What is the proper etiquette for tipping aboard a cruise ship?
How to Tip Aboard a Cruise Ship and to Whom
Let’s consider tipping in three versions. The automatic gratuity the cruise ship adds to your account statement, those white envelopes you hand out at the end of (or during) the voyage and paper money in singles and fives. I usually include a business card in the white envelope, writing “thank you” with both our names on the card.
- Cabin steward and table waiter team. They are getting a portion of the automatic gratuity, but you hand over white envelopes on one of the last two nights of the voyage. (Two nights early if you want to remind your tablemates what sophisticated people do.)
Why: You interact with them the most.
- Wine steward. It depends on the level of your interaction. Every receipt you sign for wine, beer or liquor likely has a service charge automatically added. I don’t use the additional gratuity line. You might put a couple of bucks into the folder when you sign the bill.
Why: You know that cash goes directly to them.
- The section captain in the dining room. They check on you periodically. Maybe they arranged a special order for you. They should get a white envelope.
Why: You are building long term relationships. They might move up the ladder or from ship to ship within the fleet. They probably remember who is a tipper. On your next voyage, they will probably find you and welcome you back.
- Maître d’. The person in charge of the dining room. Once again, you are investing for the future. They determine seating in terms of table location. They likely have a say when seating at officer tables is organized.
Why: Again, you are investing for the future.
- If you have a favorite and they take care of you, hand over a white envelope or add a couple of singles when paying for your drink.
Why: It’s just like home.
- Night steward. Someone looks after your cabin at night. As you return in the evenings, figure out who they are. Towards the end of the trip, surprise them with a white envelope.
Why: They are almost invisible. Few people even know they are on duty.
- Ship’s officers. They don’t get tipped. If you become friends and see them trip after trip, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates is a nice way to remember them, assuming this is consistent with rules of the cruise line.
Why: Their compensation is totally different. Back home, you would tip your waiter and the maître d’, but not the restaurant owner.
Story courtesy of Bryce Sanders.