How to pre-pay gratuities on a Royal Caribbean cruise


Royal Caribbean's crew work exceptionally hard to ensure guests have a great cruise vacation. It is customary to reward the service provided by the crew onboad with a daily gratuity, and to simplify things, Royal Caribbean allows guest to pre-pay gratuities before the sailing.

By pre-paying gratuities, you can lock in the current gratuity rate, as well as assist in budgeting the total vacation cost by having part of the cost be paid at different times.

Pre-paying gratuities is a simple process. If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean, you can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into before the sailing.

If you booked with a travel agent, simply let the travel agent know your preference and they can take care of the arrangements.

If gratuities are not pre-paid prior to sailing, they will be automatically added to the guests’ folios once onboard.

Pre-paid gratuities can be added to an individual reservation at any time outside of 48 hours of the sail date.

The gratuity applies to all guests sailing, regardless of age. These gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience.

The 18% service charge will be added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.

Royal Caribbean to raise gratuity amount for guests


Royal Caribbean will be raising its automatic daily gratuity amount that guests pay night of their cruise beginning on January 2, 2018.

Beginning January 2, 2018, guests will pay a $14.50 per guest per day service charge to each guest's SeaPass account on a daily basis. For guests in a Grand Suite or above, the amount is $17.50.

Prior to this change, the daily gratuity amount was $13.50 and $16.50. Royal Caribbean last increased their daily gratuity amount in May 2016.

If you have already prepaid your gratuities, you will be grandfathered into the current rates.  Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.

Guests currently booked that have not yet prepaid their gratuities will have until the time of sailing to do so at the old rate. After January 2nd, 2018, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates. If not prepaid prior to sailing, the new gratuity rate will be automatically applied to your account onboard.

The change has already appeared on Royal Caribbean's UK and Japan sites.

Note: we used Google Translate to translate the Japanese site.

December 26 UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has confirmed the change in gratuity.  Royal Caribbean described the increase as, "Royal Caribbean is constantly reviewing our competitive environment and this adjustment positions us in-line with our competitors. The additional gratuity collected will be disbursed to our onboard crew".

After January 2nd, 2018, regardless of when the booking was created, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates. Pre-existing bookings confirmed prior to January 2nd, 2018 will not be subject to the increased guidelines as long as gratuities are paid in advance of sailing.

Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.

Royal Caribbean Australia introduces streamlined cruise fares that include gratuities


Royal Caribbean Australia announced today a new fare structure that includes gratuities for stateroom attendants and dining room staff in the cruise price.

With this change, guests will pay a single inclusive cruise fare incorporating all main meals, accommodation, kids club, entertainment and activities. Passengers will continue to have the option to provide a discretional additional gratuity.

The new cruise fares begin on new bookings made December 12, 2016 and onwards, on sailings departing on or after January 15, 2017.

The change means free gratuities will no longer be available as one of the perks included in the Go Big, Go Better, Go Best promotion.

"Guests will see no change to the published price of cruises via any Royal Caribbean point of sale, including website, advertising and call centre pricing," the company said.

Royal Caribbean raises gratuity amount for guests


Royal Caribbean has announced it will raise its recommended gratuities for sailings that depart on or after May 01, 2016.

Effective April 14th, 2016 for all sailings departing on-or-after May 1st, 2016, a gratuity increase of $0.55 USD per guest per day will be applied. 

The new daily gratuity rates will be as follows

  • Junior Suite, Balcony, Ocean View, and Interior staterooms
    • $13.50 per guest, per day
  • Suite guests (Grand Suite & Above)
    • $16.50 per guest, per day

Royal Caribbean last increased their daily gratuity amount in May 2015.

The reasoning for increasing the daily gratuity amount is because Royal Caribbean wanted, "to better align with industry standards."

Money saving tipAny guest that a cruise reservation currently, can have Pre-paid Gratuities added to their existing reservation prior to April 14, 2016 (if you have not done so already) and lock in today's current rate of gratuities of $12.95 per day, per guest for Junior Suites and below or $15.95 per person, per day for Suite guests.

Royal Caribbean Gratuities: What you need to know


When you take a Royal Caribbean cruise, one of the costs to passengers are gratuities (tips) to crew members during your cruise.  Gratuities are the way guests can recognize great service aboard their cruise.

We provide this guide to help you understand how gratuities work on the cruise, when you can expect to pay them and how much it is.

Automatic gratuities

Royal Caribbean automatically adds a daily charge to each cruise passenger's SeaPass account to reward the great service its passengers receive.  

