"Hotel Service Charge"
Do you have to tip staff over and above the Hotel Service Charge of $12 per day pp that is charged at the end of the cruise?
No, you do not.
The $12 per person per day is a gratuity that covers your stateroom attendant, your waiter, your assistant waiter, and the head waiter.
So unless any of them performs above and beyond, in which case you can provide an additional gratuity, you don't need to do anything more.
On the flip side, if they do not perform up to your expectations, you can always go to the Purser's Desk and ask to have the service charge reduced.
So don't feel like you do not have any control over the gratuities.
If YOU wish to give additional to someone who has gone above and beyond to make your cruise more enjoyable that is up to you but it is not required.
I love automatic gratuities or service charges. I did not enjoy stuffing envelopes on the final evening and handing them out. I also disliked when the Maitre 'd finally showed up at your table on the last night to smile and receive his/her envelope. I rarely gave them one.
The problem that has developed is that many people convey the notion that they should still "tip" above the automatic amount or they will not receive good service or are "cheapskates". This myth has been perpetuated by people who aren't really sure, those who want to make themselves look like high rollers, and those afraid that if they don't tip, they won't receive good service. It has also been perpetuated by a very few cruise staff who guilt people into giving them more money.
I have over 40 cruises under my belt and there have been times I have given extra to someone who went out of their way to make my cruise more enjoyable but there have been many cruises that I have not given extra. Overall the standard service has been the same. The ONE time I tipped a cabin steward up front, I received the worst cabin service on any cruise. The cabin was not serviced, during the day, for two consecutive days. I had to give a call to the head of housekeeping and the problem disappeared but the steward gave no apology or explanation.
Go! Enjoy your cruise and don't worry about extra tipping. But please, don't remove your tips if you receive good service. The staff works very hard and the gratuities are, basically, their wage.
Thank you all for your replies. I now feel more comfortable about not leaving extra tips unless warranted.
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