Tipping on your Cruise Holiday

One of the concerns many people have in mind when organising their cruise holiday, especially if it is their first cruise experience, is the proper procedure of how to go about tipping cruise staff.

Many cruise companies have very confusing tipping policies, which leave passengers unsure who, how and how much they should tip, if at all. So, what do you need to know about tipping on a cruise?

Cruise Staff

A large number of cruise companies include gratuities in the price that you pay for your cruise holiday. Make sure to check when you make your booking, whether it’s online, via a travel agent, or directly with the cruise company, as often tipping is added onto your final balance without being made explicitly clear to you.

If this is the case, you can normally opt out of it at the time of booking, should you wish to do so. Alternatively, you can usually opt out of this during, or at the end, of your cruise holiday simply by asking at the Purser’s Desk or reception area on board. You can also choose to alter the amount which you tip crew by visiting the Purser’s Desk.

Reception Area

Many people then ask ‘If the tip is included in my final bill can I forget about it?’ The answer to this is, rather confusingly, sometimes. On some cruise lines for example, Holland America, the tips are included on your final bill and will be distributed to staff in the manner in which they see fit.

This means a percentage to your stateroom attendant, dining table waiter, assistant waiter and a percentage to the so-called backroom staff, who you don’t come into contact with during your cruise, but are important none the less.

On some cruise lines, tipping is entirely at your discretion. Some cruise lines will leave tipping entirely to passengers to decide. On this type of cruise, passengers will generally find a set of envelopes with the name of each crew member they might (or it is suggested that they might) like to tip.

It is then customary to fill the envelopes with the amount which you see fit, and distribute it to the selected crew members on the last day, or evening of your cruise.

There will generally be a ‘suggested amount’ or ‘guideline amount’ printed in your cruise handbook to guide you in your decision.

Cruise Handbook

It is your choice whether you choose to adhere to this, or tip less or more. It is worthwhile to bear in mind that most cruise ship workers are not paid particularly well and rely on passenger’s tips in order to make a decent living. If you’ve received great service, then you should reflect that in the amount you tip.

So, by now you’ll have realised tipping on board a cruise can be very different depending on which line you’re cruising with. As long as you remember to check the policy of your chosen cruise line before you travel, you’ll be able to navigate your way to a decision easily and without problems.


How do you like to tip or do you opt out? Tell us below.

10 comments on “Tipping on your Cruise Holiday

  1. Gemma Baker on said:

    I have only been on one cruise so far – Christmas/New Year and I must say I tipped my Valet on Christmas day and before leaving and also the Restaurant and Bar staff and cleaner.

    Frankly therefore I prefer to do my own tipping.

    This means though, that not all the appropriate staff receive a tip.

    Frankly I think you should have a letter box and provide tipping envelopes in the rooms and the guests put what they can afford.

  2. Bill.Chambers on said:

    Let’s get it right. Tipping should be to enhance the crew pay, not make it up.

    If passengers wish to tip then by all means let them do so, but to the crew members who they think deserves it not whom the cruise line choose.

    This argument has gone on for years. Some cruise lines make out they are doing passengers a favour including the gratuities in the price of the cruise.

    They would be even more generous of they paid the crew real wages in the first place. Let passengers just pay the cost of the cruise and that’s it.

    Cruise lines get enough money out of passengers one way or another when on the ship without adding more to the bill by adding gratuities.

  3. Robert Henderson on said:

    I believe that the cruise line should pay their staff a proper wage out of their large profits.

  4. Mike Smith on said:

    Having spent my working life in the hospitality industry I would say tipping should be at the discretion of the customer and not mandatory.

    Companies should charge the requisite amount in the sales price to ensure the staff are adequately paid and the customer is satisfied. I would support a non tipping policy unless I chose to reward exceptional service or kindness.

  5. Angela Jenkins on said:

    I strongly object to being told how much to tip and to the way that said tips are distributed.

    In the past we have “opted out” and give tips to those that we thought deserved them ie the cabin staff, waiters etc who we think work extremely hard and should be rewarded.

    The last cruise however which was with Croisieres de France we approached the purser and reception staff, who informed us that the opting out scheme was no longer in existence.

    We were told in no uncertain terms that we had no option but to pay the tips that they were charging. They also said that other companies are now doing the same thing.

  6. Dennis Jones on said:

    On our last few cruises we paid as part of the deal, so on the last night we were the only people on our table who didn’t pass the dreaded envelope at goodbye time.

    But we prefer to tip in cash at the end of the cruise, how can you actually tip in advance?

    How do you know that the service you get will be worth the tip?

    We have always paid by the way but should the service fall short we would withdraw the tips.

  7. Lynwen Renwick on said:

    Have done 40+ cruises, some automatic tipping I opt out of at the pursers desk, when asked cruise workers prefer to be personally tipped although they say that they should not have told you the information of preference.

    I always tip the the cabin steward, waiter and assistant waiter, you pay tips automatic to your bar service each time.

    For anyone else who may receive a tip from me, it depends on the circumstances.

  8. Lynwen Renwick on said:

    It is a sticky subject. I worked for the NHS for 43 years and I personally have saved many lives.

    I have had thank you,s and we would not be able to accept a tip or expect one. If you are employed to do a job you do it well to the best of your ability or you should not be in the job .

    A tip is personal for the service but it should not be demanded.

  9. Robert Henderson on said:

    I think it is obscene that cruise staff need money gifts to have a decent wage. Shame on the cruise lines. To tip is to perpetuate this indignity of the crew.

  10. Pauline Moore on said:

    I am getting ready to go on my 3rd cruise. I opt out of prepaid tipping I tip where I feel It is deserved.