Cruise TipsCruise Tipping 101

Cruise Tipping 101

Tipping on a cruise can be a bit confusing for a first time cruiser.  They usually have many questions.  Who do I tip?  How much do I tip?  When do I tip?  While each cruise line does things a little different from each other, there are some things the same on every cruise.

It is proper to tip the porter $1-2 a bag when unloading at the port.  Yes, your bags will still make it to your room if you do not tip them.  However, it is customary.  Each drink you order on board will automatically have a 15% gratuity added to it, and an option for you to add an extra tip.  Adding an extra tip is not necessary unless you would like to thank the server for service above and beyond.  Guests under 2 are generally not required to pay daily gratuities.


Norwegian differs from the traditional cruise dining and offers “Freestyle” dining.  You can chose any time you like to eat dinner and at any restaurant you like.  Since you have a different server every night, they have a different way of handling the tips.  Each passenger is charged $12 to their room bill each day for tips, this charge is mandatory.  The tips are for your room steward, your servers at lunch and dinner, and the head waiter.  However, if you feel that the service you received was not up to par for the tips, you can have this amount adjusted.   The following quote is from the NCL website:

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Guest satisfaction is the highest priority at Norwegian Cruise Line. We have structured a guest satisfaction program designed to handle any concerns about service or on-board product quickly and efficiently. However, in the event a service issue should arise during your cruise please let our on-board reception desk staff know right away, so that we can address these in a timely manner. It is our goal to reach a satisfactory solution to any issue when it happens and make sure our guests can focus on enjoying their cruise. Should your concerns not be met with satisfaction you can adjust the charges.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean recently raised the suggested amounts for your daily gratuities.  They are now $11.65/day broke down as follows:
$3.75 Waiter
$2.15 Assistant Waiter
$0.75 Head Waiter
$5.00 Housekeeping Staff

Those who select the “My Time Dining” will automatically be charged the $11.65 a day.  Many choose to prepay the gratuities and not have to worry about them later.


Carnival adds $11.50 a day per person to their Sail & Sign account on embarkation day.  Guests have the ability to adjust this amount while on board to reflect the level of service that they were given.  The $11.50 is divided up as follows:
$5.80  Dining Team Service
$2  Bistro Service
$3.70 Cabin Steward

Carnival raised their gratuities to $11.50 a day on November 1, 2011.  Gratuities for the cruises to nowhere must be prepaid.


Disney offers a suggested guideline for giving gratuities to the staff.  They are as follows and per day:
$4.00 Dining Room Server
$3.00 Dining Room Assistant Server
$1.00 Dining Room Head Server
$4.00 Stateroom Host/Hostess
Dining Manager – Your Discretion
Room Service – Your Discretion
Palo – Gratuity included
Vista Spa & Salon – Your Discretion
Babysitting – Gratuity not expected, optional

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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 TipsCruise Tipping 101

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