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Gratuities on a Cruise: How Much to Tip? (18 Cruise Lines)

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: How much should you tip?
What’s the deal with tipping on cruises?

Gratuities on a cruise

Gratuities on a Cruise
Cruise gratuities will bump up the total price of your cruise fare

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.)

Gratuities on a Cruise
Cruise ships usually add an automatic gratuity for drinks purchases (which is in addition to the daily service charge)

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.

It’s always exciting to go on a cruise!

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.

The AmaMagna cruising through the Iron Gates on the Danube River
The AmaMagna cruising through the Iron Gates on the Danube River

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. 

Extra gratuities

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.

Carnival Prepaid Gratuities
There’s no shortage of fun when you go on a Carnival cruise!

Extra charges

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

With its different "classes" of staterooms, each with their own exclusive dining room, cruising on Cunard recalls the "golden" age of glamorous cruising.
With its different “classes” of staterooms, each with their own exclusive dining room, cruising on Cunard recalls the “golden” age of glamorous cruising

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

Cafe latte in the Grand Dutch Cafe on Holland America Cruises
Holland America’s Grand Dutch Café was one of our favorite spots on both our Rotterdam and Nieuw Statendam cruises

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

Extra charges

An automatic 18% bar service charge is added for all Holland America drink packages, bar cocktails and dining room wine purchases.

Details:  See the line’s webpage on their Crew Appreciation and Service Charge Policy for Holland America’s tipping policy.

7) MSC gratuities

MSC gratuities on the MSC Seaside are automatically added to your onboard account.
The cutting-edge MSC Seaside boasts unique condo-like cabins at the aft and a multi-storey water park

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.

Extra charges

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 Gratuities
Oceania Cruises gets rave reviews for its food and multiple specialty restaurants

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

Additional gratuities

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

Extra charges 

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.

Extra charges

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

The 5-star Scenic Spirit on the Mekong River
The 5-star Scenic Spirit on the Mekong River

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.

One tour guide on our Seine River cruise in France specifically told us not to tip, as Scenic had already tipped him well enough!

Daily gratuities


Details: See the All-Inclusive Luxury webpage on Scenic’s site.

13) Star Clippers gratuities

To experience what it's like to actually sail on a cruise ship, check out Star Clippers' unique tall ships
To experience what it’s like to actually sail on a cruise ship, check out Star Clippers’ unique tall ships

If you love sailing, it’s hard to beat cruising on the Star Flyer (modeled after a 19th century clipper ship) or the beautiful Royal Clipper.

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

Expect a whole lot of adventure on UnCruise Adventures!
Expect a whole lot of adventure on UnCruise Adventures!

We’re fans of UnCruise Adventures and have sailed with them on three trips now. (See our UnCruise Alaska, UnCruise Costa Rica and UnCruise Hawaii reviews.) 

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

Extra charges


Details: See under the “Gratuities” heading on the Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

15) Viking Ocean Cruises gratuities

Viking Ocean Cruises gratuities
The Viking Sky in Tromso, Norway (Viking Ocean Cruises is particularly renowned for exploring Northern Europe)

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

Extra charges

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

One of Windstar Cruises' sailing-style yachts.
Windstar has six small ships, including three sailing-style yachts

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

Extra charges 

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! 

Daily gratuities


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. 

Happy cruising! 

Get more cruising inspiration!

Cruising Morocco: Snake charmers? Harems? Visit Morocco on a cruise.

Chobe River cruise in Africa: Wake up to the sound of grunting hippos. And watch elephants bathe in the river at sunset while sipping Chardonnay. You’re on a Zambezi Queen river safari!

Cruising French Polynesia: Check out the best Tahiti cruises – they’re very romantic!

Our top travel tips and resources

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Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

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Photo credits: 7, 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Cruise line photos courtesy of the respective cruise lines

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

C.J. Lakey

Thursday 19th of December 2019

For the concierge service that is part of the suite cost, how much extra should be given provided the service was excellent and used?

Janice and George

Thursday 19th of December 2019

The "recommended" tipping amount for suites that's automatically added to your bill covers the butler service. For example, stay in a Queens Grill suite on a Cunard ship and you get a butler who can help with unpacking your suitcase to shining your shoes. And you'd pay $13.50 p.p. a day in automatic tips for this (spread among the staff).

You don't need to pay the butler an extra tip, but a small extra gratuity would, no doubt, definitely be appreciated. We've seen suggestions in the range of $2 to $5 p.p. night, depending on the cost of your suite and how generous you feel :-).

John M.

Sunday 6th of October 2019

The practice of tipping simply enables Cruise Lines to underpay their staff, and yet the cost of the cruise seems adequate for them to afford to pay decent rates.

I noted that one comment suggest that hospitality worker are low paid "by Law". That's the US situation, but not Worldwide.

In some cultures (e.g. Japan) tipping is an insult: service staff are proud of the quality of their work and need no "incentives". In fact, it suggests they are poor, you are rich, they are subservient.

Automatic tipping only exists because we allow it. Say "No" and tip if you wish where and how you see fit.

Janice and George

Sunday 6th of October 2019

Interesting point you make about tipping in Japan... And, yes, it can be considered rude there. Thanks for chiming in :-).

Alex Jovan

Sunday 29th of September 2019

We were charged $629 of Gratuties for 2 adults and 1 child on Royal Caribbean. This was a longer sailing - 11 nights; the food and service was very sub-par for the first 7 nights. Then they did a turn around and kept talking to every one about Ratings and the dining staff reminded us everyday of the last 3 days about giving them 10 stars in the rating.

If you have to ask for it, then have you really earned it?

I know that they work hard for very less pay - my sympathies - but if the system they work in keeps me on the table for 2.5 hours while I constantly wait for food to come in and unwillingly munch on cheap bread rolls - then I simply can't give them my Gratuties and I simply can't rate them well.

Janice and George

Sunday 29th of September 2019

Thank you for sharing your experience and views...

Paul Castellan

Saturday 21st of September 2019

We are very seasoned cruisers. We always leave a tip envelope for our cabin steward. Since fixed dining is passe the wait staff varies so no need to tip. The hint to tip the maitre de is ignored. If we have a favorite bar and are taken care of then we slide them a tip. This is North American culture. We concur that the ships crew work hard as they do perform various roles not just waiter or room steward but also other roles assigned to them.

Janice and George

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Good suggestions :-). We too like to leave a little something extra for our cabin steward or stewardess (even if tips are automatically included). Thanks for reading and commenting...

Brooke Babcock

Sunday 15th of September 2019

The perennial question is, if I tip my room steward or waiter, does he get to keep it, or must he share it with the others?

Janice and George

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

We think it's understood that a personal tip is intended for the individual to keep for themselves :-). Of course, you'd be paying this in addition to any built-in gratuities the cruise line charges.