Just like when you go to a restaurant, certain positions on the cruise ship are paid a lower wage and are considered tipped positions. It is difficult when your food is paid for already to figure out what amount of gratuity should be given so most cruise lines have a recommended tipping amount. The positions usually tipped are your stateroom host/hostess, server, assistant server and head server. The recommend amounts will be between $12.00 per person per night to $15.00 or more per person per night.
If you choose to prepay gratuities, the amount you will be charged is the recommended amount by that cruise line. You can add more when you get onboard or adjust to less if you feel the service was not up to par. On most cruise lines, gratuities are automatically added onboard. Some guests will argue if the staff knows that they are getting the gratuities, they don’t try as hard.
When you order beverages onboard (when there is a charge), a gratuity is automatically included. This can range from 15-18%. Even though the gratuity is added, there is usually a space where you can add an addition gratuity if you wish. This can be confusing so double check your receipts when you sign them to make sure the gratuity was already added.