Worth it or not: Carnival prepaid gratuities (2023)

Along with alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, and port expenses, gratuities are another fee that you have to factor into your cruise budget.

Hardly any cruise lines include them in their advertised rates, unless you book an all-inclusive fare, and they can cost a family of four another $400+ on a 7-day cruise.

Recently, Carnival Cruise Line announced that they will be increasing their daily gratuity rate by about 10% effective April 1, 2023.

Those staying in standard staterooms — interior, ocean view, and balcony cabins — will see an increase from $14.50 to $16.00 per person, per day, while the rate for guests in suites will increase from $16.50 to $18.00 per person, per day.

When, if ever, does it make sense to prepay your gratuities if you’re sailing on Carnival Cruise Line? Should you wait until your vacation commences and worry about it at the end?

Let’s talk about when it’s worth it to prepay Carnival gratuities and when it’s not.

What are gratuities?

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Gratuities are service charges that each passenger ages two and older pays daily for the duration of their cruise that will be spilt between hardworking crew members including stateroom attendants, dining and culinary services staff, and other individuals who work behind-the-scenes and contribute to the overall cruise experience.

Essentially, they're just tips for services you receive onboard.

They're standard for all guests on the cruise, whether you only choose to dine in the buffet or never see your stateroom attendant.

Think of gratuities as a one-stop shop for cash tips. Of course, you can always tip more throughout the cruise if you feel as though the service warrants it.

(Video) Cruise Gratuities - Should You Prepay them? | Cruise Hacks 2020

When sailing on a Carnival Cruise, you can either prepay your gratuities prior to departure or have them added to your Sail & Sign account on the second to last day of the cruise. If you wait until the latter, your registered debit or credit card will be billed to clear your cruise account on disembarkation day.

Even if you prepay the gratuities for your cruise fare, you will still be charged an 18% service fee for other applicable purchases onboard, such as speciality dining, drinks, and certain room service orders.

Benefits of prepaying Carnival gratuities

Planning out your cruise budget in advance means less to worry about during your vacation

When going through the online Carnival Cruise Line booking process, you are given the option to add gratuities before even placing a deposit. In other words, you can add your gratuities and pay them off like the rest of the cruise fare.

If you book with a travel agent, you can also speak with them about adding gratuities to your reservation.

Another options is to prepay your gratuities via "My Cruise Planner" once you've completed the booking. Here, you can also pay for other add-ons, such as a CHEERS! drink package, Wi-Fi, and shore excursions.

Regardless of what way you choose to go about it, having your gratuities prepaid before your vacation begins is a surefire way to ensure that you don't get any hidden surprises at the end and further enjoy the luxury of convenience. Potentially, you could board your cruise and not spend another penny.

You could possibly save money

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If you prepay them before March 31, 2023, you can lock in the current rates of $14.50 per person, per day in standard cabins and $16.50 per person, per day in suites. That means that a party of two staying in a balcony stateroom would pay $203 for a 7-night cruise instead of $224. Don't worry, you won't be asked to pay the difference later on!

(Video) Should You Prepay Gratuities on a Cruise?

In fact, this is Carnival's second time increasing the daily gratuity rate since May 2022, so it can be cheaper for you to pay them in advance. In early 2022, the daily rates were $13.99 for guests in standard rooms and $15.99 for those in suites.

If gratuities for an August 2023 sailing were prepaid in April 2022, rather than waiting to pay onboard, a couple would have saved close to $30! For a family of four, this goes up to $60.

While the savings won't pay for another cruise on their own, the additional dollars in your wallet can go towards other things, like drinks or a shore excursion!

Note that after April 1, 2023, it doesn't matter if you prepay your gratuities in advanced or not: everyone will be charged the same amount. There most likely won't be another increase in gratuity rates until sometime in mid to late-2024, if even then; there's no set schedule for how often cruise lines increase gratuities.

