Skip to Content

Should You Tip Extra On A Cruise?

Modern cruise lines might factor your tips into the cost of your voyage, but should you tip extra on a cruise? Even with auto-gratuity charges, is it appropriate to reward standout staff members for above-and-beyond service?

Auto-gratuity programs add an extra fee to your bill as a tip for the staff. In theory, this is for the convenience of the passengers so you don’t have to remember to tip or figure out who you should tip. Nevertheless, even when cruise lines have an auto-gratuity, you are always welcome to give extra tips. Indeed, you will often be provided cash envelopes for you to give to individual employees on your last evening if you think it appropriate.

Whether you’re a first-time passenger or a cruise veteran, there’s still more to learn about rewarding good service. Let’s take a closer look.

Why Should You Tip Extra On A Cruise?

First, we need to ask about the reasons for tipping a staff member extra, particularly if the automatic gratuity program already pays them. 

It is fair to assume that people who would generally receive a share of an auto gratuity assessment will be appropriately compensated for routine service.

With that basic assumption in mind, use your tips to reward excellent work. You are going above and beyond with your money, so reward those who do the same with their service. That does not mean, however, that you would expect “extra” tipping to be rare. Many people on a cruise ship work very hard to provide outstanding service and that should be recognized.

When you are considering giving out additional gratuities, folks typically at the top of the list will be your cabin attendant, and if you had fixed seating with an assigned table, your wait staff for your sailing.

In addition to rewarding excellent service, if you know that your needs required some higher service needs than typical, you should consider factoring that in. For example, if your kids routinely wreck the room (and you know what we mean) but everything is perfectly ordered whenever you return, don’t be shy about recognizing that. Your cabin steward will greatly appreciate it.  

Similarly, all beverages usually have a gratuity charge assessed. Or, if you pre-purchased a drink package, you would have been charged a gratuity at that time. So, theoretically, you should not feel compelled to add on additional gratuity – even when presented with a slip that has a blank line for that purpose. But, if you know that you are requesting or receiving more service than what’s typical, then factor that in.

So, for instance, if you’re closing down the bar every nite and/or you routinely order unusual, complicated cocktails, consider sliding a few extra dollars over (figuratively). 

Which Cruise Staff Should You Tip Extra?

Cabin stewards and servers appreciate your tips most of all. They work very long, very busy hours. Not only that, but you’ll also see these employees regularly.

If you feel like tipping them extra, you can request cash envelopes. Instead of giving them money every time you see them, you can hand the waitperson the total amount of tips on the final night of your voyage. Likewise, leave a full cash envelope in your room for the steward.

Some Cruise Workers Don’t Expect Tips

Even though we stick to the idea of tipping extra to praise great work, that isn’t a one size fits all rule. Many cruise workers receive a professional salary, so they don’t expect tips regardless of the quality of their work.

The captain, cruise director, and ship officers never expect extra cash from passengers. It doesn’t matter how well the captain sailed during that storm or what activities the cruise director planned. Tipping them is out of the question.

Plumbers and electricians don’t need tips either. Onboard engineers receive a generous salary; it isn’t hard to see why. It’s such a relief to have a working shower, and the cruise line knows that already. Thanking these employees is enough.

Not Expected, But Much Appreciated

There are also some cruise personnel who don’t necessarily expect tips but who will definitely appreciate them.

Cruise ships also factor the cost of the kids club into your bill, and you don’t necessarily need to plan on tipping for dropping your kids off during the regular programs. But there are some situations where you may want to consider providing a tip. For instance, if you are using infant care or after-hours services. Again, it’s entirely voluntary, and many people never think of it. But, if you are so inclined, it will definitely be appreciated.

Spas and salons also add an auto service charge. This will often be an additional 18-20% on an already robust bill. So, you should not feel obliged to tip. But this is an area where exceptional service could be rewarded.

Something else to keep in mind regarding spa and salon services, the workers will receive commissions on any products you purchase in conjunction with your service. So make sure any extra tip is only on the service and not the products. Also, if you purchased a large quantity of very expensive products, your technician will be compensated accordingly.

Are There Alternatives To Tipping Exta On A Cruise?

Cruise lines will often solicit feedback regarding individual employees and will provide comment cards for that purpose. Depending on the circumstances, those can have real value.

Should You Tip Extra On A Cruise

You’re also welcome to write a letter or email to the cruise line congratulating their employee. You could also write a note on the comment card in your cabin or tell the captain or cruise director.

Remember to mention the employee by name and your cruise dates for bookkeeping purposes.

Closing Thoughts

Tipping extra on your cruise is totally optional when you’re already paying an automatic gratuity fee. But having a little cash on hand to show appreciation to staff who go above and beyond will definitely be welcomed when appropriate.

Tyler Bowman


Tyler has sailed dozens of cruises, always with a keen eye for value. She loves getting the most fun out of the fewest dollars.

Keep up with the latest cruise tips and insights! Follow us on Pinterest: