Carnival bartender mixing cocktails.

Complete Guide to Cruise Ship Gratuities for 2024

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Whether your cruise line calls them daily service fees, cruise ship gratuities or crew appreciation, it’s simply tipping on a cruise. Nearly every cruise line has a name for these automatically-added service fees. 

Most cruise lines add daily gratuity fees directly to your onboard account throughout your cruise. Plus, different onboard experiences, from using your stateroom mini-bar to dining in a specialty restaurant, have an added fee.

We’ve listed each cruise line’s per-person daily gratuity. We break down tipping on a cruise to what you’ll pay depending on your stateroom category, plus any additional service fees. 

Someone to give an extra gratuity? Cruise ship bartender at Alchemy Bar on Carnival.
You might want to extend an extra gratuity (above the 18% service fee) to a favorite new bartender at the beginning of your cruise. Photo: Sherry Laskin / Cruise Maven

What are Daily Cruise Ship Gratuities?

Every cruise line has a recommended amount that each guest should pay to the crew. Holland America calls it a “Daily Service Fee.” Princess calls it “Crew Appreciation.” Basically, it’s a gratuity fee; how much you’ll pay for tips on a cruise ship. 

Some cruise lines may call this a “Guest Services Fee” on your onboard account statement. While others simply add “Gratuity” to your onboard account. 

Tipping on a Cruise Begins Before Sailaway

Savvy cruisers know that gratuities begin before you board your ship. Why? If you plan to drop off your larger pieces of luggage, be prepared to give the portside luggage handler a $2- $5 tip per bag. The amount can depend upon size, weight and amount of luggage.

If you’re a solo traveler and only have one large bag to check, a $5 tip is appropriate.

Consider this tip as baggage delivery insurance.

Ship doctor carrying my luggage. I didn't give him a cruise gratuity!
This is one time I didn’t tip someone for hauling my luggage. It was the ship’s doctor on a river cruise!

Should I Pre-Pay Cruise Gratuities?

If you want to get the daily cruise tipping fees out of the way before your cruise and avoid last-night sticker shock, I always suggest that you pre-pay gratuities.

Also, if you pre-pay your gratuities, and should the cruise line raise the cruise tip amount before you sail, you are “grandfathered-in” at the previous lower rate. 

Don’t pre-pay gratuities and if there’s an increase, you’ll pay a bit more at the end of your cruise. For one person, it’s not too bad. If you’re paying for a family, it could be a very costly added expense.

Average Daily Cruise Line Gratuity

Roughly speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $11.50 – $20.00 per passenger per day for onboard gratuities. As mentioned, cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account. 

Luxury lines like Azamara, Ponant, Regent, Silversea, Seabourn, Sea Dream, Virgin Voyages include gratuities in the cruise fare.

On cruise lines where gratuities are not included, you can monitor the charges on your shipboard bill either from the Front Desk or on your stateroom TV.

Sometimes cruise gratuities are only added at the very end of your cruise, too. Talk about sticker shock!

Cruise ship gratuities, like here aboard Wonder of the Seas, are not included in your base fare.
Wonder of the Seas main pool deck. Photo: Sherry Laskin / Cruise Maven

Cruise Line Gratuities for 2024

Here’s what you will pay per person per day for cruise ship gratuities/service fees/crew appreciation as of this writing. 

CARNIVAL:  $14.50 for Standard Staterooms; $16.50 for Suites. An 18% automatic charge is added to beverages at the bars, plus at Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki and Chef’s Table restaurants.

On April 1, 2023, Carnival raised its services fees to $16.00 per person per day for those in standard staterooms. Suite passengers now pay $18.00, an increase of $1.50 per day.

CELEBRITY:  $17.50 for Standard Staterooms; $18.00 in Concierge and Aqua Class staterooms. Those booked in the Retreat do not pay a daily gratuity fee. If you purchase Celebrity’s All Included plan, the gratuity is included. But you’ll pay 20% fee if you order a drink that’s not in your beverage package (Classic or Premium). There’s an 18% charge for the spa and salon services.

COSTA:  An automatic $12.50 service fee is added onto all U.S. departures. There’s €11 on Europe departures. 15% beverage charge. Kids 4-14yrs 50% less. Under 4, no charge.

