>>Some of the upscale cruise lines do include tips in the price of the cruise - BUT, you probably couldn't afford them.<< MEOW!!! That's a little catty, isn't it?
>>Adrian - can't believe you booked a cruise without giving a thought to tipping. If you were on a land-based vacation and ate three meals a day in a restaurant, wouldn't you be tipping for that? Probably quite a bit more than $3.50 per day each (that's little more than $1 per meal). Yes, for these people (cabin stewards, waiters, etc.) this really IS their salary - most get only about $50 per MONTH from the cruiseline and, like waiters and waitresses in restaurants, depend on these tips.<<
I'm not saying that I hadn't given ANY thought to tips. In fact, we had been asking our friends what was appropriate and had planned to provide nice tips at the end of the cruise for our support staff. I had even been planning to stamp some nice hand made cards to give with the tips. I was just really annoyed that the cruise line stuck this "service fee" down in the fine print instead of just including it in the price of the cruise.
I'm not going to apologize for being a hard working family on a budget. We're as entitled to go on a cruise as anyone else and there's nothing wrong with being careful of our money. Like I said, I don't begrudge anyone a decent tip, but an extra $300 tacked on to the price of the cruise means $300 less for us for spending money and excursions that we had planned. Also, one of the advantages of going on a cruise is that almost everything is prepaid and included in the price of the cruise.