Gratuities And Tipping Policy On A River Cruise

Gratuities onboard river cruises

If you’ve cruised before (on the oceans), you’ll be familiar with paying gratuities whether it be before departure or at the end of your cruise. It has become standard procedure with many ocean cruise lines to provide guests with the opportunity to pre-pay gratuities, charge them to your onboard account or many even allow you to remove the suggested amount from your account (for the latter, guests usually give cash to their chosen staff members onboard). And on occasions, gratuities are included in the price you pay upon booking, usually as a special offer.

River cruising is similar in the way that guests are given the opportunity to pay gratuities and in many cases, gratuities are already included in the upfront price of your river cruise.

General rule for tipping on a river cruise

We're often faced with the questions 'are gratuities included on a river cruise' or 'do I need to tip staff on my river cruise'. And it's a fair question - there are different rules for different cruise lines. And where some ocean cruise lines will automatically add a gratuity/service charge to your onboard account (for you to pay), this will not happen onboard a river cruise.

With some river cruise lines, you will not have to worry about tipping anybody, as all gratuities for onboard staff, onshore tour guides and bus drivers is included in the upfront price of your cruise.

However, this is not always the case. A selection of river cruise lines will include gratuities for onboard staff, but NOT onshore tour guides and bus drivers. In this case, you are given the opportunity to tip tour guides and drivers at your own discretion (in cash). And some river cruise lines do NOT include ANY gratuities in the upfront price. In the case where gratuities are not included, there is a recommended daily amount (varies by cruise line) which is distributed to the Cruise Manager and other staff onboard. You are also able to tip tour guides and bus drivers at your own discretion daily (in cash).

River cruise lines that include ALL gratuities (during the cruise)*
*Gratuities are not included during hotel stays.

APT – Gratuities have been included for all services as indicated in the itinerary on all APT river cruises and cannot be redeemed for a cash refund.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours – On a Scenic cruise all gratuities for drivers, local guides, porters, waiting staff and other on board staff are included in the price of your cruise, so there is no need to worry about tipping anybody.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – With Uniworld, ALL gratuities are taken care of, for both on board and on shore staff. You do not need to tip at the end of your cruise, nor at the end of daily tours ashore.

River cruise lines that include ON BOARD gratuities only

Avalon Waterways – On an Avalon Waterways cruise, all gratuities for your Cruise Director and onboard crew are taken care of, as they’re included in the price of your cruise. Should you wish, you can tip local tour guides in cash at the end of each tour (at your own discretion)

Crystal River Cruises – All on board gratuities for housekeeping (Penthouse Butler, Penthouse Attendant, Stateroom Attendant and Trainee Stateroom Attendants), bar and dining staff (including specialty restaurants and in-room dining service staff) are included.

Emerald Waterways – With Emerald Waterways, all onboard tipping is taken care of, so you’ve no need to worry about budgeting for this at the end of your cruise. However, tipping local tour guides is at your own discretion and given in cash at the end of tours.

Viking River Cruises – Viking now include all your on board gratuities as standard.

TUI River Cruises – All on board gratuities are included with TUI

River cruise lines that DO NOT include any gratuities

AMAWaterways – Gratuities to your Cruise Manager and ship crew are not included in the cruise price. While the amount of these gratuities will depend upon your degree of satisfaction for services received, general tipping guidelines are; Europe: For good service, 3 Euros per passenger, per day for the Cruise Manager and 12 Euros per passenger, per day for the crew, which will be divided up among the ship's personnel. It is also customary to acknowledge a particularly good performance of a local guide by leaving a tip of 1-2 Euros per tour. Gratuities on most vessels, but not all, may be charged on credit card as well as cash. Vietnam & Cambodia: Pre and Post Cruise: National Guide US $2 per person per day. Local Guides, US $1 per person per half-day tour, US $2 per person per full day tour. Bus Drivers, US $.50 per person for half-day tour, US $2 per person for full day tour. Cruise: Cruise Director, US $2 per person per day. Ship's Crew, US $10 per person per day. Cruise Guide in Cambodia, US $2-3 per person per day (covers all shore excursions in Cambodia). Cruise Guide in Vietnam, US $2-3 per person per day(covers all shore excursions in Vietnam.)

Amadeus River Cruises – Amadeus does not include gratuities in the upfront price of your river cruise. They leave tipping to your discretion, to reward for good service where you see suitable. As a guideline, Amadeus suggests $10 per guest, per day which is distributed to onboard staff.

Fred Olsen River Cruises – Gratuities are not included in the cost of your holiday. However, Fred Olsen. pride themselves on the service offered to their guests, and are confident that you’ll wish to reward staff on board for this service, although tipping is entirely at your discretion. As a general rule, gratuities are charged at £8.00 per person, per night. This is split between your stewardess and restaurant waiter, and will be automatically added to your on board account. Please remember that our gratuities, while very much appreciated, are voluntary and therefore can be adjusted or removed completely at Reception on board the boat if you wish. For your convenience, you are also able to pay gratuities before your cruise. At the time of booking you will be asked if you’d like to pay prior to travel. If so, you’ll pay 15% of the charge as part of your deposit, and pay the rest when the final balance of your cruise is collected.

Riviera Travel River Cruises – On a Riviera Travel river cruise, gratuities are not pre-paid, nor automatically charged at a set amount. Riviera Travel leaves tipping to the guest’s discretion but do give a recommended amount of €5-10 per person, per day (should you feel it is appropriate). There will be an envelope in your stateroom to hand to reception on the final day of your cruise.

Saga River Cruises – With Saga, your gratuities are not included in the price of your river cruise. You can pay gratuities at your own discretion at the end of your cruise to onboard staff and daily to onshore local guides and bus drivers (in cash).


Call our team for further information and to book your river cruise: 0800 810 8220