These days, most
overseas cruise lines charge passengers a daily compulsory gratuity fee, money
that is shared among crew members (room stewards, restaurant staff,
housekeeping and other behind-the-scenes crew) to boost their low wages. This
fee is on top of your cruise fare – things have changed from the days when you
left some cash in an envelope for your room steward for his or her hard work
and slipped the maître d’ at the main dining room a few extra dollars for
exemplary service every evening (because back in the day, you only dined in one
restaurant for the duration of the cruise).
Whether or not you
agree with the policy of compulsory gratuities, it’s a fact of modern cruising.
That said, unless it’s for exceptional service, tipping goes against the grain
for Australians. In fact, it was so unpopular on local cruise ships that
P&O Cruises abolished compulsory gratuities in 2010.
Carnival Cruise Line followed
suit and stopped charging compulsory gratuities aboard Australia-based ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend, and there’s no tipping on the Princess Cruise
ships based year-round in Australia: SunPrincess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess. Passengers on these ships
can tip crew as they see fit, either in cash to an individual crew member, or
by adding a particular extra amount to their account.
cruise lines cruising in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands for the
summer season do charge compulsory gratuities and you need to factor these in
to your budget. It is possible to ask for them to be removed at the Guest
Relations desk on the ship at the end of your cruise but it’s not a popular
move. The fee is charged on a daily basis on every passenger’s account
Here’s what you can
expect to pay on the three major visiting overseas cruise lines:
Celebrity Cruises (Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Millennium) charges US$12.95 per person, per day for
passengers staying in standard staterooms, US$13.45 per person, per day in
Concierge Class and AquaClass staterooms, and US$16.45 per person, per day in
Holland America Line
(MS Noordam) charges US$12.50 per
person, per day for Interior, Ocean-view and Verandah staterooms and US$13.50
per person, per day for passengers staying in suites.
International (Explorer of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Voyager
of the Seas) charges US$12.95 per person, per day for passengers in
standard staterooms and US$15.95 for passengers in suites.
Gratuity charges –
usually 15 per cent – are also added on to drinks, salon and spa services on
all cruise lines, unless you go for an all-inclusive luxury line such as Regent
Seven Seas Cruises or Silversea, in which case fares cost considerably more
from the outset. It all adds up to doing your holiday budget sums carefully
before splashing out on that super-low fare – forewarned is forearmed, as the