Originally Posted by Storm'n Norman
As an Aussie who currently resides in the USA and am an experienced cruiser (80 plus cruises), let me give you an insight to tipping in Australia.
Many people notice that America is the land of the tips – there is good reason for this beyond just a tradition. American employees do not have a minimum wage like we do in Australia, this means that a waiter or a waitress could be working for well below what any of us would even get out of bed for (this may not be the case in all American states, but most). In turn, a tip is a necessity for most of these employees as it is the tips that they are actually living off – not the minimum wage. In Australia however, we do have a minimum wage, but sometimes it can be very good to leave a tip as the person might be working for quite a low wage depending upon age.
It is totally up to you. Some restaurants include a tip in the bill before you even add your own, this tends to really annoy me as they include it as a given service charge. Check whether or not that is included on the bill before leaving a tip. I tend to leave a tip of 10% or less if the service was good but I feel that I am feeding a tradition that is really not relevant to Australia’s culture.
Travel guides all seem to differ in their opinions on when to tip and when not to tip in Australia, and rightly so, it's a complicated matter. Again, Australian service industry workers are paid better than their American counterparts, so they aren't relying on tips to pay their bills, however if you went to a city restaurant, enjoyed excellent service from a friendly waiter, thought the food was wonderful, gave a $100 note to cover a $96 bill and then asked for change, you'd be committing a serious cultural sin. At the same time, if you ordered a meat pie from a roadside café in a rural town and gave a large tip, you'd probably get a few sideways glances (unless you had an American accent, in which case they'd be more than happy to take advantage of your generosity).
The best rule to follow is that it's polite to tip someone (10%) if they've given you good service, but in most cases - it's not expected!
I hope this assists!
My ship is just finishing a 2 month voyage around Australia. We carried about 80% Australian passengers during that period.
About 80% of those people refused to tip the staff, claiming that "we don't tip in Australia - or anywhere else, and why don't you pay your staff a proper living wage".
As a result, my service staff earned next to nothing for those 2 months.
But strangely, as we had the opportunity to dine ashore in many of the cities we visited, we found the tipping practices in Australia to be generally in conflict with the stories told us by our Aussie passengers.
In Darwin, Cairns, Exmouth, Fremantle, Adelaide, and Melbourne, the restaurant staff added a "service charge" to our bills. This service charge varied quite widely, but was always between 15% and 30% on top of the total bill. When we asked about it, we were told that this money was to pay the salaries of the service staff - and it was not negotiable.
We were not charged this "service charge" in Sydney, Brisbane, or Hamilton Island.
Does Australia have a double standard on this tipping thing?
Or are they just being cheap and using this no tipping story to save a dollar?