Tip the Cabin Attendant? That’s Crazy!

Ocean cruises cost enough already (although they are excellent value compared to almost any other form of travelling). But why should I pay more for what I paid for? The cruise lines already add a gratuity charge to the ticket price. They say this is to iron out jealousy because if cruise gratuities were voluntary, not all crew members would benefit. This certainly is light years away from when cruise gratuities  were for effort beyond the call of duty.

Cruise Gratuities
Photo by Author

I certainly do not give anything extra to the bar lady or the barman  (barperson sounds dehumanising). In a pub I am one of many, and I believe in the sanctity of the queue. The same goes for staff in buffet serveries and waiters in restaurants. Their job is to do their job. They are paid for it and they get a pro rata share from the gratuity pool to boot. Call me mean. I only pay for what I benefit from, excluding charities, that is.

Cruise Gratuities: Tipping on Cruises

Should the Cabin Attendant be an Exception?

I believe so, because a cabin attendant is almost an illusion. Cruise lines train them that way to brand your accommodation as your personal space on your private liner. They do their job while you are elsewhere on the ship. This makes their job a lonely, thankless one. They may only hear from customers who expect them to be at on the button after midnight. I will be polite and call these bloody minded.

Cruise Gratuities
Photo by Cunard

Cabin attendants are also at the bottom of the crew chain because they are cleaners and bed-makers who earn among the lowest wages. Our steward on the Queen Mary 2 was ten times better than that. When we asked, we learned the modest gentleman supported an extended family in the Philippines he had not seen for several years. ‘You can call me any time of day and night,’ Bert assured us. By the way, Bert is not a Filipino name. His would probably be unpronounceable to my stumbling English tongue.

The Day We Broke Ranks

Rob and I had done our homework before we boarded. A quick glance between us confirmed Bert ticked all the boxes. ‘Tell you what,’ Rob said (he manages the finances) ‘here’s $75 because you will take care of us. There’s another $75 for you the day before we reach Southampton in 14 days.’ Bert smiled. ‘It is not necessary, but as you wish I accept.’

What We Got in Return

Cruise Gratuities
Photo by Author

To be honest, I don’t think Bert did anything different. The game changer for us was that we didn’t feel guilty being treated like royalty by a gentleman who was at least our equal. The exercise cost us less than two steaks and a bottle of champagne at the à la carte. Would I do it again? Without a shadow of a doubt! Did we pay the other half? Of course!

Let us know what you think about cruise gratuities in the comments section below.

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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  1. Cruise Budget Planning Tips - Go4Travel Blog

    […] your tips if you pay for them in advance online, so it’s something worth looking into. Of course, tipping is voluntary, so if you don’t agree to the proposed rate or you’re unhappy with the service you receive, you […]


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