How Are Gratuities Handled On A Cruise Ship?

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So you’ve booked your dream cruise and now you’re wondering how gratuities are handled on a cruise ship. Well, no worries! We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about gratuities and how they are handled on a cruise ship. From the breakdown of who receives the tips to how much you should budget for, we’ll provide you with all the essential details. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-informed and ready to navigate the world of cruise ship gratuities with ease.

Curious to learn more about how gratuities are handled on a cruise ship? Look no further! In this article, we’ll delve into the inner workings of gratuities and provide you with all the information you need to know. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, understanding how gratuities work can make your experience onboard smoother and more enjoyable. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the ins and outs of gratuities on a cruise ship. You’ll be an expert in no time!

What Are Gratuities?

Definition of gratuities

Gratuities, also known as tips or service charges, are additional payments given to cruise ship employees in recognition of their exceptional service. They are a way for passengers to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the crew members who cater to their needs during the cruise.

Importance of gratuities on a cruise ship

Gratuities play a crucial role in the cruise ship industry. They serve as a significant source of income for many crew members, especially those in positions that rely heavily on tips. These include cabin stewards, waitstaff, bartenders, and room service personnel.

Aside from financial benefits, gratuities also have a positive impact on employee morale. Recognizing outstanding service through tips motivates the crew to go above and beyond to ensure passengers have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Gratuities are not mandatory, but they are highly encouraged as they contribute to the well-being of the crew and the overall quality of service on the cruise ship.

Why Do Cruise Ships Implement Gratuities?

Reasons behind implementing gratuities on cruise ships

Cruise lines implement gratuities as a way to ensure that crew members receive fair compensation for their hard work. They provide an opportunity for passengers to express their gratitude and contribute to the economic stability of the crew. By collecting gratuities, cruise lines can distribute them among the various staff members who contribute to the passengers’ stay.

Benefits for cruise ship employees

Gratuities provide crew members with additional income beyond their fixed salary. This can significantly enhance their earnings, especially for those in lower-wage positions. It allows them to support their families, save for the future, or pursue personal goals.

Gratuities also create a sense of job security for employees. Cruise ship contracts may be temporary, and the presence of gratuities ensures that their hard work is recognized and rewarded.

Cost-saving measure for cruise lines

For cruise lines, the implementation of gratuities can serve as a cost-saving measure. By incorporating gratuities into the overall pricing structure, cruise lines can keep base fares lower, making cruises more accessible to a wider range of passengers.

Additionally, by collecting and distributing gratuities directly, cruise lines can control and manage the distribution of gratuities more efficiently, ensuring that all employees receive their share.

Different Types of Gratuities on a Cruise Ship

Automatic gratuities

Automatic gratuities, also known as service charges, are predetermined amounts added to each passenger’s onboard account on a daily basis. These gratuities are automatically allocated to various crew members who provide essential services during the cruise.

Discretionary gratuities

Discretionary gratuities, also known as extra tips, are additional payments that passengers can choose to give directly to specific crew members based on their exceptional service. These gratuities are not automatically added to the onboard account and are entirely at the discretion of the passenger.

Specialty restaurant gratuities

In addition to automatic and discretionary gratuities, some cruise lines may also have a separate gratuity policy for specialty restaurants. These restaurants often have a higher level of service and a different dining experience, warranting an additional gratuity.

Spa and salon gratuities

Gratuities for spa and salon services are usually additional and separate from the automatic gratuities. Similar to dining at specialty restaurants, passengers may choose to give an extra tip based on their satisfaction with the service received.

How Are Automatic Gratuities Calculated?

Factors considered in calculating automatic gratuities

Automatic gratuities are typically calculated based on the average cost per passenger per day. Factors such as the cruise line’s policy, the length of the cruise, and the type of cabin booked can influence the overall amount.

Average cost per passenger per day

The average cost per passenger per day can vary across cruise lines and ships. It can range from around $10 to $15 per person per day. Passengers should refer to their cruise line’s policies to determine the exact amount.

Allocation of gratuities to different staff members

The automatic gratuities collected are distributed among various crew members who contribute to the passengers’ experience. This includes the cabin stewards, dining room staff, bar staff, and other service-oriented roles. The distribution of these gratuities is typically determined by the cruise line, based on a predetermined formula.

