If you’re heading out on a cruise, you might be wondering how much you should tip.
Tipping on a cruise is expected on many cruise lines.
Now, there once was a time when you tipped crew members if they were especially helpful, stuffing cash in cruise tip envelopes.
But in recent years, it’s become common to see cruise tips added automatically to your bill.
So what are the gratuities on a cruise these days?
We’ve put together the protocol for cruise tipping around the world, along with a breakdown of how much 18 of the most popular cruise lines charge for cruise gratuities.
Gratuities on a cruise
Gratuities on a cruise – all over the map
Cruise tipping guidelines vary widely from line to line.
For most luxury lines, there’s no separate (additional) automatic gratuity charge on cruises. The tips are folded into the cruise fare. An example is Seabourn.
River cruises often include tipping in the price too.
Some other cruise lines allow you to tip as you wish.
However, it’s more the norm in the cruise industry for a standard tip to be added to your bill. (See our list of 18 major cruise lines and their tipping policies below.)
Do you have to tip on a cruise?
Fairness is the reason cruise lines have substituted auto-gratuities for cash tips.
The idea is that tips are now shared among all staff, including behind-the-scenes workers, not just room stewards and waiters.
However, you actually don’t have to tip.
Not paying cruise gratuities
You’re usually free to reduce the automatic tip amount by visiting the guest services desk onboard.
The problem is that since you don’t usually get your onboard bill until the last day of your cruise, you have to settle this the last day or evening of your cruise.
You’re sure to stand in line for some time with a whole lot of other guests who have questions about their account (not the way you want to spend the end of your trip).
And the reality is you might feel embarrassed trying to explain why you want to pay less than the automatic gratuity (or not tip at all).
We expect few guests actually make the effort to reduce the automatic tip.
What about Aussie cruises?
Australian cruises are in a class of their own.
Tipping is not part of the Aussie culture.
So if you’re cruising out of Australia, you likely won’t have to shell out extra bucks. (Carnival underwent an “Aussification” program and, along with Princess, abolished compulsory tipping on ships based out of Australia.)
And cruising with Brits?
The British too are less happy tipping on cruises than Americans – and likely won’t tip as much or at all.
If you’re cruising the Med with a bunch of Brits, expectations for what to tip may be different than if you’re on an Alaska cruise with Americans used to a 15 or 20% tipping culture.
Gratuities aren’t always clear
Part of the issue is that information about gratuities on cruise ships is often buried in the small print of the fare or the website’s “frequently asked questions.”
Some cruise lines refer to tips as “service charges.”
Search for gratuity information on the cruise line’s website, and you find “tips” are voluntary and at your discretion, but dig further and you discover there are automatic “onboard service charges.”
Unless you’ve researched how much to tip on a cruise (and on your cruise, in particular), you may not really know what gratuities are expected until you see they’ve been added to your bill at the end of the cruise.
Prepaid gratuities on a cruise
Some lines even ask you to prepay your cruise ship gratuities before you board the ship!
But should you prepay gratuities on a cruise?
This can be a little controversial, particularly if the service (which is usually top-notch on cruises) is less-than-stellar when staff know their tips are already in the bag.
Tipping policies for 18 popular cruise lines
To help make things more transparent, we checked out the tipping policies for 18 popular cruise lines.
Here are their current guidelines for tipping on cruises. (All prices are in USD, unless noted.)
1) AmaWaterways gratuities
A leading luxury river cruise company, AmaWaterways sets out guidelines for tips, which vary, depending on the part of the world your river cruise explores.
Their tipping rates increased recently.
AmaWaterways tipping guidelines in Europe
- For ship staff – 100 Euros p.p. for a 7-night cruise (120 Euros for the AmaMagna)
- For the Cruise Manager – 25 Euros p.p. for a 7-night cruise
AmaWaterways tipping guidelines in Asia
AmaWaterways offers cruises on the Mekong River in South East Asia. For Mekong Cruises, it’s recommended to tip $10 per person per day for the staff and $3 per person per day for the Cruise Manager.
AmaWaterways tipping guidelines in Africa
In Africa, $15 to $20 per day is recommended for the Zambezi Queen onboard staff, and $5 to $10 is recommended for AmaWaterways tour guides.
AmaWaterways says it’s customary to tip local guides 1 to 2 Euros per tour and bus drivers 1 Euro. That being said, tipping is not typically commonplace in mainland Europe unless the service is exemplary.
