Recently I have seen a lot of questions around gratuity or tipping while on a cruise. Its a great question so here are 3 times you would tip and why.
Just like when you are at the airport and you check your luggage at the curb, the porters at the cruise terminal can be tipped. Now, lets be honest, they do expect it but of course its not required. I usually recommend $1 to $2 per bag and a little more if you have a specially large item.
Tours / Shore Excursions
A lot of times while in port you will do some kind of shore excursion involving a tour or just grabbing a cab. In most ports, the tour guides are pretty straight forward about tipping but at least they make a joke about it most of the time. In my opinion, $5 per person is pretty respectable. But remember, only do this if you enjoyed the tour and don't feel obligated to if you had a bad experience. Tipping is to reward great service.
There was a time when on your last day you would get envelopes in your room. One for each cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter and the matre d. Of course with anything, that has all changed.
Now all of the cruise lines, other than maybe the luxury lines, gratuities are automatically charged to your on board account. These can range from $13-$18 per guest per night depending on the cruise line and cabin type you have. These cover the waitstaff not only in the dining room but in the buffet and your cabin steward.
Now these gratuities are flexible. If you would like to increase, reduce or completely remove the gratuities from your account, you can easily do so at the Guest Services Desk. Just make sure if you are removing it, have a good reason, its kind of tacky if not.
Remember the envelopes, you can still get those if you either want to give more in cash or if you want to pay all your gratuities in cash. I have tipped extra to my cabin steward and waiters for excellent service.
There are times where a gratuity will be added to your bill when making a purchase while on board. When you buy a drink at the bar, 15% to 18% is added. Unless you have the drink package, then its already included. Also, if you dine in a specialty up charge restaurant, you might see a gratuity added. So before you add gratuity, look at the receipt.
Remember, the crew on the ship work hard to make your cruise special.
Of course there are other times you would want to offer a gratuity. If you are taking a shuttle from the airport to the cruise terminal or eating on a restaurant in port. But as always, its your discretion.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.