Skip to content

9 times you do not need to tip on a cruise

March 26 2022
7 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Like it or not, tipping culture is alive and well on cruise ships.

When you book a cruise, you also agree to tip the crew. Most cruise lines add a daily gratuity or service charge to your fare, either prepaid in advance of your sailing or once you are on board. They add auto-gratuities to many onboard purchases. Independently, you’re also expected to tip tour guides, porters and the room service delivery person.

Once you’re in this tipping mindset, you might be tempted to hand out extra cash every time you interact with a crew member. Thankfully, that’s not necessary. Here are nine times when you do not need to tip on your cruise (though you might want to anyway).

Sign up for our daily newsletter

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.

When sailing luxury lines

Upscale and luxury ships — such as Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises — include crew gratuities in the cruise fare. You are not expected to tip on these sailings at all.

However, slipping your butler or favorite waiter or bartender some cash is welcomed; good service should be rewarded. You might also want to express your thanks by donating to the crew fund, which provides treats and entertainment options to the hard-working crew.

When imbibing

When you order a drink in a bar, restaurant or lounge on a cruise ship, it’s typical for the cruise line to include a 15 to 20 percent gratuity on your bill, so that $6 beer may actually cost you $7.20. If you have a drinks package, tips are included.

Additional tipping is not required, even if there’s a blank line for an “additional gratuity” on your check. That said, some cruisers swear they get much better service — as in, your name and drink remembered and maybe even some complimentary tastes — if they slip the bartender 20 bucks or more at the beginning of the cruise, so this comes down to your personal choice here. Rewarding your favorite server at the end of the cruise is also a nice thing to do, but not mandatory at all.

Related: Best drinks to order with a beverage package

(Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

At the spa and beauty salon

Onboard spas and salons also include a tip of about 18 percent on top of the cost of your soothing massage or perfect blowout. Again, you’ll find a space on your receipt to add a tip if you want to go beyond that, but it's not expected.

Many a cruiser has added an extra gratuity, not realizing one was already added to the treatment price, and effectively tipped double on an already expensive splurge. Don't fall into that trap.

At specialty restaurants

Gratuities are typically included in the extra $10 to $100 per person you’ll pay for the steakhouse, sushi bar and other specialty restaurants on board your ship. A tip may be included in the set fee for the restaurant or automatically added at the end of your meal.

You are not expected to add more if tipping is already included — though if the waiter sneaked you an extra order of escargot, or otherwise made the meal a truly memorable experience, you may want to add a few bucks to your bill.

Related: The best meals you can have at sea

When crew members handle special requests

During your cruise, you may have special requests, such as for extra towels or pillows. You may need help opening your cabin safe, or need someone to fix a wonky shower or toilet. Tips are not expected for these services. Handling these requests is part of the basic duties of the ship’s room stewards (covered by the ship's auto-gratuity) and maintenance staff.

(Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

At the kids club or youth program

Most kids programming is complimentary, and the youth staff does not expect gratuities. If your child falls in love with a particular counselor, it is OK to slip them a cash bonus at the end of the cruise to say thanks. A heartfelt note and drawing by your child is also a lovely way to express appreciation.

Related: Best cruise lines for families

When you see a show

You are not expected to tip the magician doing sleight of hand or the costumed Disney character posing with your child or the musicians performing on the pool deck or the guy running the trivia contests. The onboard entertainers are paid to make your cruise more enjoyable, and they expect no additional compensation beyond your applause.

One exception here is the piano bar player, who may put out a bowl for song requests and tips. (The bigger the tip, the sooner he’ll play your song.)

When you purchase an ice cream or coffee

When you order an ice cream cone or gelato at the ice cream parlor or cappuccino at the coffee shop, you won’t see a tip jar as you would on land. No tipping is required here – though you may find an automatic gratuity added to your check, just as in the bars.

(Photo by Steve Mason/Getty Images)

When you meet an officer

It is considered an insult to try and tip the captain, officers and ship’s senior team, including the cruise director, hotel director and executive chef. These men and women receive good salaries commensurate with the years they spent training to do their jobs. Besides, slipping the captain a $20 bill won’t get you to the Bahamas any faster.

Bottom line

Cruise ship crew members work hard at the goal of delivering your dream vacation. They spend months at a time away from their homelands and are often supporting families on the other side of the world. A few bucks might not break your bank, but can make a significant difference in their lives.

Even if you dislike tipping culture, always pay the automatically added tips because it makes a difference to the onboard staff. Consider rewarding your favorite crew member or the most helpful staff with a little something extra – but don’t feel that you need to constantly hand out cash to everyone you meet on board.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured photo by David C Tomlinson/Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees