Gratuities are often the last thing you want to think about when heading off on holiday but nevertheless, just like going out for an evening meal, leaving a tip will eventually come around and it is always good to know what to expect before the time arrives. It is for this reason that we thought it would be good to take the time to look closer at gratuity requirements on board and talk you through the possibilities you may face with different cruise lines.
There is a range of different ways cruise lines tend to approach gratuities. It was for many years the done thing to provide envelopes in staterooms for passengers so that when the time came to depart and head home, guests would be able to place money into these envelopes to hand to crew members as a thank you for their service during the cruise. This envelope system usually came in three’s with one envelope being provided for the cabin steward, another for your waiter and finally for your wine steward during dinner in the main restaurant with extra envelopes provided to be used at your own discretion.
The envelope system, does, aboard certain cruise lines still exist and remain in place but the majority of cruise lines have or are intending to switch to the automatic process. The use of envelopes revolved primarily around the passengers own freedom to tip whatever they wish with cruise lines simply providing a suggested daily guide amount to provide assistance. The automatic process however, places a certain amount, specified by the cruise operator at the time of booking or when you arrive on board, onto your on board account each day. This amount usually ranges from £3-£5 when cruising with cruise lines using sterling on board or $5-$10 with American cruise lines to give you an example. The automatic system has been preferred by many cruise operators in recent times as it allows guests to be able to relax and not have to worry about remembering the use of envelopes and also allows for the gratuities to be spread evenly across crew members.
You may by now be thinking, ok that’s fine and it’s good I don’t have to worry about remembering to tip but I would like to control the amount I pay rather than have it dictated to me. Well if this is the case, then you need not worry. Most cruise lines do allow you to make changes to the amount you pay and can vary the gratuity rates should you wish. To do this all you will need to do is visit the reception desk or guest relations on board the ship during your holiday and you will be looked after. The ability to change and vary gratuity amounts often provides passengers with peace of mind and for this reason remains a regular feature with the majority of cruise operators.
There is an option with cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises to pre-pay your gratuities at the time of booking. This can often be a very beneficial thing to do as then they are out of the way and done, completely sorted, with nothing to worry about on board. As well as the peace of mind offered by pre-payment of gratuities, this can also be beneficial finacially as when pre-paying at the time of booking with us, you will do so in Sterling where as on board gratuities will be in US Dollars. Depending on the exchange rate and any charges faced by your bank for currency conversion charges, it often proves a much better option to pre-pay these and have the whole thing dealt with immediately, leaving you to relax and focus on looking forward to your holiday.
There are cruise lines that include gratuities in the cost of the overall cruise fare and offer an all-inclusive option on board where you will not need to tip at all. These cruise lines are often luxury brands for example Regent Seven Seas and Azamara Club Cruises. All gratuities are completely covered but if you wish to provide further tips to crew members you feel have provided excellent service on board, then this again is possible and completely left to your discretion.
We provide a detailed insight into gratuities in our FAQ pages and cruise guides. For more information on the topic of tipping and the break down of requirements for a full range of operators visit our Gratuities Guide Page. Alternatively for instant information on specific requirements see the pages highlighted below:
- Gratuity FAQ’s
- Luxury Cruise Gratuities
- River Cruise Gratuities
- Discovery Cruise Gratuities