gratuities on tours

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Aug 9, 2017
I have never cruised but have taken many tours. I understand that on cruises, gratuities are added to the bill- I presume in the manner of incidentals charged to one's room at a hotel. I would strongly object to that practice as it defeats the purpose of a gratuity being a reward for service. On the tours I have taken, the tour company makes a suggestion as to the amount one can offer to a tour director, driver, or local guide. The actual amount is left to one's discretion. We have paid the suggested amount, we have paid more, and we have paid less- all where warranted. In my opinion, that is the way all gratuities should be handled.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Unfortunately, thats not what cruise lines do anymore because too many people just don't tip. Do I think it's right? No. I think they should pay their people living wages but they don't.

You have the option to go to Customer Service on the ship and ask them to remove the gratuities and that you will pay in cash but they are going to try to talk you out of it. You have to show them what service was terrible that you think should be removed.

These people that work on the cruise ships are payed peanuts and work long hours and very hard. You hurt them if you refuse to tip. In most cases the service is good Don't remove the tips unless you have terrible service and make sure you report poor service so they don't think you just don't want to tip.


Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
My friend was a cruise director (think Julie McCoy) for a few years. She said the conditions that the servers, maids, etc. lived in/worked in were worse than slave labor. It was what finally made her leave the industry. Don't begrude those people the automatic gratuity charge. There is no such thing as "minimum wage" for those positions because they are not American-registered ships.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
The way ocean cruise line people are paid is beyond horrible. In my mind, I just add the "suggested gratuity" into my cruise fare, I can't bear all these lovely, friendly, efficient people not making enough money to send home to their families. We don't cruise often, but we always directly tip our room steward, the DR people and the tour guides according to their level of service. I don't consider it wasting money, I consider it "making up for the cheapskates". We are not wealthy, but if we can shell out $12K for a trip, we can certainly come up with another $1K to compensate the people who take such good care of us ... and make us feel very special day after day.

Our last river cruise had multiple problems every day with water levels on the Rhine and Mosel. The cruise director did such an outstanding job of moving things around every day that few passengers even noticed anything amiss. She wasn't a particularly loveable woman, but she was GOOD at her job, and that's why we tipped her very generously.
Aug 29, 2015
Don’t think of them as a gratuity, think of them as the pay for the care you are receiving. That is what the gratuities are. Service fees.
On my last cruise, in May, I took my service dog along for the first time. The ship I sailed on has cabin service twice per day by stateroom attendants. My dog is a lab, and sheds like crazy. Even when I brush him daily. The attendant cleaned up the dog fur twice a day. He was also responsible for checking the potty box, located in an out of the way place, and making sure it was in good condition.

We left on the standard gratuities, then added more. If my dog had been a child, we would have paid them for the child, so we made up for it by giving him more since the dog was probably more work. You should have seen his face later on when he thanked us. All we did was give him an extra $10 per day.
Apr 3, 2016
Nowadays, you should just consider them part of the cruise cost (really not an optional tip). When you look at cruise prices, automatically add in the daily cost of the tip for each person as part of the cost of the trip. Some cruise lines even let you prepay it when paying the other money for the cruise.
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