Travel & Food

A Beginner’s Guide to Tipping on a Cruise

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Some cruises are short and on the small side, while others are long and anything but small. Some have service charges built into the price to let you know that gratuities aren’t necessary, while others leave it up to you to figure it out.

Not all cruises have the same employees or the same expectations, but here’s a brief cruise tipping guide that beginners can follow to help keep it all straight.

Gratuities Based on Position

Here is a list of positions you’ll find on board larger cruise ships. If you’re on a smaller, local cruise many of these won’t be necessary. If you’re unsure on how to go about leaving gratuities on a cruise, take the time to ask your travel agent or one of the ship’s representatives. Sometimes, different positions expect to be tipped in different ways.

  • Cabin Steward – Leave the cabin steward around $5 per night, or the same as you’d leave for a maid in a decent hotel.
  • Bartender – If you’re using the same bartender for most nights on the cruise, wait until the last night and hand him or her an envelope. Try to make it about 15 percent of the total amount of drinks you’ve had whether you tip by the drink or all at once.
  • Head Waiter – Tip the head waiter about the equivalent of $1 per person for each night you are in the dining room. If he goes out of his way to provide you with special meals or service, increase the amount appropriately.
  • Dining Room Waiter – The dining room waiters should receive around $5 for each night you eat in the dining room during the cruise.
  • Wine Steward – If your wine steward shows you the bottle and pours, $10 for a week-long cruise should suffice. However, if he recommends or keeps bottles specifically for you to try, you can increase that amount accordingly.
  • Baggage Handler – Tip the same as you would a bellhop in a nice hotel.
  • Shore Excursions – Depending on the amount of service your guide has provided, $5 or $10 for the whole day should be appropriate in most cases.
  • Kid’s Services – If you plan on leaving the children for kid’s activities during the cruise, plan on parting with $10 to $15 for each child, for each day they are participating. This amount will be split among the whole team.

Any cruise gratuity guide is meant to be just that, a guide. You may want to give more or less, depending on the quality of service you receive and the nature of the cruise. Obviously, a three hour cruise around the harbor doesn’t warrant envelopes stuffed with cash when it’s over.

And regardless of the type of cruise, take the time to say thank you and let them know that you appreciate the service you’ve received. Sometimes, that’s more gratifying than the monetary tip you give.

This post is brought to you by Gina Hamilton. When it comes showcasing the beauty of the City of Toronto to her relatives, she recommends 416-Cruises. They offer Toronto cruises for lunch, dinner and/or corporate events.

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