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The Gratuity Lowdown: Top Five Cheapest Cruise Lines For Tipping

The Gratuity Lowdown: Top Five Cheapest Cruise Lines For Tipping

There’s no denying that gratuities are a part of cruising that’s here to stay, whether you choose to tip or not.

Whilst some of us may begrudge certain ways of dealing with gratuities (and the bravest of us may head to guest services to ask for these auto-tips to be removed from our accounts), it’s an undeniably good way to ensure that the hard-working staff are rewarded with extra cash in their pay packet.

Tipping isn’t a natural part of British culture like it is for our American cousins and due to the big difference in tipping prices, have to be here to save any on-board embarrassment with our cheap-gratuity-guide!

If you’re torn between two cruise lines, these prices could be the tipping point, one way or another…


5 – Costa Cruises – €10 per person, per day

Costa says that they use this mandatory tipping charge to incentivize their staff members who perform hotel duties, making sure that the quality of service is always top-notch for guests.

These gratuities will automatically be added to your account so unless you have nerves of steel at Guest Services when requesting to remove them, they’re on your bill to stay.

However, at 10 euro per person per night, it’s one of the cheaper automatic service charges on the ocean waves!

costa cruises

Children between the ages of 4 and 14 pay 50% of the adult charge, while under 4’s are free.

There is also a 15% service charge added to drinks, so remember that when you order that extra cocktail, or three. Maybe let someone else get a round in every once in a while…


4 – Cruise & Maritime – £7 per person, per day

For any cruise duration up to 16 nights, gratuities cost just £7 per person per day on-board the Marco Polo and the Azores– nice and simple, just how we like it.

However, choose to sail for that little bit longer with Cruise & Maritime and this drops to £6– even better! It may not sound like much of a difference but over the course of those 16 nights, it’s another £16 in your pocket.

Fred Olsen

Fair enough, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the price you paid for the holiday but it will afford you a couple more drinks at the bar.

Children aren’t allowed on-board the Marco Polo and the Azores so there’s no need to worry about how much their service charge will set you back (or endless requests for fizzy drinks and ice cream).


3 – Fred Olsen – £5 per person, per day

The £5 daily tip that Fred Olsen request is split down the middle for your cabin steward and waiter, so, per day, they each receive £2.50.

However, if they’re doing a splendid job and you wish to vary the amount (or, conversely, if they’re not up to scratch), you can alter this value as you see fit.

Fred Olsen

It’s automatically added to your guest account but we imagine Fred wouldn’t mind too much if you decided you’d prefer to tip the team members personally, instead.

Just contact the trusty Guest Services and stock up on those traditional brown tipping envelopes!


2 – P&O Cruises– Scrapped all together! (Previously £7 per person, per day!)

As a British line, P&O Cruises know full well that, as a nation, we don’t ‘do’ tipping like other parts of the world do – but they also know that we’re far too polite to grumble (and we love to grumble) about a charge that’s less than you’d pay for a beer at the bar.

And they actually announced in August 2018 their decision to cease charging a gratuity fee all together from May 2019 onwards!


This actually makes P&O Cruises joint first place for the cheapest gratuities onboard cruise ships!

P&O commented “We take huge pride in giving you a holiday that’s truly memorable and special and our team on board is committed to providing exceptional service during your time with us.” 

1 – Hurtigruten

And the award for the best grats policy goes to… Hurtigruten! Their policy on tipping has always been that you shouldn’t be expected to pay any tips up front or be forced to remove them from your account if you don’t agree with the gratuities.

Instead, they operate the old fashioned “brown envelope” policy whereby you choose whether or not you would like to tip, and leave whatever money you feel appropriate to give. This means you can reward staff as you see fit and won’t feel guilty for not leaving a large sum if you don’t want to.

They do recommend approximately 10 euros per guest per day as an average and suggest that once you’ve decided on your amount to fill in the form found in your cabin and give in to the receptionist two days before the end of the cruise.


As well as these 5 cruise lines, we haven’t actually mentioned those cruise lines whose tips are already included in the price of your cruise. The lines that favour an all-inclusive approach tend to be the ultra-luxury lines, including Silversea, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas.

Some British cruise lines, including Marella and Swan Hellenic, also state that tips are included in the upfront fare.


That was your official guide to the cheapest gratuities out there! Which is your favourite cruise line out of the five? Are you satisfied with those prices or do you think they should be even lower? Leave us your thoughts and comments…

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Author by Mary Smith

Bulletin Editor

Editor and Creative Copywriter of's bulletin blog, bringing you cruise news, tips and guides daily! - Contact:

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