Is there anything on the cruise forums that causes more uncertainty and grief than tipping? Simply add a mandatory service charge to everyone's bill (like you do drink orders) and do away with voluntary tipping. That way everyone shares in paying the salary of the hard working staff who definitely deserve the service charge/tip (and who currently make a paltry salary w/o tips).
Totally disagree and hate that idea. It will lead to poor service and it will reward those that should not be rewarded and not allow you to reward those that earn the tips. At the very best it will only be an added surcharge and people will still feel the need to tip and soon will be expected to. Tipping is a long held tradition and not just on cruiseships. Leave it alone.
Aren't there lines that don't have a tipping policy, and the NCL America has a service charge don't they? Don't they already pool tips so the rewards are spread across everyone anyway? Poor service can be dealt with via the Maitre'd or comment cards (which we are lead to believe carry a lot of weight)....but then I'm very biased. I don't like the idea of TIPS at all, anywhere. Just charge me what I should pay and pay the staff an appropriate wage.
I agree with Jim, also if the tips get split evenly no one will go the extra mile it's like getting an hourly wage vs, hourly plus commission! I work on tips and it drives me to work extra hard and make more money then some lazy coworkers do, it makes me listen more, smile more, offer better service and enjoy my job more because you never know who's gonna make your day so you treat everyone better in hopes that this is the person who's gonna give you your best tip.
I disagree with this idea. Tips are incentive based pay and for those who are in the service business to serve customers should be rewarded with good pay when their attention to the customer warrants such.
I just wish there was some way to stop the cheapskates who refuse to tip.
On the majority of the luxury cruise lines gratuities are not required, and on some in fact tipping is forbidden.... yet service doesn't suffer. Reality is the service is better because the training is better!
In essecense the "gratuity" is included in the fares because they are paying the staff higher wages because of the higher fares. The staff make certain the service is good because they want to keep their jobs! Not necessarily a theory that wouldn't work on the mass market lines.
I don't disagree with the notion of tipping, at all. However I come from a nation that traditionally is not known for tipping and it means that some people find the process difficult or embarrassing. Personally, I do tip when circumstances suggest it and would not be happy not doing so.
Having only sailed with Cunard, we take the opportunity to prepay gratuities so that we do not have to worry about it (and will be doing this again on our next cruise) - however, that then means that particularly good/bad service is not recognised specifically. It is also one step away from having the cost of gratuities added to the initial cost of the cruise.
It is an interesting question and one which provokes much debate!
Kuki makes a pertinent point regarding level of service, and the same phenomenon can be seen in upscale restaurants. The finest service in the world can be found at Michelin 3-star restaurants, at none of which is tipping customary.
However, I believe service at casual eateries is better in North America than in Europe, certainly due to the custom of tipping.
I totally agree with Kuki. Pay the employees a higher wage, expect more because of that wage and train them accordingly. I think that a tip should be an extra little something, that is earned, not built into the pay scale, and tips should not be pooled. (getting off my soapbox now)
And in the next sentance it is said that tips are extra! Wasn't that supposed to be the original point? Already even we passengers are starting with the mandantory service charge and 'plus' tipping that once again rears it's head. Leave it like it is and do completely away with any shared tipping on any ship.
You keep saying "leave it like it is," Jim Bragg, but for many lines, service charges are the norm. Who are you talking about besides Carnival?
No other line is going to "do completely away with shared tipping." For those lines that have adopted it, it's here to stay. And if I'm not mistaken, the majority of passengers on those lines are in favor of it. Perhaps someone from the cruise industry can verify or correct that...?
I must say that I have no issues with the with the current system of Tipping in place with Carnival, where you have the option of pre-paying or having it deducted from your sign and sail card. You also have the option of reducing tips if by chance you feel the service you received was substandard. I also would not mind the "old" way of doing it too, where you got to personally reward those who provided excellent service, even though I understand that the employees sometimes got shortchanged since it was much easier for them to get stiffed.
I disagree with the Moose. Guaranteed wages does not guarantee a higher level of service no matter what the method of pay. I doubt, but can't confirm, the higher end lines who pay their staff higher wages but don't allow tipping do not have higher earning staff. Whether the pay is in a paycheck, or on a customers charge card, I suppose both earn about the same, however at least the customer who is tipping can control what level of pay they receive, and this mostly will drive better service.
