Cruise Gratuities Insider Guide (Whom to Tip and How Much)

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The average per diem gratuity rate on a cruise is around $13 USD per person. This may increase or decrease depending on your cabin, package purchases, and a few other details. Therefore, the following suggestions for cruise gratuities and ship tipping are based on ‘gratuities included’ in the price of your trip.

Cruise Gratuities, What you Need to Know

Consider these tips as extra appreciation for exceptional services and/or extra money for activities that are not included in the cost of the cruise. (Suggested rates are in US dollars.) Tipping crew members is important. Learn how much to tip here

Port personnel

The baggage handlers at your embarkation and debarkation ports are not employees of the cruise lines. Therefore, they will not share in the cruise gratuities pool from your trip.

Just as you would tip this service at an airport, you should offer a gratuity for those lifting and loading your luggage at the ports. The accepted rate is $1 to $2 per bag.

On-shore tour personnel

That knowledgeable and friendly individual who brought your shore excursion to life with local stories and insider hints about the location deserves a tip.

Whether they are an employee of the shore excursion company, a step-on guide, or the vehicle driver, extra appreciation is the proper etiquette. Rates are generally $5/person for guides and $2/person for the driver for one-day trips.

Casino dealers

If you enjoy gambling and hit that winning streak, remember to tip the dealer. This is standard practice on land and at sea. For the rate, consider sharing a percentage of your winnings with the dealer when you leave the gaming table.

Crew Tipping
Photo By: Russell Otway

Food and drink personnel

You will interact with a great variety of servers, bartenders, sommeliers, and others during your vacation. For a ‘gratuities included’ cruise, their tips are generally paid from the cost of your package.

However, individuals who provide exceptional service, attend to your requests, or make special arrangements for you (certain tables at dinner; keeping your drinks fresh and wine bottles in order; and so forth) should receive extra cruise gratuities. For example, give a $10 to $20 tip at the end of the cruise to your favorite wait staff or bartender.

If you’re heading out on a Carnival cruise then be prepared. Those hard-working crew members deserve the best and Carnival cruise tipping is a must.

Stewards and butlers

The automatic gratuities cost in your cruise package will take care of the tips for stewards and butlers. However, this is just a basic amount. If you would like extra attention, it is acceptable to tip $10 to $20 on the first day of the cruise. Then, if they have met your expectations, tip them another $2 to $3/ person per day on the last day.

This guideline is also suggested for stewards who bring you room service ($2 to $3 per visit for small orders).

If on the other hand you have a stateroom butler, keep in mind that they have many more duties than a cabin steward. Their attention to detail makes your cruise luxurious, and an extra $3 to $5/person per day is expected for great service.

One final note: Do not under any circumstances offer a gratuity to a ship’s officer. This is a breach of etiquette, and they will uncomfortably decline.

If you want to express your pleasure with the overall service, post a solid review online or (better yet) drop a note to the company and mention the names of exceptional employees.

Angela Minor
Angela Minor
Enchanted with cruising from my first voyage in the Bahamas on the SS Emerald Seas to Alaska’s Inside Passage. Professional freelance writer and published indie author. Find out more about us here.


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