Pros for waiting for the gratuities to be added to your Sail & Sign account during your cruise

You can purchase other services and experiences that will enhance your vacation first

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Perhaps holding off on paying gratuities will allow you to purchase drink packages or Wi-Fi to stay connected throughout the trip for additional savings. If you do so in advance through "My Cruise Planner," you can save 10% on the drink package and up to 15% off Wi-Fi packages.

For a family of four, the extra $400+ can go a long ways in helping to prepare for the trip. You can wait to pay for gratuities onboard without penalty; you can't wait to pay for airfare until the last minute unless you want to pay the inflated rates.

You can have the daily rate adjusted

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In theory, if you wait to pay them until you're onboard, you can speak with a guest services agent and have the total amount adjusted if you had poor service throughout the trip. If you've prepaid your gratuities, they cannot be changed to reflect the quality of service that you feel you've received.

(Video) Carnival Cruise Gratuities | who gets them and should you pre-pay or not

This, however, is not recommended, as gratuities are essential to the crew members who work so hard to make your cruise vacation memorable, even if from behind-the-scenes.

If, for whatever reason, you decide to speak with guest services about removing the automatic gratuities, it is advised that you tip crew members in cash.

Note that once you disembark from the ship, all accounts are considered final and no changes will be made.

Ability to apply onboard credit

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If you received a promotion that included onboard credit, you may wish to hold off on paying for gratuities in advance.

While you cannot apply onboard credit to prepay for gratuities and must use a debit or credit card, you can use any remaining credit to settle the bill at the end of the cruise, which includes anything added to your Sail & Sign account.

It most likely won't cover the entirety of the gratuity amount, but being able to get $25 or $50 taken off can help!

How to prepay Carnival gratuities

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There are a few different ways that you can prepay your gratuities in advance if you've decided that this is the best option for your upcoming sailing.

(Video) They're Misleading You | Do I Have to Pay Cruise Gratuities | You Need to Know before you Prepay!

First, you can add them at the time of booking before you make your deposit. This way, you can see exactly how much your total cruise fare will cost for you and your travel companions. It's also a great tool when playing around with different cruises when trying to decide which one is right for you.

Second, you can add them after you place your deposit through "My Cruise Planner" or by calling Carnival Cruise Line directly, where an agent will be happy to assist you.

If you work with a travel agent, they'll be able to take care of prepaying gratuities for you. You can instruct them to add them at the time of booking or after the fact.

Read more: 5 reasons to book with a travel agent for your next cruise

Is it worth it or not to prepay Carnival gratuities in advance?

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For most, prepaying gratuities is a great way to keep track of your overall cruise budget. If they're paid for and out of the way, you won't accidentally spend your gratuity money while onboard or in port or receive a large(r) bill at the end of the sailing.

Getting the final bill just to see that it's over $400 in just gratuities alone for a family of four isn't how you want to end what otherwise was a great cruise!

Additionally, prepaying your gratuities does not negatively impact the service that you receive.

On the other hand, if you have some onboard credit that you're not planning on using, putting those funds towards your gratuities at the end of your vacation could be a great way to use it.

It really comes down to personal perference and whether you want to hold on to your cash for longer or not.

Finally, while Carnival Cruise Line does not put any pressure on guests to do so, if you became particularly fond of a crew member's service, additional cash tips are appreciated by staff.

FAQs

Is it better to prepay gratuities on Carnival? ›

Benefits of Prepaying Gratuities

The biggest advantage is simply getting the charge out of the way. By paying the charge at the same time you pay your cruise, it's one less cost that will hit your onboard account while you are cruising. Another advantage is that cruise lines regularly raise gratuity amounts.

What happens if you don't prepay gratuities on Carnival? ›

This way you don't have to worry about having an extra charge once you cruise and you can better know your budget. For guests who opt not to pre-pray, gratuities are posted to their Sail & Sign account toward the end of the cruise.

What happens if you don't prepay gratuities on a cruise? ›

If you do not opt to prepay gratuities, a daily charge will appear on your SeaPass account every day of the cruise for the daily gratuity rate per guest. The daily gratuities is in addition to the 18% gratuity automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.

