Happy New Year! Effective January 2, 2018, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is hiking the automatic gratuity paid to crew to $14.50 per person, per day for cruise ship passengers staying in most cabins . This means on a seven-day cruise for a family of four, the family will pay more than $400 in gratuities. These automatic gratuities are standard on most cruise lines and are the reason ticket prices are so cheap.
By comparison, Carnival adds $12.95 per person, per day in service charges to passenger bills.
Viking advises tipping of $15 per guest, per day, which comes out to $60 per family of four, per day or $420 for a family of four on a 7-day cruise. Typically, tipping in Europe, as a whole isn’t as automatic nor as generous as it is in the United States, and in many countries, they’re not expected at all.
Some cruise lines include the gratuity in the ticket price, but ticket prices are typically much higher. An example of this is Azamara Club Cruises which include gratuities in the price of the cruise fare. “Unless stated otherwise, all rates are per person, based on double occupancy, cruise only, in USD, and subject to availability. In April 2010, Azamara Club Cruises became “more inclusive”. Some of these inclusive amenities are:
- Coffee, tea, bottled water and soft drinks
- Boutique wines at lunch and dinner
- Self-service laundry
- Certified English butler service for suite guests
- Shuttle service to and from ports, where available
Cruise ship crew are divided into two categories, tipping personnel and non-tipping personnel. Tipping personnel are the staff with direct contact with the guests who pay them “tips”. There are specified amounts of tips per particular positions which are advised to guests prior to embarkation and which vary from one cruise line to another. Such personnel are waiters, busboys /assistant waiters, bar waiters/waitresses, bartenders, cocktail waitresses, etc.
Tipping personnel have a small base salary. Most of their earnings are tips. Most of those ‘tipping’ positions are filled by employees who are from third world countries and the money they make is largely wired home to support their family. The family unit may include spouse, children, parents and grandparents and other family members who share one home.
If their tips weren’t guaranteed, many passengers wouldn’t tip a dime and cruise lines would find it impossible to hire competent crew in the service sector. Keep in mind this gratuity amount, which in 2018 is 7% is in addition to the ticket price and includes tips to crew who essentially work for tips.
In the U.S., suggested minimal tipping of restaurant servers varies from state to state, but typically is recommended at 15%-18%. The Royal Caribbean automatic gratuity is less than half of that.
The etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute recommends diners tip at least 15% to 20% pre-tax at a sit-down restaurant. About half of tippers in the survey fell into that sweet spot, tipping between 16% and 20%. On the low end, one-in-five customers at dine-in restaurants don’t leave any gratuity at all.
Trip Advisor advises for hotel guests, “Hotel- housekeeping/maid service: $2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels. Also more if there are more than 3 people in a room or suite.”
Video: Carnival Cruise Tipping Breakdown 2017