I agree, how you tip and how much you tip is an individual choice, but I happen to disagree with you about tipping a cabin steward on the first day to ensure prompt service. Let me explain......
Most cabin stewards are foreigners who may view tipping in advance as an Ugly American trait. As you know, they work very long hours, try very hard to please, and take pride in what they do. They know, that If they don't offer excellent service they'll eventually be booted out on their butts....to go back to their most likely third world country.....where jobs are hard to find! May I suggest, if for some reason you are not happy with the service you receive from your steward, just sit him/her down and have a talk with them about your expectations. I had to do this once, and it worked out perfectly. Are there any other views on this subject?
We have found that pre tipping is not appreciated as it infers that you are looking for special or preferential treatment. But there are a couple of thing you can do to gain the respect of your cabin steward which in turn will add to your cruise pleasure.
A) If in the morning you are leaving your cabin and will not return for say several hours, use the door handle marker requesting that the room be made up. Your steward has a lot of cabins to do and is at times delayed by late "Do Not Disturb" sleepers. Knowing that your room is available helps them complete the moring rounds. We know this is appreciated
B) The steward will most often introduce himself/herself by name. Remember it and us it when speaking. Every one of us appreciates this small gesture. If you do forget the name, it will be found on a card some place in the room.
Both these gestures have been met with the best of service for which our appreciation is shown in our gratuity given at the end of the cruise..
If I can clarify, I usually do my personal requests -- usually blankets, more pillows and an ashtray, and then tip him when he brings it. I dunno if that would be construed as offensive. The way I see it, it shows them you are a nice person from the get-go.
I most definitely agree about saying hello in the halls, etc. I do that all the time ... plus we are clean as the dickens in the cabins. I've had two steward on two cruises say we were the cleanest ones that've ever had. :-)
I think the main word here is respecting their work, and I think that always comes through.
__________________ Harry Martin
Moderator - Mexico and G/L message boards
It is automaticlly added to your "onboard" charge account. However if you feel that you DID NOT get the service you expected then you may go to the Persers desk and ask to "reduce" the amount accordingly.
I guess we could debate this point ad nauseam but reducing the quantity of your tip that is automatically placed upon your account does not direct the rub at the offending service. It just decreases the size of the pot that is devvid up for everyone involved.
Just as the 15% "tip" on bar drinks is but a service charge, we consider the $10. per day account charge just that, a service charge. I just wish they had called it that. So, as your $10/day is divied up by the crew by percentages, you are not able to recognize superior service unless you then tip additionally. This we do. The individual can pocket this tip for him/herself "IF" you leave your $10 daily charge in tact. Otherwise they have to turn it over to the general pot for distribution. And believe us their system is all knowing.
By recognizing "superior" service this way makes for a better sailing environment for us all. And the plus is that the deserving individual receives the reward.
If I may add my own two cents (pun intended), I think many of you are thinking too much into this. The cabin stewards' and dining room staff's incomes are made up almost entirely of tips. Whether you tip them in the beginning of the cruise in cash, or at the end in cash, or tip them extra for particular favors, they sincerelty appreciate it all. They certainly don't see it as an ugly American behavior, especially when they gather the week's earnings at the end of the week and wire them home to their families.
The $70/head tip that is placed on your account at the start of the cruise can be removed or changed in any manner. Just go to the purser's desk and request that it be removed. I recommend doing this, as it it allows you to hand CASH to your cabin steward and dining room staff at the end of the cruise. Not only does this assure they know of your appreciation, but it give you the satisfaction of giving something back to them personally.
We have made the acquaintance of many ship staff members over these past years who have been very enlightening on this subject. Those nice white envelopes that are discreetly slipped into pockets after the final evening dinner are not even opened by the recipient. They are deposited to the overall tipping fund and therefore the server has no idea just how generous or miserly you have been. However, they do know whether or not you withdrew the service charges from your account. It is said that you can tell the generosity (or the lack thereof) of the preceding cruise passengers, by the attitude of the staff after you board anew...
We suggest that you leave the service charge, aka "tipping", on your account for the betterment of all and offer true gratuities only to those who have done something special for you personally
Everyone should be aware that all of the "tips" one gives to any shipboard staff members is pooled. Good service or bad ALL waiters or ALL cabin stewards get a % of the total that is collected. So, even if you slip your cabin steward and extra $20 for a job well done or for some extra consideration, that money goes into the pool. If anyone gets cought keeping any "extra" tips they can, and most likely will, lose their job.
This is not a good thing. This a system by which middle management (head waiters, diningroom managers, head stewerds etc) get their fingers in the pie. The people who you think you are tipping are now getting less than they were under the old system. Oh, by the way, the servers and stewards are not allowed to discuss this with the passangers. I did get this information from someone who has left the industry. JT