Should You Pay the MANDATORY Cruise Gratuities?

On your next voyage most likely you will encounter cruise gratuities. Or, as some lines call them, service charges. These hidden fees can pop up on unsuspecting cruisers. Well, don’t worry, we have you covered as we have a complete look at everything you need to know about gratuity on cruise ships in this video.

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Explaining Cruise Gratuities
0:00 Introduction
1:10 What are Cruise Gratuities?
2:34 Paying for Cruise Gratuities
3:22 Are Gratuities Mandatory?
5:14 Tipping Cruise Staff
6:23 Royal Caribbean Gratuities
7:02 Norwegian Cruise Line Gratuities
8:07 Carnival Cruise Line Gratuities
8:42 Celebrity Cruises Gratuities
9:53 Princess Cruises Crew Appreciation
11:03 Holland America Line Service Charge
11:46 MSC Cruises Gratuities
12:40 Disney Cruise Line
13:05 Viking Ocean Cruises
13:44 Virgin Voyages Cruise Gratuities
14:05 Margaritaville at Sea Gratuities
14:40 Windstar Cruises Gratuities
15:05 Oceania Cruise Gratuities

For those new to cruising, cruise gratuities are a per person, per day charge in addition to the cruise fare. You can think of it like a hotel resort fee. Although, unlike use of the facilities, this daily charge is a way of rewarding the hard working crew on the ship.

This service charge is divided among several staff on the ship, including the stateroom attendant and dining room and buffet staff. This charge is not given to other staff members, like bar tenders, youth staff, or the activities staff.

Keep in mind that this charge is in addition to the typically 15% to 20% service charge cruise lines typical add to several onboard services and purchases. Any beverages, that are not included in the cruise fare will have these charges. As well specialty dining charges, and spa services.

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Note, if you pay for a drink package pre-cruise, you pay these service charge based on the package prices. So, once you are onboard, there are no additional charges.

These charges typically range from $15 to $20 for most cruise ship cabin categories. Cruisers staying in suites or more luxurious rooms tend to have higher fees. So, a typically family of four, staying in a balcony room, can expect to pay around $400 or more for a week cruise in gratuities. But, don’t worry, we have a complete cruise gratuity break down for the major cruise lines so you know exactly how much to budget for these on your next trip.

One cruise tipping tips we have is to never remove the gratuity on cruise ships. If anything, you should allocated some additional money to tip others on the ship. We usually take about $200 for tipping cruise staff. This usually includes our favorite bar staff, dining room staff, tour guides and shore excursion personnel on shore, as well as our stateroom attendant. If you have a service issue, please let Guest Services know, but don’t try to take the cruise gratuities off at the end of your trip.

Although, if you time the purchase of your cruise correctly, you could get these service charges included in the cruise fare. Sometimes cruise lines or travel agents offer to pay the gratuities for you, as a booking bonus. So, review current promotions as you might be able to get these for free.

It is also true that several luxury cruise lines, like Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, or Seabourn do not have service charges. Although, premium lines like Viking, Oceania, and Windstar Cruises do have these charges. Still, tipping the cruise staff in is very common on these lines as well.

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