I don't think the matre de gets a salary. They are paid on tips only. But like you said that's a huge chunk of money. We did not see our matre de either until the last night. We only ate in the dining room twice on a five night cruise. I left him 5.00 per night. Our room steward kept our room looking great. We could leave for 30 minutes and come and it was clean. I left him an extra tip, but can't remember how much. You can tip extra per your choice.