You’ve paid for your cruise. All that’s left to do is pack your bags, head to the pier and board your ship. Or so you think.
What about the daily cruise line gratuities? Extra services to indulge in on your cruise?
Even though a lot of onboard activities, meals and beverages are included in the price of your cruise, keep your wallet handy. There could be gratuities to pay even before your cruise begins.
This guide will help you plan ahead to know what to expect for all sorts of gratuities, including those “daily service charges”. Different onboard expenses, and especially gratuities, can be confusing.
Read on for the list of each cruise line’s per-person daily gratuities. We break down what you’ll pay, how much and finally, who receives a tip.
What are Daily Cruise Ship Gratuities?
Every cruise line has a recommended amount that each guest should pay to the crew. Some cruise lines like Holland America call it a Daily Service Fee.
Other cruise lines may call it a “Guest Services Fee” on your onboard account statement while some simply add “Gratuity” to your onboard account.
You can also opt to prepay your gratuities before your cruise so as to avoid any sticker shock at the end of your trip.
Gratuities That Begin Before Sail-Away
Savvy cruisers know that gratuities begin pier side. Give the luggage handler a $2- $5 tip per bag, depending upon size, weight and amount of luggage.
If you’re a solo traveler and only have one large bag to check, a $5 tip is appropriate.
Consider the tip as baggage delivery insurance.
Should I Pre-Pay Cruise Gratuities?
If you want to get the daily tipping fees out of the way before your cruise and avoid last-night sticker shock, I always suggest that you pre-pay gratuities.
Also, if you pre-pay your gratuities, and the cruise line raises the daily service fee before you sail, you are “grandfathered” in at the previous lower rate.
Don’t pre-pay gratuities and if there’s an increase, you’ll pay a bit more at the end of your cruise. For one person, it’s not too bad. If you’re paying for a group, it could be costly.
Average Cruise Line Gratuity
Roughly speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $11.50 – $20.00 per passenger per day for onboard gratuities. As mentioned, cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account.
Luxury lines like Azamara, Regent, Silversea, Seabourn, Sea Dream, Virgin Voyages include gratuities in the cruise fare.
On cruise lines where gratuities are not included, you can monitor the charges on your shipboard bill either at the Front Desk or on your stateroom TV.
Sometimes they’re added at the end of your cruise, too. Talk about sticker shock!
Cruise Line Gratuities for 2022
Here’s what you will pay per person per day for cruise ship gratuities as of this writing.
CARNIVAL: $14.50 – Standard Staterooms; $16.50 – Suites. Both categories saw a $.51 increase. An 18% automatic charge is added to beverages, plus at Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki and Chef’s Table restaurants.
CELEBRITY: $15.50 – Standard Staterooms; $16.00 – Concierge and Aqua Class; $19.00 Suites. 18% charge for beverages
COSTA: $12.00 – on U.S. departures. €10 – on Europe departures. 15% beverage charge. Kids 4-14yrs 50% less. Under 4, no charge.
CUNARD: $11.50 -Britannia Class (standard); $13.50 – Grills’ Suites. 15% beverage charge
DISNEY: $13.50 – Across the board. 15% beverage charge and 18% for spa services
HOLLAND AMERICA: $14.50 – Standard Staterooms; $16.00 – Suites. 15% beverage charge
HURTIGRUTEN: $12.00 – Suggested amount on expedition cruises. Norwegian coastal cruises there is no gratuity fee.
MSC CRUISES: $12.50 – Adults 12 years and older. $6.25 ages 2-5 years old. Under 2 years old, no charge. This applies to Caribbean, Canada and USA cruise departures. Cruises abroad, gratuities are in euro and at a comparable exchange rate.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE: $16.00 – Standard Staterooms. $20.00 – The Haven and Suites. $18.00 – Club Balcony Suites. $16.00 – for all other stateroom categories. There’s also a 20% beverage charge with each non-included drink you order.
OCEANIA: $16.00 for guests occupying “standard’ staterooms. For Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner’s Suites with Butler Service, gratuities of $23.00 per guest, per day will be added. An 18% service gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases, spa services and dinner at La Reserve.
PRINCESS: $14.50 – Standard Staterooms; $15.50 – Mini-Suites and Club Class; $16.50 – Suites. 15% beverage charge
ROYAL CARIBBEAN: Royal Caribbean increased their automatic service gratuity on Sept. 7, 2022. The new rates are $16.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms; $18.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Suites. Gratuities will be applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis.
