OverviewTips, gratuities, service charge; call them what you will, they're essentially all the same thing - extra money that is given to the crew onboard the ship to show your appreciation for all their hard work. A common misconception is that these charges are mandatory; in reality, there are very few cruise lines who really make you pay the charge, and even if they do, you can usually amend the amount.
Daily Tips and GratuitiesIn most cases a set amount per person, per day is added to your account on a daily basis, and then this money is distributed to the crew by the cruise line. This amount is usually shared out between your Cabin Steward, Head Waiter, Waiter and Assistant Waiter. If you want to increase, decrease or remove it completely then just speak to the guest reception desk and they will do this for you.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are some of the only cruise lines that give you a couple of different options on how to pay it; added to the cost of your cruise at the time of booking, added to your account onboard, or at your own discretion at the end of the cruise. This gives you more flexibility and allows you to decide which option best suits your personal preference.
Additional Service ChargesOther service charges that you may find onboard the ship will usually relate to drinks or spa treatments. It is not unusual for around 15% to be added on to your bar bill, but many people don't realise that the amount is already included in the cost of the drink; you don't need to add anything extra on, unless they've really impressed you!
With spa treatments you will usually be advised when you book your appointment that an amount will be added on and this is usually between 15%-18%, depending upon the cruise line.