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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2001, 12:30 PM
Artie
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Default the gratuities ripoff

My wife and I have been on about 30 cruises in the past 15 years.
May I ask all of you something. Don't you think that you are being taken when you are "TOLD" how much to tip crew? Why is it called a gratuity when you are told what to give crew, good or bad. I for one am not going to pay for what the cruise line dictates and, should be paying. The cruise lines should take care of their crews and tipping should be totally a matter of choice for passengers.
I am an avid cruiser on Holland American. One of the reasons is that there is a policy that does not require tipping. Before you get in a tizzy, let me tell you that I usually tip more than other cruise lines recommend and only because the service is worth it.
One cruise line actually has the audacity to charge your onboard account an amount that they think is acceptable for crew gratuities. Give me a break. Are we sheep? Tipping by mere definition, means that it is a personal decision that addresses performance of individuals that is acceptable to exceptional. Ask the purser on your next cruise about that definition and watch him side step or better yet, go over to the Captain's table and ask him why passengers are dictated tipping amounts. That should get some attention. Be bold and fear not, right is on your side. You may even get a bottle of Champagne.

Next time you acquiece to the dictates of cruise lines' tipping policies, look in the mirror and "Bah Bah Bah Bah and one real healthy Duh." I for one tell them to go to the hot place, if you catch my drift.

Smooth sailing and calm seas ... Adios
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2001, 01:21 PM
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Admiral
 
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Artie ...

One of the biggest questions new cruisers have is "how much to tip?" The cruise lines offer recommendations.

No, I don't think we are being "taken". $4.00 (waiter) and $2.00 (assistant waiter/busboy) as a minimum per day guildeline is far less than any of us would tip in a halfway decent restaurant if we were to eat out every night. (I still keep waiting for anyone to tip the chef/server/wine stewardess/cleanup help in MY house ...)

I agree that tipping is a "hidden cost" of cruising on mainstream ships and I would, personally, like to see that changed.

There is the argument that the tipping custom encourages waitstaff and cabinstaff to work harder to please the passengers. With some of the new options in place, we hear complaints that the staff doesn't work as hard to please or charm as they did in the past because they already have been tipped, as it were.

If the mainstream lines would simply increase the fare by "X" dollars to compensate for tipping, I'd be happy and wouldn't complain. I would also tip in addition for exceptional service. Not for "adequate".

What would you do?

With the explosive growth of cruise travel in recent years, there are more and more new cruisers who are more and more confused on the issue of tipping. I don't agree that tips should be charged to your Sail and Spend card. It should be part of the basic fare. My opinion, only.

If you don't wish to have your card charged, a trip to the Purser's desk will take care of it. It's not written in stone.

As a travel writer, I've often talked to staff about the tipping question. The HAL policy is the most confusing to non-experienced cruisers.

What advice would you offer?

pamda -- CruiseMates First Time Cruisers Editor
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2001, 01:32 PM
Sue & Bill
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Tipping should be each passengers choice. Not to be added to my shipboard account. Quite unfortunately there are so darn many first-time cruisers and cruisers who don't pay any attention to their account that the cruise lines having simply slipped this 'automatic tip charge' onto those accounts and, IMHO, are making tons of extra bucks. Just last November, 2000 on Sea Princess, West Carib, we saw many people leave tips in the bars. I guess they just signed the bill and assumed that the tip was extra. I guess I am just an old 'fuddy-duddy' who is frugile, but I review my shipboard account on a daily basis. I have continually found charges that I did not make and when I presented this to the Pursur's desk, they were removed without any problems. As for this automatic tip charged to the shipboard account, I would estimate that there are probably up to about 40%, if not more, who don't have a clue that this is on their account. You must be an 'informed' traveler or be 'taken' at every turn-in-the-road. That is why CruiseMates is such an important part of cruising to keep us all informed. My first stop will be at the Pursur's desk on the Regal Princess to remove the added gratuity charges. As others, I always tip for the service received. BUT I will not allow the cruise lines to add that charge to my account and then let them have the priviledge of distributing the money to whom/who they please. What, is 'big brother' watching the cruise lines employees paychecks???? Big Brother sure is.....and now Big Brother can tax those gratuities that are added to the shipboard accounts......
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Old July 17th, 2001, 02:00 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Sue & Bill ...

I doubt that "Big Brother", as in the IRS, is watching those monies because of the foreign regestries of the ships.

However, there is time value of money. If you or I can hang on to some monies for a week or two or three, we can earn interest on it.

With, say, 2000 passengers per ship for a given week being charged "X" -- and "Y" number of ships in the fleet -- the numbers mount up pretty quickly and become an additional profit center.

As the late, lamented Senator, Everett Dirksen, once said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money."

On the one hand, I am completely in favor of staff being paid for the hard work that they do, and a lot of people do stiff them, knowingly and with intent. (They lost all their money in the slots.) Other folks, usually new cruisers, just don't understand.

On the other hand, I am completely opposed to the practice of extracting tips on Day One when they're not to be paid until Day Seven or Day Fourteen or whatever and NOT distributing the money to the workers until a later date. I don't know the accounting practices, so it may be that the amount isn't charged against your card until the last day of the cruise.

