# Tipping Points: 7 Times When You Shouldn’t Tip

July 27, 2011 | By | 70 Comments

We’re constantly fielding questions about when, whom and how much to tip. But when should you slap away the outstretched hand, figuratively speaking? Many first-timers may be perplexed by what palms need to be greased … and which don’t. Lisa Lubrano e-mailed the Lido Deck asking: “If someone helps me carry my food in the buffet, how much should I tip? I get to the point where I want no one helping me with anything because I’m tired of tipping for every single darn thing.”
We know the feeling, Lisa. But you’ll be happy to learn that there’s no pressure to tip the buffet waiters — on big-ship lines, the auto-gratuities take care of the waitstaff, who may work both the main dining room and the buffet.
But beyond the buffet-ers, when else is no tip required?

Don’t tip when….
• You buy a drink. Old salts know the drill: When you purchase a beverage, be it Bud Light, dirty martini or soda, mainstream cruise lines automatically add 15 percent to the bill. Many first-timers make the mistake of throwing a buck on top as they would onshore.
• You’re sailing luxury. When sailing with upscale small-ship lines like Seabourn and Silversea Cruises, tips are neither required nor expected. If service is exceptional, no one’s going to stop you from pulling a $10 out of your cabin steward’s ear and handing it to him. (Not all luxury tipping policies are created equally: For instance, as of now, Crystal Cruises has suggested tips. The line will, however, fold gratuities into the fare in spring 2012.) • When you order room service between midnight and 5 a.m. NCL and Royal Caribbean charge passengers$3.95 per room service order delivered during the early a.m. hours — so there’s no requirement to tip more. At all other times, we typically tip a few dollars per delivery.
• You’re dining at the specialty restaurant. As we noted in a previous tipping Q&A, paying $30 for surf-and-turf at the for-fee restaurant means there’s no need to tip on tip — again, unless you really appreciate that special waiter who is so very gentle when he or she puts on your lobster bib. • It’s already on the spa receipt. Not every onboard spa automatically includes gratuity, but it pays to check the receipt. Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown recalls giving close 40 percent for a spa treatment on Seabourn Odyssey — the automatically added 18 percent plus a 20 percent “bonus.” Somewhere out there, a Swedish woman with powerful hands is smiling. • When the plumber fixes your shower or toilet. It can be tempting. The man who restores the whoosh of the vacuum toilet or hot water in the shower is, in a way, restoring balance in the universe. But these onboard engineers don’t work for tips. • The captain keeps you safe or the cruise director makes milk come out of your nose. While we’d very much like to see the look on the captain’s face when you slip him$20 at the welcome party, cash-handshakes are not necessary. He will not linger in port or let you steer the ship. The Australian or British cruise director, whose hilarious morning briefings have you believing, once more, in laughter, should also never be the recipient of a tip. But you knew that already.
• Have your own thoughts on when not to tip onboard? Share them in the comments section.
You have questions, we have answers: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Tipping, which we’ll be adding to all week.
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70 Responses to “Tipping Points: 7 Times When You Shouldn’t Tip”

1. neta platt
July 27th, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

We tend to always add a dollar to all drink orders. We have found we tend to get better service and all the waiters remember us and are fighting to come and wait on us at every venue. So the only time we don’t is if they can’t get the drink order right. I guess because we have a butler we have never been charged for room service between the hours you have mentioned here, I was shocked to see that.

2. Becky
July 27th, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

I’ve been cruising since 1990. I always tip the bartenders and pool-side waitstaff – and the incredible service I get in return shows its appreciated. My drinks usually come with an extra shot, and the pool-side waitstaff are often seen arm-wrestling to see who gets to wait on me

A little extra never hurts!

3. Heather
July 28th, 2011 @ 2:02 am

We discretely slipped our Dinner-time Junior waiter (who was Thai) the little Thai Baht we had left after we’d left the Thai port and our Stateroom steward and Dinner waiter a modest sum on our last day. We’re not wealthy people and save for our cruises and go without luxuries at home. We always show the people looking after us the utmost courtesy and I think that goes a long way too. They’re paid to look after us but they’re not lowly Servants

