Poll Position: Tipping Tumult

July 26, 2011 | By | 72 Comments

Tipping. It can be one of the most awkward and tricky aspects of cruising. With services like autogratuities (which are automatically added to your onboard tab at the end of each sailing) and the ability to prepay, it’s becoming easier and more mechanical. But, what if you feel like your cabin steward or dining room waiter deserves a bit more (or a bit less) than what’s recommended? We answer that question and more during Cruise Critic’s first-ever Tipping Week. As part of the gratuity gala, we wanted to know how you take care of your onboard tip tab….
What we asked: How do you handle tipping onboard?
What they said: About 50 percent of voters said they just leave their tip charges on their onboard accounts. Another 31 percent said they prefer to prepay. Meanwhile, 17 percent would rather just leave cash. The remaining 2-ish percent said they don’t tip at all.
What it all means: First, we’d like to take this opportunity to scold the nontippers. Unless you’re sailing with a line that builds grats into its fares, there’s no reason at all why you shouldn’t leave some kind of reward for those who kept you fed and supplied you with enough toilet paper and shampoo to last through a nuclear winter. As for the rest of you, well done. It doesn’t matter how you choose to settle up, just as long as you do it.
Vote in today’s daily poll here.
For more tips on tipping, you’ll want to click here.
Read more tip-related blog posts.
Get your very own Lido Deck subscription.
    Please share this post!


    72 Responses to “Poll Position: Tipping Tumult”

    1. Tom Pecena
      July 26th, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

      This is the problem you have with open seating and all these optional venues. Not so long ago you had your one waiter, one busboy, and a real cabin steward (not a room cleaner called a steward…now days you have to get a suite where the actual room steward is called a “butler”…ugh) At most, you had a grill room that you tipped seperatley with each visit. The pursers office (not front desk…those are in hotels) provided envelopes that you filled with cash and handed to the crew (with their name written by hand by you) with a shake of the hand and a heartfelt thank you. Now it’s impersonal and meaningless. And with so many options, it’s not only inconvenient but impossible to carry cash for all those that take care of you. Go back to a cruise experience, not a resort experience. I’ll fill out my little envelope, shake my stewards hand at the end of the cruise, and tell him personally “Thank you”.

    2. Got2Cruise
      July 26th, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

      The only people who don’t tip are skinflints. Stop making excuses people, and tip the recommended amounts. Stay home if you can’t afford to cruise.

    3. Scott
      July 26th, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

      Tom, if it is as you say ” impossible to carry cash for all those that take care of you.” How do you manage it?

    4. Monica
      July 26th, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

      Does Auto Tipping guarantee good service, or does Staff figure they don’t have to earn it cause its Auto.. if you don’t choose Auto Tipping will staff try and earn their tips or give poor service because of the unknown.. it’s a tough dilemma, I believe tips should be earned after all its a token of your appreciation for a job well done..not a given

    5. Sean
      July 26th, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

      I accidently did not tip one time. We discovered on our first Royal Caribbean cruise that they do not put the tips on the bill at the end like Carnival and Norwegian. When we went to the front desk the morning of debarkation we were told it was too late to tip with anything but cash (which we did not have). We were very upset since we had the best service of any of our 6 cruises on this cruise. For anyone taking a Royal Caribbean cruise for the first time please learn from our mistake. That being said, I frequently will redistribute my tips if I had bad service in a certain area. On NCL I discovered the down side to freestyle dining, there are multiple waiters that are horrible. We began to request the same waiter once we found a good one. We ensured that that waiter got all of our waitstaff tips. I will never prepay tips based on this experience!

    6. Scott
      July 26th, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

      Monica, I know what you mean about tips showing appreciation, but it isn’t really like that on a cruise.
      It is wage compensation because the cruise lines pay them close to nothing at all. That is one reason so many people would like the gratuities built into the fare.

    7. Debbie
      July 26th, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

      When I began dating my husband, his tipping and thoughtfulness of others was one of his many attractive traits. We have cruised with Carnival many times and we leave the auto charged gratuities on our on-board account and take thank you cards and cash for our waiters (2) and room stewards (2) for additional gratuities. Maybe we over tip but for those who have auto gratuities removed from their accounts and do not leave cash gratuities to recognize the staff….shame on you!

    8. Laura
      July 26th, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

      TIPS means To Insure Prompt Service.

      If they don’t earn it, if they are only doing their basic minimum jobs and you don’t feel that you got any personal / special / extra prompt service, why reward bad behavior? When I pay for a cruise I pay for an expected acceptable level of service. If they meet the bare minimum, why should I spend extra?

      HOWEVER, when I get great service, I reward generously.

      IMHO, the worst is the lines trying to guilt everyone into tipping the Maitre D’ at the end of every cruise. I’ve been on 4 and the only time I’ve seen one was 2x at the last dinner of the cruise.

      How would you tip if you were at a restaurant and you had to walk around to find your server of if their service was one that acted like they were doing you a favor or that they were better to you?

      Tis better to be a peasant than to have to serve one!

