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Cruise Line Gratuities and What That Money Pays For...

Get ready for a slight increase in your cruise bill if you sail on Royal Caribbean in 2018. The company just recently announced gratuities increases for sailings starting on January 2nd. According to Gene Sloan of USA Today, the gratuities amount to a 7% increase and marks the third time in three years that the company imposed gratuity hikes on its passengers.

If you are sailing on Royal Caribbean, I understand that you may have a bit of frustration boiling underneath. You may feel like furiously dialing the Royal Caribbean customer service line to complain whilst shaking your fist mightily at the heavens, cursing the the cruise line conglomerates who try to drain you of all of your hard earned money. That said, I hope to allay some concerns you all may have of higher gratuity costs, or gratuity costs in general.

For those of you who are first time cruisers, cruise hopefuls, or cruisers who never pay attention to their bill, you may wonder what gratuities are and what the fuss is about. Gratuities are essentially tips paid out to the ship staff to provide services you use on your trip. Cruises will charge automatic gratuities as a means to ensure their staff receive tips for service. These funds cover dinner service staff, bartenders, custodial workers, stewards, etc... There are several options at your disposal when it comes to gratuities and how to apply them:

1. Prepay your Gratuities - This is the option we generally tend to use when we go on our cruises. Gratuities are set to a specific amount per person depending on what cruise line you use. We always consider gratuities as part of our monthly payment when we book our cruise and don't have to worry about trying to settle up when the cruise comes to an end. We also tip extra for our room steward and dinner staff as they always provide great service to us.

2. Pay at the end of your Cruise - This is an option for those who don't want to deal with having to pay for them before they go on the cruise. Or for those who want to wait until they see what kind of service they receive. This is also the option for those who don't realize this is actually a thing that happens on their cruise booking. You should always ask about your gratuities and how much cruises are charging you as they vary by cruise lines and itineraries.

3. Cancel your Gratuities and Pay on Your Own - This option is for people who only want to pay gratuities for stellar service and nothing else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this method as some staff provide better service than others and should be recognized for their efforts. Some cruise lines, like Norwegian, do not let you cancel and pay on your own. Contact the customer service line for your cruise provider or your travel agent to get clarification on this option.

Be sure to have a plan for gratuities before you head into your cruise and always be aware of how much they cost. Remember, Cruise Gratuities are on a per person basis! If you have any questions on this or any other travel issue please comment below or drop us a line at

Thanks and Safe Travels!

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