Cruise ship staff

I’ve Been on Over 25 Cruises, Here is How Much Extra Gratuity I Give to the Cruise Staff

If you’re planning to go on a cruise, you may be wondering if you need to have extra cash on hand to tip the cruise staff. Personally, even with the automatic gratuity that cruise lines add to my bill, I tend to leave extra tips for the crew. In case you’re wondering how much I usually give, here’s a breakdown of the amount.

How Much is the Cruise Gratuity?

First, before I share how much extra tip I usually give, let’s go over the basics. If you’re new to cruising, you should know that cruise gratuities are generally charged automatically to your cruise stateroom account. This means you no longer need to worry about cash tipping envelopes. 

Nowadays, cruise lines will add a predetermined gratuity amount to your account, and this amount may vary depending on the cruise line you’re on. This gratuity amount is separate from the cruise fare you’ve already paid. At the end of your cruise, the total gratuity amount will be automatically charged to your credit card.

The automatic gratuity for a cruise will vary from $12.50 to $25 per person per day. This comes out to $175 to $350 per cabin for two people on a 7 day cruise. 

Below are the automatic gratuity by cruise line:

  • Carnival cruise charges $16 per person per day which goes up to $18 if you are in a suite. 
  • Celebrity Cruise charges $18 per person per day for gratuity. Passengers staying in the Retreat will be charged $23 per person per day.
  • Disney Cruise charges $14.50 per person per day which includes children and infants.
  • Holland America adds $17 per person per day for gratuities and $17.50 for suite passengers. 
  • Norwegian Cruise charges $20 per person per day for regular cabins, while suite and Haven passengers are charged $25 per person per day. 
  • Princess Cruise charges $16 per person per day, mini-suite guests will be charged $17 per person per day, and suite guests are charged $18 per person per day. 
  • Royal Caribbean automatically bills $18 per person per day in gratuity and $20.50 for suite-level passengers. 
  • MSC cruises charge $16 per person per day in gratuity and children 2-11 years old are charged $8 per person per day. These rates are for North America/Caribbean cruises. The gratuity rates are less if you’re sailing in Europe, South America and South Africa.
  • Some luxury cruise lines such as Silversea, Seabourn, and Regent Seven Seas cruises don’t add extra gratuity because it’s already included gratuity in the cruise fare.
Cruise Extra Gratuity

Can You Change the Automatic Gratuity Amount?

It is possible to adjust the gratuity amount, but it’s not generally encouraged. The cruise staff heavily rely on gratuity as a significant part of their earnings. If you want to change the automatic gratuity amount, you have to go to guest services to ask for an adjustment. 

Do You Need to Tip Extra on a Cruise?

I always bring extra cash for tipping, even though a gratuity is automatically added to my account. While the service on cruises is already exceptional, I think giving a few extra dollars directly to my attendant or server can make a big difference. 

Plus, if you have the chance to chat with the cruise staff, you’ll hear about the sacrifices they make by being on the ship almost year-round and not seeing their families. Some of their stories can be truly heartbreaking. Tipping feels like a way to give back to them. I usually tip the staff who will serve me throughout the entire cruise.

How Much Extra Tip to Give to the Cruise Staff

Here’s how much I give in extra tips.

Cruise Porters

On the day of your cruise embarkation and disembarkation, the porters at the cruise port will assist you with your check-in luggage. I usually tip around $2-$3 per luggage to show my appreciation for their help.

Cruise Wheelchair Staff

If you need assistance with a wheelchair, a cruise staff member will be available to help you embark and disembark from the cruise ship. My mother-in-law usually tips $5 to the wheelchair staff.

Cruise Cabin Steward

I always make it a point to give an extra tip to my cabin steward despite the fact that they are already receiving a portion of the automatic gratuity charged to my account. Depending on the duration of the cruise and whether I’m traveling with only my husband or with my kids, I usually give anywhere from $20 to $60. I typically tip on the first day because I find I get better service throughout the trip if I tip on the first day of the cruise.

Cruise Extra Gratuity

Cruise Main Dining Room Servers

You typically don’t have to tip the cruise servers since they receive automatic gratuity. However, I do give an extra tip to my server if they are assigned to me for the entire cruise. I always request the same dining room server. This way, they get to know my preferences which makes the service so much better. 

When it comes to gratuity, the amount I give will depend on how long the cruise is and the quality of service I get. I usually give the main server anywhere between $20 to $75 and the assistant server between $20 to $45.

Cruise Kids Club Staff

I usually don’t tip the staff at the kids’ club. However, if my kids regularly attend the kids’ club and there’s a particular cruise staff member who goes out of their way to be helpful, then I don’t mind giving them a tip of $10-$20 as a gesture of appreciation.

Cruise Spa and Salon Staff Tip

Gratuities are typically included in the total bill for spa services and salon treatments. I tend not to give an additional tip unless the service is exceptional.

Cruise Bartender

The drinks on a cruise will have an automatic 15-20% service charge added to the bill. But even with that, there is usually an extra line for you to give an extra gratuity. Many people get confused and end up double-tipping. 

Personally, I don’t usually double-tip because I think the automatic service charge is sufficient. That said, if I’ve received exceptional service from a bartender that I’ve come to know, I’m happy to give an extra tip.

The amount I give is usually $2-$3 per drink, depending on the service and bartender. Sometimes, instead of a per drink tip, I give a $10 cash tip, if it’s at the beginning of the cruise and I know I will be a regular with that bartender. Check out my article on How to get free champagne and drinks on a cruise.

Cruise Shore Excursion Tour Guides

I typically like to tip the shore excursion tour guides. The amount of the tip I give varies depending on how enjoyable the tour was and how likable the guide was. Usually, I give around $5 to $10 per person to the main tour guide, and for the driver, I usually give around $5. Check out my article on shore excursion mistakes you’ll regret making.

Free Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

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