    9. George
      July 26th, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

      Look, It’s proven human nature. Not long after something becomes automatic. It becomes expected, and no longer something to strive for.It’s a no win deal. Cost to customer remains the same. With a down grade in service…

    10. Robin
      July 27th, 2011 @ 1:33 am

      If this was the US -all tips would be taxable -but since most ships and employees are not US citizens -they do not report ‘TIP” money as taxable income. ie you can not compare tipping practice for a non citizen to tipping practices back home. Believe it or not some US citizens cheat their Government by not reporting all their income!IMO: necklaceIf you do not care to tip -take the name of the person or persons that did their job the best and write a Thank you to the President of the company. Words of Kindness are never out of place.

    11. Robin
      July 27th, 2011 @ 1:35 am

      If this was the US -all tips would be taxable -but since most ships and employees are not US citizens -they do not report ‘TIP” money as taxable income. ie you can not compare tipping practice for a non citizen to tipping practices back home. Believe it or not some US citizens cheat their Government by not reporting all their income!IMO:If you do not care to tip -take the name of the person or persons that did their job the best and write a Thank you to the President of the company. Words of Kindness are never out of place.

    12. Annie
      July 27th, 2011 @ 5:18 am

      I understand the culture of tipping, however since we usually eat at specialty restaurants or in Windjammer, I see no point in tiping Dinning Hall Staff. They did nothing for me and I rather tip the way I want.

    13. Bella T
      July 27th, 2011 @ 7:29 am

      If my cruise deal doesn’t include gratuities – I have them put on my bill. However, I usually still give a little more to my dining room waiters and cabin steward.

    14. Joe
      July 27th, 2011 @ 8:59 am

      If you do not tip for service, unless it is really bad then you are a CHEAPSKATE and a STIFFER!!!!!

      There is no other polite way to say it.

      If you can not afford to tip when you cruise or go out to eat then STAY HOME!

      Period, the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    15. Joe
      July 27th, 2011 @ 9:00 am

      And all of you who \make excuses\ are the worst of the CHEAPSKATE lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    16. Lori
      July 27th, 2011 @ 9:10 am

      We are cruisers! We are very generous in tipping those who give us the good service. We like to personally tip the people that took care of us.We usually give cash and a thank you card to our dining and room staff. We have on occasion just put it on our final bill but prefer to give cash personally..

    17. Erica
      July 27th, 2011 @ 10:27 am

      @Joe – what’s with the name calling? Those who choose to tip a different way other than automatic tipping are not cheapskates and stiffers.

      And last time I checked, this was a free country and there is no law on tipping. It really infuriates me when people get so pious on tipping.

      We tip rather well in our family, but I will most certainly not impose my standards and methods on other people – especially strangers.

    18. Lisa
      July 27th, 2011 @ 10:50 am

      We always do the prepaid grats. We wanted the cruise lines to know that we were responsible cruisers and properly tipped the staff. However, at the end of the cruise we still would slip extra cash to the staff (those that were exceptional)and let them know this was extra from the expected paid grats. This way it is still taken care of responsibly and personally.

    19. Nancy
      July 27th, 2011 @ 10:58 am

      The only problem I noticed about the tipping is that there are many others on board that make your trip just as enjoyable as the stewarts, waiters, etc and they are not getting the tips. I feel that the tipping is very unfair and should go to the whole crew. What about that pool attendant that goes and gets a lounge chair for you and moves it to your favorite spot. Or the hostess that says good morning to you each day with a smile that makes your day. ???? I wish there was a better policy but I do agree that tipping should be done in reasonable manner.

    20. Wendy
      July 27th, 2011 @ 11:52 am

      Unfortunately it would appear that the crew are not getting the gratuity on at least one cruise line that I have usedand makes me question the others that I have not delved as deeply. It had been renamed “service charge” and apparently the crew received a bonus occasionally after several cruises depending on all other factors. I have always refused to have any gratuity or service charge added to my on board bill preferring to give cash to the people taking care of me personally.

    21. jo crawford
      July 27th, 2011 @ 11:56 am

      I like to prepay tips, and if the TA prepays half the tips, even better, because it means that what I saved can be given to other crew members as well.

    22. Leah
      July 27th, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

      I’ve always wondered why, when the cruise lines get sooo much money in fees, all of the back-door charges, expensive products, etc., they don’t pay their employees better. Just sayin’.

    23. peggy smith
      July 27th, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

      being an old salt, (60 someodd cruises), i remember how it used to be–and god, do i miss it—in the recent past when EVERYTHING started to change, i talked to everyone from the captains on down to the swabbers, to find out exactly how the new tipping worked and who got what–believe me, it varies greatly from line to line—i tried several methods to try to get around the automatic tipping because nothing gives me more pleasure than to hand a person money who has taken care of me—my end result has been to go to the desk and reduce my auto tips to $100.00—-50 to waiter and 50 to steward—then i make out my own envelopes and hand deliver to all else the tips they have deserved–including adding to the waiter and steward—–i do this because on one line if you remove all tips from your tab,they go to your waiter and steward and make them hand it over to put in the pool–to this day i continue doing this because it is the best solution i have found for all lines

    24. ladyfish13
      July 27th, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

      Peggy, Hooray! I too have had 60+ cruises under my belt going back to the 70’s. I totally agree with you. My way of tipping is very much like yours. My TA usually takes care of the tips tho or the ships we sail on now don’t add tipping onto the bill. The cruise lines SHOULD pay their staff and crew better but they don’t and won’t. I’ve asked crew members etc. if the tips are divided equally and guess what! Nope! they very seldom are. When one goes to a restaurant you don’t tip the cook and dishwasher. A good waiter ‘takes care’ of his assistants. No maitre d’ tips from me either. They only show up once or twice before the end of the cruise just so you’ll tip them. When I’m with a line that the TA hasn’t taken care of the gratuities I too reduce my auto tips to exactly whom and how much. Now on to my next cruise!

