When you book a Carnival cruise, and check in, it automatically assigns you the "suggested" amount of gratuities. Despite it being "suggested" and "optional", it is applied automatically by default. And while an in-person opt-out is possible, I couldn't find a way to effectively opt out of them until the last day of the cruise, because:

  • Calling their support after booking and asking to remove them doesn't work because "we can't cancel because you are not charged anything yet". Same during check-in;
  • Calling it during the cruise does not work, because the service desk cannot (or claims so) cancel the future automatic gratuities, only the accrued ones. Thus you would have to do it again, on the last day;
  • Doing this on the last day works, but the line is rather long, as many people try to settle their accounts, pay bills, or ask to change gratuities. The process however is simple and straightforward once you reach the desk - but this could take an hour.

I was told by other passengers that it is possible to opt out of automatic gratuities, but they were either vague about how they did it, or it was one of the above "solutions" which did not work. Does anyone know the solution which works?

PS. Thank you in advance for not starting a discussion about tipping in general.

  • 18
    I am sure it is purely accidental that it is so difficult... – Aganju Mar 29 '18 at 22:17
  • Why not show up to the queue early or just wait until the cruise is in dock and the queue has emptied up? You could also block your credit card temporarily to prevent additional charges until you've cancelled the tipping. Not adding as an answer since I'm not a cruise expert. – JonathanReez Apr 1 '18 at 2:30
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    According to the friends of mine, the only way is to go to the counter at the final day, and force the tipping not from person, but from a suit, saying that you want to provide tips for a concrete person servicing you (even you don't want to tip at all). As it's not my experience, making this a comment – VMAtm Apr 1 '18 at 23:37
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    @JonathanReez they preauthorize your card for the full amount at checkin, and refund the difference later - this time the refund actually was by a mailed check(!!!). The guest services is also quite busy at dock too, handling people who haven't settled the charges yet or had some last night, and are leaving the ship. – George Y. Apr 2 '18 at 3:07
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    OK, cross Carnival off my list of possible cruise lines. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 6 '18 at 2:10

Given that you've tried every reasonable avenue on board, I'd say the answer is: it's impossible. The cruise companies are intentionally trying to make it as difficult as possible for consumers to avoid their sketchy pricing tactics, while making sure not to break European laws about transparent pricing.

  • Seem to be my opinion as well for now. – George Y. May 29 '18 at 20:51
  • I'm Upvoting this answer because, total truth, I'd rather people think it's not possible because that's ultimately better for the crew. – Johns-305 May 29 '18 at 20:54
  • You still can do it at the last day, as I have always done. It is just more annoying. Next year I'll try to mail Carnival a written statement that I oppose "mandatory gratuities" and will sue them shall they attempt to charge me. Might work. – George Y. May 29 '18 at 21:00

So, presuming one is totally OK with shortchanging back of the house staff (explained below and I did not make the rules), yes, it is possible to opt out of automatic daily gratuities on most, maybe all, major cruise lines.

And yes, you can do it for the entire sailing once onboard before the last day. You just need to find a Guest Services crewmember who knows how to do it...correctly. No, they are probably not trained to do this because they really don't want people doing this. A crewmember who is not familiar with the exact, unpublished option may merely remove existing gratuities, only to have future ones keep posting.

It's just like the airlines, of one Agent doesn't know how to do something, call back and try another.

This is not for debate, just some points on how this works because passengers who opt out of gratuities are shorting the majority of the hotel crew.

  • Most travelers, including Europeans, are accustomed to tipping/gratuities/service charges and they have been a customary part of worldwide cruising since...forever.
  • The cruise lines know this and have built it into the fare/pay structure like restaurants, hotels and other service industries.
  • Certain crew are allowed to keep all cash tips, I've asked bartenders this specific question, because they, like cabin stewards, provide a direct service. This is why the "I'll tip in cash" excuse doesn't work.
  • Daily gratuities are pooled and are part of the crew pay.
  • If one's goal is zero/low folio balance, gratuities can be pre-paid or paid out of On Board Credit.

Note: If you do opt out, do not share this info with other passengers. This practice is widely scorned by seasoned and casual cruisers and will get you put on the "don't like" list very quickly.

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