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Disney Cruise Gratuities — Everything You Need to Know About Tipping

by Mommy Frog on March 4, 2024   Video

Disney Cruise GratuitiesIn this day and age, the etiquette for tipping can seem a bit fuzzy. A standard 20 percent is always appreciated at my hair salon, but when I went to tip my favorite grocery service, the attendant politely explained that she could not accept tips. Huh, who knew? In the same vein, we get a lot of questions about tipping on a Disney cruise. It always boils down to the four W's ... "Who do I tip?" "What is the expected amount?" "Where is tipping appropriate?" "When do I tip" and "How do I tip on a Disney Cruise?" There's a lot to know and the process isn't entirely intuitive — but fairly simple, once you figure it out! Today, we're sharing our best tips on Disney cruise gratuities (see what I did there?). This post will help you feel prepared and confident about the tipping process even before stepping aboard the ship.

Disney Cruise Gratuities — How to Tip on a Disney Cruise

First things first, many might wonder if tipping on a Disney cruise is even required. The short answer? Technically, no. However, to follow the appropriate etiquette, it's a big YES! The Disney Cruise website states, "It is customary to give gratuities in recognition of exceptional service, which you’ll receive in abundance aboard the ship." What does that mean exactly? Let's break it down.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - DCL server

The crew onboard every Disney ship seriously delivers when it comes to top-notch service. The best service we have ever received, in fact, has been on the Disney cruise ships. The crew works tirelessly to ensure you have the most magical vacation experience. Further, all of the crew receive very modest incomes and a majority of their pay comes from customer gratuities. For our family, we don't consider the Disney cruise gratuities an optional expense. Instead, we just make sure to budget the recommended tip amount (plus, a little extra when we can) into our overall vacation budget. We encourage you to do the same! This way, there are no surprises. You'll be prepared for the added expense and feel good knowing that you're following the appropriate tipping etiquette to reward the crew for their amazing service.

If, for some reason, you choose not to tip (but please don't be that Scrooge McDuck!) you would need to speak with Guest Services onboard and explain your reasoning. Otherwise, the recommended Disney cruise gratuities will be automatically charged to your onboard account — more on that below.

Who do I tip on a Disney cruise?

In a nutshell, the recommended Disney cruise gratuities will go to your dining room server, dining room assistant server, dining room head server and your stateroom host.

Your dining room server serves your meals in the ship's main dining rooms. They take your order, deliver meals and work really hard to get to know you and your dining preferences. In addition, your assistant server works alongside your main server to assist with your meal service. They are typically in charge of your drink orders and also attend to your dining needs. While you'll interact with them the least, the head server's role is to oversee the overall guest experience in the rotational dining rooms. You will have the same dining team throughout your entire cruise.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - 1923 Restaurant tablescape

Next up is your stateroom host. This crew member is responsible for cleaning and maintaining your stateroom. They are busy around the clock to make sure your room is tidy, comfortable and stocked with essentials. If you'll be using the sleeper sofa or upper-berth or wall pull-down beds. your stateroom host will set these up for you every evening. They also store them away during the day to make more room in your stateroom as you're coming and going throughout your day. Of course, our frog favorite is the oh-so-fun towel and blanket creations they leave for us in our stateroom. A swashbuckling pirate made out of our Disney Wish blanket?! (See me, Mommy Frog slamming extra cash tips on the counter EVERY TIME!)

Disney Cruise Gratuities - stateroom towel made into a pirate

How much do I tip?

Disney Cruise Line advises a baseline amount of $14.50 per night, per each guest. This includes infants and toddlers as well. For example, our family of four on a 7-night voyage would pay a total of $406 in baseline gratuities ($14.50 x 4 people = $58 per day. $58 x 7 nights = $406). For Concierge-level staterooms, it is $15.50 per night, per person.

How exactly do I tip on a Disney cruise?