    25. Rick
      July 27th, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

      We use the ship’s method of paying gratuities for the crew, which of course is the easeist method as opposed to carrying cash. We do however procur envelopes to pay extra gratuities to various crew memebers who have given us extra or special service throughout the cruise, whether they are in the Lido dining, cabin stewards, waiters, busboys or whomever.
      This way they know that they are personnally being rewarded for that extra effort.

    26. Carolyn Abramson
      July 27th, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

      We do both. We adjust the automatic tip and we come prepared with envelopes that we give to our head waiter, our assistant waiter and our room steward. The total amount spent is always more than it would have been if we just left the automatic tip.We have given extra to the people we have most contact with and we have not ignored the people who are behind the scenes.

      July 27th, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

      I prefer to tip at the end in cash.

      When pre-paid is the norm I will let it ride until the end & if everyone earned the tips I leave it for them…..BUT I still tip extra to those who have been especially helpful, nice etc.
      If any of the staff provided poor service I would adjust the tip accordingly.

      I’m also with the person talking about never seeing the head waiter, except to collect his tip.

      The big time exception was the HW on the RCI ship out of Baltimore. He was there every day, at every meal & many times. He was as good as “any” M’d in any restaurant, period.

      So, guys like him (& all his waiters were outstanding) do get extra & I’m glad to do it.

      Remember, the hours these guys work & their base pay is low, so I have no problem tipping well if it is deserved.

    28. Sabrina
      July 27th, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

      On all the cruises I’ve been on, I’ve always left at least the minimum recommended tipping. If service was really good, I had no problem giving extra money. But as someone who worked in the service industry through collage, I can say not leaving a tip or only half doesn’t help that person. They may not know why they didn’t get a good tip – maybe your just a bad tipper (I know someone who tips a $1/person at their table when they go to a restaurant – whether it’s Denny’s or Outback).

      Do not let your money talk for you. If you had a service problem, bring it up to their manager. The manager is in a position to fix the problem and address it in the future. If you have really great service, again don’t let that extra $40 talk for you. Give a thank you card and explain what they did that made the experience so much better (you may even want to tell their manager or put the information in the survey at the end of the cruise). And there are cruise lines that pool the money in and then distribute. So if your intention is to hurt your waiter for lousy service… it may really affect him and everyone else (including those who rotate and take turns working in the Buffet every other week or shift).

    29. Barb
      July 27th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

      We have had 30 cruises, and we always tip well. We loved personally handing the envelops to the people as it was done in the past. Now with auto tipping, we have seen a big drop in service. We auto tip, but sometimes adjust according to service. We always give extra to cabin steward or anyone who did a good job. Obviously, we are subsidizing workers wages for cheapskate cruise lines who do not pay their staff well. But, these same cruise lines continue to charge us a lot, and then add on fuel fees plus many other fees and charges on top of our cruise fare! The cruise lines pocket the money and shortchange these poor people who work for them.

    30. Sherry
      July 27th, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

      I don’t like having to carry a lot of onboard, so I opt to prepay the tips. On one cruise line we were given vouchers with envelopes to hand to the staff so they would know we appreciated the service, plus they wold have a record of what they were to receive. If they gave great service, I added a little more to the envelope. Without the vouchers the staff may think that we didn’t appreciate the service and that whatever we gave them extra was all they were going to get.

      They all work very hard and spend many months separated from their families. I am very grateful to them and appreciate their efforts.

    31. Christian
      July 27th, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

      Im from Finland and not use to tiping because the price for service or food in restaurants include the sallory for staff im not shure exactly what the minimum is but its something like 8€/h + evning night saturday sunday extra and a 4-6 weeks paid vacation and for those that dont know we have good free public schools including free lunch up to highschool level and univers and collage is free to but no free lunch and allmost free medical services with low fees or if your on realy low income the city pays for it, so I only tip when the service is very goood! but one thing I wonder about is the fairness of your tiping system Im sure that hot yong girls earn more tip just because they are hot not because the service is good and a older man or woman sever that isnt so atractive earns less even if their provided service is better I bet its the same over here but there is a fair basic sallory so the differense isnt so big as I bet its over there!

    32. Barbara
      July 27th, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

      Having had 2 children involved in the restaurant business where tips really compromise the majority of the pay, I believe in extra tips even when a gratuity is put thru on the OBC account. I’m sure part of it goes to those who serve that I never see and make my cruising experience so wonderful. In addition, I bring extra $$ for those that serve and do it well, including the wine steward who corked my wine and didn’t charge corkage fees later in the week. Those that were tipped could tell the difference between my twin sister and myself, though both of us do tip!

    33. Mary
      July 27th, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

      Having spoken to crew members during numerous cruises—they do not get the full tip when it goes in the communal pot.