Overall, I don't like the practice as an individual BUT if it helps crewmembers to be fairly compensated, that's another litter of kittens.

pamda -- First Time Cruises Editor who always tips extra to make up for the jerks who don't tip at all.
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Old July 17th, 2001, 03:44 PM
Rob H
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Please bear with me as I'm one of those 'first time cruiser's'.
First of all, I recognize that when I go out on Land, my wife and I always will tip our server in majority of cases unless the server was really rude and offbase. Our guideline is 15-20 % .
If the food was lousy we do not blame our server. In the majority of service industries, employess earn their income from tips not the wage and most work hard for it. Remember our student days, trying to earn and pay bills.

In the Cruise Ship, I'm paying the company a good rate for their service and expecting to use it 24 hrs a day which means they expect staff to be on call a lot.. Am sure the wages are just like our folks on land..low..

I like the idea of knowning a guideline which to me means average and can adjust as such , envelope with cash is good but I'd prefer a coupon I can buy and charge it to my account. I do not agree with an amount being taken away from me without my authorization.

In my case , I have to convert CDN $ to US$ prior to boarding so I have it for the TIPS. In one sense my TIPS are 1.4 more then in my local country but in todays world the more I can stay away from cash upfront the better.

Bottom line, until the service industry pays better wages or my cruise price includes tipping then let me be in control and give me guidelines as in any other travels I take in the world.

cheers
Rob H
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2001, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Personally I have no problem with the cruise lines relaying " suggested amounts" for tipping to the passengers. It serves to clue people in a little bit, and probably helps many. The amount of the tip is still in the hands of the passenger to determine.
As Pamda mentioned, and I agree!!!! I can't stand HAL's "no tipping required" policy. It is very confusing. I can't tell you how many HAL passengers I've talked to who believe tips are included on HAL. The entire thing gets even more convuluted in the bars. No gratuity is added on for bar service, and if u want to add a gratuity onto your bar purchase, U can't.
I find myself wandering around on HAL with $1 bills in my pocket.

I wholeheartedly agree that tipping is for service received, and tip the amount I feel is compensate with the service level I receive.
Even on lines which now automatically bill tips, the ability to remove or reduce the amount is still there, and depending on the service I encountered I wouldn't hesitate to remove or reduce the charges.. or give more if the service warranted it.

If the cruise lines were to pay their staff a "livable wage", and offer a no true no tipping environment, it would satisy me, but I'm not so sure cruise passengers in general would be happy with the cost of that reflected in the additional cruise fare.

I think the system isn't THAT bad... just cruisers need to figure in those costs when establishing their cruise budgets.

Regards,
Kuki
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Old July 17th, 2001, 04:29 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

I will be sailing this Sunday 7/22 on the Regal for the first time, but I was told that this ship does NOT add tips automatically. Do you know something that I don't know, or have I been misinformed? Welcome your reply.
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Old July 17th, 2001, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

If I ate at the little mom and pop restaurant down the street, I would probably spend at least $5 for breakfast, $8 for lunch and $10 for dinner. That makes $23 a day. At the least I would tip them $3.45. And that is probably after asking them to refill my coffee cup at least once. I don't think $4.00 per day is asking too much since I rarely tip just 15% and the dining is not nearly comparable to the little mom and pop down the street. Do the math and it is a steal.
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Old July 17th, 2001, 06:51 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

My husband worked for 15 years as a waiter on Carnival, leaving in 1999 to become land-based and "get a real life" and still maintains close ties with many former coworkers. When he left, waiters were being paid, now pay close attention here, $45.00 per MONTH, and apparantly that has not gone up as of yet. When he first started, in 1983, he could earn an average of $500.00 per week in tips. The people who cruised in those days were of a certain class, expected certain treatment, and rewarded their servers accordingly. When he left in 1999, he considered himself lucky to make over $350.00 per week. $500.00 per week in 1983 dollars vs. $350.00 per week in 1999 dollars. Doesn't add up, does it? What happened? The cruise lines began bringing online new ships at such an enormous rate that they had to lower the prices more and more each year to fill the berths. Think about what you paid for your last cruise vs. one you took, oh say, 5 years ago. You paid about the same or less, didn't you? Well, alaong with those lower fares came passengers less savvy about the whole process, and people began to depart in droves at the end of the week without leaving a cent. Lest you rush to think that my husband had gotten burned out and was simply not doing the job he had done before, which isn't out of line to ask, rest assured that it was happening to everyone around him, and still is. No one dares to complain, because if you do, they ship you back to your home country and hire the next third world desperate soul standing in line to take your place. So please, people, remember that your cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter, bartender, bar waiter, head waiter and maitre d' are very hard working people who don't see their loved ones for 6 to 10 months at a time, who live 2 to 4 to a cabin smaller than your little inside cabin, can't ever call home in the evenings when their family members who work during the day are there to talk to them because the ships are only in port during the daylight hours............Well, anyway, you get my drift. Whether the cruise line adds it to your account qutomatically or whether you had it to them directly, remember these people live, as my husband used to put it, "a dog's life" to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. Make it worth their while.
Jennifer
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old July 17th, 2001, 08:06 PM
Lady Jag
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Why don't you cruise on HAL, Crystal, Seabourn or other lines that don't "recommend" tipping? The best way to let the industry know that you are unhappy with their policies is NOT to cruise with the cruise lines that you don't like. They will get the point if enough people feel the same way as you.
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Old July 17th, 2001, 11:57 PM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Thanks to Jennifer for the wonderfull way she made us realize the plight of all those great workers who enable us to enjoy a week of being waited on from the time we board until we leave the ship. I am amazed that the pay is so low and they have to depend upon us to support their families. We have met some very nice employees on the three different cruise lines we have used and always tipped at least the recommended amount. From now on, I will go a step farther and give an extra amount to those hard working people. I, also, would rather have the tips incorporated into the initial cruise charges and then be able to pay extra for better than normal service.
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Old July 18th, 2001, 12:23 AM
Palm Trees
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

