4 Days Cruising Through Stunning Antarctica – Jam Travel Tips (2023)

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Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Jackie

Whales, Seals, Penguins, Icebergs in Antarctica… feast your eyes on some of the most magnificent scenery and wildlife in the world in Antarctica! It’s on the bucket list of just about every person I know, but it is the most remote continent in the world. Imagine spending 4 days cruising through some of the most magnificent scenery on the map… here’s how to do it!

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Antartica is the most southern continent in the world. It’s the site of the South Pole and is pretty much empty, except for its amazing wildlife. The ice-covered landmasses of Antarctica cover over 5.5 million square miles. However, most people have only visited the Antarctic Peninsula off of South America.

This, by far, has been our most memorable travel destination.

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Our Voyage Across Cape Horn and Through The Drake Passage

Cape Horn is the beginning of the northern boundary of the Drake Passage and it’s where the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans meet.

The Drake Passage is a body of water between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica and is the shortest route from the southern tip of Argentina (Ushuaia) and Antarctica.

Our first day on board we learned that our crossing through the Drake Passage into Antarctica would be extremely rough. I was a little nervous about that… I don’t get sea sick, but 20 foot seas???? We were about ready to call the whole thing off!!! But, we were going to see Antarctica no matter what!

(Video) Antarctica Cruise Watch-Outs. 8 Things Brochures Don't Warn You About

So here we were on the ship… a little nervous, but going for it! We had spent a few days in different ports in Chile and Argentina, and then on February 5 and 6 we cruised through Cape Horn and the dreaded Drake Passage on our way to Antarctica.

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My imagination was running wild with water coming up over the deck and things and people being thrown about. But, I was worried for nothing!! The Captain of the ship took us through the best possible part of the Passage. We did have 20 foot seas, but they were low rollers so it really wasn’t too bad for us.

However, there were quite a few people missing from the dinner tables in the dining room that evening going through the Passage. BUT DON’T LET THIS DETER YOU!!!! Just pack some Dramamine or get one of those motion sickness patches and you’ll be fine. Just be ready to bundle up!

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Our Arrival in Antarctica

Day 1: Dalman Bay

On the afternoon of February 7, 2018 we arrived in Dallman Bay. It was 32 degrees Fahrenheit, overcast and snowing. It was tough to see anything from the ship. We were praying it was not going to be low visibility the entire time we were there. What we could see through the snowy air was still amazing, but we couldn’t even imagine being in this type of miserable bone chilling weather for 4 entire days!

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On the morning of February 8th we woke up to low lying dark clouds and more snow in Dallman Bay. We bundled up and sat on the deck covered in the blankets provided and watched the gorgeous scenery go by. Then by the afternoon our prayers were answered and the skies began clearing.

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I couldn’t believe we were actually in Antarctica!!! Watching the scenery and wildlife go by as we cruised was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives! I mean, it never even crossed my mind to come to Antarctica, and here we were!

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Day 2: Dallman Bay, Gerlache Channel, and Neumayer Channel

As we cruised through Dallman Bay and Gerlache Channel and into Neumayer Channel on Day 2, we spotted Kelp Gulls, Humpback Whales, Gentoo Penguins, Elephant Seals, Giant Petrels, Orcas, small icebergs and Crab-Eater Seals!!

The mountains were covered with snow, glaciers and low lying clouds and absolutely freaking spectacular! My Nikon was working overtime!!!! I think I took over 1,000 pictures in the 4 days we were there. In fact, I’m having a hard time deciding which shots to put in this blog (and I still put a lot in – sorry).

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Michael and I live in Florida so snow is not something that we are used to. So, of course, we had to have a snowball fight and build snowmen on the deck of the ship.

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Out on deck we watched a research vessel pass. It must be fascinating, but really lonely, doing research in Antarctica! Imagine what the explorers must see!!! And how the hell do they stay down there in that frigid air for so long?? Especially if the sun doesn’t come out?? No thanks!!

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I can’t even describe Antarctica and the pictures don’t even begin to show how breathtaking it is. The scenery is absolutely spectacular. Your senses come alive down in this part of the world… you could even smell the ice. It is completely surreal being here.

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Day 3: Dallman Bay to Bransfield Strait

Day three, February 9th, we woke up to a completely clear blue sky. We started out in Dallman Bay, where the Captain had us for the night so we would have calm seas. Then we cruised through Gerlache Strait, Wilhelmina Bay, Picard Bay and Charlotte Bay, ending up in Bransfield Strait.

(Video) The Day Things Didn't Go To Plan In Antarctica!

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Here we saw more icebergs, whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Spectacular scenery! There were tiny pieces of ice and small icebergs with seals sunning themselves floating alongside the ship. The seals and penguins were so much fun to watch.

As soon as someone saw penguins, all cameras on the ship started clicking like crazy! They were definitely the biggest attraction. And it was so cool when they porpoised out of the water – they looked like shiny black and white footballs popping in and out! Too cute!

I couldn’t get enough of these little guys and just kept snapping away with my camera hoping for at least one good action shot. Thank goodness for digital cameras or I would have spent a fortune on film and developing!

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Day 4: Antarctic Sound & Hope Bay

On February 10th, our third full day, we began in Bransfield Strait and sailed into Antarctic Sound and Hope Bay. Today was an iceberg hunting day… here I was a tiny bit nervous. I couldn’t help but think about another ship that was traveling through icebergs many years ago – The Titanic!!! But, thankfully, ships these days have much better ways of finding icebergs so they don’t hit them. And our captain was very experienced with icebergs – he was amazing!

In the Antarctic Sound and Hope Bay we saw amazing blue icebergs, some bigger than our ship! And they were all different shapes! One even looked like a human foot.

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Some of these icebergs were sunning spots for seals and penguins… sometimes even seals and penguins on the same iceberg. This blew my mind… seals eat penguins! Crazy-ass penguins!

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Another cool feature we saw in this part of Antarctica was the frozen sea ice that is formed when small waves hit the shore and then break off.

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Leaving Antarctica/Day 5: Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, Admiralty Bay

On our last day, February 11th it was time to head up to The Falkland Islands. On our way out we cruised the coast of Deception Island and the South Shetland Islands.

From the ship we explored Admiralty Bay on King George Island. This is where we saw literally thousands and thousands of penguins. There were Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins all over the black beach, up in the mountains and in the water!

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(Video) 5 Worst Things About An Antarctica Trip. Should They Stop You Going?

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There were also a few exploration colonies in this area. One of the ship’s crew members told us that these explorers spend about 6 months out here at a time… I can’t imagine being in that weather for 6 months!!!

That same crew member also told us that he has done 4 of these cruises to Antarctica for a total of 16 days… out of the 16 days of his cruising there were only 4 perfectly sunny days. On those other 12 days they couldn’t see a thing because of snow and fog! Well, our cruise had 3 of those perfect days!! We were so fortunate!!

This was Holland America’s last cruise to Antarctica for the year of 2018, so this is the one to take – the last one of the season! The weather couldn’t have been more perfect… even the bitter cold didn’t bother us all that much. I feel badly for the people on those other cruises who went all the way down there and through the awful Drake Passage just to see nothing.

How to See Antarctica


In 2017, friends of ours were posting photos on Facebook from their cruise through South America. The photos were stunning! I turned to my husband, Michael, and said “this is going to be our next trip!!”. And being the amazing husband he is, Michael said “plan it”!!

I began looking at cruises through South America and then found a Holland America cruise leaving from Santiago, Chile and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina. But the bonus was that it also included a day in The Falkland Islands and 4 days cruising through Antarctica!!!

As soon as I told Michael about Antarctica he totally agreed this was the trip for us – we’ll knock out the most remote continent! However, he did have a little anxiety about it. You see… he HATES cold weather! If it’s less than 77 degrees, he is cold, Therefore, I was super surprised he was so on board for a trip to frigid temperatures.

On January 23, 2018 off we went to Santiago, Chile to begin our adventure. After spending a few days at the beautiful Aubrey Hotel in Santiago, we boarded our ship in San Antonio and headed out to sea.

DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT, and make sure your passport is up to date! Most countries will not permit you to enter unless your passport has more than six months remaining before it expires.

