One of our colleagues worked for a major cruise lines for quite some years’. Here it is in a nutshell…
The waiters in your restaurants and your cabin stewards are part of an automated tipping system. The bar staff gets approx. 15 percent gratuity, added to your check, on all bar bills. All these gratuities are pooled and then shared. Everybody else working on a cruise ship does not get gratuities.
Also, please remember, the gratuity paid to your waiters, cabin stewards, and bar personnel is their main income. The regular wages paid by the cruise lines for these positions are at a bare minimum. Only remove gratuities if there is really an issue as otherwise these friendly folks are working basically for free.
Cruise Lines with Auto-Tipping Policies (these policies are subject to change by the cruise lines):
Carnival Cruise Lines: $12 per person per day
Celebrity Cruises: $12 per person per day in staterooms, $12.50 per person per day in Concierge Class and AquaClass staterooms, and $15.50 per person per day in suites
Costa Cruises: Costa calculates its auto-gratuities based on the length of your voyage, the destination, and your ship but you can generally expect $9 to $11 per person per day.
Cunard Line: Britannia passengers are charged $11.50 per person per day and Grill passengers pay $13.50 per person per day.
Disney Cruise Line: $12 per person per day
Holland America Line: $11.50 per person per day for those staying in staterooms and $12 per person per day for suite guests
MSC Cruises: MSC charges different gratuity rates based on the voyage length and destination, but a typical Caribbean cruise carries a $12 per person per day fee for tips (half that amount for children under 18).
Norwegian Cruise Line: $12 per person per day
Oceania Cruises: $15 per person per day for staterooms and $22 per person per day for guests staying in a Penthouse, Oceania, Vista, or Owner’s suite
Princess Cruises: $11.50 per person per day for those staying staterooms and $12 per person per day for mini-suite and suite guests
Royal Caribbean: $12 per person per day for stateroom guests and $14.25 per person per day for suite passengers
Windstar Cruises: $12 per person per day
How Much to Tip When Doing the A La Carte Thing
If you do prefer tipping on a case-by-case basis, you can use these guidelines for how much to offer each member of the crew:
Cabin Steward/ess: $4 to $5 per night, depending on service
Butler: $4 to $5 per night, depending on service
Bartender: $4 to 5 per night
Waiter: $5 per night
Head Waiter: $1 to $2 per night
Luxury Lines Where Tipping Isn’t Required
You’ll see a lot of luxury lines stating a no-tipping policy. That’s because the fee is wrapped up in the per-passenger cruise fare. You may tip additionally at your discretion, but it is not expected. No tipping of waitstaff, bartenders, or stewards is required on Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, and SeaDream Yacht Club.