

  • If gratuities have been pre-paid: Most cruise lines add a service charge to each drink or specialty dining experience. Additional tips are at your discretion.

  • If gratuities have not been pre-paid: A tip of 15-20% per drink or meal is standard.

Room Service, Casino Dealers, Spa Technicians, and Fitness Instructors

These staff members offer specialized services that significantly contribute to your enjoyment onboard.

  • Room Service: A tip of $2-$5 is appropriate for each delivery, regardless of whether gratuities have been pre-paid.

  • Casino Dealers: If you win, tipping a small percentage (1-5%) of your winnings is customary.

  • Spa Technicians: A 15-20% tip based on the cost of the service is standard.

  • Fitness Instructors: If you're taking a private class or receiving one-on-one instruction, a tip of $5-$10 is appreciated.

Kids Club Staff, Photographers, and Cruise Director

These are roles that add extra flair and entertainment to your journey.

  • Kids Club Staff: If you're using the Kids Club, a tip of $1-$2 per hour, per child, can go a long way.

  • Photographers: Tipping isn't generally expected, but if you’re especially pleased with the service, a $5 tip is a kind gesture.

  • Cruise Director: While tipping the cruise director isn't standard, a tip is welcomed for extraordinary service.

Entertainment Staff: The Heartbeat of Onboard Atmosphere

While not often the first group you think of when it comes to tipping, the entertainers aboard a cruise contribute significantly to the enjoyment of your vacation. The tipping below is the recommendation whether gratuities are prepaid or not, and tipping these staff members is completely optional.


Comedians and Performers

Tipping is generally not expected, as their compensation is typically structured differently from service staff.


If you do wish to tip for an exceptional performance, doing so directly or buying their merchandise is often appreciated.


Musicians, Trivia Hosts, BINGO HOSTS and Game Coordinators

Tipping isn't mandatory, but if you particularly enjoy their hosting or performance, a tip jar is often available. Tips of $1-$5 are generally considered generous.


The nature of tipping entertainment staff is different from service staff. It is often not expected but is a welcome acknowledgment of talent and skill that elevates your cruising experience.

8. Tipping On Excursions


While the cruise ship itself is a world of its own, part of the excitement comes from exploring new destinations during port calls. When you step off the ship, you'll likely be engaging with a whole new set of service providers.


Tour Guides


Guides make your onshore excursions educational and entertaining.

  • Recommendation: A standard tip is $5-$10 per person for a half-day tour and $10-$20 for a full-day excursion.

Bus or Taxi Drivers

Whether you've booked a shuttle service or take a taxi, don't forget to tip your driver.

  • Recommendation: $1-$2 per person for short distances, more for longer or exceptional service. .


9. Tipping When Leaving the Cruise


As your cruise journey comes to an end, there are a few more tipping opportunities to consider.


Many cruise lines provide tip envelopes at the end of the cruise. These envelopes can be left in your cabin or taken to the customer service desk if you want to give a staff member an additional tip.


As a thoughtful gesture, bringing along thank-you cards to include with your tips can add a personal touch that staff members greatly appreciate.


Disembarkation Staff

There are attendants to assist with disembarkation who help guide the process and handle luggage.

  • Recommendation: A tip of $1-$2 per bag is generally appreciated.

On Board Customer Service

If you have any last-minute account settling at the customer service desk and received helpful service, a tip isn't expected but can be a nice gesture.

  • Recommendation: If you choose to tip, $5-$10 is generally sufficient.


10. Tipping On The Return Home


You might think the tipping journey ends when you leave the ship, but there are still a few people to consider as you make your way home.


Airport Shuttle Driver

The person getting you back to the airport from the dock deserves a tip for handling your luggage and navigating traffic.

  • Recommendation: A tip of $1-$2 per bag or $5 total is usually sufficient.

Skycaps and Porters at the Airport

As you check in for your flight, you may use the services of airport skycaps or porters.

  • Recommendation: A standard tip of $1-$2 per bag is customary.

Rideshare or Taxi Home

The final leg of your journey will likely involve a taxi or rideshare back to your residence.

  • Recommendation: Standard tipping rules apply here, typically 15-20% of the total fare.

11. Handling Poor Service


Tipping is a reward for good service. But what happens when the service isn't up to par? The appropriate response can vary.

  • Immediate Concerns: For minor issues, consider speaking directly with the staff member involved. They often appreciate the chance to correct the situation.

  • Serious Issues: For more serious problems, it may be necessary to escalate the concern to a manager or through customer service.


12. Key Takeaways


Navigating the world of tipping on a cruise can be complex, but it's a crucial part of the cruising experience that allows you to show appreciation for the hardworking staff.


From embarkation to disembarkation and even upon your return home, multiple opportunities to tip present themselves.


Key Takeaways:


Prepaid Gratuities: Know whether your cruise line includes gratuities in your initial payment and what these cover.


