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Cruise Tipping Guidelines

Cruise tipping is one of the frequently asked questions by those new to cruising. As usually where tipping etiquette is concerned, there are no simple answers and no standard tipping policy in place.

Holiday tipping is very much American custom, where tipping is cultural, and leaving tipping to the discretion of passengers used to be the norm in the cruise industry. Cruising has however become increasingly international in recent year, attracting passengers that are not accustomed to tipping... and many do not care much about it, they prefer tipping to be included in the price.

Different Cruise Tipping Policies

Strictly speaking, all tipping is optional, i.e. voluntary expression of thanks. However, the employees on most of the mainstream cruise ships depend on the cruise gratuity as it makes up vast majority of their salaries.

All cruise lines issue tipping suggestions and tipping guidelines to their passengers. Their cruise tipping policies tend to fall into one of the four following categories:

  • Discretion - Tipping at the discretion of each guest, usually put in an envelope at the end of the journey or it can be added to the on-board account
  • Added - Recommended amount is added to the on-board account but can be adjusted on-board if required
  • Mandatory - The amount is added to the invoice / on-board account and must be paid
  • Included - No tipping required as included in the price

You can usually pay the cruise gratuity in one, or all, of the following ways:

  • Cash - At the end of your cruise
  • Added - To your on-board account and paid at the end of your cruise
  • Pre-paid - Added to you invoice and paid prior to going on the cruise

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Cruise Tipping Guide

Our tipping guide gives you an overview of the cruise lines tipping policies for some of the main international cruise companies.

The amount is the recommended / added amount per person per day. If you click on the cruise line name, you will go to their tipping / gratitude / service charge section where you can find the full details of their tipping policies.

Cruise LinerAmountDiscretionAddedMandatoryIncludedNotes
Carnival$10.00X1, 6, 7, 9, 10
Costa€6.00 - $11.00X15, 16
Crystal$13.00 - 18.00X1, 5,6, 10
Cunard$11.00 - 13.00X1, 6, 7
Disney$12.00X1, 6, 10, 18
Fred Olsen£4.00X1, 7
Holland America$11.00X1, 6, 7, 11
Norwegian Cruise Line$12.00X6, 7, 12, 13, 14
P&O Cruises £3.50X2, 3
Royal Caribbean$18.90X1, 4, 6, 10


1. Guidelines are the same for all passengers regardless of age

2. Recommends tipping per person over 12 years

3. If you opt for special dining arrangement tips added but can be changed onboard

4. If you opt for special dining arrangement tips, you have to prepay gratuities

5. If you opt for specialty restaurants, suggested tip $7 per guest, per dinner

6. A 15 % gratuity will automatically be added to your bar bill or wine bill when you are served

7. All gratuities charged may be adjusted onboard if you wish

8. Depending on the class you are travelling in

9. All gratuities automatically added and in some cases must be prepaid

10. Automatically charged / guided amount for dining and stateroom staff, rest tipped at guest discretion

11. Call it hotel service charge

12. All guests three years or older

13. 18% added on spa and salon bills and charged to your on-board account (other recommend the amount)

14. All gratuities automatically added and prepaid unless asked in advance not to, then added to the on-board account

15. Charges vary depending on where you cruise and for how long, see Service Charge on their website

16. Charged for all guests over 14 years, and 50% for teenagers 14 - 17 years

17. Cover charge at some restaurants

18. Guided amount based on number of night, not days

When planning your cruise, you should consider tipping as part of the cost of the cruise. When comparing prices, check the cruise tipping policy and add the tipping suggestions to the price of cruises that do not include it. That way you are comparing apple to apple.

Some cruise experts recommend adding 10% to the cost of your cabin price when budgeting for your cruise. That way you should have adequately budgeted for all tipping and service charges.

Top Cruise Tipping Tips

It does not matter if the tip is included in your cruise... if you are happy with the service express your gratitude. Tip is not a substitute to verbal thanks.

The good old-fashioned “Thank you”, is always appreciated - worldwide. Leave a note for the relevant staff members if you cannot thank them in person, or even better, mention their names in the end of cruise questionnaire.