4. Sabrina
July 28th, 2011 @ 8:42 am

Last cruise I went on, my husband and I wanted a Bloody Caesar (it has Clamato Juice rather than Tomato Juice in a Bloody Mary). The pool bartender said it wasn’t there yet. It took almost 30 minutes to get it from somewhere in the ship. I gave him an extra $2 and said thank you for ringing someone to bring it up for us. The next morning he recognized us and asked if we wanted a Bloody Caesar. Sure enough – he had the Clamato Juice that morning! And I tipped extra again for thinking about it. 5. Barry July 28th, 2011 @ 9:30 am In the past, we just left the$10/pp/night on the account. However, on the last cruise, the Shore Excursion Department rudely shoved their way twice through a large group of independent travelers to commandeer tenders. (It was a 45+ minute tender ride and the local vendors’ boats mis-matched the ship’s ramp so only the ship’s life boats were in service and the passageways and stairs were crammed with passengers who had patiently waited well over an hour.)
We opted out of the automtic charge and gave the equivalent in cash to our steward with the request he share it with those who assisted him. Probably not fair to the wait staff (we booked late so only independent dining was available), but it allowed us to punctuate our displeasure with bad judgment and bullying behavior. I hope our comments on the opt-out form were used constructively by the ship’s management to preclude boorish conduct in the future.

6. Ed Abrams
July 28th, 2011 @ 10:34 am

I never understand the concept of tipping. Why can’t the cruise line simply pay their employees as I pay mine. You don’t tip your doctor who gives you good service, then why do you tip a taxi driver when he take you from point A to point B. That is his job. Raise fares if you must. Required or expected tipping is robbery.

Enough said. I tip because I understand that cruise line staff are underpaid and do live on the tips. However, I always opt out of the mandatory $15 per day surcharge. Knowing that the staff pool their tips, I tip in such a manner that the individual can pocket the money. A few dollar here and there will not get pooled. It is a thank you not a requirement. At the end of the cruise, I also give the envelope tip that gets pooled. I end up spending the same amount but I feel that the individual that gave me extra services makes out better. I have taken cruises that do not require tipping such a Paul Guigan. Service is excellent and it is my pleasure to contribute to the staff fund at the end of the cruise. No one is watching me and people do their job as expected. Please eliminate the tipping practise. 7. Dennis Slater July 28th, 2011 @ 5:43 pm I have read elsewhere that additional tips given to individuals are supposed to be added to the tips pool by the individual. The ships require this. Although I think it is highly unlikely a sane person would actually take a nice, freely given, earned tip given to him by a customer and putting it in a pool has made me ponder our usual tactic of cutting down the ‘suggested’ tip we are charged and giving it directly in cash to those who actually provide us with service. The thought of giving a maitre d’ that we briefly see for 1 minute the last night of the cruise a tip as part of the suggested tip frankly turns my stomach. I am from the ‘tips-are-earned’ school of tipping. 8. smeyer418 July 28th, 2011 @ 5:51 pm Huh not tipping because of the shore excursion staff? They aren’t in the tipping pool. Its the traditionally tipped and tipped out crew(wait staff who tips out the line chefs and dishwashers and room staff who tipped out the laundry room and supply room) so taking out the DSC because of the shore excursion staff is really on the outrageous side. They had nothing to do with it. 9. GinnyrRay July 29th, 2011 @ 12:46 pm T I P Used to mean and hopefully still does TO INSURE PROMPTNESS and was given before service was rendered, like the mater D in restaurants…. Glad to see some still honor this tradition aboard ships 10. Bradley Ballard July 29th, 2011 @ 3:09 pm I don’t think of it as tipping. I think of it as paying for good service. It’s callous and backwards, but, well, money talks. Slip your steward, your waiter and your bartender some cash early into your cruise. The little extra spent here or there really does make a difference. This way, you will enjoy a week’s worth of stepped-up service. Pay the mandatory cruiseline sevice fee, as it also helps those folks who you don’t necessarily see, but work their tails off to ensure you have a great vacation. 11. Arch July 29th, 2011 @ 6:10 pm I am glad to pay the tipping amount included on my overall cruise bill because I know many of those who serve us in person or behind the scenes are paid poorly. I also tip extra to those who go ‘the extra mile’ to assist us, serve us, and insure our comfort. As seniors this can be a variety of services from dining to stateroom comfort and we appreciate the extras which may be required. It would be appreciated if the cruise lines could be more transparent in letting us know just which personnel do benefit from our automatic tipping. 12. Pamela Hayes July 29th, 2011 @ 8:11 pm We went on a Mexican Riviera cruise Christmas 2009 and the cabin steward was the best I’ve ever encountered. We have been on 3 other cruises in the past two years and none could equal. He was smiling, friendly, and called us by name. We left a comment card and extra tip for him, handing it to him personally. On our Panama Canal cruise on Island Princess last Nov. we dined with a group of 8 travel buddies in Anytime Dining. We loved our wait staff and requested them every night. They made certain we had “our table” available. The maitre de bent over backward for us in this case. Needless to say, on the last night we all put in extra money and gave them all a nice tip! They absolutely made our cruise phenomenal! So much so that we’d love to try and book another cruise on the same ship our waiter would be going to. Leo was phenomenal, indeed! 13. Lyn July 30th, 2011 @ 2:51 am I will be tipping my room person even thought I have already pre paid my gratuities. Then I know my room will always be looked after and they deserve it anyway. Some people are mean and I would like to see them working for those wages. I might try tipping at the pool and see if it gets me a chair ha.ha. that would be good. 14. Scamper August 1st, 2011 @ 1:49 am Ed: Yeah, unfortunately it isn’t that simple. First of all, what is a living wage where these folks come from, and what is a living wage in Holland is too vastly different things. Moreover, where are the ships registered? What is a living wage there? Since the country of registry has vast influence here, who decides what the wage is. Secondly, the cruise lines set fares to get people onboard. It isn’t the fare that makes them money, it’s the discretionary spending. They probably just about breakeven on the fares, with maybe a little profit, but if they don’t get people to spend their money in the casinos, bars, and shops the stockholders don’t get much of a return. Two big reasons why it’s better to suck it up and live with the tipping/gratuity thing. 15. Victor Yellen August 1st, 2011 @ 1:14 pm I personally believe Disney Dream has it right. You decide how much to each person, the front desk charges your account and you get a slip of paper for the individual to be given on last night. All the advantages of not doing cash with the personal touch of the old cash and envelopes. Maybe other lines ought to emulate this system. 16. Larry August 8th, 2011 @ 1:39 pm I have no problem tipping those that go the exta yard for me byt is it really my responsibilty to pay extra for the privilage of the laundry staff cleaning my sheets. Let the cruise lines pay the salary of thier staff from the profits they make on my$7.50 drink made with 1 shot of watered down liquer.