Do you need a Visa or Vaccinations?

With ivisa.com, you can check to see what documents you will need to enter Antarctica, and you can apply right there for expedited travel documents, including visas and health declaration forms.

Another Option for How to See Antarctica

National Geographic Expeditions

Michael really, really, really wanted to actually stand on Antarctica, but our ship offered no excursions on land. Expeditions onto Antarctica, period, are extremely limited.

However, if you want to be one of the people who actually gets to set foot on the land, this is for you! National Geographic offers a 14-day expedition cruise for $14,680.00 per person. You will actually get to explore with the biologists and geologists on the ship.

Daily activities will include Zodiac cruises and nature walks. It is expensive, but if you can do it… this is the way to go!

(Video) WATCH THIS BEFORE you book an ANTARCTICA 🇦🇶 cruise

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Antarctica is surreal!!! I’m sure most people don’t think about going to Antarctica… we sure didn’t! But, this is truly a trip of a lifetime. If you get the chance to do it, jump on it!!!! You will not regret it!

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4 Days Cruising Through Stunning Antarctica – Jam Travel Tips (42)

Additional Tips for Cruising Antarctica

  • Book the last cruise of their season (best weather)
  • Buy trip insurance just in case (it IS a long cruise)
  • Bring Dramamine or a motion sickness patch
  • Bring plenty of layers of clothes, including a good warm all-weather jacket (ski jacket?), warm stocking caps that cover your ears, warm socks (such as Alpaca socks), warm boots with good rubber soles, gloves, and scarves… thermal underwear wouldn’t hurt!
  • Ski Pants!!! Even though we did not do any skiing I lived in my ski pants! They are so much warmer than a pair of jeans!
  • Bring a good camera with a good zoom lens, and extra SD cardswith plenty of storage, and weather proof SD storage case
  • Take a good pair of binoculars
  • Pack polarized sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Let go of all of your weather, high seas and iceberg worries. It’s all worth the trip!!

Put Extra Thought Into What to Pack for Two Climates

We then had to start thinking about what the heck we were going to pack for two different climates (hot in Santiago and Buenos Aires, freezing cold in Antarctica)! I learned a lot about packing on this trip!!!! We certainly didn’t bring the right clothes for Antarctica and wound up buying fleeces and hats on the ship. Our winter coats, fleeces and hats should NOT have been left behind!

Don’t Forget Trip Insurance

We normally purchase trip insurance through Allianz for long journeys. However, for this trip we bought insurance through Travel Insurance Masters. See my post on determining your need for travel insurance.

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Interesting Fact: Because the environment in Antarctica is so unique and delicate, a treaty has been signed that says that only peaceful research can be conducted to protect the area. The treaty prohibits military, nuclear and mining activities.

Share Your Travel Tips & Comments

As always, if you have any of your own travel tips to add to this post, any remarks on the article, or if my information needs an edit or addition, please leave your comments below. I value all of your input.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Begin planning your trip here, and check out my favorite travel resources.

Although I receive a small commission from my affiliates, such as Viator, Travel Insurance Masters, and Booking.com, there is no extra cost to you.


How much do you tip on an Antarctica cruise? ›

Tips are not generally included in your cruise fare (some exceptions apply on the all-inclusive ships) so if you would like to tip the crew an approximate suggestion would be $10-20 USD per passenger per day on board. Your ship may provide its own guidelines on board.

How bad is Drake Passage? ›

Despite its reputation, crossing this unpredictable water body can be an unforgettable 48-hour affair. These days, with the finest equipment, safety procedures, experienced crew members and polar-ready ships, the Drake Passage can be a remarkable part of one's polar voyage—not dangerous.

What clothes to take on Antarctica cruise? ›

We recommend a waterproof jacket & fleece (if your ship isn't providing them), waterproof trousers, gloves (thick + liner), a hat, a couple of pairs of socks and underwear and a set of base thermals, as well as your photography equipment and binoculars.

How many days do you need in order to travel the Antarctic via cruise ship? ›

Antarctic Peninsula cruises will make this crossing each way. So, a typical 11-day cruise will include 4 days crossing at sea and 7 days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.

