Royal Caribbean Tipping PolicyA former Royal Caribbean crew member recently posted a short video explaining, in his view, how the cruise line steals a portion of the tips intended for stateroom attendants.  We posted the video in an article Are Crew Members Receiving the Tips You Pay?  

Recently this cruise line announced that it was switching to a new system where it will automatically take money from its guests’ accounts purportedly for the purpose of being distributed to crew members as tips.  But many crew members have contacted us or posted comments to our blog stating that this is just another scheme to take money from the crew’s pockets.

We posted another article earlier this week addressing the new policy and the issue of tips: Royal Caribbean’s New Tipping Policy: A Money Grab to Increase Profits?  

We also have a active discussion of the issue on our Facebook page

But Royal Caribbean does not like its crew members revealing what is happening on its cruise ships. We learned that the cruise line threatened the former crew member and objected to the video. Today YouTube took the video down. Take a look below.

This is how foreign incorporated cruise lines (Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia) view the First Amendment guarantees of free speech.

So this cruise line silenced one critic.  But its hard to hide the truth.  If you are a crew member, leave a comment below and tell us about the new tipping policy.     

  • Julian

    Not only this company
    They are many company doing this

  • Maria

    Just like in the bar dept. of princess cruises. They’ve change the tipping & bonus system where the staff loses not less than a thousand dollars a month. When it began last year, if we didn’t reach the OBE (onboard evaluation score) we will not get any bonus, so where does the money go? Just recently they’ve changed the system a bit, where the staff can still get bonus regardless of the OBE score but based on revenue, but still there’s a big difference in amount . Another issue is that they don’t show you the breakdown or record of how much tip or pulling each individual should get. The company has two bigger ships coming, which I think is why they’re screwing the crew.

  • Ellie

    It’s not only the tipping policies that rob employees of their hard earned money. New employees, after traveling halfway around the world to join a ship and start a new job, are given their work uniforms. Only to find out on the first pay day that they are required to pay for these uniforms. Worse yet, over half their pay is taken as a “flight deposit” just in case they want to quit before their contract is over. Crew members, thousands of miles from home, are stuck on the ship unless they want to go home with less money than they started.

  • Robert

    I dont have a problem with them changing their tipping policy…..BUT……I booked my cruise FEB 6th….and was TOLD when i booked i could pay tips directly to the crew….it is now MARH 10th and i recieve an email from RCCL telling me they will as of March 1st be changing their policy…..??…..they have as far as i am concerned changed the rules mid game …..they are trying to retroactively charge me automatically for some thing not agreed upon in the initial purchase……I believe this a breech of contract…..?????

  • Kaye

    Agree with Robert. Policy says can go to purser and have tip removed “in the unlikely event” service is unsatisfactory. But can I have it removed in the likely event that I disagree with the policy and prefer to tip my servers directly? My cruise in April will let me know.

  • Gerry Austin

    It’s shame for Royal Caribbean!! They were my best option in cruises vacations by giveing the freedom of tipping. NOT ANY MORE! Now they want to substract ILLEGALLY, like the other ones, from my account a tip for a service that I don’t even been agree of?!! Sorry ROYAL!

  • Greg

    I will be attempting to remove it so we can tip as we feel. Then it is still a tip and not a charge

  • karl

    Ya, I’m glad crew talks here, so tourists can find out that your room steward and your waiter get actually only 50usd/month as salary, that’s for at least 12 hours a day EVERY day (without ANY day free for 8 months at a time) hard work and courteous smiles and trying to make the passengers feel as royalty, so for all of that their ONLY income is your tips ! your room steward and your waiter feed their families back home exclusively FROM YOUR TIPS !!!! And that’s the only reason they’re working on ships, to try to make you happy enough that you accept paying their tip. So please, please, people, if they’ve done their job, always pay their tips IN PERSON (in cash, direct to your Stateroom Attendant) because as of new, the cruise lines have started withholding the Stateroom Attendants’ tips, so please pay IN PERSON !

  • Simon

    I’ve travelled a few times with Royal Caribbean and I always prefer to pay my stateroom attendant directly. I don’t see why my tips should going to staff who’ve not provided me with a service, or even the cruise company.

    I do believe that Royal Caribbean do give the guest an option to pay in cash, but you have to visit Guest Relations to have the automatic charge removed. I quote from their website (UK):

    “Please note, in the unlikely event that a guest on board, being charged the daily automatic gratuity does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify (increase, decrease or remove) the daily amount by visiting Guest Services during their cruise.”

    Also, it does go on to say,

    “Alternatively, you may pay in cash at the end of your cruise directly to the crew members you wish to recognise for their service (If you require an envelope for the crew member concerned, please see the Guest Relations Desk).”

    So my advice for those travelling with Royal Caribbean from now on is
    1) Excluded pre-paid gratuities from your booking. Be explicit with your travel agent, as they may not tell you this is your right.
    2) Visit Guest Relations once on board and advise you wish to pay your gratuities in cash and that you would like envelopes for that purpose
    3) Check your SeaPass account to ensure the charge has not been applied.

  • Karen Warren

    We have just returned from a cruise on RC. We like the flexibility of the any time dining option you choose on booking but to get this you have to pre pay the tips and you obviously can’t remove these and pay the staff direct as you have paid them pre cruise. So we end up tipping staff with cash at the end of the cruise as wrll as they seem to expect it- I dont know if they are aware we have pre paid but they certainly leave tip envelopes in the cabin so we pay twice

  • Glen Morgan

    We just returned from a cruise on RC. I went to guest relations to ask about this. I was told that my cruise was the last one that would allow a guest to remove the automatic $12/day charge. Lets get something straight here! Tips are never compulsory. The whole nature of tipping is that it is earned and that the person doing the tipping sets the amount. I should know as I’ve waited on tables, bussed, washed dishes etc in my youth.
    What RC has done is to add a wage surcharge to their cruises. Are they now going to start showing this up front in the adds?