17. Dave Kuzio
August 10th, 2011 @ 10:23 am

We think of the $10 a day gratuity add-on as part of the cruise price so we’ll prob never take a 100 day “around the world” cruise. LOL But as others have mentioned, leaving a$1 bar tip seems to leave an impression on the bartenders who may go the extra mile for service and they’ll almost always remember what you like to drink. We normally give the room staff an add’l $5/day at the end of the cruise. We’ve never had bad service from the room staff – but then again maybe we’re just lucky in that regard. 18. Mary August 10th, 2011 @ 11:43 am I don’t believe that they are underpaid. Those that I know that have worked on the cruise lines were very happy with their jobs. No, they probably don’t earn 6 figure wages, but then again do all the passengers? 19. Ken Nelson August 10th, 2011 @ 5:26 pm The review of tipping on Cruise Lines needs to be updated for the Princess Line. When sailing on Australian cruises on Princess, tipping is not required, however the usual 15% is added to your bar bill. I understand that P&O are about to follow up with their no tipping policy. Australians have a minimum wages policy and tipping is not an accepted practice but does occur. It is widely accepted that a person is paid to do the job and good service is part of that job. 20. Allan August 10th, 2011 @ 9:29 pm I don’t mean to be pedantic, but surely it should be “TO ENSURE PROMPTNESS?” 21. Kathleen Byers August 18th, 2011 @ 12:24 pm Hubby and I are hard workers who save our pennies to cruise which, in our opinion, is almost the perfect vacation. We are lucky enough to be going on our 2nd for this year because both cruises were deeply discounted. The cruises were discounted, not the service! I not only gladly pay the mandatory gratuities, but also tip the room stewards and wait staff additional on embarkation day and again at the end of the cruise if the service has been exceptional. I truly appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to keep so many personalities happy! 22. Ann Mounce August 19th, 2011 @ 5:16 pm Insure-as in insurance-Ensure as in prefixed drinks to keep you healthy (gag me) What I want to know is, is it an insult to leave a few bucks on the table after breakfast in the MDR. After reading Cruise Confidential and finding out that we breakfast people are the worst kind(why don’t we go to Lido) I thought it would be nice to leave a couple bucks every morning so that they don’t think we are just MDR jerks. 23. Kathy August 24th, 2011 @ 5:50 pm We do not eat in the main dining room as we don’t like stop what we are doing to shower and get dressed to go eat. We take our tips off of our sign and sail cards when we get on the ship. We do not feel we should pay wait staff when we don’t use them. 24. Derty Ernie August 25th, 2011 @ 1:40 pm Hopefully this is relative. In Mexico our all inclusive includes tips. I still tip for great service. In Vegas drinks are free but I tip for every drink and get more drinks. However, I would not tip on a tip as in drinks on the ship. Why they got theres. 25. Tina Crouch August 25th, 2011 @ 10:09 pm I am with the others on this I believe the work should be done to show off the service and then let me tip them from my kindness I was just raised that way I have been on many many many cruise lines/ships and I will say it over and over If I am at home I do the work prior to being payed and I feel that is there job and the tip should be giving the last night at sea so I may give them what I feel they earned Tina 26. Betsy August 30th, 2011 @ 9:16 am To the person who said we remove our tips when we get on the ship………I hate to say this, but those waitstaff people (who you don’t think you are utilizing by avoiding the MDR) are also serving you in the Lido, bars, and for \gala\ lunch buffets etc. They do not exclusively work in the MDR. You will see them working all over the ship. They deserve the gratuity! 27. John McD August 30th, 2011 @ 4:53 pm Interesting point about not tipping the cruise director. We never were tempted to do so. But I believe several of the river cruise companies DO suggest a tip to the CD. Since this type of voyage is becoming more popular with current ocean cruisers, it will be interesting to gather reactions. 28. BB September 14th, 2011 @ 7:56 am Re Spa tips – several lines do not include a service charge/gratuity/tip, such as Carnival. My daughter did a woman’s hair every day and was told she would get her \tip\ at the end of the cruise – FIVE DOLLARS! Some don’t tip at all. Spa staff don’t get a minimum wage, and many are NOT from low paid countries and the service charge is an important part of their income, but it is left to the discretion of the guest. 29. Mary September 15th, 2011 @ 1:42 am My husband and I love cruising. We are friendly funny and kind and have never had to tip so that someone will remember us and treat us well on the next encounter. We choose to send personnel notes to supervisors about our positive experiences with crew and they have ALWAYS been well received. We get bottles of wine sent to our room and invitations to dine with staff. Praise goes a lot farther than a few dollars and from the notes we have received means a great deal to the staff. Above all smile be polite and enjoy the experience. 30. Kathy October 4th, 2011 @ 11:07 pm I never would have considered tipping a cruise director; we’ve had good ones, great ones, and terrible ones, but none of them have given us personal service. We did go on a river cruise on AMA Waterways and left a huge tip for our cruise director because she took care of our every need on land and on the ship. She must have never slept because she was always there for us. 31. Pedroinspain November 11th, 2011 @ 2:45 pm Quoted from Arch: I am glad to pay the tipping amount included on my overall cruise bill because I know many of those who serve us in person or behind the scenes are paid poorly. I also tip extra to those who go ‘the extra mile’ to assist us, serve us, and insure our comfort. Unquote Arch, I agree with your second (last) sentence and believe that is where it should stop. Regarding your first sentence, maybe the solution is to boycott those cruise lines that pay starvation wages instead of shoring up their horrid practice. 32. ammagic November 23rd, 2011 @ 9:21 am I have been cruising for 25 years now and I would have to say I liked the envelopes at the end better then the automatic charge. On my last cruise on NCL the “Customer Service Desk” was less then helpful. I was issued a cabin credit from the travel agent and did not receive it. I showed the desk staff my confirmation showing the credit. (I booked three cabins, one got the credit the other two didn’t)Their response was “I should deal with the travel agent when I got home.” I withdrew my auto gratuties after asking the room steward how much they got. She said “nothing, we are on a contract”. I tipped her$100 and let it go at that. I do tip a bar tender if he is plesant and gives me a smile and I tip for room service. I believe the cruise lines are pocketing at least some of the automatic charges.

33. GeezingInVA
November 23rd, 2011 @ 10:45 am

Cruise Directors on European river cruises are tipped separately than the rest of the ship staff because the CDs are independent subcontractors of the cruise line. The CD serves as a concierge aboard the river cruise ship, too. It’s really a different function when the CD has only 120 passengers per cruise, too.