How much do you tip on a 4 day cruise? ›

Many river cruise lines include the gratuities, but for those that don't, the suggested range is between $10 and $20 per passenger, per day. Similarly, some expedition cruise lines include gratuities while those that don't recommend a gratuity of around $10 to $15 per person, per day.

What happens if you don't tip on a cruise? ›

What happens if you don't tip on a cruise? Most cruise lines work on the basis that the crew members' pay structure is based on receiving tips. If you choose not to tip, for whatever reason, you are impacting the salaries of the crew who have served you so well during your cruise.

Are Antarctica cruises cold? ›

It's freezing cold, very windy, and one of the driest places on earth. It's hard to imagine some animals can survive here, let alone thrive. Despite the rough living conditions, there are animal species that have adapted to the Antarctic way of life.

Is there cell service on Antarctica cruise? ›

The short answer is no, your mobile phone will not work during your tour of Antarctica. While we've come a long way from the earliest expeditions when explorers could only send snail mail via other ships, Antarctica is still a remote and wild destination with a telecommunications system to match.

Do you need to wear sunglasses in Antarctica? ›

Snow and ice reflect 85% of Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) and can cause a serious, painful and disabling condition known as snow blindness. Sunglasses are especially important on windy days to protect against volcanic ash particles and snow blowing in the eyes.

What time of year is best for Antarctica cruise? ›

The Antarctic travel season coincides with the austral summer beginning in October and running through March. The best time to visit Antarctica is from mid-December through mid-February. The best month to take an Antarctic cruise is January. Of course, there is much more to it than that.

How do I prepare for a cruise to Antarctica? ›

Top 10 tips for visiting Antarctica
  1. Getting the right clothing. ...
  2. Pack sea sickness medication. ...
  3. Bring extra batteries, memory cards, and dry bags. ...
  4. Book your Antarctica adventure early. ...
  5. Explore Ushuaia before or after your cruise. ...
  6. Plan an itinerary that suits you. ...
  7. Don't forget travel insurance.
Dec 2, 2017

Where do you leave for Antarctic cruises? ›

Most Antarctica cruises depart from South America, in particular from the port city of Ushuaia in Argentina. The city itself is well worth visiting and most tour operators will build in an extra day to explore the city before your departure. Over 90% of all Antarctica cruises depart from Ushuaia.

Are Antarctic cruises rough? ›

The Drake Passage, the stretch of water between the southernmost tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica has the notorious reputation of being the roughest seas in the world.

Do boats sink at the Drake Passage? ›

The Drake Passage has been described as having the roughest seas in the world; 20,000 sailors have lost their lives there and its waters hold more than 800 shipwrecks.

What is the best month to cross the Drake Passage? ›

There is no specific 'best month' to cross the Drake Passage but there is a 'best season' and that's summer. The weather during summer tends to lend itself to calmer conditions as high pressures from the southern hemisphere move further south.

Do most people tip extra on cruise? ›

Many cruise lines will tack an automatic gratuity charge onto the bill for extra-fee drinks, restaurant meals and spa treatments. The included tip amount varies by cruise line, but is typically 15% to 20% of the bill.

Do you tip wait staff on cruise? ›

Generally speaking, mainstream, U.S.-based cruise lines automatically add gratuities of about $14 to $15 per person, per day, to your onboard bill. These tips are divided among the dining staff (waiters, assistant waiters and head waiters) and housekeeping staff (such as cabin attendants).

Is it better to prepay gratuity on a cruise? ›

Benefits of Prepaying Gratuities

The biggest advantage is simply getting the charge out of the way. By paying the charge at the same time you pay your cruise, it's one less cost that will hit your onboard account while you are cruising. Another advantage is that cruise lines regularly raise gratuity amounts.

How much money should you take on a cruise? ›

As a general rule, plan to have $50 to $100 each day in the local currency. Also, you may want to bring an extra $20 a day for tipping crew members. Make sure to include smaller bills for tips. Fifty to a hundred dollars a day should be enough to cover small purchases, tips and snacks at each port.