Is it better to pre pay gratuities on a cruise? ›

If you want to make your life easier, and don't plan on removing or adjusting the gratuities on a cruise, it's better to prepay before you go. In our experience, prepaying gratuities does not negatively affect the service onboard. We have consistently been very pleased with the wonderful service on cruise ships.

How much should you pay in gratuities on a cruise? ›

How Much Are Cruise Gratuities? The amount you pay will vary by cruise line, but they are all in the same ballpark. You can expect to pay about $15-$20 per person, per day. So a couple traveling together will see about $30-$40 per day in gratuities, or about $200+ over the course of a week-long cruise.

Are Carnival gratuities optional? ›

Gratuities are assessed on all guests, with the exception of children under the age of 2. Gratuities apply regardless of the dining options selected, such as eating at the casual dining restaurant or open seating dining. For beverage purchases, an automatic 18% service charge will be added to the bill.

Are you forced to pay gratuities on a cruise? ›

Technically cruise lines cannot force you to pay gratuities, especially if you have a complaint or issue about the service you received on board. Gratuities on a cruise are not mandatory, but instead heavily suggested and added automatically.

How do you get out of paying gratuities on a cruise? ›

On most cruise lines, you can refuse to pay or opt out of the automatically charged gratuities. You can also adjust the gratuities to make them higher or lower. However, keep in mind that this does negatively affect the crew members, who rely on tips from guests as a substantial part of their income.

How much is gratuity for a 5 day Carnival cruise? ›

Carnival's daily gratuity goes from $14.50 to $16.00 for standard cabins, and from $16.50 to $18.00 for suites. Holland America Line implemented a modest .50 increase, effective February 1, 2023. Standard cabins go from $15.50 to $16.00 per person per day, while suites rise from $16.50 to $17.00.

What happens if you don't tip on a cruise ship? ›

When you forego tipping on your cruise, you aren't hurting the corporation. You're just lowering the pool of funds that hard-working service employees share at the end of the journey. Automatically added gratuities take the confusion out of tipping on your cruise.

How much should I tip my cabin steward on a cruise? ›

There aren't any hard-and-fast guidelines for this type of tip since it's contingent on your experience, but $25 to $40 on behalf of a couple roughly works out to an extra $2 to $3 per person, per day, for a seven-night cruise.

Is it necessary to tip at the end of the cruise? ›

Unless you are on an all-inclusive ship that covers gratuities in the cruise fare, such as luxury cruise lines Azamara, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Virgin Voyages, it is recommended that you tip the crew.

How much is gratuity for drinks on Carnival Cruise? ›

As of May 2022, the CHEERS! package aboard Carnival costs $59.95 per person, per day — if bought ahead of time. If you wait to purchase the beverage package until you board the ship, the price rises to $64.95 per day. On top of that, the cruise line charges an 18% gratuity fee.

Can you tip cash on Carnival Cruise? ›

(optional) You may also tip in cash your waiter - bar server - room steward if you're satisfied with his/her service. You can pay your fixed gratuities in advance (on booking), otherwise, you'll be billed on your S&S card on your first embarkation day.

How much should you tip on Carnival Cruise? ›

The Carnival Tipping Basics:

When automatically charged to either your Sign and Sail account or to your invoice prior to boarding, the gratuity amount is at a recommended value of $12.95 per day, per person in stateroom accommodations, and at $13.95, per day, per person for those in suite rooms.

How do I opt out of Carnival gratuities? ›

Carnival gratuities are not optional, in that they are automatically added to your account. They can be removed, but only if you visit the Guest Services desk on the ship and ask them to take them off your account. Otherwise, you are expected to pay.

Can you pay gratuities with onboard credit Carnival? ›

Gratuities to the shipboard staff are customary on Carnival as well as other cruise lines, and you can cover these using your OBC. If you plan to use onboard credit to pay for these gratuities, be sure not to pre-pay them at the time of booking -- your onboard credit could take care of the rest.

How much do cruise ship workers make with tips? ›

Cabin Stewards: Average Salary of $650-$1,150 monthly, including gratuities. If they work on a luxury cruise line, they may receive over $2,000 each month with tips.

