Gratuities?  Exactly what is expected?
"A $12 per person, per day service charge will be automatically added to shipboard account." "No tipping required." "Gratuities included." "Envelopes and tipping guides available at the Information Center."

There is probably no topic more discussed onboard among novice cruisers and old salts alike than tipping: when to tip, how much to tip, whom to tip. Having sailed on more than 60 cruises over the last 20 years let me weigh in on the discussion.

First of all, it's important to understand that, technically speaking, no tip is ever required. A tip is a voluntary expression of thanks. The gratuities distributed onboard the modern cruise ship, however, are not just tips. There are exceptions, but most cruise lines pay the men and women who serve their passengers an extremely low base wage (by Western standards). On nearly all big-ship mainstream lines, the service crewmembers are dependent on the generosity of travelers for the vast majority of their salary. Luxury cruise lines often have no-tipping policies. In these cases, the gratuities are built into the fares.

Gratuities by cruise line:


Automatically adds an $11.50 per-person, per-day, gratuity to onboard accounts. The amount does not apply to passengers younger than 2.

Celebrity Cruises

Automatically adds gratuities to the onboard Seapass account. The "suggested" gratuities added to your account will be $12 per day, per passenger ($12.50 for Concierge Class and AquaClass cruisers). There is also a $3.50 per-person, per-day surcharge for your butler if you're in a suite. Note: Passengers who choose "Celebrity Select Dining" before their cruises are required to prepay gratuities (prior to boarding).

Cunard charges $11.50 per person, per day, to the shipboard account of passengers in Britannia accommodations. The amount is $13.50 for passengers in Grill Class accommodations. This charge is for adults and children.

Disney Cruise Line suggests gratuity amounts based on the entire length of the cruise, for each individual passenger (adult or child). For three-night sailings, Disney suggests $12 per person for the dining room server, $9 for the assistant sever and $12 for the "stateroom host or hostess." On a four-night cruise, suggested amounts are $16, $12 and $16. And on a seven-night cruise, budget $28, $21 and $28. Finally, Disney also recommends tipping the dining room head server $3 for a three-night cruise, $4 for a four-night and $7 for a seven-night. Tips can either be prepaid up to three days prior to the start of your sailing or will be automatically charged to onboard accounts.

Holland America
Holland America automatically charges $11.50 per day to each passenger's shipboard account (including children). Passengers occupying suites will be charged $12 per day. This amount is pooled among the service staff.

Each adult is automatically billed $12 per day to support a salary and incentive program for the service staff. There is no charge for children younger than 3.

Princess Cruises automatically adds $11.50 per day to each passenger's account to cover hotel and dining service. Passengers in suites or mini-suites will be charged $12 per day. The amount goes for children and adults, and it can be prepaid up to six days prior to the start of your cruise.

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean automatically adds tips of $12 per person ($14.25 for suite passengers), per day, to each passenger's onboard bill. The tips, which can also be prepaid, are shared by dining services staff, cabin attendants and other housekeeping personnel. Passengers who opt for RCI's flexible "My Time Dining" must prepay gratuities. Guidelines are the same for all passengers, regardless of age.

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