CUNARD:  With a name change from “gratuities” to “hotel and dining service charge”, you’ll pay $11.50 for Britannia Class staterooms (inside, oceanview and balcony). Then, $13.50 for those in the Grill Suites. Pay a 15% beverage charge and 12.5% for a visit to the salon or spa.

DISNEY:  $14.50 is the suggested amount for those in standard staterooms. If you’re in a suite or concierge stateroom, Disney recommends a $15.50 gratuity fee. Disney doesn’t automatically post the fees to your account, however. 15% beverage charge and 18% for spa services

HOLLAND AMERICA:  $16.00 for those in standard staterooms. Suite guests will pay an automatic $17.00 per person per day fee. Gratuity charges for beverage packages, drinks, dining room and specialty dining, and other non-included service fee amenities is 18%.

HURTIGRUTEN:  $12.00 – Suggested amount on expedition cruises. Norwegian coastal cruises there is no gratuity fee.

MSC CRUISES:  Valid until summer 2024:  $14.00 for adults 12 years and older. $7.00 for children ages 2 – 11 years. Under 2 years old, no charge. This applies to Caribbean, Canada and USA cruise departures. Cruises abroad, gratuities are in euros and at a comparable exchange rate. MSC website also states they do not recommend tipping individual members of staff.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE:  Book a Club Balcony Suite and below and pay $20.00 per person per day. Reside in The Haven or above Suites and it’s $25.00 pppd. For children under three years, there’s no daily fee. There’s also a 20% beverage charge with each non-included drink you order. On Hawai’i sailings, there’s a 4.275% pre-paid service charge GET tax.

OCEANIA:  $16.00 for guests occupying standard staterooms. For Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner’s Suites with Butler Service, gratuities of $23.00 per guest, per day will be added. An 18% service gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases, spa services and dinner at La Reserve.

PRINCESS: Now called “Crew Appreciation” the daily fee is as follows:  inside, oceanview or balcony staterooms are $16.00. Mini-Suite and Reserve Collection staterooms are $17.00. Book a suite and you’ll pay $18.00 pppd. There’s also a “service charge” of 17% for specialty dining that’s included in the cover charge. You’ll pay 18% for individual drinks and drink packages, corkage fee and spa services. 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN:  Royal Caribbean automatic gratuity rates are $16.00 per person, per day for guests in non-suite staterooms. Book a suite and pay $18.50. Gratuities will be applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis. There’s also an 18% charge for beverages, mini-bar items, and salon and salon purchases.

VIKING OCEAN CRUISES:  Simple here. $15.00 per day for all staterooms and a 15% beverage charge.

Queen Mary 2 front desk staff can answer any cruise ship tipping questions.
The Front Desk staff can answer your cruise ship gratuity questions.

Should You Tip the Room Service Delivery Person?

Here’s another category that needs addressing; room service delivery fees.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian automatically add a room service delivery fee. Sometimes it depends on what you order. 

You can still directly offer a tip to your delivery person. He or she will appreciate it.

I always suggest to bring $1 and $5 bills from home. This way, you’re ready to personally hand it to the room service delivery person. 

Having several small bills is very handy, especially for early morning breakfast delivery. You don’t have to fumble around to find a tip. $2.00 to $5.00 is appropriate, depending on the food or how many meals ordered.

Who Gets a Share of the Gratuities?

Depending upon your cruise line and accommodation category, the amounts of who gets what may vary by a few dollars. But this should give you an idea as to where the cruise ship tips go and how it’s divvied up at the end. 

For this example, the amounts listed below are for standard (non-suite) staterooms, may vary by a dollar or so and subject to change every couple of years.

Also, these amounts will differ because the cruise lines stress that a portion of the service fees also goes to many crew members who work behind the scenes and/or towards a shared crew incidentals/emergency fund.

The top tier of crew recipients, however, are the waiters and stateroom attendants. Next, are the assistant waiters and staterooms attendants. The head waiter may or may not receive a cut in the share. 

Those hard-working crew members behind the scenes that you never see will get a small piece of the pie, too. 