Details: See under “What are the Tipping Guidelines?” on the cruise line’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
2) Carnival Cruises gratuities
Gratuities on Carnival are automatically added onto your shipboard bill toward the end of your cruise.
Daily Carnival gratuities
- Staterooms – $16.00 p.p. a night
- Suites – $18.00 p.p. a night
*There are no charges for wee ones under age 2.
Carnival prepaid gratuities
A question many cruisers ask is: “Should I prepay gratuities on a Carnival cruise?”
Carnival offers you this option. The cruise line suggests you may feel more comfortable settling this charge in advance so it doesn’t come as a surprise at the end of your cruise.
For cruises out of Barbados, gratuities are charged in advance and automatically added to the cost of your cruise when you book.
An automatic 18% tip is added for any beverage purchases.
Also, if you book the Chef’s Table, an 18% gratuity is added to the cover charge for this multi-course dining experience.
Details: Find more information about tipping on Carnival Cruises under What Are Service Gratuities? on their website.
3) Celebrity Cruises gratuities
Are you a Celebrity fan? Do you like the elite ship-within-a-ship experience of Suite Class or Aqua Class on Celebrity Cruises?
Good news for you!
Celebrity Cruises announced (in late 2020) its new “Always Included” program. All of its cruise fares now include tips (as well as WiFi and alcoholic drinks).
Details: See Celebrity Cruises’ All Included webpage.
4) Cunard gratuities
Cunard is the line famous for its grand ocean liners, the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2.
While tipping on Cunard is slightly less expensive than on most other cruises, Cunard also automatically bills you for gratuities.
It doesn’t discourage extra tipping though, and you’re free to tip any crew members over and above the automatic amounts as you wish.
Daily gratuities on Cunard
- Britannia staterooms – $11.50 p.p. per night
- Princess and Queens Grill suites – $13.50 p.p. per night
*No gratuity is automatically added for passengers under age 12.
Extra Cunard tips
Expect a 15% service charge for bar and wine purchases plus salon services.
Details: Full details on the Cunard gratuity charges can be found under How Much Should I Pay for Tips? on the cruise line’s website.
5) Disney Cruise gratuities
As with mainstream cruise lines, tips are automatically added to your onboard account when sailing with Mickey and his pals.
Disney sets out suggested amounts for your dining room server, assistant server and head server, as well as for your stateroom steward or stewardess. (These are automatically added.)
You can prepay in advance up to three days before your cruise. If you want to adjust the amount or pay in cash, you can do so onboard.
No tips are expected for babysitting.
Gratuities on Disney cruises
- $14.50 p.p. per night for standard staterooms
- $15.50 p.p. per night for guests in Concierge staterooms and suites
Additional Disney gratuities
A 15% tip is added for all beverage and deck service tabs.
For the spa/salon, an 18% tip is applied automatically.
Details: Find the specifics on Disney Cruise Line gratuities on their site under Onboard Services – Frequently Asked Questions.
6) Holland America gratuities
Tipping on Holland America, which jumped on February 1, 2023, is recorded daily. And, as is customary, the line’s “hotel service charge” is automatically added to your shipboard account.
On our recent 11-night cruise on Holland America’s new Rotterdam ship, we could check the tips on our onboard account on HAL’s Navigator app and on the TV screen in our stateroom.
While you can visit reception onboard to pay less if you’re unhappy with the service, HAL says this charge “represents an important part of [the staff] compensation.”
However, if you don’t want the daily gratuity charge added automatically, you can visit reception and sign a form to waive these charges (or change the suggested amount).
Daily HAL gratuities
- Staterooms – $16.00 p.p. a night
- Suites – $17.50 p.p. a night
7) MSC gratuities
Tips on MSC cruises are automatically added to your onboard account. And you’re invited to prepay your MSC Cruises gratuities when you book and pay for your cruise.
The line “does not recommend” tipping individual staff members.
Daily gratuities on MSC
- Caribbean, Canada and South America – $14.50 p.p. a night ($7.25 per child aged 2 to 11)
- Mediterranean and Europe – 12 Euro p.p. a night (6 Euro per child aged 2 to 11)
- South Africa – $10 p.p. a night ($5 per child aged 2 to 11)
Extra bar tips
A 15% service charge is automatically added for bar purchases.
Details: Find more on MSC Cruises gratuities in the Service Charges section under “Frequently Asked Questions”on MSC’s website.
8) NCL gratuities
NCL invites you to tip any crew members in cash if you wish.
In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line charges an automatic service charge.
