Where do you want to travel?

Hotel Advance Search

Cruise Gratuities: What's "Right" And "Wrong" These Days?

Cruise Gratuities: What's "Right" And "Wrong" These Days?

I looks at the controversial subject of cruise gratuities and look at how cruise gratuities and tipping while cruising has changed and how I have changed and adapted what I do regards tipping crew on a cruise

The Issues I Have With Cruise Gratuities Right Now

ABOUT TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS: If you want to get cruising right, Tips For Travellers makes it easy to plan and have the incredible cruise experiences you dream of every time. All my Tips For Travellers advice, tips and tricks tips draw on everything that I have learnt on the 92 cruises I have done to date.

* Check out my T-Shirt range: http://bit.ly/TFTStore

* Become a Channel Member and get perks: https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/Join
* Become a Patron on Patreon and get perks: https://www.patreon.com/tipsfortravellers
* Make a donation: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=V9STJGYSEMGLJ
* Buy my book “Cruise Traveler’s Handbook: USA Amazon https://amzn.to/2YVFmG4 and https://amzn.to/3tzIxBn
UK Amazon https://amzn.to/3oXbzYc and https://amzn.to/3qawqIQ

* Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/garybembridge
* Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tipsfortravellers
* Instagram: http://www.instgram.com/garybembridge
* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bembridge
* TikTok: @garybembridge

#CruiseTips #CruiseGratuities #CruiseShipGratuities

00:00 Start
00:45 What Are Gratuities Really Today?
05:26 Tipping Close Contacts
06:28 My Gratuity Approach 1
08:03 My Gratuity Approach 2
10:51 My Gratuity Approach 3
11:25 My Gratuity Approach 4



  1. I've always felt tipping is a scam on the part of employers. Adam Conover did a funny but informative bit on tipping. Search for "Why Tipping Should Be Banned – Adam Ruins Everything" here on YT to see it.

  2. Maybe the Cruise Lines should pay their above slave labour wages

  3. I work(ed) a desk job but I (and my coworkers) still occasionally had to interact with customers. Us being courteous and deliver the best possible customer experience, was expected, nothing less. Tips, in itself, is a scam. Providing good, oh I am sorry, exceptional service, is simply part of everybody's job, not just cruise staff, not just restaurant/hotel wait staff (Above and beyond is by definition a different thing). The CEO of my company has to put up a big smile when he meets with out customers too, and I assure you he does not get any tips (he gets bonuses, which do not originate from customers) In fact, even service staff will tell you they should get tips, not because they provided good service, but because they are underpaid. So, again, tips is a scam, not one run by customer facing staff, but by whoever is supposed to pay them. Let's globally across the board get rid of tips; price in your products all costs, including service staff wages, and pay your hard working staff a bonus as incentive. Let's only tips when it is truely above and beyond. On the other hand (I am sounding like a hypocrite) I quite like the idea of these daily staff appreciate fees as a separate line item, it reliefs me of the pressure of having to mechanically pay tips, even when there is no outstanding service… like "don't even look at me, I've already paid tips"

  4. On my last river cruise, during the introduction of crew and staff they asked that on top of the $19 per day automatic gratuity, they would appreciate it if we also handed out tips to those providing excellent service. They also gave us the not-so-subtle hint at the end of the trip. It rather ticked me off. To me, they are admitting their staff gives only just adequate service for that $19 gratuity and if we find someone doing more than we would have a right to expect from a service company, it is up to us to reward them. Shifting costs of the cruise from the ticket to the gratuity is classic Las Vegas hotel tactics.

  5. I prepay gratuities and hand out tips to nearly everyone that interacts with me (including $1/drink even when gratuity is added and people who clear off my table on the lido). It is not the crew's fault that the companies do not pay them fairly.

  6. I pre pay and also cash pay. Question since this is your Business can you or do you have Tax Deductions….. for cruising.
    As someone who worked for a living I associate with the crew. Just finished QM2 and will be on NCL in September, being 68 not sure how many cruises are ahead that I will be in good health for so…… I have singles and five dollar bills for day to day contact, end of cruise $20 for my cabin steward and on the QM2 the waiters. NCL will be different as to different waiters each night so there goes the 5's.
    I respect whatever you do. Other people must do what is in their hearts.

  7. Gary something came to mind I read the work Stress in some posts. Think in the real world we better get a definition of this meaning….

  8. I feel auto gratuity defeats the crew from going above and beyond they are getting a tip whether they give you great or terrible service.

  9. We are cruise addicts, pretty much like yourself. Our view on tipping/gratuities is this, we always extra tip our cabin steward the amount depends on how good or how bad. We always tip bar tenders who go that bit extra (some big problems on NCL Getaway at the adult-only area H2O if you tipped your drink was great, if you didn't it was awful, the big downside to tipping bar staff). We will also tip anyone serving if they make things extra special as a natural effort. On NCL we never pay the full amount of auto gratuities, I don't agree with tips or gratuities just taken as an extra charge. We will probably pay half the total and then tip as I have stated above. It always works out more than if we just pay the daily charged amount. I liked the Azamara option to pay a donation to the crew fund. I think if everyone paid a set amount according to the level of stateroom this would ensure that everyone benefited. Watching the Americans just throwing tips at everyone just devalues the whole thing. I also dislike that if you don't conform with the whole tipping culture you will be lambasted from now till Christmas….Its always a good topic to get people debating on Facebook groups.