    34. Keith
      July 28th, 2011 @ 5:21 am

      i am a cheapskate. Thatis why I can afford to cruise! I never tip and I never received tips when I ran my own business. I did however insure ha my staff were adequately paid in order that they would not even need ‘gratuities’. If everyone adopted my model, There would be no tipping, the Cruise lines would be forced to pay a fair wage since nobody would work for them otherwise. The end price of the cruise would be the same when you factor the increased headline price of the cruise then deduct the amount that would normally be tipped.
      Shame on the Crusie lines (not the cruisers that don’t tip) for not paying a fair wage. Shame also that most posters don’t blame their beloved cruise lines and wrongly target cruisers who have already paid for toilet roll/soap and other services in the cruise price which is actually contractual.

    35. Julie
      July 28th, 2011 @ 11:04 am

      I agree with Keith whole heartedly!! We pay our tips the last night of the cruise and charge to our room. We pay the room steward WAY more than the head server. What would you rather do…. clean a toilet, or hand someone their meal? We never tip the recommended amounts either – usually about half of the stated amounts.

    36. Joe
      July 28th, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

      Erica—– Each and every cruiser, especially United States cruisers know in advance, I’ll let 1st timers slide, that tipping is part of the cruise experience. So what would YOU call someone, and I’ve seen it on all 10 cruises I’ve been on where people will not show up to the MDR on the last evening and you know by their conversations that they have no intention of tipping whatsoever?????? Frugal? Wise? Savvy? Within their rights? I call them Cheapskates!

      How would YOU feel if you were the person who did everything possible to make someone’s cruise experience the best it could be and got stiffed????????????????????

      I know plenty of people who have worked in the restaurant/diner industry as waiters/waitresses and the tipping horror stories are just that horrible. Wait staff busting their rears and not getting any tips, not by all but by more than you think, TIPS means “To Insure Prompt Service.” I can tell you right now that if I ever got stiffied as a waiter by someone they can rest assured that they would not get prompt service the next time I waited on them, even if I got fired!!!!!!

    37. Joe
      July 28th, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

      Keith why should the OWNER of an establishment get tips?

      And it is super duper that you pay your workers a living wage. But knowing that cruise staff and restaurant wait staff for the most part do not get paid a living wage and then you and those like you who do not tip, when if the cruise line or restaurant would pay a living wage and include it in the cost, meaning you would pay it anyway, make you and those like you the lowest of the low!!!!!

      That’s how I see it and ALWAYS will!

    38. Terry
      July 28th, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

      I like to take off my tips and pay for good service as warranted. I leave my wife’s tips on. In almost all cases your cabin steward truly earns his. I’ve had waiters that barely spoke english,argued with me on what I ordered,
      and had no clue of how to give good service. I also have been off the ship on port days and had all my meals in town. So that all factors in on what I will give at the end. I question the cruise lines on the promotions to waiters. I’ve had several asst. waiters who were far superior to my waiter. I prefer open seating now. If I have bad service I just go to another dining room. I also believe most people would tip better if the cruise lines shore excursions were cheaper. I have booked many off the ship for half the price

    39. Keith
      July 29th, 2011 @ 4:28 am

      Joe said… \why should the OWNER of an establishment get tips?\
      For the same reason that other staff get tips, for providing good service and in the case. Why should good management be excluded from tipping?
      On the other hand, we all know that the REAL reason for tipping is NOT to reward or ensure good service, rather it is to subsidise unfair pay, otherwise, you would tip your surgeon and your lawyer would you not?
      Having established that unfair/low wages are the real reason for tipping (assuming you do not tip the Captain who is surely providing the ultimate in good service), the blame can be laid squarely at the Cruise lines, who incidentally are able to evade minimum wage laws by registering vessels in offshore places such as Bermuda.
      I maintain that if everyone ceased tipping, the Cruise lines would be forced to pay a fair wage since nobody would work for nothing! I know this will not happen spontaneously but the more people that adopt my principle the more the lines will need to make up the short fall to keep staff.
      My main point in all of this is that by targetting the so-called cheapskates, the cruse lines are laughing in their socks since they are the real villains or do you think it is acceptable in 2011 to pay a next to nothing basic wage and put workers at the mercy of generous customers that have already paid for and have a right to decent service?

    40. Ward
      July 29th, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

      My wife and I solve the problem of auto-tipping (and possibly being shunned by staff) by removing auto tipping from one of our accounts and letting the appropriate staff know that we will be tipping cash at the end of the voyage. In this way we can offer up additional to those we see worthy and not so much additional to those we do not. (Our cash tips are of equal or greater value than the auto tipping amount).

      We were also told by ship staff that even when you remove auto tipping, the cash received by the waiter or steward or …. has to be pooled and then divided up from the pool. Guess we will have to be more careful in how, when and where we ‘slip’ the tips to staff.
      We have never not tipped but sure wonder what the appropriate tip should be to the second assistant to the Maitre’d’s or his head waiter in section C who one sees about day 4 into a 7 day cruise.

    41. Corbov
      July 29th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

      I’m missing something in all this conversation. We’ve cruised many times with a variety of cruise lines. They have always levied a fixed gratuity of $$$ per person per day. Are you all saying that you tip on top of that? That’s hard to believe given the amount that’s charged per person per day as it is. Or, do you only tip extra for ‘above and beyond service’ beyond the fixed amount?