How much do you tip a stateroom attendant? ›

Additional tipping is completely at your discretion.
CrewSuggested Cash Tip Amount
Waiter$5 a day
Cabin Steward$3-5 per person per day
Butler$10-20 per person per day
Room Service$2-3 per order
1 more row
Apr 29, 2023

Can cruise lines force you to pay gratuities? ›

Technically cruise lines cannot force you to pay gratuities, especially if you have a complaint or issue about the service you received on board. Gratuities on a cruise are not mandatory, but instead heavily suggested and added automatically.

Which month is best for Antarctica? ›

The best time to travel to Antarctica is during the Antarctic summer from November to March, when you'll see Antarctica's wildlife at its busiest and benefit from up to 24 hours of daylight.

Why is Antarctica cruise so expensive? ›

Why is it so expensive to visit Antarctica? Because of the Antarctic Treaty, only certain carriers can visit and they're required to have a permit. This means that even though there are now quite a few companies offering these cruises, there is still limited supply.

What is the coldest month in Antarctica? ›

What is the coldest month? Most commonly August and then July, sometimes September, it varies by location. What was the coldest ever temperature? Measured on the ground at -89.2°C (-128.6°C), at the Russian Vostok station on the 21st of July 1983.

How can I avoid cell phone charges on a cruise? ›

Better to keep cellular service off. Airplane mode will switch off your phone's transmitters for cell signal (calls and text messages) and data (browsing the web, using apps) ensuring you will not be privy to unwanted charges. But don't worry: Your smartphone won't be completely useless for the trip.

What sunglasses do you need for Antarctica? ›

Your sunglasses should have dark colored lenses and full side coverage. Look for sunglasses with side-flaps (mountaineering or glacier glasses) or sport sunglasses with big lenses, wide sides, and a contoured shape that prevents light from entering at the sides.

What is not allowed on Antarctica? ›

Sometimes, it's something as simple as a pebble from a beach. However, in Antarctica, taking anything is banned. This includes rocks, feathers, bones, eggs and any kind of biological material including traces of soil. Taking anything man-made is also completely banned, as some might actually be research equipment.

Do I need snow pants in Antarctica? ›

Warm pants - thick warm pants of a natural material such as moleskin or heavyweight synthetic material such as polyester are best, not jeans!. Insulted "snow pants" are unnecessary in the summer, waterproof overpants to pull on when needed will be fine for most.

Can you take pictures in Antarctica? ›

The light is very good in Antarctica and we find that wildlife photographers generally leave them in the cabin after the first few days. Unless you're shooting macro, long exposure shoreline images or arty type movement shots, the tripod can stay at home.

What is the darkest month in Antarctica? ›

On Antarctica's coast, where our stations are located, there are usually a couple of weeks in mid-winter (around 21 June) when the sun does not rise, and a couple of weeks in summer around Christmas when the sun does not set.

Can you see the northern lights in Antarctica? ›

So the best places to see auroras are near the magnetic poles. These include areas of northern Greenland, the Scandinavian coast, Siberia (brrr!), and Alaska in the north, and Antarctica in the south.

What do people wear to Antarctica? ›

Outside on the ice during summer, expeditioners have long woollen underwear, trousers and a shirt with a windproof layer on top. In winter, they wear lots of layers topped with a thick, quilted freezer suit. Clothing can be divided into two layers: inner, insulating layers.

How many days is enough for Antarctica? ›

How many days do you need to visit Antarctica? Most cruises are 11-14 days but there is one Quark Expedition, the “Antarctic Express: Fly the Drake” that is only 8 days. I would recommend spending as many days as you can, because it's a once in a lifetime trip!

How do you stay safe in Antarctica? ›

Wear appropriate waterproof and windproof clothing, as well as adequate layers to ensure sufficient insulation. Keep a watchful eye on those around you, and if you see any signs of hypothermia in those around you, alert your tour operator as quickly as possible.

Are Antarctica cruises expensive? ›

Our experts share their inside knowledge and money-saving tips to help you answer the question “How much does it cost to go to Antarctica?” The average Antarctica cruise cost is about $8,000 per person. The least expensive trips to Antarctica start at under $5,000. Luxury voyages can exceed $15,000 per person.

