Friday, June 27, 2008

Cruising and Gratuities

The question came up this week about the "suggested" guidlines for gratuities (or tipping) on a cruise and the fact the automatically put it on the charges on the ship. The lady who was booking did not like the idea of having $10 per person per day put on their account. It wasn't that she did not leave gratuity but wanted to give it to the person (s) herself and determine how much to give them based on the service level she received.

There is nothing wrong with this and it is simply a matter of going to the Purser's Desk and letting them know you do not want them added each day to your account.

The guidelines are $3.50 per person (pp) per day for the cabin attendent, $3.50 for the waiter, $2.50 for the assistant waiter and .50 for the Head Waiter. 15% is added to all bar bills so that is something different (and I don't know of anyone who has ever gotten those taken off.) This is a pretty fair amount IMHO as they work quite hard 3 or more times a day for us passengers. Most of the time, I'll give them extra anyway besides what is being put on the account as I do appreciate their efforts. But on occasion, I have been very dissatisfied with the service level and will not do anything extra since they didn't. Only once in 38 cruises have I actually had the gratuities taken off my account (since they started doing that) and did not tip one of the service people.

The word TIPS really stands for "To Insure Prompt Service" and was given before being served way back when. Today it is more traditional to give at the end of a meal or stay.

Gratuities are a reward not an obligation! It is your choice to tip or not as you determine. I worked in the restaurant business as a waiter for many years and if I did not give the best service possible, I got smaller tips. It was my fault, not the customers!

So don't think you have to leave on the on board account if you don't want to. It's up to you and you alone. Only exception is NCL America in Hawaii and they are up front that this is a mandatory service fee. Was the service always worth it? No, but you had to live with that (or do you?) I have known people who complained and did get it removed or got a credit for a future cruise to offset it. It is rare that the service on a cruise ship is not good so either in person or on the account, the $10 per day is really a bargain for all the crew does for passengers compared to eating out 3-4 times a day.

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