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Key Things to Know About Tipping on Cruise Vacations

Keep these tips on tipping in your back pocket for all your cruise vacations.

cruise vacations tipping

Spelled out, the “TIPS” acronym reads as such: to insure prompt service. Just because you’re about to go on the trip of a lifetime, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly allowed to forget your service etiquette during cruise vacations.

Cruise ship crews work around the clock to make sure your stay is a great one. Each person carries out a unique job, so it’s important to come prepared with the knowledge of what makes up a proper tip on cruise vacations.

Here are some things to know about cruise tipping.

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Research the recommended tipping amount while on cruise vacations

Before going on a cruise ship, you should look at the travel information your cruise company provides you with. In many cases, they’ll provide you with recommended rates for tipping. Arming yourself with knowledge from the cruise company is also a best practice so that you can budget for the full cost of the trip, including any service charges you may not have otherwise been aware of.

For example, Royal Caribbean charges a set rate to each guest’s account daily allotted for gratuity, which they split up for various services including dining and room attendants.

On the other hand, a cruise ship like Regent Seven Seas Cruises does not require nor expect any gratuities. There are some ships that don’t require a tip, but you can if you want to show appreciation towards quality service. The main takeaway here is that it’s important to look through all the details before embarking on your cruise journey.

Be considerate in cruise tipping

A lot of the people that work on a cruise ship aren’t getting a regular, minimum wage, and they rely on tips, because it helps them to stabilize their income. Also, keep in mind that babies and toddlers typically make more of a mess. Your precious angels require extra work for the staff to keep everything clean and secure.

If you’re traveling with a huge family, the cruise ship staff has to spend a proportionately higher amount of time catering to your needs. You should tip accordingly and be fair in the service.

Many cruise ship travelers enjoy kicking back with a tropical drink. No matter your style, make sure you leave at least 15-20% tip. A lot of the tips/service charges are included in your bill, but you can always tip in person when you see a bar or table server going above and beyond the protocol.

cruise vacations tipping

(Photo: Celebrity Cruises, Inc.)

Understanding gratuity fees when going on a cruise ship

A basic rundown of your gratuity on a ship includes the following: drinks from the bar, specialty restaurants, butlers/concierge hosts, spa/massage treatments and even access to the gym. Some of these things are complementary depending on the ship.

Say you order $40 worth of drinks at the bar and an automatic 20% is added as gratuity on the bill.  Before going any cruise vacations, go to their website or call someone from the line to see if this gratuity is already included in your room/service bill. In certain cases, you may be paying an extra fee without knowing. Unless the service is top notch, it’s recommended to follow the guidelines of the ship. You’ll save more money this way.

Can you pre-pay or settle the bill on the ship?

It varies on the service used on your cruise vacations. There are certain ships that allow you to pay beforehand. You can look at a site and email any questions regarding prepayment. They will be more than happy to assist you in finding out the recommended gratuity amount. For example, Disney’s cruise line allows you pay gratuity fees 3 days in advance before boarding the ship.

 Other ships just charge the gratuity to your stateroom. If you’re a planner, you can always ask the help desk for what standard charges you’ll incur. By learning this ahead of time, you’ll be better able to budget your money before and during your trip. In general, all accounts are settled at the end of your trip.

Has your service been unsatisfactory?

In the rare case that you’ve had bad service, make sure you let the customer relations department know immediately. This way you can work out anything before your trip is over, and it’ll help you make the rest of your trip run smoothly.

In a worst case scenario, you can send a letter after your trip and explain what happened to get a refund.

Though it is possible to get automatic gratuities removed from your account, it’s definitely in bad taste if there weren’t any issues in your service. Don’t be tempted to try and save a few bucks at the expense of another hardworking person.

What are some things you’ve experienced personally on your cruise vacations that caused you tip more or less? Please let us know your thoughts.

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