    42. Keith
      July 30th, 2011 @ 11:23 am

      @ Corbov
      I remove the automatic tipping at the pursers desk but I expect most do not. some don’t even know that they will be charged tips as it is not exactly in bold print.Some even tip on top of the automatically added tips.
      I think it is presumptuous of the cruise lines that have this ‘opt out’ tipping policy. It should be opt in. I expect and I am contractually entitled to the services that I have pre-paid and therefore I do not expect anything beyond this.
      Should I receive service beyond ‘contract’ I will usually write a letter of commendation. I apply this model in all services I receive in life and I am not in the business of subsidising wages of businesses that operate outside of fairness and circumnavigate minimum wage laws by off shore registering of vessels. The cruise lines have a moral obligation to pay fair wages but for some curious reason, many people believe that it is the obligation of the customer.

    43. Marilyn
      July 31st, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

      Tipping or gratuities is a personal choice. I certainly will not advance tip for anything. I think that is absurd. I will give a gratuity for services rendered if they warrent a gratuity. To tell me I MUST tip is never going to fly with me. I have only not tipped once or twice. The only time I allowed pre-tipping, the service was the worst I had ever encountered. That will not happen again.

    44. Waving
      August 1st, 2011 @ 1:22 am

      We do the automatic tipping on our onboard account and tip extra to anyone on board who goes out of their way to make our cruise special. We go out of our way to introduce ourselves to staff and learn a little about them especially if we see them every day. We have never failed to get great service. On the other hand we don’t go ballistic if they mix up an order etc., most things are easily corrected. We have found that being kind is a great tip and much appreciated and rewarded.

    45. Art
      August 1st, 2011 @ 8:22 am

      I’m still a bit confused so please help me out here. This is our first cruise and when we booked through AAA and they suggested Pre-Paying our gratuities, which we did. So should we expect that we won’t need to tip anyone in our trip or are there people this pre-paid will not cover and we should tip? I am not getting a clear answer on this. Me and my spouse are on a limited budget (25th Anniversary – Kids paying) Please help.

    46. Keith
      August 1st, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

      There is no should or shouldn’t to be considered. You have paid for these services already and tips are entirely optional including the pre-paid ones ( which you can opt out of at the pursers office).
      It is up to you who you tip and how much if any at all.
      Don’t forget to tip the Captain though as he always seems to be left out even though he provides excellent service and even condescends to dine with the drooling masses on occasion!

    47. Ken
      August 1st, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

      The real reason cruise lines make you tip is because all these people who are pointing fingers, generally shop for cruises (and probably everything else) by the lowest price. The cruise lines show the lowest price, to which they add taxes, fees, transfers, insurance, gratuities (sometimes) and so on. If they actually showed the real full cost, which we all end up paying one way or another, nobody would buy.

      Read the travel section of your local paper and tell me if anyone advertizes the fare for the best suite plus all extras? It is always the eye-catching lowest inside cabin fare with the word “from” next to it, and maybe in the fine print below, an explanation of the “add-ons”.

      This is quite legitimate and the cruise lines bend to what we want. If we began demanding a “all inclusive ” fare , up front, then they would start adopting that practice.

      So tips are required, and rightfully so. They are on all cruises, whether built-in or seperate, you pay.

      From the comments in here it is obvious you have all sailed on the cruise lines that haven’t built in gratuities into their fares….See?

    48. Keith
      August 2nd, 2011 @ 4:20 am

      In the case of Princess Cruises (whom I cruise with), they are contractually obligated to provide an acceptable standard of services ie room cleaning, toiletries, dinner service etc etc. This is a fact!
      They are not contractually obligated to pay fair wages due to the sharp practice of offshore vessel registration.
      Crusers certainly have no legal obligation to tip (remunerate service staff to the point of a decent wage)), therefore it is a moral question. Who is morally obligated to provide fair remuneration to the staff. Your previous comment leads me to belive that you absolve the cruise lines from any moral duty in this regard, expecting the cruisers to pay twice for services and subsidise the wages of staff.
      On the mainland, such practice (low wages would be illegal, and with good reason. It appears to me that cruisers are reluctant to criticize their beloved cruise lines in this regard but are quick to castigate fellow travellers, many of whom are of little means themselves, having saved for many months or even years.

    49. bob
      August 30th, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

      As aussie who belives in paying fair wages the cruise line should pay the wages we cannot access cheaper prices in the US and as such our prices to cruise are much higher. We don’t mind paying for service but don’t believe that we should pay to cruise then pay the wage bill as well.P&O and Princess have recognised this and stopped automatic gratuties Celebrity made the comment that they will teach us to tip I don’t think so

    50. Jo Zwan
      September 14th, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      I agree with Bob, I am also Aussie.
      I dont see why I should pay for wages that cruise lines fail to do. I have worked for many years in the service sector and I have gone out of my way to help people many times I feel it was part of my job, but I never got a tip.
      We have to save long and hard to be able to cruise we are not all rich.
      I believe they are doing their job and get paid for that job. Not all cruise lines have tipping.

    51. Tutuvabene
      November 24th, 2011 @ 11:59 am

      I see a lot of browbeating against the “skinflints,” the “cheapskates,” and what ever else you want to call people who don’t tip. I have yet to see a comment demanding that the cruise lines pay their staff a living wage. When booking a cruise in the past, I was attracted by the low price, only to have the unpleasant surprise at the port of having to place my credit card number into an autotip program. Otherwise, I would not be allowed to board and if I wanted a refund, I would have to pay a cancellation penalty. Subsequently, the cruise line made it impossible to stop the autotip by claiming that computer communication with the head office was down whenever I asked at the pursers desk to remove the charge during the voyage. In any other industry this would be labeled a scam. I was always taught that a tip is entirely voluntary. Anything else appears to be a mandatory wage supplement.