Do you tip in the main dining room on a cruise? ›

If your cruise ship still has dedicated bar staff in the main dining room, we recommend tipping that individual a bit extra too. If your assistant waiter is in charge of grabbing drinks from the bar, we recommend adding this extra gratuity to his/her tip.

How much do room stewards make on Carnival? ›

Average salary

Does this salary seem accurate? The average salary for Steward at Carnival Cruise Line in the United States is $2,098 per month, which is 9% above the national average of $1,917 per month.

Do you tip first class attendants? ›

Our job is to keep you safe and secure. Tipping has no place in our work.” Nelson says she appreciates the sentiment of the question, but says tips just aren't the way to go if you want to acknowledge your cabin crew.

Is it mandatory to tip on Carnival Cruise? ›

You are welcome to reward our onboard crew for exceptional service, however, tipping is not required.

How much does Carnival charge for gratuity? ›

Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line (as well as their sister lines) recently increased their gratuity amounts for 2023. Carnival's daily gratuity goes from $14.50 to $16.00 for standard cabins, and from $16.50 to $18.00 for suites. Holland America Line implemented a modest . 50 increase, effective February 1, 2023.

Can cruise lines force you to pay gratuities? ›

Technically cruise lines cannot force you to pay gratuities, especially if you have a complaint or issue about the service you received on board. Gratuities on a cruise are not mandatory, but instead heavily suggested and added automatically.

Who should I tip on a Carnival Cruise? ›

Generally speaking, mainstream, U.S.-based cruise lines automatically add gratuities of about $14 to $15 per person, per day, to your onboard bill. These tips are divided among the dining staff (waiters, assistant waiters and head waiters) and housekeeping staff (such as cabin attendants).

Can you prepay gratuities after booking? ›

If you work with a travel agent, they'll be able to take care of prepaying gratuities for you. You can instruct them to add them at the time of booking or after the fact.

How can I avoid paying gratuity? ›

The full amount of gratuity can be forfeited if an employee's services have been terminated due to: a) His riotous or disorderly conduct or any other violent act; b) Committing an offence involving moral turpitude.

How do you avoid gratuities on a cruise? ›

On most cruise lines, you can refuse to pay or opt out of the automatically charged gratuities. You can also adjust the gratuities to make them higher or lower. However, keep in mind that this does negatively affect the crew members, who rely on tips from guests as a substantial part of their income.

Should you tip extra on a cruise? ›

While paying the gratuity charge is required by most cruise lines, any additional tipping is at your discretion. You may want to tip extra for outstanding service or if you receive special treatment during your cruise vacation. Tipping is also a way of showing appreciation for the hard work of the ship's staff.

Can you remove gratuities on Carnival 2022? ›

Carnival gratuities are not optional, in that they are automatically added to your account. They can be removed, but only if you visit the Guest Services desk on the ship and ask them to take them off your account. Otherwise, you are expected to pay.

Can you tip in cash on Carnival Cruise? ›

(optional) You may also tip in cash your waiter - bar server - room steward if you're satisfied with his/her service. You can pay your fixed gratuities in advance (on booking), otherwise, you'll be billed on your S&S card on your first embarkation day.

How much do you tip on a 7 day cruise? ›

Most cruise lines suggest tipping $10 to $12 per day per passenger (not per couple), regardless of age. For a seven-day cruise, this means each cruiser should budget at least $70 for gratuities, or $140 per cabin for two people. How do I pay the gratuities?

Is automatic gratuity the same as tip? ›

Are Automatic Gratuities a Tip or a Wage? The IRS classifies automatic gratuities as service charges, not as tips. This means that automatic gratuities are a part of the employee's non-tipped wages.

Do cruise workers get their tips? ›

The Carnival website states: “100 per cent of your gratuities are distributed to the crew who you interact with, such as your stateroom attendants, dining, bar and culinary services staff, as well as others who work behind the scenes to enhance your overall cruise experience.”

Is gratuity an automatic tip? ›

Gratuities are generally not mandatory, and are not automatically added to the bill.

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