  • cruise boy

    I have cruised with RC several times and find the to be much better than than the other 3 major cruise lines I have experienced. I really must say that it not only angers me but almost sadens me to hear this. I first experiencex this new policy on our Hawaiian 20 year anniversary and were not rich so we saved and sacrficed to go on this one. I felt we were being railroaded into tipping for service we havent even received yet. Regardless of the fact that we always love our room attendant, dini.g staff shiuld be totaly at our discression how and whom we tip. If they make this policy mandatory for all guests, i may have to say aloha to RC. Too bad , they were the best.

  • sam

    I was working for Princess cruise line and they have a tipping system very similar with RC and Carnival.Whenever a new ship has been announced to be launched ,the income was going down without any reason.But you have to think of the workers behind the stage.Crew cleaners,galley cleaners,dishwashers.They are not directly involved in service,but their contribution to the guests satisfaction is crucial.If they are not washing the plates,cups or cereal bowls,how the waiters will serve your favourite foods or coffees?If the laundry boys are not washing the bed sheets or pillow cases,the cabin stewards will have nothing to change in your stateroom. The company does not pay them anymore,so the income from your daily tips is the only one that they receive.Before,when we were tipped directly by guests,we use to pay them a small amount of money from all waiters to increase their salary.Now, the company is taking all the money from tips,so they have the control ,manipulating the money the way they want.I did not see the video which was banned by you tube,but you have to believe me ,this things are minor comparing to daily stress and threathenings,misstreating and bullying.And you know what?I was part of restaurant departament management on Regent cruise line ,one of the worst cruise lines I’ve been working for.

  • Cruise Expert

    The simply reason RCCl is charging prepaid tips, is because most of the money is going to the company bank account, and not to the employee that work so hard for it. In other words the money is mostly going to paying salary for the officers onboard, and not for the hard working crew as the waiters and stateroom attendants.

  • Ryan

    Just to clarify, as a formal Royal Caribbean staff member, I can tell you that crewmembers ARE informed which passengers have prepaid their gratuities. A list is posted in crew areas by the second day of the cruise containing this information.

    However, now that automatic gratuities are in place, this probably is no longer needed as the crew probably assumes the tip is coming.


    As a regular cruiser I read all the comments with appreciation and interest.
    However IF you want the so called UNRESTRICTED DINING TIME OPTION you must pay gratuities up front when you book, so they have you over the proverbial barrel.

  • porcia

    is there anyone who has the video or the link of it today?

  • Linda Ainsworth

    The worst cruise lines for allegedly keeping the automatically generated tips to customers accounts from staff are Celebrity & RCCL. We were told this by cabin Stewarts and waiters. They claim they get as little as 2% at the end of their contact of 9 months worth of automatically taken gratuities by these two lines, they said Azamara does the same. This if true what the staff told us is sheer fraudulent!

  • mary jane Taylor

    7-14-paid full fare for each and gratuties of approx 280.00 each for 11. Dining room I was embarrassed as I was told-very loudly-that our table was guilty of stacking our dishes

  • mary jane Taylor

    Said they had to review my comments. What a joke

  • Karen Meister

    just returned from 2 weeks aboard the Caribbean Princess and the service was 10*, food excellent. I think the cruise lines had to institute automatic gratuities when they started anytime dining. You normally have a different wait staff every meal and we have never seen anyone carry cash to tip every waiter. People normally tipped at the end of the cruise to room steward, waiter and assistant. What about all the people behind the scenes? If you estimated the cost of your meals at a fine restaurant and added a 15-20% tip, which is the norm today, you would spend way more than the $12-14 daily gratuity. We always give a bit extra to our room steward and dinner waiter and assistant (we have the same each night) and were told that if you do not do the daily gratuity any tip you give them has to be put in the “pool”. Most felt they made out better with the daily gratuity. Perhaps we would be shocked to know how many people never tipped at all. Compare the cost of the “all inclusive” cruises; they are way out of our price range!

  • Yolanda CATHEY

    Well I read most of the comments I have a friend who work on cruise ship and the ppl who wash the sheets and dishes they don’t get your tip dollars and they are the lowest paid on the ship your buck goes to waiters and room steward. The last day of cruise the steward hires the bus boy etc to help clean the rooms that is how the rooms get clean quickly for the next guest to on board this is behind the scene you wouldn’t hear about unless you know someone who work on ship

  • Eric

    The tipping/income problems began when cruise lines began building mega ships and cut costs everywhere (including career cruise waitere etc) and lowering fares. The new passengers -due to a lack of experiences outside of the “heartland” and expecting luxury at unrealistically low cost to them – left no tips after treating staff rudely and behaving like complete animals entering civilization. This problem will not improve as cruise lines continue to build and fill ships with unsophisticated and low class passengers who think that all cruises are the same because they have no reference for luxury. On the other side cruise line executives who are greedy corporate frauds who will take the endl3ss supply of workers from the poorest regions with the least employee rights or even basic human rights. I’m atheist and my comments might sound elitist. I’ve stated the truth and think that all of the passengers should pay cash and pay an amount that they would want to be paid for the same work.You dont heed to believe in a god to believe in some of Jesus values especially treating others with dignity.