Cruise TipsBiggest Tipping Mistakes Made on Cruises

Biggest Tipping Mistakes Made on Cruises

Tipping on cruises can be a bit confusing before you board your cruise ship.  While each cruise line has similar policies when it comes to gratuities, here are the biggest tipping mistakes made on cruises.

Our free cruise newsletter offers the latest cruise news and deals: Sign Up

Tipping in the Wrong Currency

Depending on the part of the world to which you are cruising, the currency you use should reflect that.  The reason for this is that it’s not always easy for whoever you are tipping to convert it to something they can spend.  When cruising to the Caribbean out of the United States, the U.S. Dollar should be used.  When cruising in Europe, tipping should be done in Euros.  In London, you should use the sterling. Basically, when in Rome…

I was recently in Italy and after one of the cruise tours, the passenger in front of me gave the guide a few singles in U.S. currency. While I’m sure the passenger meant well, there was little the guide could do with singles from another country.

Documentation from the cruise line will usually highlight this.  Last week I was looking over my papers for my Viking cruise in Europe taking place in July.  It specifically states that tipping should be in Euros since the ship does not offer an exchange service.  If you hand someone the wrong currency, you might as well be handing them Monopoly money or nothing.

Let your bank know ahead of time which currencies you need and they will be able to get them for you.  That is if they already don’t have them on hand.  The exchange rates your bank will give you are much better than the currency exchange booths at airports.

Not Bringing Small Bills

I always bring a stack of small bills ($1s and $5s) on my cruises as these come in extremely handy for tipping.  From the porters who take your bags when you board the ship to the room service attendants, you can never have enough 1s and 5s.

Not Tipping Room Service

It is customary to tip room service a couple dollars for an order.  Some cruisers like to tip $5 for larger orders.

Removing Gratuities

This is probably the hottest topic when it comes to cruising and I’ll never shy away from giving my opinion on this matter. It’s one thing to have onboard gratuities altered based on service you receive.  It’s an entirely different issue if you have them removed because you simply don’t want to pay them.  Yes, I have heard several cruisers say how they always remove them because it makes cruising cheaper.

Onboard daily gratuities are a part of cruising and should be factored in when planning your vacation budget.  After all, do you enjoy working for free?  I didn’t think so, neither do the crew members who make your cruises so special.

Pre-tipping Room Stewards

This is one I fell for before my first cruise.  I was reading message boards online and I saw how cruisers swore that you received better service when you tipped on embarkation day.  After I boarded the ship, I handed my room steward a crisp $20 and told him I needed my ice bucket filled every day.

I received great service that cruise and I thought it was due to pre-tipping until I took my next cruise.  I never saw my room steward the first day so I was never able to pre-tip.  Know what? The service I received was just as good, if not better than my first cruise.

Instead of pre-tipping, wait until the end of your cruise and then tip extra based on the service you receive.

Not Tipping Tour Guides

Cruise excursions can really make or break your cruise and tour guides play a huge part in that.  Throwing a few dollars at them after they provide an informative tour is appreciated, especially to the tour guides that go above and beyond to make sure you have a great port experience.

Learn the cruise secrets most people don't know and cruise like a boss. Check out Intelligent Cruiser here for a better cruise vacation. (Sponsored)

Looking for the Best Cruise Deals?
Search Multiple Sites at Once
Instant Real Time Pricing
Search Now

Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise TipsBiggest Tipping Mistakes Made on Cruises


  1. RE: Tipping. It is my understanding that the gratuity tacked on to your bill at the end does NOT include tips for the bartenders on board. If that is correct,it is unfair as many cruisers may never tip them thinking the $15 or so a day they pay includes tips for Everyone. Please correct me if I am wrong. If I am correct, please remind cruisers they should be tipping the bartenders.

  2. My comment is about tipping cure members, your sentence “Onboard daily gratuities are a part of cruising and should be factored in when planning your vacation budget. After all, do you enjoy working for free? ”
    I am a Travel Agent, when I do Cruises always tip some of the People who do their jobs, assisting me, even I did NOT make any contract with cabin steward, waiters or their assistants, etc, but tipping is NOT an obligation, I did pay my Cruise and it is NOT my fault Cruise Lines pay misery to those People working on board the Ships.

  3. Hi Ben – Very useful article about tipping! I think the one about currency is a very easy trap to fall into. Many people think that the U.S. dollar would be good anywhere. But they don’t consider that fact that it can be cost prohibitive or impossible for a single individual to change a small amount of money into local currency. You mention getting foreign currency as needed before you leave home. Another possible option is to withdraw money from an ATM once you are in the relevant country. You can usually get the best exchange rate at the lowest cost and without added commissions. Best – Elaine

Comments are closed.

Recent Popular Posts