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Jameee August 10th, 2004 10:25 AM

mandatory "service charges" on NCL
I could not believe my eyes! What are NCL trying to do by introducing a MANDATORY 10 dollar p.p. "service charge" for all guests on their ships starting in May 2005. What gives NCL the right to forcibly extract extra monies from their passengers? How extremely arrogant! Whoever dreamed up this outrageous idea should be hung,drawn and quartered! A guaranteed way of driving future cruisers away from NCL if ever there was one.

gardencat August 10th, 2004 11:18 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL

Well debate is raging over this. Check a little furthur down this board or some of the other cruise boards and you'll find lots of discussion of this topic.

Jim Bragg August 10th, 2004 01:58 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Vote your displeasure with your pocketbook. Believe it, the other lines are watching to see if cruisers are willing to accept this. If NCL just raised their price for cruiseing I would not say a word, but to hide it under the guise of "service charge" is not something I appreciate.

gone boating August 10th, 2004 11:52 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
it really blows

cnmiranda August 11th, 2004 12:35 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
There was an article in last week's LA times where the CEO was directly asked what the "service fee" was used for and he would not answer. What does that tell customers?

Gardencat, you had asked before how my TA felt about NCL - she is fully aware of all the problems and again urged me to give up on NCL even the new PO America. She said it is a poorly run company, always has been and always will. I will not print this elsewhere because I don't want to be personally attacked. These are not my words, but my travel agent's. She also feels that the American crew situation may never work out.

It's too late now for me with the POA, I will lose a few hundred $$ if we cancel. I pricelined a resort in Waikiki before all of the disaster. Hubby wanted me to cancel tonight and take the loss, we're giving it until the end of the month. I'm so disappointed.

segerdsegerd August 11th, 2004 06:54 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Don't cancel! We were on the 7/18 cruise and yes, there were problems, but we had a great time! Go to Hawaii and enjoy it, nothing can take away from the beauty of this place. We hadn't gone prepared by reading these reviews before our adventure so it was a little bit of a shock. We have gone on many cruises before but none on NCL. It was a little confusing at first as we had to figure out what we were doing on our own on the ship, but we caught on quickly and had a good time. Get to dinner early! Get to breakfast early too, especially if you have a shore excursion that day. You'll have a great time and who knows, maybe by then they'll get some of this ironed out. Have a good time!

segerdsegerd August 11th, 2004 06:58 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Sorry, forgot to give my opinion on the "service charges"! I don't like them at all. We were not told about them ahead of time. We were reading the "fine print" on our tickets that arrived a few days before we sailed and saw it there. What????? What kind of service can we receive when the "tips" are already in hand? We did ask that question to the customer service reps that we called directly before the cruise. They said that we could expect "nothing less than NCL ever gives as service". Not sure about that one. So, I think (my opinion) after cruising with NCL that this does indeed affect the service level on this ship. Mandatory payment for no mandatory service doesn't seem fair to the paying customer.

gardencat August 11th, 2004 07:42 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
I think NCL has really shot themselves in the foot on this one.
If at the beginning, when they saw the problems with POA (more than normal staff attrition, missing or late merchant mariner crds etc.) if they had taken action by cancelling or at least reducing passenger load until they could get the staffing problems under control, they would have taken a financial hit due to lost revenues, but, they would have bought themselves some time to get things right and would probably have kept some reputation and customer loyalty.
I am not there, I am going on rumor, but if the most recent reports from passengers are true I do not think they will be able to keep on as things are now. If they are forced to start cancelling cruises now, they will still be loosing revenue but by waiting so long to do this they have also damaged their reputation and have, I suspect alienated many of their customers and mamy TA's.
At this point I just don't see any graceful way out of this for NCL.

newmexicoNita August 11th, 2004 09:08 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
In all my years as aTA and a traveler I have never incountered a situation where an agent would make a sarcastic comment about a policy or a company. In fact in both Va and Tx where I was an agent if we were not fired for making a comment we would have been repromended. When I hear a comment about a remark an agent made I get the impression that she/he were led into the comment somehow. As for the mandatory service charge it isn't going into effect until next spring and much can happen before then, not to mention for 6 weeks now this has been discussed on almost every website. Give it a rest for heavens sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


cnmiranda August 11th, 2004 11:31 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Well my travel agent is a virtuoso member of one of the most well known agencies in Los Angeles. She was listed in Travel and Leisure magazine as a European specialist (she is from Europe) and has been my travel agent for more than 8 years. Aren't travel agents around to book travel for clients that they know they will like? She told me I will not be happy with the Pride of Aloha. She knows me personally as I have booked all foreign and Hawaii travel with her. Now people are attacking others travel agents. This is just too much.

cnmiranda August 11th, 2004 11:36 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
PS, I shouldn't have to defend her.... it just amazes me how a poster can make the smallest remark and someone can pop out of nowhere and try to discredit a well known professional because of their own agenda.

