I just made a tentative reservation on Celebrity's site and they asked if i wanted to prepay the gratuities. Is this what people are doing now? Or should I decline and tip cash onboard. Will they still provide me with envelopes to ip extra if i choose?
One more tidbid to add: We just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Horizon and had asked one of our waiters about the pre-paid gratuties. He said they do get them but,..it takes about 2 weeks before the Celebrity gives them to the employees.
We had envelopes provided and handed them out our last night. It seemed abit more personal. I saw many others doing the same.
The answers to this "string" sometimes did not match the question. I just got off the Zenith and have just booked the Summit for 2006. I WAS NOT asked if I wanted to prepay gratuities. What does happen, and as I viewed it last week, the majority of passengers used the "card" gratuity method. You will be given an opportunity a few days before debarkation, to charge your gratuties to your shipboard account. They give you the suggested amount for each person and you can adjust accordingly. You will then receive cards (maybe 3" x 4" in size) in your stateroom which become vouchers to those people you want to leave gratuties to. For your waiter and asst. waiter, you'll hand them the card (and they'll thank you) just like as if you gave them an envelope with money. The same for the others that you normally tip. I disagree that they have to wait two weeks for their money, unless it's included in their regular paycheck. We spoke with the waiter/asst. waited re: this method of receiving gratuities and neither mentioned a lengthy time to receive their money. All four couples, w/o group discussion, used the voucher method.
We just finished our first cruise aboard the Millennium and I too was "concerned" with the proper tipping policy. I opted to leave my tip on the seapass charge card, it could be done for the "suggested amount" with the option of adding an additional tip to anyone you desired, but you could not tip below the "suggested". I at first had resisted the whole tipping thing, like others felt the waiters etc should be doing the job they were paid to do....then I experienced what a FANTASTIC service I was provided. When one considered the tab for a meal of this sort at a fine land based eatery, the suggested $4.00 per person is quickly recognized as well less than HALF what an expected tip would be. And the staff more than deserves the gratuity.
I too wanted to make sure "my" waiter etc. knew that I indeed had "taken care of them" on my SeaPass charge...so I asked him about how it operated....he assured me they were credited for the tips before we left the ship...sure enough on Saturday night while others were trying to descreetly handle their envelopes...he thanked me and assured me that he had "recieved" his tip. I would encouraged others to think about the fact that this level of dining "onshore" would result in at the minimum a $50 per plate charge...the level of professionalism in their service would indicate that the $4.00 suggested tip to be well below what one would expect to offer as a gratuity. And hey, on the off chance your waiter just isn't cutting it...you can ask to be re seated, or certainly opt to NOT tip accordingly.