34. Tracy
November 23rd, 2011 @ 11:42 am

Something that has been bothering me a bit is the mandatory full tipping for children on a Carnival cruise. I have 3…One of whom will only eat salads and and maybe piece of fruit….and the other I’ll be lucky to get a slice of pizza and a few chicken nuggets in him (have to carry Pediasure everywhere I go..lol) I always clean my own room..including disinfecting…leaving little to nothing for the steward/housekeeping to do. We have only one room……get the same one animal towel….as a room with 2 adults…and still have to tip 82 dollars x 5 for a carnival cruise….maybe it’s just me..but it doesn’t seem quite right.

35. caribbean lover
November 23rd, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

as seasoned cruisers, we would prefer to sail on all inclusive lines..but because our cabin steward really works hard for us, we always tip extra for him and his assistant. we also leave a small tip each night for the bar tender,especially if he has supplied hot or cold snacks for us.

36. FormerWaitress
November 26th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

Still had a repeated word. Here goes again:
As someone who waited tables in her younger days, I always smile when people are convinced that they shouldn’t tip for services provided to their children. No, kids don’t eat as much, they grind most of it into the carpet.

And the parents whose kids REALLY DO pick up after themselves in the cabin usually are not so self-entitled and smug as to begrudge the cabin staff a tip

37. FormerWaitress
November 26th, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

Also, it is important to remember that your seats are reserved for you in the MDR. If you don’t show up and refuse to tip, it is the moral equivalent of your boss’s sending you home first thing in the morning for a no-notice unpaid day off.

And in a round-about way, you are also stiffing the folks in the buffet who are taking care of you.

If the tips are really a hardship, maybe you need to admit to yourself that you really can’t afford the cruise. Or, you could always cut back on your bar tab.

