If you want to strike up a conversation with another cruise fan, try mentioning shipboard gratuities. Most people who cruise have strong opinions about these daily fees added to cruise fares.
Some cruisers resent the extra charge, while others are glad that some of their money goes to the people who handle the small touches that make cruising enjoyable.
Cruise gratuities are often perplexing to travelers planning their first voyage. To help you out, Cruzely has put together this guide to gratuities for Royal Caribbean. Below you’ll find details on how much tips are, who they cover, who must pay them, and much more.
Who must pay gratuities?
On Royal Caribbean, gratuities apply to all passengers. Many cruise lines have special circumstances for younger passengers below 2-3 years old. For instance, Carnival doesn’t charge gratuities for kids under two, and Norwegian doesn’t charge for kids under three.
Unfortunately for those looking to save some money, Royal Caribbean doesn’t have age limits on their tips. If you have a pulse, then you’ll be charged the daily gratuity amount.
How much are gratuities on Royal Caribbean?
Royal Caribbean charges $14.50 per person, per day for most guests. This rate applies to interior cabins, oceanview, balcony and junior suites. The cruise lines charges $17.50 per person, per day for guests in grand suites and above.
This rate last increased in January 2018. Before then, the charge was $13.50 per person, per day for most cabins, with suites being charged $16.50 per person.
All told, a couple taking a weeklong cruise in a balcony cabin will be charged $203 in gratuities for their trip. (You can use our gratuity calculator to see how much tips will be on your cruise.)
In addition, there is an 18% tip added to drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), mini-bar items, and spa services.
Can I change the amount?
As with most cruise lines, the gratuity amount is automatic at the set rate. Typically it’s frowned upon to change the amount charged. That said, there are times where reducing the gratuity amount is reasonable, such as if you received poor service.
If you feel you haven’t received satisfactory service, then you can ask to change the tip amount by visiting Guest Services onboard. Guests have until the morning of their departure to make changes to the gratuities they pay.
The 18% charged at the ship’s bars and spa are automatic and not able to be changed. If you want a refund of a specific gratuity, then you can visit Guest Services to talk about being refunded the charge.
What if I want to pay extra?
Believe it or not, there are many people who wish to reward the staff with a higher gratuity than what’s normally charged. Others want to recognize the service of a specific person who may not be covered by the automatic charges.
If you want to pay something extra, the best way is to give cash directly to the staff member you wish to recognize. This way they get the tip without having to share it with anyone else.
If you want to simply pay extra across the board, visit Guest Services and they can add an additional amount.
How do I pay gratuities?
Guests have the option to prepay gratuities any time up to 48 hours from their sail date. You can do this online when you purchase the cruise or simply call Royal Caribbean. It’s advisable to pay beforehand because guests who have prepaid won’t be charged extra if the gratuity rate rises between when they paid and when they sail. They are “grandfathered” in at the old rate.
Guests who do not prepay will see gratuities automatically added to their accounts during the cruise. They will then be charged to the credit card on file at the end of the sailing.
The 18% service charge at the bar or spa is added onto the bill automatically.
Who gets the gratuities that I pay?
Cabin attendants, who provide a great deal of personal service — including cleaning your room each day — receive a share of gratuities, as do waiters at all shipboard dining venues. For instance, the waitstaff in the main dining room receives a share, as do those in the buffet and other restaurants.
There are also a number of “behind the scenes” staff that receive a portion of your generosity.
Who is not covered by the automatic gratuities?
Not everyone who provides a service is included in the automatic tips. For instance, shipboard personnel who offer services only used by some guests, such as casino dealers, kids’ camp workers, and spa workers are outside of the umbrella of the gratuities. While spa workers are covered by the 18% charge tacked onto your bill, if they or other staff go above and beyond, feel free to tip them.
One other area is room service. While there are charges for items on the room service menus, these don’t go to the person who delivers your food. It’s customary to tip $3-5 to the staff member bringing your food.
Also remember the people on shore. Those who provide you with service on land, such as baggage handlers and shore excursion operators, are not affiliated with the cruise line, so should be tipped separately.
What else should I know about Royal Caribbean’s gratuities?
One thing to know about Royal Caribbean’s tip amounts is that they are subject to change. There have been increases during the past few years, including in mid-2016 and early 2018. There is a possibility of another increase in the near future in our opinion. We think passengers are wise to prepay gratuities to keep from being hit with an increased rate in the future.
As well, it’s important to know about the possibility of paying a double tip on bar bills. When you order a drink, an 18% automatic tip will be put on your bill. So if you order a $10 cocktail, the actual price will be $11.80.
Your receipt to sign will have a spot for an additional tip. Just know that your tip is already added to the bill, and you don’t have to provide more if you don’t want.
If you’re wondering how much you’ll pay for gratuities based details of your actual cruise (including type of cabin, length, and how many people you’ll be traveling with), then you can use Cruzely’s free gratuity calculator.
Have additional questions about Royal Caribbean’s gratuities? Let us know in the comments below.