Can Passengers Request Changes to Gratuities?

Options for modifying or removing gratuities

Passengers have the option to modify or remove automatic gratuities by contacting guest services. Some cruise lines may allow passengers to make these changes online or via their onboard account management systems.

Deadline for requesting changes

Cruise lines often have specific deadlines for requesting changes to automatic gratuities. It is important for passengers to adhere to these deadlines to ensure that their modifications are properly processed.

Consequences of modifying gratuity amounts

Passengers should be aware that modifying or removing gratuities may have consequences. Some cruise lines may require passengers to submit written justifications for any modifications or removals. Additionally, certain crew members rely heavily on gratuities as part of their income, and reducing or eliminating gratuities may negatively affect their earnings.

How Are Discretionary Gratuities Handled?

Definition of discretionary gratuities

Discretionary gratuities are additional tips that passengers choose to give directly to specific crew members based on outstanding service. These gratuities are entirely at the discretion of the passenger and are not subject to the automatic gratuity calculation.

How and when to offer discretionary gratuities

Discretionary gratuities are typically given in cash or in an envelope directly to the crew member. Passengers may choose to offer these gratuities at any time during the cruise, but it is customary to do so at the end of the cruise as a token of appreciation.

Protocol for presenting discretionary gratuities

When presenting discretionary gratuities, it is customary to express gratitude verbally and offer the tip discreetly. This ensures that the gesture does not compromise the professionalism and integrity of the crew member.

Special Considerations for Specialty Restaurants

Additional gratuities for dining at specialty restaurants

Dining at specialty restaurants often involves an additional charge beyond the regular dining options included in the cruise fare. While this charge generally covers the cost of the meal and basic service, passengers may still choose to give an additional tip as a show of appreciation for exceptional service.

Percentage or fixed amount for specialty restaurant gratuities

The additional gratuity for specialty restaurants can be either a percentage of the total cost or a fixed amount per person. This may vary depending on the cruise line’s policy. Passengers should refer to the specific guidelines provided by the cruise line.

Distribution of gratuities among specialty restaurant staff

Similar to automatic gratuities, the additional gratuities given at specialty restaurants are typically pooled and distributed among the staff members who contributed to the passengers’ dining experience. This ensures that everyone involved receives a fair share of the gratuity.

Are Gratuities Added to Other Onboard Services?

Inclusion of gratuities in spa and salon services

Gratuities for spa and salon services are not typically included in the automatic gratuity calculation. Passengers are encouraged to give additional tips directly to the service providers based on their satisfaction with the service received.

Guidelines for tipping other onboard services

For other onboard services such as laundry, concierge assistance, or room service, passengers can choose to give discretionary gratuities directly to the crew member providing the service. It is customary to offer these gratuities in cash or an envelope.

Exceptions and recommendations for gratuities

Passengers should consult the cruise line’s policies to determine if there are any specific guidelines or recommendations for gratuities in other onboard services. Some cruise lines may have specific gratuity policies for exceptional services or special occasions.

What Happens to Gratuities Paid Onboard?

Management of gratuities by cruise lines

Once gratuities are collected onboard, cruise lines manage these funds and ensure that they are properly allocated. They are typically accounted for separately from other onboard revenue and undergo strict financial controls.

Allocation and distribution of gratuities to employees

Cruise lines distribute gratuities among the respective crew members based on predetermined formulas or protocols. The funds are allocated to various departments and staff members who contribute to the passengers’ experience throughout the cruise.

Tracking and reporting of gratuities

Cruise lines have systems in place to track and report gratuities accurately. This ensures transparency in the distribution of funds and allows passengers to have confidence in the management of gratuities.


In conclusion, gratuities play a vital role in the cruise ship industry. They provide a means for passengers to show appreciation to the hardworking crew members and enhance their overall cruise experience. Understanding and respecting gratuity policies are essential to maintaining a harmonious onboard environment and ensuring the well-being of cruise ship employees. So, the next time you embark on a cruise, consider the importance of gratuities and how they are handled to make your journey even more enjoyable for both you and the crew.