We are sailing on the Spirit 0n 1/3/03. We have been cruising since the late 80's and have always left the traditional tips for our room steward/stewardess & dining room staff members assigned to our table. We have always enjoyed the personal feeling of handing out that envelope to each person who took exceptional care of us during our cruise.
We now hear that on the Pride/Spirit/Legend class ships, this gratuity payment has been taken over by the cruise line and placed on the passengers sign & sail accounts.
Now we know that Carnival has had many problems in the past with people not leaving tips for their staff and they are trying to insure that these people get what they should. My question is, do these staff members get what they earn or is this a case of the cruise lines trying to pocket a little more money for themselves. I have known banquet facilities stateside that charge a "service charge" as opposed to gratuity on their checks. By charging a service charge instead a gratuity, it allows the facility to keep some of this money for themselves before paying out the balance to the servers.
Can anyone who has sailed recently on these ships enlighten us as to how this is handled. How much do they post on your account and are the charges broken down as to who gets what. Traditionaly, charges have always been $3.50 per day, per person for cabin stewards and waiter, $2.00 for the assistant waiter and "whatever" for the head waiter & maitre d, depending on services rendered. We have always followed this guideline, and in most cases have added substantialy to these numbers. We enjoy taking care of these people because they have just given us the best service you can get anywhere. (At least until your next cruise!)
We just want to make sure that these people are getting what they are entitled to and not getting a percentage taken off by the cruise line. With the amount of money we are talking here for all guests & ships sailed, even a small percentage taken would be substantial. I am sure it is tempting for Carnival, as well as other cruise lines to cover inreasing costs and declining revenues by doing this.
We would welcome all responses as tro how other "cruisers" view this matter.
I'm not sure how it is broken out on the sail and sign cards. But one thing you can do is go to the purser's desk and ask that all tips be removed from your sail and sign account. They'll do it, no questions asked. Then you can tip the old-fashioned way, with cash.
Now posting as MichelleP.
I was recently on the practical advice board and there were a lot of posts about tipping. Carnival is putting a total of $9.50 per day/per person onto your card. If you wish to have this taken off so you may still give each person an envelope you may. However, what one person wrote on the board said (and he is a cruise employee of 30 years) is that cruisers need to be aware that all tips are pooled - whether or not they come from the pursers office or handed to them. I guess they pool all the money and it is distributed to employees based on their years of service and position. So...if you like someone in particular and give them extra personally they don't actually get any more than they normally would. It all goes into the pot. Same would go if someone is nasty and you don't think they deserve a tip. Hope this info helps. You can go the practical advice strings and look for more info if this isn't enough.
Tips are broken down as follows: $3.50 per day for the Cabin Steward and Dining Room Waiter, $2.00 per day for the Assistant waiter, and $.75 cents for the "alternative" dining /buffet staff. That is $9.75 per day per person. As mentioned, you can alter that amount at the pursors desk: cancel it, add to it, or adjust it. You may still tip in person with an envelope and you may tip the maitre de or anyone else at your discreation. This was our 3rd journey on a cruise line that did the automatic tipping charge; Celeberity, Princess & Carnival. We decided to try it out, access the service level and all 3 times left the suggested amount on our account. As mentioned, a nice token gift may be appreciated for good service too. The alternative Supper Club is another issue many discuss. The $25 pp feee is supposed to include the gratuity. However, you may wish to leave more for the team of servers.
The tips are usually NOT pooled from what the staff has told me and we ask every time we cruise. It is pretty much up to the individual ships from what we have found. If you allow it to remain on your S&S card and no matter if you adjust it up or down or leave it as standard, the staff receive this money approx 2 weeks after the sailing date. We still prefer the traditional method of tipping as we personally feel it is a very personal thing and I always go to the Pursers deck and request it be removed from our account and that we be given envelopes so that we can tip individually.
We recently cruised on the Celebration and found that the first charge to our account was for the gratuity. There were 5 in our party and this amount came to just under $300. What bothered me the most was that while you are on board they begin to tell you that certain individuals are not included and so they expect you to tip them also...so altogether we probably spent around $350. I wish they would just up the price and call it an all inclusive.
We just returned from the Victory cruise (Miami to St. Thomas, San Juan, and St. Martin) on Dec. 1 - 8, 2002. The Victory uses this procedure to process tips. We first say this procedure on the Destiny in May 2001.
My wife and I have no problem with this. It eliminates the hassle of getting dollar bills change and inserting the money into multiple envelopes for the last dinner night on board. Our rule of thumb:
- if the wait service is great, we add more tips
- if the wait service is poor, we go to the purser's office and reduce the amount of the tip applied to our sail and sign account. It's easy to do.
On the Victory, I just discretely gave our waiter more money on the last night, since his service was outstanding. He was very appreciative. My advice is do what you are comfortable with. Remember, for that most staff, tips is their only source of income. Several cabin stewards we talked with confirmed this.
BTW, the cruise was fabulous! The Victory was the first Carnival ship we sailed on that had the automated wake-up call service thru the phone in your cabin. That was very convenient and we used it daily. You can find cruise reviews by me and several people I traveled with at: http://www.ircruise.com/reviews_2002.html
Ecstasy, Dec. '98
Imagination, Dec. '99
Fascination, Dec. '00
Destiny, May '01
Destiny, Dec. '01
Victory, Dec. '02
Sailing Norwegian Majesty, June '03
Sailing Conquest, Dec. '03
Just one word of warning about reducing tips....last year hubby and me sailed the Spirit -- all our service people were fabulous save one, our waiter was not up to Carnival's usual high standards. We forgive a lot when we cruise, overlook things and stuff just doesn't bother us as much, but this guy really was sub-par -- he acted like he was more interested in hooking up with some of our single young ladies than giving good service. We waited until almost the end of the cruise to reduce his tip from our S&S account. We didn't eliminate it because that would be cruel. However....If you're thinking of doing this on the off chance the service isn't really good, try to wait until the end of the cruise to change your S&S account --- even if you prefer to tip in person, I'd wait until the end. Here's why --
Some people we met on board removed their cabin steward's tip the day they got on board -- that's one person they wanted to just give cash to in direct relation to the service quality (and they had every intention of tipping BTW!) -- he found out his automatic tip was removed and started borderline harassing these people every day -- would show up at their cabin many times just to ask them why they weren't tipping him....now, I love Carnival and I've never had a major problem like this, but hubby and I both agreed this was nuts.
So, word of caution -- even if your intentions are good, the possibility exists that your service people may find out you've removed their automatic tip and if one happens to be extra-concerned, you may spend much unnecessary time explaining yourself...over and over and over (when you'd rather be drinking poolside!) :>)
We also like to give cash or a small gift, so we actually left the automatic tip in place for our cabin steward and bus-man and gave the latter some extra cash to boot 'cause he was fabulous!
We'll do the same this time if necessary (Legend, Jan. 5) -- but we'll be waiting until the end of the cruise to alter that S&S account! :>)
"he found out his automatic tip was removed and started borderline harassing these people every day -- would show up at their cabin many times just to ask them why they weren't tipping him."
He would only show up at my cabin ONCE doing this and I can guarantee you that in the time it would take me to contact and speak with the hotel manager of the ship he would either be scrubbing the bilges for the rest of his/her contract or be put off at the nearest port.
No cruise line needs loose cannons and CARNIVAL would be the first to tell you this and ACT on it.