Where is the most popular place to depart for Antarctica? ›

Sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina - The most popular gateway to Antarctica for 90% of visitors with the widest choice of voyages. Flying by charter plane from Punta Arenas, Chile - Reach the Antarctic Peninsula in just 2 hours, instead of 2 days at sea. Perfect for time sensitive or anxious travellers.

How much is a trip to Antarctica? ›

Average Price for Antarctica Cruises (per person in US$)

Expect to pay $12,000-25,000. You can cut out the two-day sail across the Drake Passage and fly to Antarctica. An 8-day fly and cruise to Antarctica is more expensive on a per-day basis and costs between $11,500-27,000.

What is the tip of Antarctica? ›

The point on land farthest from any coastline on the Antarctic Continent is located at83.904°S 64.890°E. This is also known as the South Pole of inaccessibility. Antarctica is the southernmost land mass on Earth.

How much do you tip a sea captain? ›

Captains of charter boat fishing reported that they usually receive tips of 10-20% of the trip's cost. A 15% tip is generally expected. The tip for a full-day trip is $600. The tip is split among the captain and the mate on most boats.

How much do you tip a ship steward? ›

Typical extra tips may be $15-20 per passenger for a seven-day cruise paid to the cabin steward for exceptional work, or an extra $10-20 per passenger to a waiter who offered spectacular dining service. Similarly, it is often acceptable to tip $1-3 when room service is delivered depending on the size of the order.

Are you expected to tip on a cruise? ›

Many luxury cruise lines, higher-end river lines, and some British and Australian lines have a no-tipping policy, and gratuities are not required. You can always tip at your discretion, though some crewmembers are not allowed to accept monetary gifts.

Does Antarctica touch the sea floor? ›

While commonly known for its massive icebergs and iconic penguins, Antarctica's best-kept secret lies on the seafloor far below the ocean surface. In this remote and isolated environment, a unique and diverse community of animals has evolved, half of which aren't found anywhere else on the planet.

What mystery is in Antarctica? ›

The mystery of Antarctica continues deep below its surface, where no one has gone before. It is said that the Lost City of Atlantis is hidden beneath the kilometres of ice. The city would have thrived when Antarctica was a warm, tropical region, and would've been buried after the Ice Age froze the continent.

What happens if you get caught in Antarctica? ›

Under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, ratified by 53 nations, persons accused of a crime in Antarctica are subject to punishment by their own country.

Do you tip the captain or the crew? ›

The tip is always given to the captain, in cash, who then distributes the tip among the crew equally. If there is a crew, of course, the thing to consider here is that charters aren't like restaurants. The people who work charters would compare it more with a lifestyle because their shifts are usually longer.

Do you tip a charter captain? ›

It is standard practice in the industry to pay a gratuity to your captain on charters. Like the restaurant industry, tips make up a substantial portion of a charter boat captain's income. It is a way for you to show your appreciation of the service you have received from your captain.

Do you tip a yacht captain? ›

According to the MYBA, yacht tips should run 5% to 15%. You'll give the tip directly to the captain—either via cash, check, or even a wire transfer if you don't want to carry a substantial amount of cash on your vacation. Often you can go through your charter broker to wire gratuity to the captain.

Should you tip your room steward on a cruise? ›

They clean your cabin daily, storing it with towels, amenities, and anything you need. If your cruise steward goes above and beyond, a cash tip at the end of your stay to show your appreciation. We recommend tipping your cruise steward $3-5 per person daily.

How much do you tip a butler on a 7 day cruise? ›

Special Services - Butlers, concierge, salon and spa attendants should be tipped for their services at your discretion - usually 15%. Gratuities for Drinks - Bar bills almost always include a 15% gratuity, even if the ship has a "no tipping" policy.

How much do you tip on a 3 day cruise? ›

In general, plan on giving $16–$23 in gratuities per day for each passenger. Note that the amount should be tabulated for each individual in your party—don't try to tip once per couple or group. So if you're planning to go on a 7-day cruise, expect to give a total of between $112 and $161 per person in gratuities.


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