There’s also an 18% beverage charge.
VIKING OCEAN CRUISES: $15.00 per day. 15% beverage charge.
Who Gets a Share of the Gratuities?
Depending upon your cruise line and accommodation category, the amounts of who gets what may vary by a few dollars. But this should give you an idea as to where the money goes and how it’s divvied up at the end.
For this example, the amounts listed below are for standard (non-suite) staterooms, may vary by a dollar or so and subject to change every couple of years.
Also, these amounts will differ because the cruise lines also stress that a portion of the service fees also goes to many crew members who work behind the scenes and/or towards a shared crew incidentals/emergency fund.
The top tier of crew recipients are the waiters and stateroom attendants. Next, are the assistant waiters and staterooms attendants. The head waiter may or may not receive a cut in the share. Those hard-working crew members behind the scenes that you never see will get a small piece of the pie, too.
Should I Tip the Room Service Delivery Person?
Here’s another category that needs addressing; room service delivery fees.
Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian automatically add a room service delivery fee. Sometimes it depends on what you order.
You can still directly offer a tip to your delivery person. It will be appreciated.
I always suggest to bring $1 and $5 bills from home. This way, you’re ready to personally hand it to the room service delivery person.
Having several small bills is very handy, especially for early morning breakfast delivery. You don’t have to fumble around to find a tip . $2.00 to $5.00 is appropriate, depending on the food or meals ordered.
Tips for Those Not on the Automatic Gratuity List
Some onboard services aren’t subject to automatically-included gratuities. Since these are people that you may interact with on a daily basis, it’s nice to add them to your gratuity list.
- Childcare provider: At your discretion, similar to your babysitter at home.
- Bartender: Plan to frequent the same bar throughout your cruise? Give your new favorite bartender a $10 – $20 upfront tip. If you’ve had excellent service, another tip at the end of the cruise is also appreciated.
- Wine sommelier: Based on their involvement, $10 or $20 at the end of the cruise is appropriate. Some cruise lines have done away with a sommelier and your waiter is responsible for keeping track of your wine bottles. Tip accordingly.
- Shore excursion guide: $2.00 – $5.00. Some passengers base their shore excursion tip on 10%-20% per person based on the cost of the tour.
- Shore excursion motor coach driver: $1.00 – $2.00, especially in Europe.
- Spa and Salon services: The spa will automatically add a 15% – 20% gratuity. Is there a need to tip your service provider? It’s up to you.
Read more: Seven Stateroom Locations to Avoid
Personalize Your Tip-Giving Experience
Many cruise passengers from Britain and a few European countries where tipping isn’t a common practice, prefer to have the automatically-added tips removed from their account. This can be requested at the Reception (Purser’s) Desk.
Hopefully, these folks will then hand out cash to those who have worked hard for them during the cruise. Others simply refuse to tip. And it’s not just non-Americans, either.
Conversely, some guests who are familiar with and follow the tipping guidelines, prefer to hand out cash-filled envelopes to crew members.
Bring a stack of small bills from home and keep separate from your other cash, to avoid the last night panic line at the Purser’s Desk.
You can also visit the casino cashier to break your larger bills. Bring envelopes (and thank you notes) from home in case the ship’s front desk doesn’t have any to give for tips.
When in Europe, Euros are the preferred currency for tipping on both ocean and river cruises. Or you can usually put the gratuities directly onto your onboard account and credit card.
I always leave the automatic gratuities on my account. Then on the last night, if service was very good, at dinner I’ll bring envelopes with a little extra cash for my waiter, assistant waiter and sommelier.
Whether or not to tip the Maître d’ is up to you, depending on if you’ve actually communicated with this person.
On the last night or on the morning of departure, I always give an extra tip to my room steward when I say goodbye.
Tipping After Your Cruise
After the cruise, if you ask a porter to load your luggage and wheel it to the outdoors or motor coach, you’ll need to dip into your wallet one more time.
In many ports or after a transatlantic crossing, you’ll get through the immigration line quicker if you ask a porter to help with your luggage.
Cruise line gratuities can be confusing and a bit daunting if you don’t know what is expected. Follow these guidelines and suggestions and you’ll avoid last-minute surprises, long queues for cash and empty-pocket embarrassment.
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I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath…stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.