The Complete Guide to Cruise Tipping


As Australians, we were raised in a society in which tipping is definitely NOT considered the norm. Unlike nations like the US, handing out cash right, left, and centre is simply not ingrained in our culture and wage systems. This makes many cruisers get somewhat nervous and confused when it comes to tipping policies at sea.

While the concept has become a little clearer in the past few years thanks to the introduction of automatic tipping systems and “no gratuities required” policies, etiquette can still be a little puzzling. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide covering everything you need to know about cruise tipping.

Most bar bills already include gratuities

Nowadays, almost all cruise lines automatically add a 15% tip to their bar bills. This means that staff are guaranteed their tips, and punters don’t have to rummage around for loose bills. Of course, if the service was exceptional, extras are always appreciated!

Automatic daily tipping

When cruising with most major lines, passengers will have an automatic gratuities fee added to their onboard account. This is generally around $15 a day and is divvied up among all service crew. The idea is that it’s an easy and hassle-free way of ensuring all service staff are taken care of. If you’d like to raise or lower your daily contribution, just visit the purser’s desk and ask to adjust or opt out of the auto-tipping amount.

Currently, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International all have auto-tipping systems in place. Amounts vary from line to line and depend on an array of variables including suite class, voyage duration, and destinations.


Check what roles include auto-tipping

While bar and waiting staff will always be included in auto-tipping, salon staff, masseuses, beauticians, and other roles may not be included. If you’d like to reward an individual for excellent service, check whether or not they receive auto-tips.

Going à la carte

If you would prefer to tip on a cash basis, that’s absolutely fine. However, you’ll need to ensure you have plenty of change on hand. In general, stateroom stewards, butlers, bartenders, and waiters all expect around $5-$7 a night.

No tips necessary

If you’re forking out for a luxury cruise, then tipping is made wonderfully easy. On lines such as Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and Seabourn Cruise Line, gratuities are included in passenger cruise fares, which means wait staff, bartenders, and stewards are all covered. Tipping is definitely not expected on these luxury cruise lines; however, if you want to say an extra special ‘thank you’ or simply want to secure service that’s above and beyond the already high standard, handing out cash is the way to do it!

Find Your Dream Cruise Today

If you have any further questions about cruise tipping, give our friendly Australia-based cruise experts a call on 1300 857 345. They’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Don LaVange and Theen Moy


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