For many British people, tipping can be a controversial issue. Unlike our American cousins across the pond, tipping is not ingrained in British culture, and we can therefore often be apprehensive about paying gratuities on a cruise ship. If you’re looking to get a better understanding of the whys, hows, whens and whos when it come to tipping the crew aboard your cruise ship, read on as we clear up common misconceptions and offer helpful advice about paying your gratuities on-board.

Why pay gratuities?

Generally, paying gratuities and tipping the staff aboard a cruise ship is not compulsory. However, in the majority of cases it is seen as the right thing to do; a sincere expression of thanks to the dedicated crew members who have served you drinks, cleaned your stateroom and been generally helpful and friendly throughout your time on-board.

Why you should tip on a cruise

The main reason behind tipping aboard a cruise ship is to compensate low-paid staff for their hard work. Most of the crew aboard a cruise ship will earn a low wage, making much of their disposable income through the gratuities that they are paid by thankful guests. While those opposed to the idea of tipping may say that the cruise lines should simply pay them more so guests wouldn’t have to pay gratuities, most cruise lines would respond by saying that the prospect of tips is a great incentive for the crew to worker harder and offer the best possible service, which results in an enhanced experience for everyone on-board.

How to tip

Nowadays, the vast majority of cruise lines with a tipping policy will automatically add gratuity charges to your on-board bill. While you are usually welcome to tip staff with cash in hand, the old idea of leaving money in an envelope for them to find no longer exists by and large. Different cruise lines will operate varied tipping policies and charge different amounts for the services of their crew. Princess Cruises, for example, automatically add $11.50 to your bill each day, while P&O Cruises only charges £3.75 per person for each night on-board.

How to tip on a cruise

In contrast, you may find that some cruises line, including Regent Seven Seas and Thomson Cruises, do not require or expect you to pay gratuities whilst on-board, so make sure to check your cruise line’s policy before you book.

When to tip

While most cruise lines will apply a gratuities charges automatically, which will be due for payment at the end of your voyage, there are other options available to you when it comes to paying your tips.

When to tip on a cruise

Often, cruise staff ship will go out of their way to make your feel special and welcome, providing exceptional service and going above and beyond to make sure you’re every whim is catered for. Whether it’s the bartender remembering your name and favourite drink, or your cabin steward fulfilling an extra-special request, there are many reasons why you may feel obliged to give a certain member of the crew a little extra. If this is the case, it is usually recommended that you give out cash tips on the last day of your cruise. Having said that, a tip to the right person at the beginning of your voyage can also improve your experience, offering staff greater incentive to provide the very best service for the rest of your holiday.

Who to tip

If you’d like to show your thanks to the crew aboard your ship, and feel that the gratuities automatically taken from your on-board account just don’t quite cut it, most cruise line staff will accept extra tips, while for other crew members it is not quite so appropriate.

Who to tip on a cruise

Cruise ship staff who will generally accept additional tips include cabin stewards, butlers and room service attendants, bar tenders and dining room waiters, shore excursion tour guides, spa therapists and casino dealers – especially if you’re on a winning streak!

However, certain crew members, such as Maitre D’s, your ship’s captain and other high ranking officers are generally well paid without receiving gratuities, and are therefore unlikely to accept any extra tips.

It’s up to grat-you-ities!

In the end, it’s up to you whether or not you pay your gratuities on-board, or if you hand out any extra tips in cash. Just remember, most crew members rely on tips to subsidise their wage, and will go out of their way to make sure you have the best time possible on-board, so it’s always best to think twice and bear in mind the service you have enjoyed before you consider removing gratuities from your bill.

Our tip: Speak to an expert before you book

Speaking to someone with years of experience in cruising is the best way to make sure that you avoid any pitfalls and have the best cruise holiday possible. Our expert cruise concierge team are on hand to answer any questions you may have prior to booking. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847 if you’d like a chat.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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