Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to Tip and How Much on a Cruise

How to tip the staff that help make your cruise fabulous is always a challenge.  When you are travelling with a service dog, or otherwise need a bit of extra help and attention, tipping is a "must" in my view.

Specifically, I tip our room/housekeeper staff at the beginning of the cruise (about two thirds), and then a final third at the end.  Same for wait staff in the dining room.  This helps ensure that we get a quiet table out of the way, where Asta the service dog won't get stepped on, and won't disturb other diners.

I do not profess to be an expert on tipping, so I refer you to this article on Cruise Critic:

Here are some of the highlights that I use as a guide (note that this assumes no tips are included in the fare):

Whom to Tip and How Much

Cabin Stewards
cabin stewards $5 a night
For attentive service by butlers who have served as valets, brought trays of tea or hors d'oeuvres, and kept the liquor closet filled, $5 a night at the end of the cruise.

Room Service Stewards
room service stewards $2 per visit.


I give my regular bartender $5 a day. 

If I go to different bars, I leave $1 per drink with the bill -- on top of the automatic gratuity (usually 15 percent).

Wine Stewards If the wine steward has done nothing more than produce and pour the wine I have ordered, I tip him $10 for a one-week cruise.
If the bottle is mine, I tip $10 per bottle, in addition to the corkage fee.

Maitre d's and Head Waiters

I usually do not tip the maitre d'.
On the other hand, I tip head waiters $1 for each night I am in the dining room.

 If, however, the head waiter has promoted ordering off-menu items, prepared special dishes tableside or provided a cake for a special occasion, I would add an additional $5 per person, per service.

Dining Room Waiters

I tip dining room waiters $5 for each night I am in the dining room.

If I dine in an alternative restaurant, I tip the waiter $5 in cash on top of the service charge, which cruise lines tell us already includes gratuity. Dining room waiters usually work in teams of two. I allow the team in an alternative restaurant to divide my tip as they choose. In the main dining room, I divide my tip between waiters (equal amounts) or between waiter and assistant waiters (2/3, 1/3), and put each one's name on an envelope.

Baggage Handlers $20

If I am in my cabin when my bags are delivered, I give the handler $1 per bag, just as I would a bellman ashore. Likewise, if I am escorted to my cabin by a steward I'll never see again, I give him/her $2.

Spa Services

If the spa has added a 10 or 15 percent gratuity to my bill, I round it up (in cash) to between 18 percent and 20 percent, which is what I would normally tip at home.

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