We’re all used to tipping in a shoreside restaurant, tipping a valet or tipping the porter at the airport, but tipping on a river cruise seems far more intimidating when, in fact, it couldn’t be simpler.
On every voyage offered by Select Waterways, you really don’t have to worry about a thing. All lines will automatically take care of charging gratuities with no need for you to feel like you need to slip a staff member some cash for every special request. Many will charge a daily rate for gratuities to your onboard account. Depending on the cruise line, this amount may vary from as little as $12 to as much as $25 per person per day. Once aboard, you simply let the purser know this is how you would like to handle tipping.
But we suggest you go the pre-paid gratuities route. These days, most lines will simply add the cost of gratuities to your fare at the time you pay for your booking—the ship is notified that you have pre-paid gratuities, and there’s nothing else you need to do. It’s completely hassle-free and the service is so exceptional you won’t even blink at the gratuity surcharge.
BUS DRIVERS AND SHORE EXCURSION GUIDES
Though not everyone does, we find it’s nice to extend a small gratuity to your motorcoach driver and tour guide following a shore excursion. Keeping in mind that in most cases on our voyages the shore excursions are included, it feels nice to reward those who made your day ashore so pleasant. We usually reserve $1 to $2 per person for the driver and $2 to $5 per person for the tour guide. Tip at the low end for half-day excursions and the higher end for full day excursions.
If you’re dissatisfied with the experience don’t tip at all. Fortunately, we’ve only encountered that situation once in all our years of travel, in Tunis, when a tour guide was reluctant to follow the itinerary and take us to the ruins of Carthage. On some luxury lines, you’ll find that tipping of any kind is discouraged entirely so follow the lead of your cruise line’s guidelines and your fellow guests.
On most of the river cruises in the Select Waterways collections, onboard beverages are either completely complimentary or offered at no charge at certain times, such as champagne, Bloody Mary and mimosas at breakfast, and wine and beer at lunch and dinner. When the beverage is included, there’s no need to tip. If you buy a top shelf drink with a charge, the gratuity is usually included in the bill when you sign it to your shipboard account. Once aboard ship, you need carry no cash at all.
This can get tricky. When traveling independently, we always extend a small tip of $1 to $2 per bag to those who transfer our bags to or from our rooms in a hotel, at the airport or when boarding or disembarking a ship. However, keep in mind that a great many of the cruises featured by Select Waterways are so all-inclusive that if they include transfers between airports, hotels and ships, you won’t be expected to tip at all since all costs are covered by the cruise line.