In the interests of length, I left out the fact that Princess will also inaugurate a pre-paid gratuity program. On Princess ships prep-paid tips are $6.50. Carnival's is $9.75, quite a bit higher. Of course, NCL has had pre-paid tipping for a awhile.
The word "tip" originated in 17th century England. It's an abbreviation of "to insure promptness" -- a small amount handed over to stagecoach drivers so they would get you to your destination on time.
But it has always been voluntary. And part of Carnival's argument is that it includes staff at the "Seaview Bistro" ... a cafeteria buffet. Since when did we tip
the folks who serve up food in a buffet. This is hardly personal service.
Several other side effects of pre-paid tipping concern me. Staff does work extra hard so we'll tip them ... will they continue to perform those lovely little acts of thoughtfullness now? And, what about the person who is really terrific, who I want to tip a lot more? I'll still have to go out and get cash.
Personally, I think Carnival wants to make sure its staff get paid the amount they should. However, all waiters ashore get minimal salaries, with the understanding that they'll make it up in tips. Perhaps this new wave of cheap prices has attracted folks who stiff the crew.
Yes, pre-paid tips are more convenient for many. But I've been doing it for years and, given the number of ATM's available throughout the world, never had a problem getting cash.