Are passengers expected to tip cruise ship workers?

Dolores wonders if she should budget for tips when she goes on a cruise.

Do you have to tip on a cruise?

To tip, or not to tip? That is Dolores’s question as she prepares for her cruise ship holiday. In Travel SOS, Olga dives into the deep end to solve this eternal maritime mystery.

Q. Dolores
My friend and I will be cruising around the South Pacific later this year and we are trying to work out how much spending money we need. She says that you don’t have to tip on a cruise liner, but I’ve heard elsewhere that there are some onboard services where gratuities are welcomed. Can you please settle this question so we can be sure to have enough money put aside in case tipping is obligatory?

A. Olga:

Relax. You won’t create any waves on the high seas if you don’t tip cruise-ship workers. Major ocean liners include a daily service charge on your bill to cover gratuities. The amounts are then shared among all staff who service passengers, whether they work in the dining room, behind a bar or in the boat’s laundry room washing your linen.

However, cruise operators are open to passengers rewarding onboard crew for exceptional service, if they so wish. For some, this may still not solve the conundrum of tipping staff who have gone the extra nautical mile to make your cruise more enjoyable. If you don’t reward the good service, will the crew member be offended? For that moral dilemma, the cruise liners put the ball back in your court. Almost without exception, they stress that tipping is not required, but hint that it is really up to you.

Thankfully, on one key issue, the liners won’t cast you adrift – no gratuity for bad service. Most of the operators will allow you to request a refund of service charges if you believe you have not been treated well. Here is what the cruise companies say on the issue:

Princess Cruises: The discretionary, daily gratuity amounts are between $13.50 and $15.50 per guest. This gratuity will be shared among all wait staff, stateroom and buffet stewards and housekeeping staff. A 15 per cent gratuity is added to bar charges and wine purchases.

Carnival and P&O: You are welcome to reward onboard crew for exceptional service, however, tipping is not required.

Royal Caribbean: Onboard service charges for stateroom attendants and dining-room staff are included in your voyage fare. An 18 per cent charge will be added to beverages, mini bar items, spa and salon purchases.

Celebrity Cruises: Daily gratuities for restaurant and stateroom services are automatically charged to your account (between $14.50 and $18 a person) and may be adjusted at your discretion. An 18 per cent gratuity is added to all beverages, mini bar purchases, spa and salon services. Additional gratuities may be added at your discretion.

Holland America: A daily hotel service charge per guest of between $13.50 and $15 is added to your account. Bar service and wine purchases attract an additional 15 per cent.

Viking: Gratuities for ship personnel and local guides are included in all cruise fares other than the Mekong itinerary. Additional tipping is at the guest’s discretion.

According to cruisecritic.com.au, P&O, Princess and Carnival charge in Aussie dollars if the cruise is in Australian waters; but if you're cruising with those brands overseas – or on any American cruise line – the currency used is the US Greenback. If you're cruising on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises or Holland America in Australia or overseas, the onboard currency is also the US dollar.

If you have a Travel SOS question, email it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it for you (or find someone who can!).

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    COMMENTS

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    Paulo
    20th Jan 2018
    1:43pm
    As Australians do not usually tip, most if not all ships now cruising out of Australia have included gratuities in the fare, how ever if you are pleased with the service from your room attendant, wait staff or barman you can reward them at your pleasure. However you can go to the reception desk and request to waive/avoid gratuities explaining that you intend to reward good service for the three staff mentioned. Most cruise ships now require you to sign a form to this intent. Depending on the length of the cruise I pay somewhere between $20-50 per person
    Jim
    20th Jan 2018
    3:32pm
    My wife and I are regular cruisers, you will find most cruise lines departing from an Australian port don't add the gratuities to your on board account, in fact most of the cruises we have been on in the last year have already factored in the gratuities in your cruise fare, we still tip our room steward and depending on our dining arrangement, ie if we are on free style dining meaning you don't have a set time each night we generally don't tip the wait staff including the drinks waiter, the drinks you buy in the dining room already have 18% added to the drinks, in the general bars there is a 15% tip added to your drinks, if we have set time dining meaning we eat at the same time each night and at the same table with the same staff each night, we generally give them a tip depending on the service we get, which is usually very good, we tip according to the nights we are cruising, 9 nights or less we normally tip $20 to each of the staff serving our table, over 9 nights we tip up to $40. The service is usually very good, no matter how much you tip.

    21st Jan 2018
    6:01pm
    Extra tip if you get food poisoning
    Would never go on a cruise - the food hygene is disgusting
    Magnolia
    23rd Jan 2018
    10:13am
    Well interesting - on speaking with some of the crew on a cruise on the Mediterranean, we found out that they do not receive any "tips" from the line - the cruise line added a daily amount to my account of which I went and requested they remove it as I would pay the staff of my choice that gave good service. They do remove and do not argue. Most people just accept it and assume that they all get something. I have done 7 cruises now and this is what I do. Raphael - I have never had food poisoning on a cruise ship.. it is a matter of being vigilant and hygienic yourself - there are adequate stations on the ship for hand sanitization - paper to hold doors open when exiting the toilets - if you choose not to use these well you do put yourself in a position of maybe contracting a bug as others are not as concerned with their personal hygiene - Cruising is a very relaxing holding and affordable


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