    52. Lopa
      January 29th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

      Coming from northern Europe, where tipping is not at all common, I am grateful for the option to prepay tips. Otherwise tipping would have been a major concern (who, how, when, how much…???). The idea of people smiling for money also makes us a bit uncomfortable (but must admit that we enjoy the smiles and the good service, which is soooo much better than what we are use to at home).

    53. Sandy
      February 1st, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

      Having went on a recent cruise for the first time (Royal Caribbean), we were surprised/embarrassed by the whole tipping issue. The last night was spent by the cruise stressing over and over what a great job that the staff did during the final show. Sure, they smiled and such, but we didn’t use the MDR every night (only twice) of our 7 day cruise. I never met the head waiter. What did he do? The food we had in the MDR I would categorize as good, but not great (and we would have preferred more portions of some items). We mostly went to the buffet and served ourselves. Our cabin cleaning person did a good job, but we didn’t feel it was to the tune of $70 per person. That is outrageous, plus the fact that we didn’t need our cabin straightened up/bed fixed twice each day. Some days we just put a do not disturb on the door. I don’t even think we used all the one bottle of shampoo or bar of soap we had or toilet roll.
      We opted out of the automatic tipping, but found out the last day that we needed to give individuals cash and couldn’t use our credit card or cruise card to pay them. We didn’t bring much cash with us so we stiffed them. Our bad, we’ll know next time to bring more cash. The ONLY person we would pay would have been the cleaning person for our room, and it would have been $20 NOT $140 for two people.
      We went on a cruise BECAUSE we are frugal, not the opposite. I fully side with Keith in this issue. The cruise lines should pay their staff more for giving basic services to guests.
      And another thing, what’s with all this dressing up? Cruisers end up carrying twice as much luggage than they need. Next time we’ll carry on just what we need. It will also allow us to get off the ship quicker without delay in waiting for our luggage.

    54. HImom
      February 24th, 2012 @ 4:19 am

      Thanks for all of these comments. Princess does have “autotipping” now, but as has been stated, it can be removed by talking at the Purser’s Desk. Based on what folks have written here, I may also decide to remove autotipping and carry enough cash to tip what we would like to for those who have served us on the cruise. $11.50-12/day/person seems a very arbitrary amount and I don’t see that it is necessarily deserved, depending on what service is given and how things go on the cruise.

    55. Beverly Wilson
      February 24th, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

      This is in reply to Art: I can only tell you what my husband & I used to do. We would prepay the gratuities so that everyone would get a small tip. Then we would give our head waiter and the head steward $40. The assistant waiter and the assistant steward would get $20 each. I do not know if that was sufficient; however, that is what we gave. I also read somewhere that if you drink alot and you always go the same bar, it would not be a bad idea to tip the bartender or the waiter who brings you the drinks because they remember and then give you better drinks. We never did that; however, we always took care of the dining room staff and the room stewards.

      My husband and I only got to go on 7 cruises before he passed away; however, in all of our cruises we never had a bad experience with the dining room staff or the cabin stewards. In fact, the dining room staff would recognize us when they were working other parts of the ship and even remember our names. I think that is something considering how many people they wait on during a cruise.

    56. Bzyldy
      May 13th, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

      Awwww come on ppl,,,,,this tipping issue is not new! It is all part of cruising. Shame on you the ppl that do not tip, we have been on 13 cruises and have always gotten great service. We always tip over and above the auto tip, even if it is a few $$ here and there. Especially when one goes above and beyond. If you don’t like the tipping policy, I say DON”T CRUISE,,,,,,go to your resorts and enjoy!

    57. haventcruisedforages
      July 16th, 2012 @ 10:32 am

      Hi all. Just been reading the above comments and gettng back up to speed. Just about to go on our first cruise with kids (went 15 years ago without kids) and seems like a lot has changed. I guess I agree with the tipping but I do like the personal touch rather than the totally prepaid option. It is nice to reward great service from an individual rather than rely on a system where the root cause of the problem is the wages they are being paid. After reading the above I think I will go with the prepayment of the waiter and steward and then choose to tip appropriately based on service of the other staff. Seems like a good compromise to me financially and morally! Just going on the Carnival Breeze so I will have a better opinion on if I feel this is correct on my return. Happy cruising

    58. Scott
      August 8th, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

      I pay the Waiter, Asst waiter and Cabin attendant:

      – in CASH
      – on the FIRST day of the cruise
      – and I pay ~ 180% to 200% of the recommended amt

      We always get fabulous service. When you think about how much you’ll pay for just a couple of frozen drinks or beers on any given day, I feel that this is a much better investment.