There are two basic ways that you can pay for your Disney cruise gratuities. You can either choose to pre-pay your gratuities online before you set sail or the gratuities will automatically be charged to your onboard account by the end of your trip. It does not matter which option you choose and there's no additional benefit to paying one way or the other. It is a personal preference. You can pre-pay by logging into your account on the Disney Cruise website under My Reservations.

  • Pre-pay option: Some folks like to pre-pay the baseline gratuity amount before they set sail. If you're one of those who like to feel "ahead of the game," this is a great way to check off an item on your vacation prep checklist. If you choose to pre-pay, this will need to be done at least three days before your sail date.
  • Onboard: If you choose to pay later, the baseline gratuities will automatically be charged to your account. There is nothing more that you need to do in this case. You can view your folio balance on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app or by visiting Guest Services.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - Guest Services Desk

  • Extra tipping: Sometime near the end of your cruise, your stateroom host will leave a tan or yellowish-colored form and four mini envelopes in your stateroom. The paper is divided into four sections — one section for each member of your serving team and stateroom host. Here, you can view how much of the baseline gratuities each crew member receives. If you've decided to only pay the automatic baseline amount, then you don't need to do anything with these. However, if you'd like to tip extra, you can tear off the four perforated sections and add each slip and cash to each envelope. Hand delivering these envelopes to your serving team on the last night of your sail is customary, but not required.

If you didn't bring cash, you can add additional gratuities to your account for each member of your team at the Guest Services desk instead of using the envelopes.

What about at the specialty restaurants?

If you'll be dining at one of the adult-exclusive specialty restaurants such as Palo, Remy or Enchanté, you'll notice that a standard 18 percent gratuity will be automatically added to your bill. On your bill, there will be a second line where you can add an additional amount. We always tip at least 20 percent. The quality of the food and service is superb and worth every bit of the amount you choose to tip.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - Palo Steakhouse

Do I tip the bartenders, specialty cafés and crew members at Disney Castaway Cay?

Onboard, your cruise package does not include alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, desserts from the sweet shops or snacks from Preludes. You will charge these items to your account using your Key to the World card. An 18 percent gratuity will be automatically added to each charge. You have the option to add more if you'd like, but not required.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - tropical drink

On Disney Castaway Cay, alcoholic beverages and smoothies from Olaf's Summertime Freeze are an additional charge. You'll see the standard 18 percent gratuity added to your bill, as mentioned above. The barbeque buffet lunch provided at Cookie's BBQ and Cookie's Too BBQ is complimentary. You won't be charging anything here, so there's no recommended tip amount for the crew members. Your standard baseline gratuities cover this service.

Anything else I need to know?

  • Room service is complimentary on all Disney cruise ships. Gratuities are not included. You may (and should) tip your server based on your discretion. We typically tip about $5 for a room service delivery.
  • DCL does not include tips for any Port Adventures (shore excursions). Tipping is based on your discretion.
  • A standard 18 percent gratuity is added to any spa or salon service. You can choose to add more to that amount.

Disney Cruise Gratuities - Senses Spa

  • When you arrive at the cruise port, luggage porters will send your bags off to security. It is customary to tip a couple of dollars per piece of luggage. Remember to have some cash on hand before you arrive at the port.
  • For Concierge-level accomodations, there is a recommended gratuity of $8 per guest for the Concierge Lounge Team. You can add this additional amount at the Guest Services desk.
  • Anytime you receive exceptional service and you feel moved to tip, by all means, go for it! The crew will graciously accept any amount that you give. You can hand them cash directly, or except for room service or Port Adventures, you can take down their name and add on an additional amount at Guest Services.
  • It's not necessary, but a nice gesture is to bring thank-you notes. You can write a brief thank-you note to leave for your stateroom attendant. You can also stuff the thank-you notes with cash and hand-deliver them to your serving team on the last night of your cruise, instead of using the mini envelopes provided by DCL.

We hope you found our tips on tipping a hopful resource. You're now a pro when it comes to Disney cruise gratuities! If you still have questions or your own tips to share, be sure to drop them in the comments below! 

Hoppy planning!
Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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