Each day of your cruise, Royal Caribbean will add a charge per person that will be divided among several people that you interact with likely on a daily basis:

  • stateroom attendant
  • head waiter
  • waiter
  • assistant waiter

As of January 2, 2018, the daily gratuity amount is $14.50 per guest, per day for those guests in standard accommodations.  Guests in suites will pay $17.50 per person, per day in gratuities.  The daily gratuity amount is the same for all passengers, regardless of age.

Guests have the choice to pre-pay their gratuities before their cruise to help split up the cost of their cruise vacation.

If you are a My Time Dining guest, you must prepay your gratuities.  

In addition, if a guest feels they want to alter the amount of gratuity they pay, guests can go to Guest Services aboard their cruise ship and ask to have their automatic gratuity charges changed or removed. 

Beverage gratuities

If you order beverage onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, such as alcohol, you will be charged an automatic 18% gratuity when you receive the bill.

The gratuity amount is for the service you receive from the wait staff to serve your drink.  The gratuity amount is added to what you purchase and indicated at the bottom of your receipt.

You can add an additional tip on the receipt if you wish. 

Specialty restaurants

The surcharge you pay to dine at a specialty restaurant aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise includes the tip.

There is no need to pay a tip on top of the surcharge amount, unless you would like to.

Discretionary gratuities

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  

As the name implies, this is up to you and not expected in all cases.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.

Some instances where a discretionary tip may be appropriate are for room service deliveries or luggage service by porters.

You can remove the auto gratuities

As previously noted, Royal Caribbean will automatically charge you for every night of the cruise but that does not mean you have to pay it if you are not satisfied with the service. 

You can go to Guest Services at any point in your cruise and have them reduced or removed from your account if you would prefer to tip a different amount.

WOW Cards

While a monetary tip is always appreciated, if you want to recognize great service by a Royal Caribbean crew member that will have a lasting effect on their career, fill out a WOW card.

Royal Caribbean will sometimes dispense to guests at check-in special cards to write about why a particular crew member went above and beyond the kind of service you might expect.  A guest can fill out the card, give it to the crew member and the crew member will then turn the card into their manager, which will in turn be placed on their permanent file.

WOW cards can help elevate crew members when it comes time for promotions and help their careers in the long run. 

If you do not receive a WOW card at check-in, you can go to Guest Services and request them.

Royal Caribbean raises its automatic gratuities


Royal Caribbean will be raising its recommended gratuities for sailings that depart on or after July 1, 2015.

The new recommended daily gratuity amount will be $12.95 per day, per guest for those occupying standard accommodations and $15.95 per person, per day for those in suites.

The new gratuity rate takes effect on sailings that depart on or after July 1, 2015.  Guests that pre-pay their gratuities for existing reservations before June 1st will be able to lock-in the current rate of current guideline of $12.00 per day, per guest in standard accommodations, and $14.95 per day, per suite guest.

Royal Caribbean says the new gratuity amount, "will help recognize the exceptional work that Royal Caribbean's staff and crew does to deliver unforgettable vacations every day."

Tip of the hat to Katina Bradley for alerting us to this change.

EDIT: For clarification, any reservations that you have already made you can have Pre Paid Gratuities added prior to June 1, 2015 if you haven't already and still pay today's current rate for Junior Suites and below of $12.00 per person per day or $14.95 per person per day for suite guests.

Royal Caribbean institutes automatic gratuity to its cruises for all passengers


Royal Caribbean notified its passengers via email today that as of March 1, 2013, all passengers would be charged an automatic daily gratuity for the crew members in the dining room and housekeeping that serve are traditionally tipped.

Royal Caribbean will add an automatic daily gratuity of $12.00 USD ($14.25 USD for Suite guests) to the onboard account of each guest to be shared by Dining Services Staff, Stateroom Attendants and Other Housekeeping Services Personnel. This new gratuity replaces the previously optional gratuity guidelines.

Passengers who had previously prepaid their gratuities for their upcoming cruise will not be affected by the change.

This change to force all passengers to automatically pay for gratuities can be viewed from two major viewpoints.  First, proponents of the automatic gratuities will point to the fact there have been passengers in the past who do not tip at all and thus, this will guarantee the hard working Royal Caribbean crew members a fair wage.  On the other hand, critics complain that automatic gratuities will lead to sub-par service if crew members are aware they are getting a tip already.

Royal Caribbean's change mirrors what competitors Carnival , Princess, Cunard, Holland America and Norwegian have already instituted.  