Specialized Services: Don't forget the staff in the casino, spa, and specialty classes.


Excursions: Tip tour guides and drivers during onshore adventures.


Additional Services: Be aware of digital tipping options and how to handle poor service.


Post-Cruise: The tipping journey continues even as you return home, so keep a little extra cash handy for these final tips.


By following these guidelines and recommendations, you'll be well-prepared to handle all tipping situations, allowing you to focus on enjoying your cruise.

13. FAQ Section on Cruise Ship Tipping


Pre-Cruise Questions


Q: Can You Prepay Cruise Ship Gratuities? | Should I Pre-Pay Cruise Gratuities?

A: Yes, many cruise lines offer the option to pre-pay gratuities before embarking on the cruise. Pre-paying can make budgeting easier and allow you to enjoy your cruise without the added worry about extra charges. For more details on how much you can expect to spend, please refer to the tipping tables in this article.


Payment Methods

Q: How to Pay Tips on a Cruise Ship | How Are Cruise Line Gratuities Paid? | Can You Pay Tips in Cash?

A: Tipping can usually be done in multiple ways on a cruise ship. Most cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account, which can be settled at the end of the cruise via a registered credit/debit card. Alternatively, you can opt for cash tipping using envelopes provided by the cruise line.


For specific methods and amounts, refer to our tipping tables.

Who Should Be Tipped?


Q: Who Gets a Share of the Gratuities? | Should You Tip the Room Service Delivery Person? | Do I Need to Tip Anyone Else While On the Ship? | Who Do You Tip On A Cruise Ship?

A: Gratuities are generally shared among various service staff, including your room steward and dining room staff. Room service usually expects a tip of $2-$5 per delivery.


For a detailed list of who to tip and how much, consult our comprehensive tipping tables.


Additional Charges and Opting Out


Q: Is Every Passenger Charged Gratuities? Even Babies? | Are There Additional Tips Charged Onboard a Cruise? | Can I Opt Out of Paying Gratuities or Have Them Adjusted? | Are Tips Mandatory on Cruises?

A: Most cruise lines charge every passenger, including children but often not infants, for gratuities. While you can sometimes opt out or adjust these charges, it's generally discouraged unless the service has been unsatisfactory.


For more details on how these are calculated and who receives them, see our tipping tables..

Terminology


Q: My Cruise Line Calls it a Crew Incentive or Service Charge. Is that the Same Thing?

A: Yes, terms like "Crew Incentive" or "Service Charge" are often synonymous with gratuities and are distributed among the service staff. Check our tipping tables for more on how these are allocated.


General Tipping Guidelines


Q: How Much to Tip on a Cruise? | How Much Extra to Tip Cruise Staff? | Do You Tip on a Cruise if Gratuity is Included? | What Happens if You Don't Tip on a Cruise? | Are You Supposed to Tip on Cruises?

A: The amount to tip can vary widely, but general guidelines are available. Most cruise lines have a recommended gratuity amount that can be pre-paid or will be added to your onboard account. Extra tipping for excellent service is always appreciated. For exact amounts and scenarios, please refer to the tipping tables in this article.

Specific Tipping Amounts


Q: Average Tip for Cruise Steward? | How Much Should You Tip Cruise Waiter? | How Much to Tip Baggage Handler on Cruise? | How Much to Tip Cabin Steward on Cruise? | How Much to Tip Porter at Cruise Terminal? | How Much to Tip Cruise Room Attendant? | How Much to Tip Cruise Staff? | How Much to Tip Room Attendant on Cruise? | How Much to Tip Waiter on Cruise Ship? | How Much to Tip Porters at Cruise Terminal? | How Much to Tip Cruise Housekeeping? | How Much to Tip On Cruise Excursions? | How Much to Tip Stateroom Attendant on Cruise?

A: Specific tipping amounts can vary. However, as a general rule, room stewards often receive $2-$5 per day, and dining staff usually get $1-$2 per meal. Porters and baggage handlers generally expect $1-$2 per bag.


For detailed information on how much to tip for each role, please refer to our comprehensive tipping tables in this article.


Additional Cruise Resources


For more Travel articles, click on the articles below or go to GenXsolo.com/cruises..

Christmas Cruise & Christmas Gift Ideas for Cruisers

Cruise Articles Series for GenX Women Cruising Solo:

Royal Caribbean and Coco Cay:

Cruise Articles General Information:

Detailed Packing Lists with Downloadable, Printable Checklist PDF:


Cruise Critic: This is an invaluable online resource for cruise enthusiasts and first-timers alike. Cruise Critic offers detailed reviews of cruise lines, ships, and destinations, as well as forums where you can ask questions and share experiences.


Click the photo below to see what Cruise Critic has to offer:

Whether you're looking for the best excursions in a particular port or tips for cruising solo, Cruise Critic has you covered.

We hope this helped you budget for tipping on a cruise. Bon voyage! We hope you enjoy your next trip on the high seas!

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