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Cruise Gratuity Guidelines

A quick look at cruise gratuity guidelines for 2017

cruise gratuity guidelinesOne of the questions we frequently hear at is about cruise gratuity guidelines. Even experienced travelers have questions about these fees, since policies on crew gratuity charges have been shifting rapidly. For the past several years, many cruise lines have been automatically adding cruise gratuity charges to guests’ bills. These charges can add upwards of $20 a day per passenger to the cost of a cruise, so finding out which cruise lines charge this fee could make a big difference when planning your next vacation. To help you make sense of it all, here is a quick look at the cruise gratuity guidelines for 2017. 

Cruise gratuities 101: Why they exist, how they affect crew wages, and how much you can expect to pay

By definition, cruise ship gratuities are supposed to be tips that are voluntarily paid in appreciation for exceptional service. Travelers on cruise ships traditionally tipped at their own discretion, rewarding the room stewards, wait staff, and any others on the crew who delivered excellent service. A few years ago, the larger cruise lines such as Carnival and Norwegian began adding cruise gratuity fees to guests’ bills. The arguments for these charges are that this system is easier for guests, and it allows the so-called invisible crew members who work behind the scenes to receive tips for the services they provide.

not paying cruise gratuities In practice, crew ship gratuities have become an important part of the wages paid to service staff on many cruise lines. Some sources report that certain cruise lines have dropped their pay for housekeeping staff to as low as $2 an hour, relying on gratuities to account for as much as 95 percent of lower staff wages to bring them to legally mandated levels.

Since gratuities are traditionally calculated by the quality of service, many travelers are upset at having to pay what has seemingly become a mandatory service charge. Travelers may be able to adjust the amount of the service charges up or down if they complain to the cruise line, but not paying cruise gratuities entirely is not an option on cruise lines that charge these fees. Cruise lines’ responses to travelers’ concerns have been varied. While many of the megaship cruise lines have been raising gratuity fees, some of the more upscale cruise lines have been eliminating the fees entirely. Some of the river cruise lines have followed suit.

How much you can expect to pay

Per person, per day cruise gratuity charges currently range from $11 at Cunard to $23 at Oceania Cruises, depending on the cruise line and cabin type. In addition to the per person, per day gratuity charges that some cruise lines levy on guests, an additional charge of 15 to 18 percent gratuity may be added to bar bills, the bills at extra-charge specialty restaurants, and for services at ship spas.

Some cruise lines have been drastically raising the amounts of the fees that guests are charged for crew gratuities, raising them as much as 20 percent over the past two years. For example, the cruise gratuities Royal Caribbean adds to travelers’ bills increased twice in a single year. Guests staying in most cabins are now charged $13.50 per person per day; suite guests face fees of $16.50 per person per day. These fees add up to $378 for a family of four on a seven-nights cruise. For travelers on a budget, having to pay this mandated amount may mean guests have to miss out on shore excursions, change dining plans, or even cancel their cruise completely.

Latest cruise gratuity guidelines for 2017

cruise gratuities royal caribbeanAzamara, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Seabourn Cruise Lines include gratuities for crew including bar staff in the fare.  Guests are not faced with any additional charges. The latest cruise gratuity guidelines for standard cabins on some other popular cruise lines include:

  • Carnival – $12.95 per cruiser/per day
  • Celebrity – $13.50 per cruiser/per day
  • Disney – $12.00 per cruiser/per day
  • Princess – $13.50 per cruiser/per day
  • Holland America Line – $13.50 per cruiser/per day
  • Royal Caribbean – $13.50 per cruiser /per day (as of May 1)
  • Norwegian – $13.99 per cruiser /per day
  • Oceania – $16 per cruiser /per day

If you are ready to plan your next vacation, make sure you take a close look at cruise gratuity guidelines for each cruise line and cabin type before budgeting for your dream cruise. Call the travel experts at at 1-888-804-CRUISE (2784) to take advantage of exciting incentives and cruise deals including free gratuities that will turn your dream cruise into an affordable reality. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and join our InnerCircle for more exclusive offers!

The CruiseExperts team

Our team of cruise consultants and support staff, based in Central California, counts nearly a century of combined talent, knowledge, and enthusiasm in the travel industry. We’re not just another internet upstart; our seasoned team has gained the trust and business of thousands of satisfied cruise and land vacation customers from all over the country since 1995. We ARE the original Cruise Experts.

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