Unlike other cruise lines, you cannot adjust this onboard if you’re unhappy with the service or your cruise experience.
You have to apply to the cruise line for a refund once you’ve returned home from your cruise.
Daily Norwegian Cruise Line gratuities
- Staterooms – $20 p.p. a night
- Suites and The Haven – $25 p.p. a night
*There’s no automatic service charge for children under age 3.
There’s an additional 20% NCL service charge for all bar and beverage purchases and specialty restaurant dining.
If you’re sailing to Hawaii, you’re also charged an additional 4.275% pre-paid service charge GET Tax.
Details: Find more information on Norwegian cruise line gratuities on their webpage on What is the Onboard Service Charge?
9) Oceania gratuities
Oceania Cruises prides itself on having the best cruise line food, serving dishes like hand-rolled gnocchi and caramelized tiger prawns.
Generally, service is exemplary and with a smile – and completely matches the exceptional food.
The line says how much you choose to tip is completely up to you.
But it still adds an automatic gratuity to your shipboard account (which can be changed onboard).
Gratuities on Oceania
- Staterooms – $18.00 p.p. per night
- Suites (where you have butler service) – $23.00 p.p. per night
18% is automatically added for beverage and spa purchases, as well as dinner at La Reserve.
Details: See the fine print on Oceania Cruises gratuities under Frequently Asked Questions on the line’s website.
10) Princess Cruises gratuities
Gratuities on Princess Cruises are also automatic and shared among the waitstaff and housekeeping staff.
You can prepay up to two days before your cruise. As well, you may wish to tip casino dealers and child-care staff.
Gratuities on Princess Cruises
- Inside, oceanview and balcony staterooms – $16 p.p. (including children) per night
- Mini-suites – $17 p.p. per night
- Suites – $18 p.p. per night
A 18% tip is added for bar and wine purchases, as well as for spa services.
Details: The policy on tipping on Princess Cruises can be found under the “Crew Appreciation” tab on the FAQ: Onboard Experience page of their website.
11) Royal Caribbean gratuities
Tipping on Royal Caribbean Cruises is straightforward – a standard daily rate is charged for all guests (no matter the age). You can modify the amount until the morning you get off the ship.
How much are gratuities on Royal Caribbean?
- Junior suites or below – $16 p.p. per night
- Grand suites and above – $18.50 p.p. per night
Royal Caribbean prepaid gratuities
If you book through a travel agent, you may find that prepaid gratuities are automatically added before sailing. Otherwise you can prepay the tips up to 48 hours before your cruise.
You pay an extra 18% service charge for all beverage, mini-bar purchases, spa and salon purchases (added separately at the time of purchase).
Details: See this webpage on “What is Royal Caribbean’s Service Gratuities (tips) Price and Policy?”
12) Scenic Cruises gratuities
Scenic Cruises is an Australian based company offering luxury river cruises in Europe and Asia (as well as small ship expedition cruises). Its fares are all-inclusive.
13) Star Clippers gratuities
Tips aren’t included in Star Clippers’ fares. The cruise line recommends a standard amount, paid at the end of your cruise vacation.
Their tips are at the lower end of the scale for gratuity rates.
Gratuities on Star Clippers
8 Euros (or $10 USD) p.p. a night
14) UnCruise Adventures gratuities
No tips are added automatically when you sail with UnCruise Adventures.
But the line indicates that gratuities (paid at the end of your cruise) will be shared among the onboard crew, and it recommends the following (quite hefty) tips.
Gratuities on UnCruise
$35 p.p. a night
Details: See under the “Gratuities” heading on the Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
15) Viking Ocean Cruises gratuities
Viking Ocean Cruises has been making waves for bundling a whole bunch of freebies into their cruise price.
For one, Viking’s bar menu includes complimentary wine and beer at lunch at dinner. Free self-serve laundry, one free shore excursion in each port and free WiFi are also included.
But some things still aren’t included. Such as tips.
Viking Ocean Cruises tipping policy is to automatically add a daily “hotel and dining charge” to your bill. You can adjust this by heading to the Explorer’s Desk at any time.
Gratuities on Viking Ocean Cruises
$17 p.p. a night
A 15% tip is automatically added to bar, beverage and deck service tabs. The cruise line suggests you may also wish to give your local guides a cash tip at the end of each tour.
Details: See under What is the tipping policy? on Viking Cruises’ website.
16) Viking River Cruises gratuities
Viking River Cruises recommends a standard daily gratuity rate.