Extra tipping on a cruise ship is something you can decide to do.
If your waiter goes above and beyond the expected service, an additional gratuity is a nice “thank you.” Aboard Golden Princess.

Cruise Tips for Those Not on the Automatic Gratuity List

Some onboard services aren’t subject to automatically-included gratuities. Since these are people that you may interact with on a daily basis, it’s nice to add them to your gratuity list.

  • Childcare provider: At your discretion, similar to your babysitter at home.
  • Bartender: Plan to frequent the same bar throughout your cruise? Give your new favorite bartender a $10 – $20 upfront tip. If you’ve had excellent service, another tip at the end of the cruise is also appreciated.
  • Wine sommelier: Based on their involvement, $10 or $20 at the end of the cruise is appropriate. Some cruise lines have done away with a sommelier and your waiter is responsible for keeping track of your wine bottles. Tip accordingly.
  • Shore excursion guide: $2.00 – $5.00. Some passengers base their shore excursion tip on 10%-20% per person based on the cost of the tour.
  • Shore excursion motor coach driver: $1.00 – $2.00, especially in Europe.
  • Spa and Salon services: The spa will automatically add a 15% – 20% gratuity. Is there a need to tip your service provider? It’s up to you.

Read more:  Seven Stateroom Locations to Avoid

Personalize Your Tip-Giving Experience

Many cruise passengers from Britain and a few European countries where tipping isn’t a common practice, prefer to have the automatically-added tips removed from their account. This can be requested at the Reception (Purser’s) Desk.

Hopefully, these folks will then hand out cash to those who have worked hard for them during the cruise. Others simply refuse to tip. And it’s not just non-Americans, either. 

Conversely, some guests who are familiar with and follow the tipping guidelines, prefer to hand out cash-filled envelopes to crew members.

Bring a stack of small bills from home and keep separate from your other cash, to avoid the last night panic line at the Purser’s Desk.

Saying hi to the front desk staff, here it's Cunard Queen Mary 2, is one of my 12 cruise hacks for women cruising solo
Get to know the front desk staff. This is on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

You can also visit the casino cashier to break your larger bills. Bring envelopes (and thank you notes) from home in case the ship’s front desk doesn’t have any to give for tips.

When in Europe, Euros are the preferred currency for tipping on both ocean and river cruises. Or you can usually put the gratuities directly onto your onboard account and credit card.

I always leave the automatic gratuities on my account. Then on the last night, if service was very good, at dinner I’ll bring envelopes with a little extra cash for my waiter, assistant waiter and sommelier.

Whether or not to tip the Maître d’ is up to you, depending on if you’ve actually communicated with this person. 

On the last night or on the morning of departure, I always give an extra tip to my room steward when I say goodbye.

Tipping After Your Cruise

After the cruise, if you ask a porter to load your luggage and wheel it to the outdoors or motor coach, you’ll need to dip into your wallet one more time.

In many ports or after a transatlantic crossing, you’ll get through the customs and immigration line quicker if you ask a porter to help with your luggage. 

If you don’t know what to expect, tipping on cruise ships can be confusing and a bit daunting. Know the gratuity amounts before you go and avoid last-minute surprises, long queues for cash and empty-pocket embarrassment.

If this was helpful, please PIN for others!

Pinterest pin with smiling bartender pouring a drink.

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17 Comments

  1. Tipping is absolutely necessary on cruises. These people work for peanuts, and they work very hard with no days off for months. TIPS stands for To Insure Proper Service. When on land you tip at bars and restaurants, then why on the cruise ships should people question it and cheap out. When we get on the ship, we leave extra tip money in the safe. On the last night, we give the envelopes with cash in it to all the people that took such good care of us on our cruise. Be a good cruiser.

  2. Hi Crissy, thank you for reading my article and for your question. Are you referring to the concierge that, for example, is in charge of a loyalty club lounge like the Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus or Pinnacle Club? On cruises where I’ve used the concierge’s services (for show or dinner reservations or help with shore excursions), I’ll usually give the concierge $20-$30 at the end of a seven-night cruise. On a luxury line, I would tip more, depending on how involved the person was with assisting me with reservations etc.