All of the competitor cruise lines do allow passengers to go to the guest relations desk onboard the ship and ask to change the automatic gratuity charges if they feel service is not up to the expected levels.

What do you think of the new automatic gratuities on Royal Caribbean cruises? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Royal Caribbean raises suggested gratuity by 20%


Royal Caribbean raised the amount it suggests its guests tip its staff onboard its ships to 20%

Royal Caribbean will start the new gratuity recommendations for cruises that depart on or after July 1, 2011.  At that time, passengers will be asked to tip $11.65 per day, up from $9.75 that was previously recommended.

Gratuities onboard are optional, but passengers who choose to prepay their gratuities will be forced to pay the higher rate.

The new gratuity suggestion is per passenger and applies to passengers of all ages. A family of four sailing on a week-long cruise who follows Royal Caribbean's newly suggested rates will now pay $326.20 in gratuities -- $53.20 more than in the past.
Of the $11.65 per day in gratuities, Royal Caribbean suggests $3.75 should be given to one's waiter, $2.15 to one's assistant waiter and $.75 to the head water. Royal Caribbean suggests the remaining $5.00 go to its housekeeping staff.

Cruising 101: Tips


One of the most debated topics when it comes to cruising is gratuities, or tips.  Tips are found throughout your cruise vacation and differ in the amount to give as well as the frequency to give.  Gratuity is general is a very subjective matter but it's something you need to know about before you cruise so you can better plan your budget for your trip.

Obligatory Gratuity

Of all the tips you may or may not hand out, there are a few people on the ship that everyone should tip at least something to.  These are...

  • Stateroom attendant
  • Waiter
  • Assistant Waiter
  • Head Waiter

These four people are the crew members you will have the most contact with during your cruise.  While there may be some discussion of how much to tip them, there's little doubt that they all should be tipped at the very least. Because there's so much confusion as to how much to tip, Royal Caribbean provides a list of suggested gratuity amounts.

  • Suite attendant: $7.25 USD a day per guest
  • Stateroom attendant: $5.00 USD a day per guest
  • Dining Room Waiter: $3.75 USD a day per guest
  • Assistant Waiter: $2.15 USD a day per guest
  • Headwaiter: $0.75 USD a day per guest

These suggested rates are just that...suggestions.  Basically, if you feel the service you received was within your expectations, these amounts are fitting.  If you feel the service was better than you expected, you could always tip more.  Every person has their own ideas of how much tip is "right", so it's up to you but at least these figures will give you a good starting point.

Other Gratuities

You will quickly find gratuity opportunities elsewhere on your cruise.  If you order a drink from a bar or wait staff, a 15% gratuity will automatically be added to your bar bill or wine check when you are served.  There is also an option for tipping more, but generally the automatically included tip will suffice.

Even before you board your cruise, there are porters at the cruise terminal to help you check in your luggage.  These folks tend to be very helpful and it's customary to tip them $1-$2 per bag. It's not required and if you opt not to tip them, your bags will still make it on the ship, however, many opt to tip these people for the prompt service they provide

If you take an excursion, the decision to tip can be less obvious.  Some excursions do include gratuity in the cost of the excursion, so be sure to check the description of any excursion you take to see if that is the case.  It's hard to give a general answer for if it's right to tip on any excursion as it's less clear.  Personally, I recommend tipping if someone gives you or your family service above and beyond what's reasonable.  A good example may be if you are doing a parasailing excursion and the staff gives you or someone in your party a few extra minutes, or perhaps lets your daughter "drive" the boat.  Special things like this are good reasons to tip the staff a few extra dollars.

How to tip

The gratuities for the wait staff and your stateroom attendant can be prepaid either before you book your cruise, added to your SeaPass account during your cruise or paid in cash at the end of your cruise.  Regardless of how you pay for them, labeled envelopes will be delivered to your stateroom during your cruise to allow for an easy exchange of gratuities.

Tipping others is less formal, as you will either be giving them cash or amending the bill you receive after getting a drink.  When you're off the ship, tipping by cash is the preferred method and it's best to bring a lot of $1 and $5 bills with you to have on hand for tipping.  Don't worry about carrying local currency, nearly every destination you visit will be people more than willing to accept United States currency.

When to Tip

In addition to how much to tip, there's a great deal of discussion of when to tip.  Everyone has their own preferences.  Some people like to tip a little at the beginning of the cruise to ensure great service for the rest of the cruise.  Others prefer to tip at the conclusion of the cruise to reward good service.  There isn't a right or wrong way to tip, it's a completely subjective decision.  For your waiters and stateroom attendants, it's most common to tip them on the last night of the cruise.