It’s added automatically to your final bill at the end of your cruise. (Or you can prepay gratuities before your cruise.)
Any additional tips are at your discretion.
Viking River Cruises recommends tipping local guides and drivers in cash.
Tipping on Viking River Cruises in Europe
- For ship staff – 20 Euros p.p. a day
- For the Tour Director – 2 Euros p.p. a day
- For local guides – 2 Euros p.p. a day
- For drivers – 1 Euro p.p. a day
Tipping policy on Viking River Cruises in Egypt and Mekong
- For ship staff – $25 USD p.p. a day
- For the Viking Tour Director – $10 USD p.p. a day
- For Viking Hosts – $10 USD p.p. a day
- For drivers – $1 USD p.p. a day
Viking River Cruise tipping on the Mississippi
- For ship staff – $20 USD p.p. a day
- For the Viking Tour Director – $5 USD p.p. a day
- For local guides – $5 USD p.p. a day
- For drivers – $2 USD p.p. a day
Details: See the Tipping Policy on Viking Cruises’ website.
17) Windstar Cruises gratuities
Windstar is another of our favorite small ship cruise lines. (See our Windstar Cruises review.)
They add the tip amount to your onboard bill (which you can adjust at the end of your cruise).
Gratuities on Windstar Cruises
$16 p.p. a night
As is common, a beverage service charge (18% for Windstar) is automatically added to your bar bill and any wine/beer you order in the dining room.
Details: See under the heading of Hotel Service Charge and Beverage Service Charge on Windstar’s site.
18) Virgin Voyages
Tips are included in the fare on Virgin Voyages cruises, so you don’t need to worry about any extra charges.
However, any extra tipping is welcome, especially if you want to thank the crew for excellent service!
Details: See Virgin Voyage’s webpage on What’s Included.
FAQs about tipping on a cruise
What are gratuities on a cruise?
Cruise gratuities are weekly or daily service charges paid by cruise guests.
These tips are usually either pre-paid or paid in full at the end of a cruise, and they’re typically split among the crew.
If you wish, you can also tip any particular crew members in cash.
How much to tip on cruises?
Generally, guests tip $15 to $20 per day per passenger for the cabin steward and dining room staff on a cruise.
Some cruise lines automatically charge this to your onboard account, while others leave it up to your discretion. Extra tipping for exceptional service is usually appreciated.
How much are cruise gratuities in total?
Gratuity charges on cruise ships range, depending on the cruise line and your type of accommodation (suites are pricier than rooms).
You can choose not to pay the gratuities or to reduce the amount, but often they make up part of the crew’s wage.
On average, onboard gratuities amount to about $210 USD per couple per cabin for a one-week cruise; more for a suite.
As well, a tip of 15% to 18% is typically added onto drinks purchases. This is in addition to the $15 to $20 p.p. a day gratuity that’s usually added to your bill.
The tips for drink purchases will show up as part of your total drink bill.
How much extra to tip cruise staff?
If you’ve already paid a gratuity charge, extra tipping on cruise ships isn’t typically necessary.
However, most cruise ships welcome an extra gratuity if a particular staff member exceeds your expectations; this is usually at your discretion.
How much do you tip on a river cruise?
Tipping cabin stewards and the rest of the crew also varies, depending on the river cruise company.
Generally, where tips are expected, the rates are around the same as ocean cruises.
But it depends on the location of the cruise. The tipping culture in Europe and Asia isn’t as robust as it is in the United States, so you may tip less (or not at all) in these locations.
Should I prepay gratuities on a cruise?
Cruise gratuities are sometimes added onto your cruise rate at the time of booking.
And sometimes you can choose to prepay these tips, which means that you’ll avoid any surprise charges when you check out.
However, some people disagree with paying a gratuity before they’ve received any service – so this is a matter of personal preference.
Now you know more about gratuities on cruises!
Tipping is usually expected on most cruises. It’s something you should budget for when considering the price of your cruise.
(Most luxury cruises include service charges in their quoted fares.)
The exact amount largely depends on which cruise line you’re going on. But many of the popular lines add on a gratuity of $15 to $20 per person a day.
Many cruise-goers are even happy to pay a little extra to a favorite bartender or special crew member for outstanding service!
If you’re cruising around Europe, Africa, Asia or Australasia, you may pay less in tips (or not at all), as locals from these countries are less likely to tip.
Photo credits: 7, 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Cruise line photos courtesy of the respective cruise lines