38. delano
November 27th, 2011 @ 1:03 am

I wonder if the crew get all the $$or does the cruise line keep a percentage? I would think they are not that cheap, but who knows. I have not removed my required tips on any cruise, but i am now thinking of decreasing them and handing out tip as i get good service or see someone who is helpful. yet on my last cruise for 28 days the service was good and I really didnt like the idea of taking from some of those who helped that i didnt see. YET<I see some who work in the dinning room, working on the Lido deck. HUMMm,very difficult to decide what is best. 39. Doug November 28th, 2011 @ 6:41 am Overtipping Suckers – My wife and I cruised with another couple who are frequent cruisers like us. Their cabin was two doors down from ours and when we were allowed into our rooms on embarkation day, the husband gave our room steward 20 to get his luggage to his room faster…I didn’t give the guy anything. By 1:00 that afternoon we had our luggage and they were still waiting for theirs. They finally got their luggage just before the muster drill. I laughed and shook my head. As the cruise went on, my same friend would always add a dollar (or more) to his drink tab. Yet he got worse service than me and I didn’t add anything to the tab which has 15% added on anyway. Besides the standard tips the line charges us, the only other thing my wife and I do is carry several 1 bills with us and we use those to tip 2 or 3 to the room service staff since room service is “free”. 40. Terri December 15th, 2011 @ 11:20 am Having been a waitress at one point in time, I had much more motivation to help people that I knew were better tippers. What I can’t stand is to see people be in a bad mood and treat wait staff in the pool-deck buffet area as if they are not the seasoned professionals that they are. Anyone that gets to cruise should be very happy! 41. michele moore December 15th, 2011 @ 11:25 am and if you have a person in a white jacket bring something to your room like we did, I believe thats an officer, don’t tip him. I tried, he said ‘no no I don’t take tips’. I said ‘well thank u very much’. I think he brought us that big tray of horduvers that hub sis bought for my bday. We gave more than the required tip in person so it goes only to that person. 42. Bellas Mom December 15th, 2011 @ 11:53 am We have always given extra to our Wait Staff and Room Steward. People think they get so much but it is really nothing as compared to what we earn in the States. Even minimum wage is better than what these people earn. What is an extra 10 or 20 dollars to part with per a 7 day cruise? We are not wealthy and live within our means. We save for our Cruises and give the little extra to our wonderful people who have waited on us all week with smiles on their faces. A 20 to the Room Steward in addition to the mandatory tips. We clean up after ourselves just as if we were at home but the little extra comforts and being pampered mean a lot to us ! If you are that cheap then don’t expect a great cruise ! We have been on most all the lines and have had the same services ! I guess it is how you respect a person and some people are just ignorant to what a great job is being done 24 hours a day 7 days a week ! 43. Be Ashamed December 15th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm It really is criminal what the service staff makes – any employee of a ship can attest to this. Just because some of you don’t know or can’t believe it, that does not make it OK to stiff the staff – especially now that you DO know. Yes Delano, the main dining room staff will help with the Lido buffet, so what? The people handling the laundry and cooking and cleaning don’t work in the dining rooms ever and the MDR staff won’t moonlight in those spots either. 44. Janet Archer December 15th, 2011 @ 12:46 pm I always tip extra to my cabin steward at the beginning of the cruise. I also personally tip him and his assistants at the end of the cruise, just as I do our waiters. We also tip regularly on drinks and have found that we also get better service ( no waiting for someone to bring our next drink!) and we have made friends with people from many different countries this way. It is my pleasure to do this. I am not trying to buy good service. I am showing my appreciation for someone who does their job very well! 45. Suzanne December 15th, 2011 @ 3:05 pm I think part of the problem here is that no one really knows how the tips work on each line. I realize that there are articles here and there that talk about how the tips are pooled etc. but most contradict each other. On one cruise hubby and I tipped our dining room staff less because we spent so many nights in the specialty restaurants and felt we were double tipping (we tipped in the specialty restaurant as we would have tipped in a nice one at home). However, some would tell you that you don’t need to tip in specialty because the pool of tips from MDR goes to them as well but others say that isn’t the case. I wish that each cruiseline would be up front with what the tips go for and who gets them so we could make informed decisions. We tip our cabin steward about 