Should Cruise Tipping Protocols Change Post-COVID

Once travel is surging again, tipping is a great way to help those who were most affected during the pandemic. Should the amounts we tip change? Yes, we believe that generosity will be the best practice when travel resumes. So many people have been affected, from the porter at the airport who carries your luggage, to the porter who helps you take your bags to your transport, and the driver who takes you to the pier or your hotel. Just about everyone involved in the tourism industry relies to some degree on tips.

The History of Tipping

Tipping is a custom that originated in Europe in the 17th century. It came to America courtesy of wealthy travelers who enjoyed the idea that “TIPS” (an acronym for “To Insure Proper / Prompt Service”) allowed them a higher standard of personal attention.

Tipping is customary in many service-based professions, including various members of the staff on passenger cruise ships. It is really customary across the world, with some exceptions, and should be remembered in all forms of travel, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has put a dent in travel as well as the income of those who rely on travelers’ gratitude (TIPS) for basic income in their lives and that of their families.

When should I tip?

The experts at CruiseCompete often hear the question “When should I tip?” Here are four potential approaches, along with pros and cons, to gratuities / tipping, courtesy of our seasoned cruisers.

4 Cruise Ship Travel Gratuity Approaches

Four Gratuity Approaches to Consider When Traveling Aboard a Cruise Ship

Yes, you know many cruise lines build in TIPS / tipping as a line item on your shipboard account. You likely leave that alone, yet want to give certain people something extra. Here are four approaches:

Tipping on arrival

It’s been said “TIPS” originally meant: “To Ensure Proper Service” or “To Improve Professional Service.” You are saying: “I’m making it worth your while to take care of me.”
Pro:  You’ve got their attention. You’ve made it worth their while.
Con:  Since they’ve been paid up front, there may not always be a great motivation to go above and beyond in hopes of a big tip at the end.

Splitting the tip

You tip on arrival, letting them know they should expect another tip at departure.
Pro:  Best of both worlds. They know you are a tipper; you’ve already delivered. There’s more to come, but how much?
Con:  Few. If it’s a longer voyage and the staff person’s contract ends mid-voyage, their replacement didn’t get the “arrival bonus.”

During the trip

You are on a 21- or 101-day voyage. You tip a proportional amount at the end of each week.
Pro:  It relieves the staff member’s anxiety of waiting until the last day to see what you will do. They have money to send home or spend in port.
Con:  Few, except you need to setup for this with envelopes and smaller bills several times instead of just once.

Tipping on departure

It’s the traditional way. The stationery folder in your cabin has a supply of white envelopes. If not, ask at the Purser’s office. They can change large bills into small bills. You hand out envelopes on the last night.
Pro:  It’s how it’s always been done.
Con:  Your steward, waiter and others are waiting until the last moment to learn if you will reward their service.

Once travel is surging again, tipping is a great way to help those who were most affected during the pandemic. We believe that generosity will be the best practice when travel resumes.

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John Shallo
John Shallo
John Shallo is the founder and editor of Cruise Addicts. Since 1999 it has been a leading destination for cruise travelers and self professed Cruise Addicts looking for the latest news, ship reviews and travel tips.

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