When planning the budget for a Disney Cruise, tipping is an often overlooked category! On Disney Cruise Line, understanding how tipping and gratuities work is part of the planning process. Here is what to know about tipping on a Disney Cruise.
Tipping can be one of the most uncomfortable topics to think about when planning a Disney Cruise. And if you are not American, it may not be something you even realize is part of cruising with Disney! The Cast Members on Disney Cruise Line are the best in the cruise industry in my opinion. The way their contracts work, tipping is a huge part of their compensation.
Personally, while I may wish that we simply paid people well for the work that they do (but I digress), the cruise industry still pays their crew much less than one would make in a land-based position, with the understanding that the opportunities for tips are much higher. So who should you be tipping, and how much?
Tipping the Four Main Cast Member Positions
Disney Cruise Line automatically charges guests a set amount for select gratuities. These gratuities can be pre-paid prior to boarding by calling Disney Cruise Line, asking your Travel Agent to add them to your reservation, or will be added to your onboard account when you board. Currently, this amount is $13.50, per person, per night. (See breakdown below.) On the last night of your cruise, you will receive envelopes and vouchers in your room – one for each position.
Many guests choose to add additional cash in addition to the vouchers to the envelopes of Cast Members who have provided exceptional service. I honestly cannot think of a single cruise when I was not enthusiastically adding cash to most, if not all, envelopes. HOWEVER – if you disagree with the suggested amount for any reason, you can visit the Guest Services desk in the lobby to have the amount adjusted or removed.
But please – if you are having the type of issue that might lead to this, let Guest Services know as soon as possible to give them a chance to make it right. It is possible the issue to due to circumstances beyond the individual cast members control.
You then bring the envelopes to dinner on your last night to give to the Cast Members in person. Not eating in the dining room that night? No problem, just bring the envelopes to breakfast on disembarkation day. As a last resort, you can leave the envelopes with the Guest Services desk.
Stateroom Host – $4.50 per person, per night
Head Server – $1 per person, per night
Dining Room Server – $4.50 per person, per night
Assistant Server – $3.50 per person, per night
Other Disney Cruise Cast Members Who Receive “Automatic” Tips
Ok, so I pre-paid my gratuities. I’m done, right? Not so fast… There are a couple of other instances where tips are automatically added to your bill!
Senses Spa automatically adds an additional 18% gratuity to your bill. There is a space when you sign to add an additional amount for exceptional service. Or again, if the service was not up to your expectations, please let the front desk know.
Drinks also include an automatic 18% gratuity, whether ordered at a bar, or from a server.
Spa/Salon – 18% of service
Drinks/Bartenders/Servers – 18% of total
Other Tipping Onboard Your Disney Cruise Ship
Ok so that takes care of the automatic tips. That’s it, right? Not quite! There are a few other places where tipping is customary, if not mandatory, on Disney Cruise.
If you are staying Concierge on Disney Cruise Line (lucky!), the Concierge Staff depends almost entirely on tips for their compensation. You will receive an envelope in your room on the last night for the concierge staff, in addition to the envelopes for the four cast members listed above. Some guests utilize the Concierge staff more than others, so the amount can vary widely. (And I do mean widely – it is not uncommon for some guests to tip $100 per night.) You may also wish to tip the bartender in the Concierge Lounge.
Palo and Remy both have service fees for each guest that, in theory, are meant to cover the servers tip. HOWEVER – both Palo and Remy are fine dining experiences where the market value of the meal would be well upwards of $150 at Palo, and $300 at Remy. And if you add wine or drinks to this, the number goes even higher. This is an instance where the technically the tip may be included, but I would strongly urge adding an additional amount.
Then there is Room Service. Room service is included in the cost of your Disney Cruise, and I cannot say this strongly enough – ORDER ROOM SERVICE AT LEAST ONCE ON YOUR DISNEY CRUISE! I like to keep a stash of singles and fives in a drawer near the stateroom door. You can also add the tip to the slip when you sign for it, but I find the Cast Members who deliver room service really seem to appreciate the cash tips!
Concierge – At guest’s discretion, depends on length of cruise and level of service provided)
Palo – Service charge plus gratuity at guest’s discretion
Remy – Service charge plus gratuity at guest’s discretion
Room Service – $3-5 per delivery (more for larger orders)
Tipping in Port and on Castaway Cay
But what about when you get off the ship in port? Or before you even board the ship? Your experience with tipping likely starts before you even board your Disney Cruise ship. A good rule of thumb is that anyone who touches your luggage should be tipped. So the porters that help you unload and check your bags when you arrive at the port and when you disembark the ship? Tip them!
Then there are the ports you will visit during your cruise, including Castaway Cay. If you will be doing an excursion while in port, be prepared to tip your Guide as well as your driver (if there is one).
On Castaway Cay, it is a MOSTLY cashless environment. The exception to this is the hair braiders and face painters that can often be found on the island. These positions are tipped in cash so be sure to bring some cash with you when you get off the ship! (Pro tip – the post office on Castaway Cay is also cash-only so if you plan to mail a postcard home postmarked Castaway Cay, you will need cash for this as well.)
Excursion Guides – 10 – 20% of the tour price per person
Excursion Bus or Van Drivers – $2 – 5 per person
Luggage Assistance – $2 – 5 per bag is recommended
Bring Cash On Your Disney Cruise
By this point in this post, you’ve come to realize that cash is an important thing to bring on your Disney Cruise. There is no ATM onboard so if you forget, you will need to find an ATM in a port! (And possibly pay the foreign ATM fees. Woof.) You also want to be sure that you have dollar bills, five dollar bills, etc. Because the ship is a cashless environment, they cannot make change for you in the shops. (Though I feel certain room service would be thrilled to get a $20!)
Tipping and gratuities can add up to a significant chunk of change on a Disney Cruise. But the level of service is worth every penny in my opinion!
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