We don't do it on a daily basis...but we do take phone cards with us to give them directly to the room steward, our waiters and busperson. Most of the time the card only covers a few minutes of conversation to another country...but they always seem very appreciative.
The best gift bar none is tips. This is univesally the most desired display of appreciation for a job well done than all have told us. Phone cards are a dime a dozen for the crew and they can get better rates than we can and most tell me that they have phone cards stacked up already.
On our last cruise I fixed a smal l gift bag with goodies. I put in a one time camera and 12 postage stamps and some stationary, gum & candies. Not to sound cheap, but the camera at Wal-Mart are about 7 buck and you can pick the stationary at Dollar Tree, or Dollar General for a Buck.
Now I know they have all that food on the ship, they seem to like the gum and hard candies and can buy things in the ports, but a few little things like this help them to same there money to send home or save.
Gave it to the room steward on the first day of the cruise, he was very appreicative.
Our cash tip came at the end of the cruise, for a job well-done.
Carnival 1993 Bahamas
Carnival Sensation 2003 Grand Cayman Cozumel
Carnival Victory 2004 New York to Canada
RCI Mariner 2005 St. Thomas St Marteen
NCL Star 2006 Seattle to Alaska
NCL Pride of Aloha 2007 Hawaii Island Hopping
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I always try and do something 'extra' special above my usual tipping for holidays and or for someone on the ship that I believe went above and beyond. Some of the things I have given are the usual phone cards, thank you cards with gifts in them, holiday cards, gift cards, small christmas ornaments, special notes to supervisors on a person's above average job performance, etc...
No matter what you give, remember it's the thought that counts and it will always be appreciated. But, don't forget to tip...a gift should be something extra.
I can recommend a personal thank you card or notation to their supervisor. Those are also well appreciated. Personal acts of kindness are always very welcome. We always take time to try and get to know crew and just be nice to them in any way we can and let them know we appreciate them. You would be amazed at the wonderful stories that these people have about themselves. We have been very fortunate in that we now have many crew, both former and current, that we call friends and have even visited them and had them visit us.