    If you’re referring to your stateroom butler, the gratuity prices are set by the cruise line and of course you can always add to it for exemplary service.

    I hope this is helpful info. Thank you again for reading the article and taking the time to ask your question. Happy cruising!

  3. Hi Nick,
    That’s a great question and thank you for writing. Since this is your first time handling the financial ends of a cruise, I would suggest leaving the automatic gratuities on your accounts. It will make the cruise more seamless and you won’t have that last-minute scramble finding small bills to put into envelopes and then locating the people for whom the envelopes are intended. If someone goes above and beyond regular service, it’s perfectly fine to simply hand him or her an extra gratuity. This could be your room steward or bartender or waiter. Have a wonderful cruise and thank you again for writing.
    Sherry

  4. I’m about to go on my first cruise with my girlfriend and not with my family. Prior to this cruise, I was never responsible for any of the “stateroom “ accounts since my father always took care of the monetary issues of the vacation.
    After reading the article and the responses I am confused as to whether or not to take the automatic gratuities taken off my account when I go on my cruise and just gave out envelopes at the end of my vacation.
    What do you think

  5. Coworker used to work for Celebrity – they get NO SALARY from the cruise line, they rely on the gratuities. Removing the automatic gratuity and then not actually tipping at least that amount in cash is akin to participating in modern-day slavery ie expecting people to contentedly serve you for free.

    Echoing Jeff’s comment about folk who stingily resent a few hundred dollars to the ones who need it most.

  6. Mandatory gratuities. I don’t know whether to characterize this as the third world corruption tax in action (being forced to pay civil servants, hospital nurses, etc. a bribe before they will do the job that they are hired and paid to do); or first world predatory capitalism in action. Pretty clearly the cruise lines have offloaded the responsibility for paying their employees a living wage (or any wage) directly onto passengers via mandatory gratuities. Why don’t they just call it “bribes” or “employee salaries” on the invoice instead of “mandatory gratuities.” It is ridiculous that on top of paying for a horrendously expensive cruise and shore excursions, you have to pay bribes/employee salaries in the form of mandatory gratuities. And in some cases you have to pay extra bribes in addition to, on top of, the mandatory gratuities. It all adds up to making a cruise a “once in a lifetime” experience rather than a repeat experience.

  7. Hi Shannon,
    Congrats on your first cruise! For tipping, the amount may depend upon the cruise line and your stateroom category. After your automatic gratuities have been charged to your onboard account, you could hand your room steward $20-$30 (two people) in recognition for good service. I hope this helps. Happy cruising!
    Sherry

  8. Hi Sherry, I’m going on my first cruise this summer. What’s an appropriate tip range for the room steward on a 7 day cruise?

  9. Hi Jeff,
    Nicely said. I would like to think that a lot of the non-tippers or those who queue at the front desk on the last night to remove the service fee are from countries where tipping isn’t part of their culture. But not always so. Thanks for your comment.
    Sherry

  10. I always wonder how someone can pay thousands for a cruise, airfare, and shore excursions and then be resentful of a few hundred dollars in tips for the lowest paid of those who make the trip enjoyable. The desire to stick it to the little people reminds me of the great quote from tax cheat, Leona Helmsley, who once said that, “Only the little people pay taxes”. The jury of” little people” had little trouble convicting her. The people who are put out with tips should find other ways to vacation.

  11. I have my doubt where the cruise gratuities go to. You can never find out what a crew member earns or how much they actually receive out of gratuities paid and so that end I refuse to have gratuities added to my state room account. However the crew get do get paid to do a job and they knew the pay before they started, they get free food and board plus flights home and we as paying public have already paid for the service they provide. Assuming that all the gratuities are passed on. The ratio of crew member to passenger after removing the staff that are not part of the gratuity pot is about 4 or 5 to 1. On a 14 day cruise at $12.75 per person that adds up to $178.50 per person x 4 and the sum per fortnights holiday gives a bonus of $714 each. That for a 9 month contract would give them a bonus of around $13500 plus pay….Think about it

  12. Found out that the cruise line does not give the gratuities to the crew , those tips are kept by the cruise line -ask a crew member, lies and rip off .

  13. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the article and I hope it was helpful.

Comments are closed.