Other things to note:

  • Occasionally when booking your cruise the gratuities will be included in part of the package, this could be for booking far in advance, through a third-party or for another reason. Pre-paid gratuities are normally worth having. Paying your gratuities up front can avoid any nasty surprises when you get back from holiday. On board credit is also offered on lots of promotions which can, sometimes, be used towards paying gratuities.
  • The ‘service charge’ can quickly add up, especially if you’re travelling as a family. It is possible to remove this charge but is normally seen as being a bit mean to do so. Unless you have particularly bad service I wouldn’t recommend removing this charge, the staff on board cruise ships already earn very little by western standards and work so hard for what they do get.

I find it easier to view gratuities as part of the cruise cost and believe that it would be easier to just include them in the cost. However, I do see why cruise lines do it this way, as having it as an add on makes the base price lower, which is the price that they advertise.

There are better ways to save money than removing gratuities, click here for 10 tips for cruising on a budget.


Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community.


  1. Pingback: 8 things I wish I knew before cruising with NCL | Cruising isn't just for old people

  2. Tony Carter Reply

    We always make sure that the gratuities are included in the total cost and paid up front, that way it means that there are no sudden surprises at the end and we know what the toatl cost will be.

    On the Carnival Legend in 2013 we cruised the Baltic to St Petersburg in Russia (highly recommended). The ship was great but it was shortly before she was due to go in for a refit and we had a lot of Chineese on board.

    The standard of service was not quite the level we had come to expect in the restaurants and so I made my views known and they promptly refunded all our gratuities. It was quite a surprise as I was not seeking a refund, I just wanted to make it known that I did not think that the restaurant managers were doing their job properly, so it was a pleasant surprise.

    I would have been quite happy for the gratuities to have been passed to other crew members, but Carnival took the complaint seriously, although I believe that I was not the only one who complained.

    Would still recommend Carnival every time though. This poor service did not spoil the trip.

    • emmaleteace Reply


      I always try to include the grauities in my budget but definitely think a lot of first time cruisers get caught out. May be the Americans expect it but for us brits who aren’t used to tipping it can be a bit of a surprise!

      I did a similar Baltic cruise to St Petersburg when I was younger, was on board NCL though. I’ve never tried Carnival but definitely would like too. That’s good that they refunded it to you, maybe they were aware of a problem.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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