    59. Kimm
      September 6th, 2012 @ 9:26 am

      We are going on our 4th cruise and this one to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We have saved for TWO years to go on this trip, with my husband who works in hospitality, and I who work in retail. Neither of us makes a decent wage, but we have enough to get by.
      My husband occasionally gets tips of a bottle of wine, or a box of chocolates, but it is not a requirement of his position. These are usually done by a guest for whom he goes out of his way to arrange babysitters, assist in a fall, or just calls a taxi. Again, they are not a requirement of his position. I work in retail, where the customer pays for his goods and then leaves and hopefully comes back to shop again. I worked in the food service industry as a teen, so I am an exceptional tipper, hubby , not so much.
      I do resent the auto tip feature of a cruise. I believe this is the cruise lines way of making us pay for the wages of the lower caste staff, (as the ships officers and higher ups ((who are usually American or Canadian))get fair and decent wages). I want to tip for the good service I recieve, and only that. The 3 previous cruises I have been on, I saw the Maitre’d only once during the cruise on the last night, so why should I tip him? He did nothing for me. My waiters, on the other hand, were exceptional and should be rewarded as such. We have figured tips in to our bottom line, because we feel that this is a given in any service industry, but only because the companies (cruise lines) don’t feel that this portion of their staff deserves a decent wage. We must also remember that most of the lower caste staff are from countries where $200 can buy them a house, and most of them are sending all but a small portion of their wages home to feed their whole family. Tipping is in relation to the level of service provided. Drinks, are automatically tipped, so no need to tip those waiters, cabin staff usually goes above and beyond, so they should be tipped accordingly as do waitstaff in the main dining room. Again, for us, tipping money is a major portion of our cruise budget, so we will only tip those who give us exceptional service.

    60. Larissa
      October 27th, 2012 @ 3:34 am

      For those of you who are interested, please read this site about tipping/gratuity:


      Note: Not all cruisers are from the US/Canada where tipping is obligatory compared to elsewhere in the world where tipping may not be obligatory, but is optional. If extra money is required to be paid for a service whether that service is poor or excellent, than it is not a tip/gratuity. It is a service fee/extra levy. If it is optional and not obligatory then the money paid/given is a tip/gratuity. I don’t believe tips should be prepaid, staff should earn their tips, not think it is an automatically given thing. I will not tip for poor/bad service or bad attitude. At restaurants, you tip later when you pay your bill for good or exceptional service, not pretip! Do you pretip airline staff etc?

      It is not for you to judge fellow cruisers. You have no idea how hard or how long some have saved for maybe once in a life time cruise. Count your blessings if you can afford to cruise x no. of times per year. Open your eyes and see how people in different parts of the world live and do things.

      Someone once told me “Don’t expect too much and you will not be disappointed.” If you apply this to staff who look after you well on a cruise, it will be more a pleasure for them to receive a good tip. If you prepay your tips and don’t get good service, what would your expectation(s) be? Good service is a personal attribute. If an employee (regardless of where they work) is exemplary in performance, they should be rewarded. You don’t pre-reward.

    61. FireStation46
      April 8th, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

      I pre-paid tips when I booked. I gave the room attendant an additional tip for the week, she was efficient, timely and accommodating. I tipped our waiter and assistant at the end with some extra cash. Bartenders got a tip. I noticed one bar tender was appreciative of any tip, he could remember your name and drink and got extra tips each day. Any amount is appreciated I could tell. You do not have to go way overboard on the tip amount.

    62. Lisa
      May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

      People please don’t be cheep.These workers don’t earn very much at all and they work so hard. 10 to 12 hours a day. Do you think they want to work on cruise ships making 2 or 3 dollars an hour 7 days a week, 7 months straight? No they don’t. But they come from countries with no opportunities and are forced to seek work wherever they can find it.They at least deserve the 70.00 recommended tip. Have a heart. Most of them are sending the money home to feed their families.I know because I have a friend that worked on the ship for 7 months and when her contract ended she ran off the boat. She said you are way over worked for pennies.Please reconsider when not wanting to tip.They really do deserve it. You work 12 hours a day, 7 days a wk and see how hard it is to smile and wait on us spoiled Americans.

    63. bob ferguson
      September 27th, 2013 @ 3:35 am

      Here in Australia we pay decent wages by law, the cruise lines should also be made to pay reasonable wage rates, it is not up to the passengers to supplement crew wages because of the scumbag employers ripping off there staff.
      It is not our culture to tip unless we choose to for exceptional service & i will not tip just because its expected to staff who are just doing there job.

    64. jim james
      February 16th, 2014 @ 4:56 am

      I agree with bob ferguson,the shipping companies should pay the crew a proper liveable wage i dont expect to supplement the wage of the staff at the hotel I stay in
      there are cruises companies that don’t do this
      vacations to go have a list of them

    65. Robert
      April 26th, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

      For those that feel the immoral and evil corporations should be penalized for not paying a fair wage:

      1) How does this penalize the corporation and aid the worker by not giving the worker a tip?

      2) With all this moral indignation, why are you feeding the profits of what you consider an immoral corporation by cruising with them, and not some company that does pay a fair wage for cabin and table services?

      I personally can tell almost immediately which workers are on the bonus incentive plan, and which are paid a stock wage, simply by the quality of service. And tipping for a service industry makes for an excellent bonus incentive plan.

      If you feel you are taking the moral high ground by not tipping, consider the suggested contribution just another tax, and learn to live with it, and quit taking advantage of the people trying to serve you! It is not the corporation that is taking advantage of them, they only enablers. It’s the people that routinely stiff these workers out of their own misguided sense of morality.

