Our experience over the past couple of weeks.
Onboard....... A daily amount was added per person to be shared out between room steward and dining room wait staff.
We agreed to this and on the last night of the cruise we gave our wait staff 50% cash on top of the compulsory gratuity, in an envelope with a thank you letter. $160 that was.
The following morning at breakfast our wait staff did not say a word of 'thank you'.
They were (if anything) sullen with us.
We did not give the room stewardess any extra as she failed to do our room for THREE days (until we complained) and then she had the cheek to say to us that she had been struck down with Thai flu and was only half better (which had it been true would have put the entire ship in quarantine). We do not tip liars.
That was on board.
St Thomas. We went to a side alley cafe called Coconuts. We had drinks and lunch. The bill came to $28.40 (including (18% service charge). I paid with two $20 bills. The waitress did not reappear with the change for a long time. Eventually when she did, she peeled off the notes one at a time and slammed the coins down on the table without saying a word before storming off. We did not tip her following THAT.
You have to tip:-
The person who takes your bags off the ship
The person who takes your bags to your transfer coach
The person who drives you to your transfer hotel
The person who takes your bags into the lobby
The person who gives you a luggage check
The person who eventually takes the bags to your room
The person who takes your bags down to the lobby
The person who puts your bags on the coach
The person who drives you to the airport
The person who takes your bags from the coach to the check-in desk
In the hotel itself:-
You're expcected to tip the barstaff who want to gossip with eachother despite them adding an 18% service charge.
Oh and then on top of it all.......... we add all those other service charges and state taxes etc etc etc.
We're fed up with this method of cash extraction. Just tell us the bottom line at the start and don't expect me to carry a wad of $1 and $5 bills.
When we next cruise we may very well look for a Line which stipulates 'Tipping is forbidden'. We'd be happy to get the extra expense and nonsense out of the way.
My message to crusie Lines: Move with the times and pay crew what they're worth.
My message to the USA: You are one of the last countries in the world where tipping is so much a part of life. European people hate this tipping business. It's not good for your tourist industry ,and don't get angry with Europeans who don't tip. They do not do it at home because the staff get paid. If you choose not to pay your staff then don't blame us.
Ps. Tipping could be construed as illegal - as an employee is able to earn money that they do not declare and therefore do not pay tax on. Therefore you are aiding and abetting the comitting of a crime (under UK law anyway).