How do the land all-inclusives work the tipping? Is it all truly included in the price or do most people go over and above the inclusive tips? Never been to one, so I'd be interested in the answer.
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  #13 (permalink)  
Old July 18th, 2001, 01:45 AM
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Bobbie ...

That's the big problem and confusion with HAL. "Tipping not required". That doesn't mean it can't be done and the crew doesn't expect it, work for it, and hope for it.

On the upscale lines, it is completely discouraged and the crew can't take tips unless the management isn't looking.

When we cruise the upscale lines, we take gifts (funny T-shirts, home-made brownies, jelly beans) for the crew and don't even begin to tip except in the most discrete way and only for exceptional serive.

When we once tried to tip on a Radisson ship and offered a picture of a dead president to a staffer, it was as though we had offered him a deadly spider.

They're serious about it.

That's not the case on HAL.

I am a big fan of HAL but the policy isn't NO TIPPING, it's TIPPING NOT REQUIRED.

Actually, I don't know that, until recent policies were put into place, that tipping was EVER required. Rather, is was expected.

Big difference.

Queeg took me out for dinner tonight. The tip to our waitperson for a single dinner far exceeded what we would give to an on-ship server and his/her assistant waiter for THREE or FOUR dinners.

Go figure.
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Old July 18th, 2001, 02:18 PM
HySeas
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

I have watched, on several cruises, how many passengers that don't show up on the final night in the dining room to pass along the tips. On my last cruise aboard the Enchantment, October, 2000, I counted six tables with no diners on the last night, that didn't show up. Yes, I for one believe in tipping. I was once a waiter and know how it feels to have to pay into the tip pool at the end of the night ( 6% ) of my gross take, and not have anything left for myself. Why, you ask. Because too many diners feel they are getting ripped off with having to pay $11.95 for a T-Bone with trimmings and therefore short the waiter on the tip, who has nothing to do with quantity or quality of your meal. I recently read a cruise review by Tom Milano, who cruises 4 to 5 times a year, about pre-tipping. I tried it on the Enchantment and it brightened up the faces of our wiater and cabin steward from the very start. They knew ahead of time that I appreciated who they were and the job that they did. People that don't tip have never had to provide for others the way service people do. I will never fail to tip unless it is the worst service I have ever had.
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Old July 18th, 2001, 04:24 PM
Rob H
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

excellent last reply
Is it ok to pre-tip ?? I imagine you mean like the 2nd night or something
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  #16 (permalink)  
Old July 18th, 2001, 05:45 PM
Lady Jag
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Yes, Pam, I know that HAL isn't a "No tipping" cruise line, but a "No tipping required" line; that's why I said for Artie to try one of the lines I mentioned because they don't "recommend" tipping. It certainly doesn't mean a tip won't be accepted, and as you pointed out, most crew on HAL still expect some sort of tip. Even on the upscale lines, a tip usually won't be denied if it is given very discreetly.

The bottom line is: if you don't like the cruise line's tipping policy, let them know about it by letter and don't cruise with them. They'll get the message eventually and if you are in the majority, they will change their policy. If you're in the minority, find another cruise line.
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Old July 18th, 2001, 07:48 PM
Shar
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

Palm Trees:
I haven't been on a land-based vacation in quite a while, but before I discovered cruising I used to frequent Club Med. In my experiences, I don't remember anyone even broaching the subject of tips - except for tipping a tour guide (maybe...)

Shar
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Old July 19th, 2001, 09:59 PM
Anna B
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Default Re: the gratuities ripoff

On the Spirit, we received a notice about midway through the cruise that the gratitudes would be added to our ship board account. We asked our cabin steward, and waitress what they thought about it. Their remarks "we do not like it because we do not get the money for 2-3 weeks, and there is a bookkeeping charge subtracted from the amount they are to receive. I went to the pursers desk and told them that I preferred to give my gratitudes it person and wanted it removed from my account. However, I can see where it would do away with the "deadbeats" that don't show up to dinner on tipping night.
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