20 on embarkation and then leave him a little treat each day (granola bar, candy, etc.) and a small thank you gift with some significance to our home (ie a small giftbox of NorthWest goodies such as smoked salmon and Tillamook cheese) to thank him/her at debarkation. I do occasionally add a tip on top of the already present tip for drinks as well. I’ll do so when I first order, and then every 2 or 3 orders after that – and as others have mentioned – the wait staff fight each other to serve me – even when all I want is a refill on my soda package! (seriously, I’ve seen them race each other to get to me!) 46. Michael January 5th, 2012 @ 2:00 pm I do not tip the Maitre ‘de as I have rarely had one solve my problem in the dinning room when I have one. Usually you have to make an appointment to see him during the day(RC) or he will find out you have a problem and duck you for thr rest of the cruise. I have never had one that was friendly except on the last day of the cruise. 47. Carol Arrington February 1st, 2012 @ 3:20 pm We just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Dream, where we had an outstanding meal in the Steakhouse.At the end of the meal we asked if tip was included and nobody seemed to know. We asked the hostess, who also didn’t know, and finally found someone who seemed to be in authority who said he wasn’t sure, so We left a nice tip. We later asked at the purser’s desk and he told us tips were not included. What’s the real story, and why couldn’t we get a difinitive answer 48. Terry35 February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:32 pm I think 15% is very adequate for tips unless a particular person provides some, extra, services not part of why they are there in the first place. I usually Tip the cabin staff at the beginning since there is no point doing it at the end as they cannot do the little extras then! Booze covers most of the ships profits so pushing it is a requirement of the servers by their managers. So not necessarilly their desire to provide premium service. Having said that I have seldom had a bad experience on a cruise so they are doing a fine job overall. 49. Warren63 February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:27 pm This tipping issue has some real issues for those of us who have to budget and save hard for our holidays. My wife and I enjoy cruising and have now cruised at least 7 times on different lines, all of which have had similar or same gratuity schemes. We are about to embark on a series of 3 more cruises this year and look forward to them with much anticipation, except for the gratuity systems! We tend to opt out of the fixed system and reward those staff who give us good service, we do not pre-empt good service by tipping first as an incentive but rather after good service is provided, after all, you have already paid for service by paying your fare. Let us put some context to the issue – a 14 day cruise with a 11 per day per person per cabin gratuity would equate to a total of 308 per room of 2 persons. It is fairly common that on the gratuity shared system the cabin steward would get approx 65% of this, dining staff 30% and 5% to the remaining service staff. Given that a cabin steward services approx 10 -15 cabins, let’s call it 10, then he/she would earn an extra 1,000 per week, 2,000 on a 14 day cruise and over a 3 month contract approx 13,000. This does not include any direct gratuities given to the individual. I do not believe that the cruise lines give all gratuities to their staff and that is why we opt out. We are NOT cheapskates, but we refuse to be used as cash cows for businesses that confuse and misinform both client and staff about these gratuity systems. Regardless we will still enjoy our cruises and tip where we seem fit, after all, it is OUR choice to tip or not to tip. 50. Linda February 24th, 2012 @ 8:06 am Warren63, that was probably the most informative comment here! I still don’t understand the process from these comments, but do the emotional opinions for,or ag. tipping. We just came back from one and on entering our room my foot kicked something below corner of bed=someones left behand gift wrap and stickers, some gum stuck in rug also tugged at my slippers. The rail under mirror and around area had dust that greww as the days went by. We didn’t complain we just didn’t leave a tip! That was lazy neglect so if I have to tell them…I did ask for a better scowering of toilet as we had my young DGS with! If I could smell urine couldn’t they? (excuse my directness!) We tipped our MDR HW(female) a private enevelope enough$$$to share w/2 asst. to NOT be a sm tip ea. They did an excellant job and very personal infact my DD and her were about the same age and will email for girl talk as she says just men around her and not much girl talk=they get lonely too(she Bulgarian most staff Asian). We do a few$ for room service. I think we wil sti leave the auto tip as it seems to cover many, hopefully they get it all. You can ook up the avg. salaries for ie. HW etc. I won’t for drinks I reay don’t want dbl shots and get wasted! They should prob. get a tip if runnung for a soda on the soda card!

