I recently went to Alaska on the Sapphire Princess. I have an observation. On my other cruise to the Caribbean a year ago, it seemed that everyone we encountered on each island always went through the same embarassing speech at the end saying something to the effect of: "...this is the service industry and tipping would be appreciated...", in fact, on one tour, the tour guide actually waited at the exit of the bus waiting for you to hand him money. This was different in Alaska. Not once did this happen...however, on each tour, the tour guide would always throw something in similar to: "...I love your ship...I've been saving up my tips to buy one...haha". (or something like that) But never was the normal speech given.
I liked this, and for that reason alone, I gave tips. It is customary I believe to tip $1 per person for a 1/2 day tour, and $2 for a full day. The problem is that NO ONE else did. On a bus of 50 some people, maybe 5% gave tips. This bothered me. One the one hand, when the tour guide is obnoxious an basically tells everyone they'll be poor and not be able to feed their kids unless they get tips, everyone shells it out. But when the driver doesn't say anything other than throwing it the story, he/she gets very little. Maybe people just didn't think of it, I don't know.
And don't get me wrong, tipping annoys the HECK out of me. It seems that EVERYONE is supposed to get a tip for doing basically nothing. There is a great episode of Curb Your Enthusiam that really pokes fun at this. The problem I have is that why was everyone so willing to give tips when begged for, and then no one did when it was only briefly mentioned in passing.
I choose to tip, (even more than suggested) because I WASN'T given the normal speech. I thought it was classy to do that, probably knowing full well that he/she would get less. I guess my point is to try and notice that next time on a tour. Like I said, ALL tour guides gave "the speech" in the Caribbean, NONE of them did in any of the Alaskan ports (not even Victoria).
And just because it isn't asked for, that doesn't mean it is still not expected. A waiter doesn't ask for a tip, but people still tip waiters. I guess the same should be for tour guides.
I worry that I'm going to convey the wrong tone here and am going to get a backlash of people saying how awful I am for perpetuating the tipping industry. LIke I said, I HATE tipping. I think the cruise lines should just charge a tad more and pay the tour guides/crew/etc more. Nevertheless, as the current social structure stands, it is etiquette to tip tour guides.
You do realize that most of the tour guides and drivers are well paid in Alaska don't you, that is why they don't beg for tips.
My uncle also worked at Beaver Creek lodge for many years ( which is ( or was) owned by Holland America, and he was allowed a free cruise every couple of years as a " bonus" .
So that is partly why in the Caribbean where there is no such thing as a decent wage( and apparently in some states) that tips are strongly solicted and expected. Alaska is always "short handed" ( they have a low population you know) so jobs are paid decently there.
Wow! We just returned from a Celebrity cruise to Alaska and none of the shore excursions people said a word about tips. On our seaplane over Misty Fjords there was a very small, barely noticeable sign inside the plane that said "tips appreciated" but nobody would have noticed it. Nothing was said, no guilt-tripping, nada.
I am a tour Guide in Alaska. I would be fired if I was caught giving the "speech". Truth in fact, I get paid $8.00/hour to give tours and rely on my tips for income. I figure that people who do not tip are just ignorant of the custom of tiping tour guides. I had the same experience in the restaurant business...some people just don;t tip. If a guide is informed, amusing, enhances your trip , you should leave a tip...If they are not, then don't. I typically do alot of extra things to make my passengers experience more enjoyable. For a 1/2 day tour I average $2-3/per person and full day $3-5/per person.
I take my job seriously and continue to enhance my own knowledge of Alaska despite living here for over 20 years.
$8 is NOT a bad wage in a high cost of living area???? I make 4 times that in my low cost of living area- yeah gives me my cash for all my travels. But bottom line- tipping is IN ORDER for tours, my opinion only. I don't care what they make nor would base my tipping on it. I tip on average $5-10 for an extended tour and at least a $1 for shuttle drivers. I can afford it but the service is necessary and well worth it for my preferences in tours.
So Karen you make 32 $ an hour, very nice, apparently most don't make that kind of money. Go on the tipping boards , there are posters who say that the states have no miumum wage.
I still think that 8 bucks an hour isn';t bad, and I also think some tour guides make much more than that.
As for not basing your tipping practices on what people make BALONEY!! Whens the last time you tipped your doctor, dentist, the nurse at the hospital, the city bus driver, your kids teacher, etc, etc. Tips are basically something that is given to those who work in service orientated jobs( like a nurse) BUT who make very low wages( like your cabin steward or the waitress who makes 3 bucks an hour)
Ok,,I never thought I would get sucked into one of these "gripes" but....
There is a minimum wage level in the states but it is based on the number of employees the business has. However, many states do allow restaurants to give lower wages based on the fact that there is a BELIEF that the wait staff will get a 10-20 percent tip (I know this, my nephew and his wife are both wait staff). Also, this is based on a restaurant where there is a good size bill for example an average per person of about 15-20 dollars for thier meals. You couldn't afford to live in your car for 2-3 dollars an hour here.
An 8 dollar an hour wage would put you at an annual income just above the poverty level. Yes you can live on this, but in a place where your working year (say as a tour guide) is really only 5 months long, do you really think you could earn enough to support yourself for the other 7 months of the year? Now, I don't know if tour guides have second jobs but I would think they would have to, or, hope they get enough in tips to move themselves forward.
I could be 100% wrong but this is how I see it (and yeah 32 bucks an hour is a phenominal wage)..........