Cruise lines in America have started the year by raising gratuities, with Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Oceania all reporting increases.

While Australians don’t directly pay gratuities when cruising, this doesn’t necessarily mean Aussie cruisers are unaffected by these rises.

Owner of Deluxe Travel & Cruise Sharon Summerhayes says that while Australians may not directly pay gratuities onboard, the gratuities are still bundled into the overall fare.

“When gratuities rise in the US, cruise fares definitely go up, gratuities apply across the board. Total fares for Australian cruises will generally rise in line with gratuity increases.”

Another issue to consider is whether you’ll have to pay daily gratuities when sailing overseas. Ms Summerhayes says it depends on whether you book through the cruise line’s Australian website or American website, with the general trick being whether you pay in AUD or USD.

“If you book on the US website, you will generally have to pay the daily gratuities. Many cruisers don’t realise this and get quite a rude shock on their bill. The easiest way to tell is whether you’re paying in USD or AUD, if you’re paying in AUD then your gratuities will be included in the total fare.”

Another important point to note when sailing overseas is that you can generally adjust the automatic gratuities you are charged. While lowering the amount generally isn’t recommended, if you are unhappy with the service, you do have this option.

It’s worth noting that there are some cruise lines such as Virgin Voyages and Disney Cruises that are booked in USD even for Australian sailings, however, this does not mean you’ll be paying daily gratuities.

The early 2023 increases are indicative of an ongoing trend, with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity announcing increases in late 2022.

Some cruise lines such as Princess are wrapping their increasing gratuities into bundled all-inclusive fares, with two of Princess’s all-inclusive bundles including “crew appreciation”.

The trend is similar with premium lines, led by Oceania, whose gratuities are increasing by as much as $10 per day for certain suite classes. Windstar also raised their gratuities in late 2022. However, other luxury lines such as Silversea, Seabourn or Regent Seven Seas include their gratuities within the cruise fare, meaning any rises won’t be as clear.

With many lines changing their gratuities, here’s a round-up of all the changes and other information to know.

gratuities for cruise
Not everything is included on a cruise.

Carnival Cruise Line (America)

As of April 1, 2023, Carnival Gratuities have changed from $14.50 ($21.10AUD)  to $16 ($23.28AUD) for staterooms and from $16.50 ($24AUD) to $18 ($26.20AUD).

This comes along with a series of other price hikes for Carnival, with wi-fi packages, specialty dining, and beverage packages also increasing in price.

Holland America

Holland America gratuities have changed as of January 31, 2023, from $15.50 ($21.83AUD) to $16 ($23.28AUD) for non-suite accommodation, and for suites gratuities have risen from $17 ($24.74USD) to $17.50 ($25.45AUD).

Their website shares how gratuities are distributed.

“All of the Crew Appreciation and Service Charge payments made by all guests on all ships in our fleet are pooled, net of credit card transaction fees. The pooled funds are distributed throughout the year in the form of compensation, including bonuses, to crewmembers fleetwide who interact directly with guests and/or behind the scenes throughout every cruise, including those in the Bar, Dining, Entertainment, Housekeeping, Guest Services, Galley and Onboard Revenue areas.”


Princess Cruises gratuities are changing as of February 20, 2023, previously they were $14.50 ($21.1AUD) for interior, oceanview, and balcony rooms, $15.50 ($23AUD) for mini-suites and reserve collection, and $16.50 ($24AUD) for suites.

Rates now stand at $16 ($23.28AUD) for interior, oceanview, and balcony rooms, $17 ($24.74AUD) for mini-suites and reserve collection, and $18 ($26.20AUD) for suites.

Princess also raised prices for bundles that include gratuities, with Princess Plus rising from $50 ($72.75AUD) to $60 ($87.30AUD) per day and Princess Premier rising from $75 ($109AUD) to $80($116.40AUD).

cruise gratuities
Rewarding great service aboard a Princess Cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL gratuities have risen as of January 1, 2023, previous daily gratuities were $16 ($23.28AUD) for staterooms, $18 for the Club Balcony Suite ($26.20AUD) and $20 ($29.1AUD) for The Haven and Suites.

The new rates are $20 ($29.1AUD) for the Club Balcony suite and below and $25 ($36.4AUD) for The Haven and Suites.

The cost is technically optional but highly recommended as gratuities go directly back to staff and crew. The gratuities are automatically applied to every passenger’s final bill.

Oceania Cruises

Following increases, Oceania gratuities stand at $18 ($26.20AUD) for staterooms and $23 ($33.50AUD) for Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner’s suites.

You can change these amounts at your discretion, but these recommended gratuities are automatically added to your shipboard account.

Royal Caribbean 

In September, 2022, Royal Caribbean gratuities rose from $14.50 ($21.1AUD, at the then exchange rate) to $16 ($23.28 AUD) and from $17.50 ($25.45 AUD) to $18.50 ($26.90 AUD). Then Royal Caribbean International announced another rise in November 2023, charging passengers $18 per guest, per day for non-suite staterooms. Passengers in suites will now pay $20.50. In addition, an 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa and salon purchases.

The gratuity policy in Royal Caribbean applies to all individual passengers regardless of age and stateroom categories.

Royal Caribbean’s website reads that if you do not enjoy your service, you can modify the daily amount at your discretion via visiting guest services.

“In the unlikely event that a guest onboard being charged the daily automatic tip does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify the daily amount at their discretion by visiting Guest Services onboard and will be able to do so until the morning of their departure. Guests who have pre-paid their tips will not see a daily charge during their cruise.”

Celebrity Cruises

As of October 17, 2022, Celebrity gratuities now stand at $17.50 ($25.45AUD) for inside, ocean view and veranda staterooms, $18 ($26.2AUD) for concierge class and Aquaclass staterooms and $21 ($30.6AUD) for those staying in The Retreat.

A 20% gratuity is also added to all beverages, mini bar purchases and beverage packages.

You can adjust the daily automatic gratuities at your own discretion.