cnmiranda August 11th, 2004 11:47 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Finally, I ask that you, NMN, ignore all my future posts and I will show you the same respect. This is the second time now you have singled me out and tried to insult me personally or those I am in acquaintance with. Unfortunately there is no "ignore" function here.

newmexicoNita August 12th, 2004 01:48 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
miranda, I never singled you out: certainly not this time, Infact I wasn't referring to any comment you made and where did you get the idea I was. As for familycruiser, I do just the opposite and if you read my remarks which you have certainly been doing for the past 4 or 5 months: I never pushed or would push any tour, cruise, airline, etc down the throats of my cliants: I was completely impartial. I did do my best to find out what their needs and expectations were and head them in the right direction. For those who don't have money to spend but want to cruise I would recommend an inside cabin even though I would never have one: for those who enjoy being pampered I wouldn't recommend NCL, but probably Celebrity. If I was asked my opinion of a line or a ship I would give it, If someone came in, said they wanted to go on a Carnival cruise out of Galveston, that is what I would give them.


cnmiranda August 12th, 2004 02:02 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Okay, NMnita, fuhgeddaboutit. I'm a lover not a fighter:)

newmexicoNita August 13th, 2004 12:07 PM

Re: Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
ok, Truce! We will agree to disagree on some things and I will respect your views. promise!


Bruce Chafkin August 15th, 2004 08:01 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL

I love it. This $10 issue is going to chase away many frugal cruisers and leave more room on NCL Ships in future. NCL has been far too successful so far in filling their ships. Every trip I take with them is too crowded - especially with the ankle-biters. I really hope and expect that I will have a lot more fun on their ships in future as a result of this policy. If it works out ot be the case, $10 per day is a small price to pay for satisfaction and enjoyment.
Now if they will only start something like this on airplanes. Then I wouldn`t have to spend a fortune to buy my way into Business Class to avoid the crowds.

CeeCee August 15th, 2004 09:45 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
I was under the impression that this $10 per person/per day tip or "service charge" has been in effect already with NCL -- for how long, I do not know but I am booked for a Sept. 26, 2004, cruise with NCL and have my brochure right here in front of me and it states very clearly that all service personnel on board receive gratuities from this $10 per person/per day "service charge" and there is no need to think about additional tipping (don't worry -- I won't). Separately a 15% gratuity is added to bar tabs and spa services. Jameee says this "service charge" is to be instituted some time in 2005 but looks to me as though it is already in effect as of right now.

I thought that I have read some posts here where you can add to or take away from this fee as befits the actual service provided. Wonder if there are any NCL cruisers out there who can confirm this?

All I can say is that I'm almost to a point where I'm sorry my husband and I even thought about taking a cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversay. Being that this is our first cruise, we simply did not know any better and freestyle appealed to each of us, thus the decision to go with NCL. The TA I chose has been less than helpful but that's altogether another subject probably best suited for the gripe board. In hindsight, I should have visited the cruise boards *before* plopping money down on any cruise-- live and learn. At this point, I'm going to hope and pray that I can report back here to tell you that our cruise was a smooth and happy event. In the meantime, I shall remain on the edge of my seat.

cnmiranda August 15th, 2004 11:23 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Chase away frugal cruisers, no.... The POA is costing more than a Celebrity cruise=)
Chase away informed cruisers, maybe.

I think it would be a good idea to email Stephen from the Pride of Aloha problems thread to understand how the "service charge" really works. As a matter of fact it will again make the cruise more expensive because none of the staff gets any sort of cash compensation from your mandatory "service charge". We'll see how "satisfied" and joyful the travelers are when the staff has no reason to take good care of them.

cnmiranda August 15th, 2004 11:53 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Btw, I'm not trying to feed a troll or attack anyone personally but I wonder why a person that spends a fortune to fly business class would want to cruise a moderate mass market cruise line like NCL? With the amount if costs to travel RT business one can easily sail Radisson=)

CeeCee, the automatic service fee is not adjustable. Unless you are booked on the Pride of Aloha the new service fees will not go fleetwide until May of 2005. Hope this helps.

gardencat August 16th, 2004 06:48 AM

Re: Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL

Since you are a first time cruiser I'll agree with cnmiranda but go into a little more detail.

What is in effect now on all NCL ships except POA is an 'automatic' $10 pp/pd charge. This is automatically added to your bill but can be removed if you go to the desk and say you do not want to give that amount of tip.

The new service charge will also be added to your account but cannot be removed or adjusted in any way. Thus it switches from being just 'automatic' to being 'automatic' and 'mandatory'.