I am not talking about Carnival but about all cruiselines. They are service based and tipping is a tradition and those that know they will receive a nice tip for great service tend to do more. It is just the nature of the beast. I understand and agree with the way most lines are automatically adding the tips in your shipboard account as it helps avert some of the 'stiff rate'. I also think it needs to remain optional for those of us that prefer to tip in the traditional manner. We often tip more than the suggested amount but we only do so by giving the approprate person his or her tip face to face with some well earned thanks to go with it or an explaination as to why the tip was not larger. I do not agree with sharing tips and distributing them equally as they were not equally. I am too much of an anti-socialist to agree to everyone getting the same. Hard work is, and should be rewarded and those that do only the bare minimum or less should not receive the same reward as one who has worked hard. I do also understand that with open seating tipping is harder but then again, I do not like open seating with a new waiter all the time. Maybe you can receive a type of chit from whoever waits on you that night and direct tips to him/her?
Thomas... I wasn't saying that I think having the service fee/tip included in the fare was the way to go. But I think it does show that direct tipping for service doesn't nessarily ensure better service either. The example of the luxury lines system demonstrates that they find other means to motivate their staff to supply excellent service.
Other than pooling of tips, I like the way it's handled on RCI, Celeb and Princess. You can put the gratuities on your shipboard charge card... leaving it on a credit card to earn the FF miles, and you are given vouchers to hand to staff personally, with a hand shake and a thank you.
My personal preference woulb be that tips NOT be pooled, but I think it highly unlikely the cruise lines are going to backdown on that policy.
"On the majority of the luxury cruise lines gratuities are not required, and on some in fact tipping is forbidden.... yet service doesn't suffer. Reality is the service is better because the training is better!
Yet you say the reality is service is better because training is better. What does this have to do with the method of pay? Can a mass market line where tips are expected not train the staff in the same manner as luxury lines who pay higher salary? How does their delivery of pay matter? Please explain.
Part of my motivations for starting this thread was that the "stiff rate" is too high on some lines, and many passengers don't realize that the service staff earns only $80-100 per MONTH. They simply must have the tips. (another motivation was that I don't like the idea of tipping anyway, but let's set that aside for the moment :-)
There was a show on PBS where a cruise line executive worked in various jobs on the ship. He "shadowed" the room steward, and we learned that she hired others on the ship to help her as she couldn't cover all of the rooms on her own (this appears to be the norm). She paid her assistant for his help (he also had another job on the ship). At the end of the week, some of the cabins stiffed her. After paying her assistants (I think she had one in the morning and another in the evening), she had nothing left or almost nothing left. She worked the whole week for just her cruise wage ($20/wk). The camera crew came back to her and found her in tears. This isn't right!!! She should be guaranteed through the cruise lines a decent base wage, and then if we have tipping, tipping supplements it.
For dining, the same can happen (look at how many don't show up for the last night). Then when you add in that you may eat in your room one night, the buffet another, the high end alternate restaurant another, and then free style dining....how do you handle the tip. Is it the same, does it go to just one person, etc.
The staff gets evaluated by the passengers via the comments card at the end of each week. I believe that this is enough motiviation in knowing that their job is on the line and we are reporting on them. Imagine what service would be like in the USA if at the end of a meal you filled in a comment card on the service staff.
The price of the cruise would go up, but for us (that tip) it will be a wash. Our tip is just now reflected in the cruise line fare, everyone bears the cost of the service, and the staff is guaranteed a good base wage. Actually, what would most likely happen is that it would get added as another "charge" in addition to the cruise fare, e.g. taxes, port fees, service charge. Lines want to continue advertising the cruise price as low as possible.
I read all of the points made above. I don't believe service would drop if a service fee were required. For me, I would still prefer to just charge everyone a service charge.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what kind of service most people are looking for. As I have stated in the past, I want someone to clean the room, and serve my meals and drinks, nothing more. In over 20 years of cruising I have not tipped exactly two persons, one assistant waiter and one cabin steward. Both for not providing this basic level of service.
I hear all these comments about people "treated like royalty" "staff bending over backwards" etc. I have never experienced any of that, nor do I wish it. I treat the staff as I would anyone else I meet, I exchange pleasantries, I discuss my day, I ask about theirs, wish them well etc.
So if my level of service is the norm, which I think it is, then it really doesn't matter to me if they added the gratuity to the base price of the cruise.
For those that seek this higher level of service, that I have never experienced, then that is what should be tipped, not their average duties.
In my mind it is up to the employer to pay a base rate for the job that is livable. For those members of staff who wish to earn more and provide this enhanced service are those who will earn more in tips.
To those that do not perform to the standard are those who will have complaints lodged about their lack of care in their duties. In either way it will weed out the bad ones and enhance the lives of the good ones.