51. Linda
February 24th, 2012 @ 8:11 am

Sorry I missed some on proof read, my “L” is broke on my laptop not to mention I don’t type so pressure’s not consistant!! lol Oh and I never knew you could opt out on the mandatory auto tip.

52. Robert Ewalt
March 2nd, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

On our recent Queen Mary 2 cruise (Southampto to NYC), they had a form where passengers could commend specific staff who provided excellent service. It looked like many passengers were putting these forms in the appropriate box. This method seems better to me than cash tipping (in addition to automatic tip). British normally tip lower than Americans.

53. Cherry
March 7th, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

I am constantly amazed that people will pay thousands of dollars for a cruise and then quibble over a few dollars tip to the staff. The cruise staff work long hours for little pay to cater to our every wish only to have many cruisers brag about ways to stiff them.

54. cruise pup
March 7th, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

When I recently ordered room service by phone on Celebrity Millennium I asked if it would be possible to put the tip on my on board account since I didn’t have any singles. The room service operator told me not to worry about tipping because it was included in the daily gratuity charge.

55. Kim
May 11th, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

We always leave the auto tips on as a base for tipping. Then if we experience exceptional service (and we usually do) then we add extra in an envelope at the end of the trip. If it’s just not exceptional, then they will just get the auto tips. And room service always gets a couple of dollars too. I have never, nor will I ever, tip ahead \to ensure better service\. To me that’s a bribe not a tip. I’ve never had bad service from anyone while cruising, but I have definitely had exceptional service. Considering the overall price of the trip, and extra $20-25 to someone that really went above and beyond is not a hardship to me. 56. Kimberly May 13th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm I am reading this and I am so confused! I have only traveled on Disney cruises. I have spoken with the servers and the cabin stewards who get the tips. I appreciate all their hard work. They are making less than minimum wage as they are making the tipped wage. I will be traveling on a Carnival Cruise next year and if my servers are not getting tipped, I want to ensure I give them something extra. Is there anyone out there who actually works for a major cruise line (and anonymity is okay) that can share their experiences with tipping? Thank you! 57. Merrill January 7th, 2013 @ 5:04 pm Tipping on a cruise line is not a “few bucks” based on Carnival’s tipping policy, and the fact that they charge 15% on every drink you order (soda, beer, etc.), the overall cost of tips for two people on a 14 day cruise can be between$475 and $500 -that’s crazy! 58. proud grandparents February 16th, 2013 @ 9:32 am I always give the head waiter a nice tip the first night. I have then always had a table by the window waiting for me regardless of when I show up. It is well worth the money. 59. Steven March 14th, 2013 @ 9:52 pm NEVER tip for room service between midnight and 5AM? Seriously? Sorry, not all cruise lines automatically charge a fee for room service. You might want to clarify your post … as it is not fair to the cruise lines and crew members. NEVER tip at a specialty restaurant? Again, SERIOUSLY? This has to be the worst suggestion I have ever heard. Not all cruise lines gouge the heck out of guests … and not all cruise lines have the same policy. As an example, on DCL (Palo), the server gets$5 of the $20 surcharge. It is not uncommon for us to leave$20 – $40 per couple, depending on the service. Again, you might want to revise your suggestions, as not all cruise lines charge outrageous fees. 60. Steven March 14th, 2013 @ 9:53 pm PROUD G-parents: So, you are expecting someone to hold a table for you? That’s fairly inconsiderate … as well as ignorant on the past of the head server, as well as the cruise line! 61. Steven March 14th, 2013 @ 9:56 pm Merrill – What’s crazy, is sailing on Carnival! Disney does not charge for soft drinks on the upper decks, nor at dinner. There are far too many cruise lines who nickel and dime you to death. Many passengers THINK they are getting a good deal, only to realize, they PAID a good deal. Try a Disney cruise .. it’s more expensive … but far superior to Carnival (then again, anything is far superior to Carnival). 