Tipping on a Cruise
Different cruise lines have quite different policies on tipping. It's important to find out what's appropriate for your boat - not just in general.
First, make sure that you are comfortable with the thought of tipping. A tip is a bonus you give someone for doing a good job in making you happy. If you tend to stay at Motel 8 and eat at McDonalds, it might never occur to you to tip. If you eat at fancy steakhouses every day, then tipping is a normal part of your life. Most people are somewhere in between. You can't look at tipping as a "burden" on a cruise ship, though. It is simply how the whole process operates. If you are really anti-tipping, you might do better staying on an island in a casual motel, where this won't be an issue.
The workers on the cruise depend on tips to be part of their salary - just like waitresses and waiters do. Most cruise ship employees work EXTREMELY long hours and have to deal with quite rude passengers. Believe me, they earn their money! They aren't usually allowed to use the ship's facilities and live in tiny, cramped quarters with 3 other people. So they really do deserve the extra tip income.
Your cabin steward is taking care of your room once or twice a day on average, and making sure you have enough towels, ice buckets, etc. Many travellers recommend giving him a $10 or $20 right up front to say you appreciate him - the bonus results are usually WELL worth it. Most lines suggest around $3/day as a per-day tip.
For dining, the Maître d' is the person who finds you the perfect table to sit at. Think about it - you could be near screaming kids and the noisy kitchen, or you could be by the floor-to-ceiling windows in a quiet corner. That is probably worth a dollar or two to you!
Your waiter, of course, is doing a lion's share of work keeping all of your orders straight, making sure your water and drinks are always full, checking up on you in a quick but unobtrusive manner - and doing the same thing for all of his other tables too. Recommendations are usually about $3/day for this.
If you hang out in the bar, or relax in the spa area, you would want to also reward those people who are taking care of you. These would be in line with regular on-land rates, around 10% for a massage and 15% for a bartender.
Remember, it's not like these people are getting rich off of their tips! They are typically working extremely long hours. To you this is a pampered vacation. They are the ones doing the pampering. They deserve credit - and a tip bonus - for their efforts!
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