Most cruise lines add an automatic gratuity to each passengers bill. I don't mind tipping if the money actually goes towards the employee, but I absolutely abhor giving businesses extra cash under the pretense of "tips".

How can I find out if a given cruise line actually pays out 100% of my "automatic tip" to its employees? Should I just ask the crew members? I wouldn't want to ask the cruise company itself as I presume they would either lie or give me a non-answer.

  • It doesn't go towards the salary, it is the salary of many of the workers it seems
    – Berwyn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 6:37
  • @Berwyn it's possible that the salary is fixed and doesn't depend on how many people paid in the first place. In this case I wouldn't want to leave a "tip".
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 1, 2018 at 6:47
  • "The base wage is usually low -- sometimes as little as $2 a day -- but income from tips can represent as much as 95 percent of the take-home total.". I think the "tip" might be all they get
    – Berwyn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 6:51
  • @jonathanreez for the sake of a full answer it would be great if you could get the official statement from a cruise company and post it here.
    – user16259
    Apr 1, 2018 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


Cruise lines are always quick to state that tips to to the employees, by which we assume that if we tip an extra $50 then the employee will get $50 extra. However this undercover investigation appears to show that this is not the case.

The undercover employee is promised $1010 per month (50s mark on the video) and that he would "probably get much more from tips". Later this is 'amended' to $710 per month. (1m30s).

His actual payment (for just over a month) is:

  • $60 basic wage
  • $600 tips
  • $176 to make the amount he was paid up to the contractual minimum the company offered.

To make this clear, all the tips given him by the customers were used not to increase the amount of money the employee received, but to reduce the amount of money the company had to give him.. A generous customer who gave him a $50 tip would simply have reduced the amount of money the company paid, and not increased the amount the employee received. If you had tipped less the employee would not have received any less. (If some generous customer had given him a $200 tip he might have received about $25 more, but you can bet that some form of tip sharing would have negated this possibility.)

TLDR: The employee does not benefit from the amount you tip

  • 1
    This may seem like a duplicate, answer but it is not. I want to make it clear to everyone that additional tips does NOT mean that the employee gets extra money. Apr 1, 2018 at 19:09
  • I can't believe you could copy my entire post, change the conclusion and post it as your own answer. I've never seen anything like that on TSE ever before
    – Berwyn
    Apr 2, 2018 at 17:24
  • 1
    For the benefit of future readers, this answer is completely wrong. See below. The law firm that specializes in suing cruise lines specifically engineered this scenario to fool people. This is not how crew compensations actually culminates.
    – DTRT
    Nov 9, 2018 at 15:34
  • 2
    @Johns-305 As I pointed out to you elsewhere, the law firm that you are talking about did not create this video. They merely took a widely published video and put it on YouTube. Nov 9, 2018 at 16:00
  • 5
    Someone wishing to disprove the claim about waiters could do so by providing lots of examples of waiters who had in fact had their wages increased because of tips. It's interesting that nobody has provided equivalent info in this case. If anybody were to do that I would certainly change this answer. Nov 9, 2018 at 18:14

My sister-in-law worked on a cruise ship for years. She said all employees are on contracts and they received no more and no less than their contracted rate. The auto-gratuity is used to pay the base salary of almost all crew and even land based employees. She showed me one of her pay stubs and it showed almost all of her pay was made up in auto-gratuity and the balance is made up by the cruise line. She mentioned there are competitions with $20 bonuses if passengers mentioned her name in a survey. If you want to tip cruise employees you should hand them cash and write their name on a survey. Also, there is no 'list' of passengers that remove auto-gratuity, that's a silly myth. I remove gratuity on my account on every cruise and tip in cash only - they don't have to report cash tips. Every cent of your auto-gratuity just reduces what the big cruise corporations are contracted to pay their employees.

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