    66. Steve
      April 28th, 2014 @ 10:13 am

      My dad taught us to tip according to the service given. And I tip at 20% for “good” service, more for exceptional service and less for poor service. I have worked jobs that tips were part of my paycheck and my kids were raised the same way. I embarrassed my daughter a long time ago when my tea glass was empty for a considerable time during dinner and I told the waitress, who acted like she was bothered to wait on us but mad because I called her out on her lack of service, that her tip was not going to be as good as I usually tip BECAUSE of her poor service. All that is said to say that I usually tip beyond my prepaid tip and as many postings point out, the staff smiles more and gives me better service when I do.

    67. Gene Bridgman
      May 8th, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

      I found out the hard way, I was tipping at the bars and didn’t find out til I got home that they put a tip on my bar bill on top of the tip I left on my acct. I guess they thought I was a big tipper for delivering my drinks. I had a terrible room steward, she told me point blank. Don’t call me after my shift is over. I had no idea they had a shift. They forgot to clean our room ? They want tips, provide good service, not poor service.

    68. Robert
      July 15th, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

      We just pay the tips ahead of time and have it done with.

      I always pay the two stewards $20 each at the beginning of the cruise (this is to ensure the little extras and has always worked) and more at the end if it stays that way.

      I also tip the bartenders at whatever bar I favorite the most during the week. The first guy/gal to deliver a drink gets ten bucks and that usually ensures great drink deliveries…then I do that again near the end of the week.

      We’re talking maybe $100 above and beyond your other costs and if this gives you pain..well honestly I think you need to reconsider your vacation plans and take up camping.

      I don’t suggest you tip everyone who walks up to you but just do the auto tip and keep a few bills around for someone who really helps you out. :)

    69. seapass1
      February 22nd, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

      These folks are making two to three times the money the average person makes in a three star hotel in the US. Cruise lines are nortorious for making cruise guest feel guilty about adjusting gratuities while sticking to a unfair pricing policy. Next time you are on a cruise ask your neighbors to the right and left of you. I think you’ll find out none of you paid the same for your cabins. Our 20th cruise wil be in six weeks, I will opt out of the auto tipping and pay what i think is deserving and what i can afford.

    70. Cruiser Guy
      April 19th, 2015 @ 9:23 pm

      Wow interesting the range of people on here. I just got back from a cruise 7 day carnival. I have always paid the autotip in the past. This time..they autocharged me 84.00 per person…for a family of four…thats $336.00!

      First off..I hate cheapskates. They LOOK for reason to complain…..so they don’t have to pay and try to justify that as their “reason” for no tipping. Gross.

      These worker work their asses off. Most make the experience much more enjoyable and fun.!

      The simple answer for me was…remove the auto tip. Done.

      I tipped the porters a dollar a bag. Obv drinks were autotipped.

      I had an good waiter /team… ..went to 5 of the 7 dinners..(no sit down breakfasts or lunches)..and tipped $20.00 per night x 5 nights. $100.00. Done. Here in the states if your bill is $130.00 ..15% tip would be about $20.00

      Room cleaner guy… cleaned all seven days.. Very solid job.. gave him $12 day x 7 …$84.00.

      So it cost me $184.00. (would have been $224.00 if we had seven dinners) I feel ok with it since I tipped exactly based on the service I received. No more.. no less.

      If they blew my socks off at dinner I would have paid 25-30 a night..same with the cleaner if he was extra great then would have done 15-20 a day if the maitre’de did me a favor like seating changes/special announcment etc I would tip him also..

      if the service was poor it would have been reduced accordingly…but only if was poor effort!… not “blame” them if they are understaffed…

      yes I guess I screwed the “behind the scenes people..” maybe carnival could allow that portion of the tip specifically on your account since we can’t really tip everyone in that fashion… but I just don’t know how much “actually” goes to these people… even if carnival claims the breakdown is

      Stateroom service team $3.90
      dining room service $6.10
      alternative services team* $2.00 per day

      total 12.00 a day x 7 84.00 person

      anyhow thats what I did..

    71. Newbie
      May 24th, 2015 @ 12:43 am

      I forgot to google what I should tip if I really like the service so I had to just go with my instincts and I think I made the right decision for myself. I don’t think there should be tipping rules or expectation, it’s different for everyone. Saying someone shouldn’t cruise unless they should tip is like saying they should go to a restaurant unless they pay for valley parking and that is just silly. We all come in at different playing fields and it those who tip on the higher end balance out those who tip on the lower end. I tipped an extra $20 to main waiter and room steward on the last day because I wanted to and not because I had to, that’s the whole point.

    72. Alex Berrie
      August 31st, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

      I don,t like to pay tips via on board account although sometimes I have. My reasons are firstly cruise line will not tell you exactly who gets how much and more recently I believe that some lines take a percentage for administration.
      In general I believe that tipping is for personal service so I normally would only tip those that give direct service by putting cash ln the envelope. This often adds up to more than the cruise line would charge.
      Its time the lines all paid proper wages then we would only tip for exceptional service and everyone would be happy.
      We have done over 50 cruise mostly Princess and P and O
      but some on all major lines and only once have we had an issue where we did not tip.

    Leave a Reply

  • Please follow & like us


  • About the Lido Deck

    The Lido Deck is written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, reporting from ships and ports around the world. The daily blog covers cruise news, reviews, advice, and hot topics from the Cruise Critic message boards. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

  • Facebook

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories