Why am I charged for gratuities?

Most cruise lines automatically add a tip or gratuity to your onboard account

(Updated: 1/7/2020) First time cruisers may be surprised when they get their shipboard final statement the last evening of their cruise. Along with charges for specialty restaurants, onboard purchases, and cocktails, they’ll discover a few hundred dollar charge for “gratuities” (some cruise lines are now calling it a “service charge” or “hotel service charge”). While gratuity charges are technically optional on most cruise lines, they are automatically added to your bill, and if you want to have them adjusted or removed, that will take some extra effort on your part. Usually the reception or guest services desk can take care of it for you.

But before you remove the charges, understand that for many crew members, tips are a major source of income, up to 95% on some cruise lines. Cruise lines are not subject to US or European regulations on pay – there are no minimum wage laws that apply to cruise crew members onboard ships. So those hard working people serving your meals and cocktails, and cleaning your stateroom, depend you those automatic gratuities. 

How much a cruise line charges per day varies by cruise line. Many upscale or luxury lines are eliminating automatic gratuities. The chart below outlines automatic charges by cruise line:

CRUISE LINE GRATUITY RATES

Cruise Line
 Daily Gratuity Charge per Person
Comments
Azamara Club Cruises
None – housekeeping & bar service included
18% gratuity for spa services
Carnival Cruise Line
$13.99, Suites – $15.99
15% gratuity for bar services
Celebrity Cruises
$15.50; Concierge & Aqua $16, Suites – $19
18% gratuity for bar, salon & spa services
Celestyal Cruises
None – housekeeping & bar service included
Costa Cruises
Cruises departing from the United States: $13.50 and $16.50 for suites per guest 15 years of age and older, per day of all cruise lengths. World Cruises: 10 Euros per guest 15 years of age and older, per day for all cruise lengths. Cruises not originating in the United States: 10 Euros per guest 15 years of age and older, per day for all cruise lengths. Guests between the ages of 4 and 14 will be charged 50% of the above rates. There is no service charge for guests under the age of 4.
15% gratuity for bar services. Automatic gratuities cannot be removed from onboard account.
Crystal
None – housekeeping & bar service included
18% gratuity for spa services
Cunard
$11.50, Grill Accommodations – $13.50
15% gratuity on bar service
Disney Cruise Line
$12, but company policy is more detailed.
15% gratuity on bar service, 18% gratuity for spa services
Holland America
$14.50, Suites – $16
15% gratuity on bar service
MSC
$12.50
15% gratuity on bar service
Norwegian Cruise Line
$15.00; Haven/Suites – $18.009
20% gratuity on bar, spa and specialty restaurants
Oceania Cruises
$16, Suites with butler service – $23
18% gratuity on bar, spa and La Reserve
Paul Gauguin Cruises
None – housekeeping & bar service included
Ponant Cruises
Gratuities are NOT included. Tip amounts are let to guest discretion.
Princess Cruises
$14.50, Minisuites – $15.50, Suites – $16.50
15% gratuity on bar & spa service
Regent Seven Seas
None – housekeeping & bar service included
Royal Caribbean
$14.50, Grand Suites & above – $17.50
18% gratuity for bar, salon & spa services
Seabourn Cruise Line
None – housekeeping & bar service included
SeaDream Yacht Club
None – housekeeping & bar service included
Silversea Cruises
None – housekeeping & bar service included
Viking Ocean Cruises
$15
15% gratuity on bar service
Windstar Cruises
$13.50

With many cruise lines you can pre-pay the gratuities (or tips, or hotel service charge) in advance – thereby not needing to worry about it at the end of your trip.

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