CeeCee August 16th, 2004 09:00 AM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Thanks to cnmiranda and gardencat for your information on this. I have no problem with tipping and auto tipping really does not bother me as long as the service warrants it. As I have read in other threads on this same subject (gripe board I believe), seems the tips are all pooled and divided and if you choose to remove the auto tip, whatever tips you do give out must be thrown back into the pool. From what I understand, the only time a server is allowed to personally keep a tip is if the auto tip is left intact on the bill. If that is the case, I will leave the tip or "service fee" as is on this first cruise.

cnmiranda August 16th, 2004 12:03 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Ceecee, do you mind sharing which ship you'll be sailing on? There is a difference between NCL's concept of the "service fee" and other cruise lines version of auto tipping. I have sailed 2 other cruise lines (princess & RCI) with auto tipping and it was convenient. Of course, you are still allowed to tip additional. But that's correct on other cruiselines BESIDES NCL all tips are pooled for the auto gratuity. But from what I understand if you tip <additional > each server is allowed to keep it, but they must turn the $$ over to their supervisor and then it is returned back to them. Sounds confusing.

NCL APPEARS to be different. An employee from POA reports that they do not see a dime from the "service charge" and their tips are nonexistant. That means the "service charge" is NOT pooled and employees are NOT given cash at the end of each weeks voyage. You may also want to contact Stephen from the Pride of Aloha thread for his explanation of the "service fee". Then you can draw your own conclusions:) But the "service fee" on NCL and the auto/adjustable gratuity on other cruise lines are 2 different matters.

Hope this helps:) Very confusing:)

CeeCee August 16th, 2004 01:17 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
cnmiranda - I will be on the NCL Star on the first Mexican Riviera run Sept. 26 (yet another mistake I probably made). In my post above, I mentioned what the brochure spells out about the service fee and this brochure is specific to this particular NCL cruise, not just a general NCL brochure.

cnmiranda August 16th, 2004 02:04 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Oh yes, then you're fine. Employees should get your direct "auto tip" then. At least that's the way I understand it for the time being. What happens with the auto "service charge" of all NCL ships next year I don't know. I think? Happy sailings:)

John Tee August 18th, 2004 08:24 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
It's not a freaken TIP. It's an salary adjustment .... or in other words it's an increase in the price of the cruise without increasing the price. It's a bait and switch. It's immoral and wrong. NCL shoudl be ashamed of themselves. It they want to charge an extra 200-400 per room the raise the freaken rates.

There was mass confussion on our 6/20 cruise on this. Was it the automatic TIP ? We thought so at first but then found out it wasn't. We had to tip in the end.

NCL Management really is blowing this so totally that it is unbelievable.

Don't listen to the crap about problems on POA being because of new American crew. These guys are working their asses off and getting stiffed on tips.

Anne Campbell August 19th, 2004 02:47 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
NCL is attempting to keep "sticker shock" at bay. The $10 service fee is as much a part of your tab as the cruise ticket is. They started this policy with Pride of Aloha crediting the extra cost of the all-American crew. Now it is to be applied to all other ships, which don't have an American crew. They are paid around $50 per person, per months. Some of the $10 fee will go to them, but I'm not all.

Ships are full now and cruise lines don't have to lure you with lower prices.

gardencat August 19th, 2004 04:37 PM

Re: Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
"Ships are full now and cruise lines don't have to lure you with lower prices."

I think you are right on with this, but while I am willing to be told up front that my cruise will cost me more, I am not prepared to pay a fair price for my cruise and then recieve poor service, poor food and lack of a suitable attempt to address any problems.

Most of these things are cyclical and when the wheel turns and we once again reach a point where capacity exceeds demand I, for one, will remember which lines ripped off their customers.

DUKE 42 August 19th, 2004 04:48 PM

Re: Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
This is the first time I've visited this board and I spotted your post. My wife and I have cruised NCL 3 times and have cruised RCL, Princess, and Carnival, all in all 7 cruises the past 4 years so I think my opinion should carry some weight. The $10 pp a day is more than fair and in our case we have tipped the room stewards extra each time. Every line that we have been on automatically adds this charge to your ship and sail card unless you request that it don't. We have always had good service on all lines and found most ship personal very friendly. Unless you are unreasonable and demanding and look for something to complain about you'll be treated like royality. NCL is a good fit for middle age people and you'll find the food excellent and the entertainment for the most part very good. I would be careful of the excersions, every line prices them high and you'll find that you can do much better if you go ashore and make your own arrangments. The only negative I have about NCL is the size of the cabins, much smaller than most other lines. If you go again in the future look for the room sizes before you book. Some NCL cabins are 110sq. ft. A decent size is over 150. Hope this helps. Enjoy your cruise and don't give a lot of credit to all the negative comments.

John Tee August 19th, 2004 05:02 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
The Service Charge is not a tip pool!!!!! It's an increase in the price of the cruise, bate and switch, pure and simple. We still had to tip. This is not an automatic tiping pool.

It's criminal and it's outragous IMHO, but hay ... it's the way it is.

Just realize that you need to add this to the advertised price of the cruise so that you know the real cost of the cruise.

cnmiranda August 19th, 2004 07:16 PM

Re: mandatory "service charges" on NCL
Thank you for saying that John. I think many passengers still, after all this discussion, do not understand that the service charge is not a tip on the Pride of Aloha.

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