Best Tips For Tipping The Staff On Vacation
When on vacation, whether a land vacation (all-inclusive, resort, or hotel) or on a cruise, it's important to show the staff how much you appreciate their help making your vacation an extra special one. With the cruise tips below, keep in mind these are essential for all types of travel. When staying in a hotel for business or a family vacation, you'll want to keep in mind your room housekeeping staff and anyone who goes above and beyond to provide "extra" service. This includes wait staff in a restaurant, bartender or mixologist in the lounge, and the bellman who brings your luggage to your room and tours you around.
One of the biggest topics on any cruise discussion board is based around deciding who to tip on your cruise. Whether you are in a traditional cabin or an oversize suite, I truly find the cabin service while cruising typically surpasses most resorts when it comes to housekeeping. So if you are new to cruising, let's start at the beginning to see who to tip on your cruise.
Tipping Room Staff (Housekeeping, butlers, Cruise Cabin Stewards and More)
The staff works hard so you don't have to. Your Cabin Steward and/or Assistant Cabin Steward will come in your room twice a day. They magically make your beds, clean your bathroom and tidy your room in the time it takes you to slip out quickly for breakfast. Then while you are at dinner, your room is again being tidied and transformed into a relaxing sanctuary for you to get a good night sleep. On some cruise lines, the staff shows off their talent by creating whimsical animals out of your bathroom towels. (See the Cabins section for some creatures we've experienced in our travels.) They may even leave a delicious chocolate or treat in your room. They also typically leave the next day's printed schedule so you can easily decide on the activities ahead of time. Perfect for a planner like me!
For traditional cabins, the cruise lines suggest tipping the Cabin Steward and Assistant Cabin Stewards. If you are in a suite, the butler's tip is also added in. Recently the cruise lines are starting to automatically add tips on to your daily charges. They add a specified amount daily to cover the housekeeping staff assigned to your cabin. This way, the housekeeping staff is guaranteed a tip per guest in each cabin (and better yet, you don't have to worry about the correct calculations.)
On a Personal Note...
Every once in a while you may come across a staff member who has gone above and beyond. On one cruise, we wanted to take our Cabin Attendant home with us! I only found out during a conversation with my boys on the 3rd or 4th night of the cruise that their Cabin Attendant had been folding up their pajamas every morning and putting them on their pillow, lined up their shoes that they randomly threw on the floor and folded the clothes on the floor as well. What?! That's going above and beyond.
In the bars and dining room
For the bars and lounges, the tip is usually included in your drink package or bar tab. But if you visit a particular venue regularly and have a server that you enjoy, feel free to provide something extra. They try hard to make everything special. I still remember a wonderful lounge server that always gave extra cherries in my son's Shirley Temple. He couldn't wait to get to the lounge and look out for her. Perfect for us to enjoy the live music and drinks, too!
And don't forget your dining wait staff.
If you have a traditional dining option selected, you'll have the same wait staff daily for dinner. They are the ones that remember from each meal to the next your culinary likes and dislikes, seating preferences, and more. Or if you choose to dine at a specialty restaurant, the wait staff in these venues often exceed any service you would find on land. Again, all of the dining staff on board is included in your automatic daily tips, but you may choose to recognize their hard work after each meal, or find them again at the end of the cruise.
Besides having our tips automatically provided, we also like to personally give our wait staff something extra at the end of the cruise.
WHO ELSE TO TIP? For specialty restaurants, the tip is incorporated in the additional charge so you are not obligated to tip. However, if we have excellent service that goes above and beyond in a specialty dining venue, we give them an extra cash tip at the end of the meal. Another staff member often neglected is the Sommelier. We also give him/her something extra. Especially with a drink packages (which we love and always get) they work very hard at meal time to make sure your glass is always filled.
Besides money, here are some other unique ideas to consider for tips
- When packing, include some personalized note cards to use. This will give you plenty of space to write a thank you note and they will remember who it came from. Of course, a small tip included in the card makes it even better!
- Plan ahead and bring a special, sealed gift(s) from your hometown to give to your cabin staff
- While at port, purchase a small gift(s) for cabin staff
- If you are fortunate enough to have a top suite, it often comes with a stocked liquor cabinet. If you have an unopened liquor or wine bottle, the staff would definitely enjoy it on a day off
- On one cruise, we were celebrating various special occasions during the week and received multiple cakes. With so much food already, we couldn't possibly eat them all. Instead, we asked the Maître D if we could give it to our dining wait staff. They were more than happy to enjoy!
Even though tips are automatically charged, presenting a gift or cash to anyone personally is much more rewarding. Cruise ship staff are always appreciative of a little extra something to make them feel special. I realize that they are away from their family in order to take care of mine. And with 2 teenage boys, my family isn’t always so neat or easy! I appreciate the daily chores taken off my hands while my only job is to relax and enjoy my cruise vacation.