TippingFinally, tipping can be one of the most confusing topics of a cruise, such as whom to tip, when, and how much. Part of the confusion is due to cultural differences. Americans might be accustomed to voluntary tipping, while Europeans expect a flat service charge added to the bill, and for Japanese, it is not their custom to tip. For these reasons, cruise lines have begun adding a service charge to cover gratuities. However, it is unclear how much, and to which employees, these service charges are paid. Many cruise lines will allow you to decline the service charge and tip on your own.
If you decide to tip in addition to, or instead of, the service charge, you can obtain a tip envelope in your room, at the Purser's Office, or at the Information office, depending on the cruise line. Some people prefer to bring their own supply of envelopes, which can be personalized and smaller than traditional tip envelopes, making it easier to tuck into a handshake.
The usual tradition is to tip your cabin steward, table captain, and busboy on the last evening of your trip. However, there are exceptions. If you will need a lot of extra services from your cabin steward, such as if you will be doing a lot of entertaining in your cabin, or if you have an infant in your room, you should give a portion of your steward's tip at the beginning of the cruise. This will help ensure helpful, pleasant service throughout the trip. You should tip favorite bartenders on the last night of the trip, using an envelope.