The Complete Guide to Cruise Tipping


As Australian’s, we’ve grown up in a society where tipping is definitely NOT considered the norm. Unlike nations such as the USA, handing out cash right, left and centre is simple not ingrained in our culture and wage systems. Which leads many cruisers to 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

Today 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 on-board account. This is generally around $15 a day and is divvied up between 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 Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean all adopt auto-tipping systems. Amounts vary from line to line and depend on an array of variables including suite class, length of voyage 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 a la carte

If you would prefer to tip on a cash basis that’s absolutely OK, although you’ll need to ensure you have plenty of change on-hand. In general cabin 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 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!

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

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