  10. I have always made it a point to fill out the survey with names, positions and what they did that made the trip either easier or special. But in addition to that, I have recently started giving out hand written notes to those that went above and beyond for two reasons. 1. I am never sure if the crew actually gets to read what I write in the survey. I have been told the head of hotel and food services do but that doesn't mean the crew member ever finds out how special the cruise was because of their actions. 2. While I know that the heads read surveys, I want the direct crew member to have something that they can physically show their own manager to make any discussions around promotions and pay tangible proof they make a difference. On the last cruise our cabin steward was very touched by the card and every crew member seemed genuinely surprised and happy to get something hand written. I have always felt that handing of cash seemed a rocky path at best having been told by some that depending on how cash is handed may make the receiver feel cheapened. It just feels awkward all around.

  11. This post is really appreciated. I wish cruise lines would be clear about it at booking. I tend to double tip because the auto-gratuity feels sight unseen. Another thing that I don't appreciate is crew who ask for good evaluations despite the cruise line asking if any did. I have lied on post cruise surveys when crew who I liked did it. In instances when crew ask for a good evaluation, I try to tell them it's not necessary with me. This game these companies play muddle up everything so they can get a marketing leg up on the competition. I say…let the service and the product speak for itself, and make everything show up on direct or TA bookings up front. Gratuities or service charges or whatever you call it need to be apparent.

  12. Thanks Gary! This is not the US system of tipping! If it was the cruise line would suggest a percentage, 18%-20%, of your cruise fare, not counting taxes and port charges. Similar to the 18% gratuity added to drinks, drink packages, etc. With the per person, per day, charge someone who paid three times as much for a balcony, versus an inside, is charged the same gratuity. In the US you pay a higher tip on a $150. check versus a $50. check. Also, tipping in the US has been declining for years, ask any server. Fair wages should not depend on tips. On Royal you can’t even select My Time Dining unless you pre-pay gratuities. Does it make sense to charge 35% of your fare as a gratuity because you bought a cruise the line deeply discounted?

  13. Interesting topic. We just came off a cruise. We did the auto tips and then a small cash tip at the end for the cabin stewards. Good tip about naming specific people when possible in the survey.

  14. What amounts are cash tips usually? How much might a "generous" tip be, for service "above and beyond"?

  15. Gary, as an American, I believe most of what you discuss are known upfront by the cruiser. I always look at tips as what the business establishes as a suggested tip for good service. If you receive above average service you should recognize that service. If you receive less than adequate service yes you should adjust fairly. Your comment card should be used to address the issue.

  16. I would prefer to know what I am paying for rather than suddenly get a bill for city taxes, state taxes, federal taxes,, gratuities and service charges and appreciation charges applied etc after committing to buying something whether it is a service or a product.
    Having an up front cost in an industry that caters to many different cultures seems reasonable.
    Also tipping reflects a culture whereby people are receiving some tax free income and other people in the community are not . My opinion is that a system whereby the companies and individuals are taxed fairly is better for the community as a whole.
    As an Australian I have a different idea about community and individuality and believe tipping should be voluntarily given and for excellent service.

  17. I'm sick of tipping. I tip enough. I'm not demanding at all.
    On Royal a few years back on Empress or Enchantment , it felt like the crew was following me around for tips after i gave out a few one dollar bills. A stylist sold me product and then was waiting for me to give him the cash in lieu of charging me through the spa. i never even knew what he was talking about till the end, and then he kept calling my cabin for the cash.
    Since those experiences, I tip bar service in the casino when drinks are free, I tip my dining staff or buffet service (they split tips), and I tip people who help my mom with her scooter. They all get between $10-$25.

  18. When it comes to vacations and travel I always tip the housekeeping well even if I tell them not to clean the room, since so many others cheap out on that in hotels. Plus my Dad worked at a hotel growing up in Hawaii so service industry folks are near and dear to my heart…however food service is a different story. I feel like they think they deserve 20% tip no matter the level of service and now that is trying to be pushed up to 25% and especially places where they cook and hand you the food or you go up and get it and clean up after yourself they didn't do anything to deserve a tip, it was completely transactional with no actual service so it goes from $0 to a $1 sometimes and then 10-20% for an actual sit down depending on price, service and duration of the meal. Also my earning power vs. the workers on cruise ships $20 to you is like $100 for them. I plan on doing auto tips and then more from there depending on service and we are heading to Alaska tomorrow on Holland so we'll see how it goes.

  19. I HATE tipping, I do not understand why I have to pay twice for an service, why prices have to be falsified and tip, aka. service fee can't just be in the price. Well, maybe more correct would be to say I hate tipping culture, if you have tipping culture, it means tip are really not really optional, thus it's service fee, not an tip anymore.
    Overall, it feel like I'm pressured to do something, it feels like I'm visiting place that doesn't pay it's workers, thus making me feel bad, it' feels like I have to judge the staff for no reason and it just feel uncomfortable.
    If there's gratuities at check out, I will gladly pay it, but if there's not, I did not come on vacation to stress about whatever or not to hand out people money for stuff I already paid for. Another huge problem is that it's unequal, what about people that don't interact with me but still do work for me? I will feel bad for them because I gave out extra money to couple people that happened to be face to face with me.

  20. I started cruising when envelopes of cash were given to the waiters ,cabin stewards etc. Now I use the auto gratuity system as recommend. However as we eat dinner in a special locale , always served by the same team I always tip an additional $10.O0 or so per night at the end of the cruise as the service is always exceptional.

  21. What, you don't use and tip the hair salon? 😂

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Explore Latest Hotel Deals

Ibiza CopacabanaIbiza Copacabana $82Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Emirates TowersEmirates Towers $387Trade Centre 2, Dubai
Mandalay Bay ResortMandalay Bay Resort $249Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas
Four Seasons George VFour Seasons George V $787Champs-Elysees, Paris