Couples on a two-week cruise with P&O Cruises this summer will have to fork out almost £200 extra on top of the cost of their holiday to cover the cost of their tips.

The cruise line is raising its recommended gratuity by 17% from £6 to £7. The increase, which applies to all cruises after March 23, comes just 12 months after it hiked its gratuities from £5 to £6. P&O says the charge is an ‘simple way’ to thank crew for their service. Everyone aged over 12 pays unless they ask for the tip to be removed.

It is traditional for cruise passengers to tip crew, but remains a thorny issue with the British, especially as rates have increased substantially in recent years, adding significantly to the cost of the cruise. With this latest rise, P&O Cruises will have more than doubled its charge since 2011. Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises increased their rates in January and now take between $14.50 (£10.33) and $18 ($12.83) depending on cabin grade.

Service charges | How cruise lines compare

Cruise lineGratuity (per person per day)Minimum cost for a couple on a two-week cruise
Celebrity Cruises$14.50/£10.35 ($15 for Concierge and AquaClass cabins; $18 suites)£289.80
Cruise and Maritime Voyages£7 (£6 on cruises 16 night or more)£196
Cunard$11.50/£8.20 for Britannia cabins; $13.50 for Queens and Princess Grill Suites£229.60
Fred Olsen£4 (increases to £5 from March 7)£112 (rising to £140)
MSC Cruises€10/£7.15 (€5 children aged 2-12)£200.20
P&O Cruises£6 (increases to £7 from March 23)£168 (rising to £196)
Royal Caribbean International$14.50£10.35 ($17.50 Grand Suite and higher)£289.80

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, which sells almost exclusively in the UK, is also raising its service charge, but from just £4 to £5 a day from March 7. The company said it is the first increase for 20 years.

Cruise lines add the charge to every bill each day – a system that replaced cash gratuities some years ago to both facilitate payment (people don’t need lots of cash) and discourage passengers from skipping without paying. It is optional but cruisers have to ask for it to be removed at guest services.

Karen Allen, writing on the website, said: “I disagree with [tips] being included automatically….


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The rise of the ‘optional’ service charge
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