I have tipped the HW on some cruises and some not. Our first cruise was our 25th and the HW did several extra things for us. On our second cruise, we never saw him until the last day - wonder why? ha ha
No you do not have to tip the Head Waiter. They make you feel obligated.
On every cruise we never saw him until the last night (Tip night) as the poster said above.
On our last cruise though, he came around every night to chat and make sure everything was OK. That was the only cruise I tipped the Head Waiter .
Our headwaiter was phenomenal. He stayed and shmoozed at our table each night for at least 10 minutes. He always brought us extra stuff when he knew it was our favorite like having shrimp every night. He really made our dining experience so wonderful and we looked forward to seeing him each night. This was aboard the Radiance.
So we tipped him but we might have had just an exceptional person.
I don't usually tip the head waiter but I did on our 12 night Mediterranean cruise last October on the Brilliance. We had an awesome head waiter. He introduced himself the first night and spent some time visiting at each of his tables every single night of the cruise. He learned all of our names right away and called us by name when whenever we passed him either walking into the dining room or leaving after dinner. When he came to our table each night during dinner, he made a point of talking to each one of us. We enjoyed this head waiter and felt that he really deserved a tip for going out of his way to get to know each one of us.
We tipped our head waiter as well. She came around every night to make sure everything was ok, and was on picture duty almost every night too. (With 4 different cameras).
I agree, if you don't know your head waiter until the last day, their is no point in tipping, however we saw ours every day and she did help us get sea food out of shells, and other little things here and there.
We tip are head waiter if he or she spends time with us or gets us extra stuff ! We have been on cruises we have never see them. If I do tip them it is based on quality time he gives us. Just plan on a buck or two each day per person if the service is their.
RCL - Radiance of the Seas - Panama Canel 10-24-2004
We were recently on the Grandeur, and our head waiter was outstanding! He not only spent time with us each night, but was particularly attentive to our children. There was no question in our minds about whether we would tip him!