62. Pat May 15th, 2013 @ 2:49 pm Steven – seems to me like YOU need a vacation! And I love Carnival! Food is ALWAYS good and I have had exceptional service on all of my cruises. Princess was good, too but hated NCL. 63. barbara June 15th, 2013 @ 1:53 pm The best tip you can give the captain is a nice note. I did that after dining at the Captain’s Table and being invited to the Bridge. I saw the Captain after he received the note and said that he really appreciated it. All you need is a pen and paper to make someone’s day and show your apprecialtion 64. chiquita wardell September 24th, 2013 @ 7:45 pm my family and friends of 65 will be cruising may 31,2014. i have booked an aqua suite on the oasis of the seas. spending 13,000 for that one alone. we should not have tip.i feel we have paid our share,what do you think? 65. Pam September 29th, 2013 @ 4:47 pm Can someone please tell me how much they tip? I just completed my second cruise to Alaska earlier this month on Princess. I talked to another person who cruised before on another Ship and he told me he only tips$2.00 per day for his steward and his waiter. I always do the automatic tipping and then my friend told me we should tip the Stewart $25 to$35.00 (we tipped our room Stewart $70 ($35 from me & same from her) the second day as we were so impressed) then we tipped him again at the end of the trip $40.00 between the 2 of us). I don’t know how much she gave our Head Waiter but I gave him$25.00 and his assistant $15.00. On my second cruise with my husband this year I only tipped$25.00 each for the room stewart and $35.00 for head waiter and$25.00 from each of us to his assistant. When I have room service I always do $2 to$3.00. The first time I did this the gentleman was so excited and said it was his first tip. Are we being too cheap? I know they work very long hours 7 days a week for about 10 months straight.

66. Colleen Nulph
October 15th, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

It seems that Carnival is the only tattle tale cruise line on the opting out. We cruise a lot on Carnival and before the automatic tipping policy went into effect we got awsome service. After, the service plummeted to the point I wrote a letter after our cruise commenting on the auto tipping policy. I too agree that buffet verses sit down warrants different amounts. But each time we got bad service we had opted out and tipped at the end in cash (the old way) My husband and I are leaving on another cruise Saturday, after reading your feedback, we have decided to not opt out and see how the service is and we can always opt out at the end and pay cash based on the service provided. I don’t like the automatic tipping. I like to pay for a job well done and reduce the amount if warranted. We will let you know.

December 7th, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

I am scheduled to take a cruise in April, 2014 and it was suggested that I read comments from former cruise passengers. After reading some, I am more confused regarding the tipping policy. As stated in one of the comments the cruise line should become transparent (15% vs individual tipping to whom and what locations) regarding tipping is a great idea!

68. Frances
January 14th, 2014 @ 2:43 am

Chiquita, I am going to take the fun out of this and say that you are joking about paying $13,000 for a suite then don’t think you should have to tip. No traveler is really that arrogant, ignorant or stupid! We didn’t fall for your hoax! (But, nice try!) 69. R. Prisciand February 11th, 2014 @ 7:27 am To all those who don’t “use” the wait staff because that would involve stopping whatever you’re doing and having to shower before going to dinner, why not just eat from a trough or feedbag, or roll around in mud? That’d save lots of time, and money. 70. Margaret September 17th, 2014 @ 6:01 pm My husband and I just got off a Disney Cruise and stayed in a one bedroom suite. This gave us concierge privileges and used the concierge lounge quite often. On the last day of the cruise we tipped them$100 in an envelope provided and thought this was more than adequate. Later on that evening and next morning they hardly acknowledged us, making us think they were not happy with the \$100. What is appropriate as this particular tip had no guidelines.

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