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  #31 (permalink)  
Old February 14th, 2005, 05:07 PM
newmexicoNita
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Marcia, I agree about just adding it to the cost of the crew, but I too, as an agent and have had it explained a little different. I don't know who is right and I am sure none of us know quite how to handle this, but you can be sure other lines will follow. NMnita
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old February 14th, 2005, 07:18 PM
pata
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

This subject does get a bit complicated. The original idea was to make sure all NCL employees had their fair share for work done rather than a select few who were more obviously there and available to hand a cash tip to. It also made it easier on passengers by not having to come up with cash money at the end of a cruise. (Good Idea in my opinion) All NCL employees (my understanding here) except the " American" flagged ship are under contract to outside foreign companies and are not even paid minimum wage (American wages) much less have a paid vacation. So, from what I can see, this"resort fee" really only applies to the NCL American flagged ships because the other ship's employees are under outside contracts with few, if any, benefits.
If the $10 per day per person is going to be non negotiable, then it is only the American flagged ships who really "expect" another "tip" above and beyond the added resort fee.. Although, all would appreciate more. At least, this is my understanding of the situation. Surely, someone will correct me if I am wrong!
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old February 14th, 2005, 10:42 PM
acedoc
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Here's the info from the NCL web page, hope it helps:

Star to Alaska! 6-19-05 Can't wait for the Paperwork Dance!
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SERVICE CHARGE
A fixed service charge of $10 per person, per day will be added to your onboard account. For children ages 3-12, a $5 per person per day charge will be added to your onboard account; there is no charge for children under the age of three. Our crew is encouraged to work together as a service team and is compensated by a combination of salary and incentive programs that the service charge supports. It is our earnest wish that you enjoy your Freestyle Cruise experience and that our entire crew in all areas of the ship will provide you with the standard of service for which NCL is known. Therefore, if you have any concerns about the service you receive during your cruise, please bring them to the immediate attention of our reception desk staff on board so that we can address any issues in a timely manner before the cruise is over.

Both NCL and NCL America have a structured guest satisfaction program on board designed to handle any concerns raised by our guests relating to the service or on board product quickly and efficiently. In almost all cases we are able to come up with a satisfactory solution to any issues which are raised and make sure our guests can focus on enjoying their cruise vacation. In the unlikely event we cannot satisfactorily resolve the issue through our guest satisfaction program, guests will be able to adjust the service charge according to the level of inconvenience they feel they have experienced. Our clear priority is to have the opportunity of resolving the issue, when it happens, to everyone’s complete satisfaction.

GRATUITIES
Unlike most other ships in the cruise industry, there is no required or recommended tipping on NCL America or Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Guests should not feel obliged to offer a gratuity for service that is generally rendered to all guests.

However, all of our staff are encouraged to "go the extra mile", and so they are permitted to accept cash gratuities entirely at the discretion of our guests who wish to acknowledge particular staff members for exceptional or outstanding service. In other words, there is genuinely no need to tip but you should feel free to do so if you have a desire to acknowledge particular individuals.

Also, certain staff positions provide service on an individual basis to only some guests. We encourage those guests to acknowledge good service from these staff members with appropriate gratuities. For example, for guests purchasing bar drinks the recommended gratuity is 15 percent. Similarly, for guests using concierge and butler services, we recommend they consider offering a gratuity commensurate with services rendered.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I think this supports what I was told:

"a combination of salary and incentive programs that the service charge supports."

The $10 is not a tip divided among the crew, it is part of employee operating costs for NCL.

I think it will be awhile before the confusion is explained in a manner that everyone can understand, but if I return on an NCL cruise I will definitely tip as I go along.

Marcia
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 09:47 AM
newmexicoNita
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

thanks to pata and acedoc, I think you have clarified the subject as well as it can be for now. Though the 10.00 does not go directly in the form of tips to the crew it does go toward incentives, etc. An additional amount as stated by NCL for service above and beyond is welcomed, but certainly not necessary. I, for one, will give extra to those who I feel have done an outstanding job. NMNita
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Thx acedoc: I think that pretty much clears it up.
"Guests should not feel obliged to offer a gratuity for service that is generally rendered to all guests." Interestingly this is what we have always done on NCL. On our last cruise, our steward did a couple of extra (and much appreciated) things for me - so we did give him a little "extra". Personally I intend to take NCL at their word and only tip for what I consider "extra" (i.e. beyond what one can normally expect). I would only ever dispute the service charge in the case of a major service failure which happily has never happened to me.
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 05:18 PM
Bruce Chafkin
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program


Where does all that Auto-tipping money go?

The monthly salary on a ship like Norwegian Star is just over $1 Million.
That ship carries an average of about 2,500 passengers per week; about 300 of them are usually children.
2,200 x $70 = $154,000
300 x $35 = $10,500
Total = $164,500 per week

That makes $658,000 per month in auto-tips from guests.
This leaves $342,000 per month additional from NCL to cover one month's wages.

Where do you think all that auto-tip money goes?
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 06:06 PM
Bruce Murray
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

As of Jan 30th NCL was not charging the $10 per day fee on the Pride Of Aloha. I did notice a change, and that was that the vast majority of exiting passengers I interviewed knew about the fee before they boarded the ship, and they considered it a tip. They were told after the cruise started that they wouldn't be charged the fee and that they should tip directly.

The important thing to understand about the resort fee is that NCL gets the full amount and doesn't have to share it with travel agents.

Bruce
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old February 15th, 2005, 11:17 PM
Maraprince
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Peebeegee,

NCL does a lot of marketing to the UK for its voyages. Do they offer UK passengers a different payment arragement that includes the $10 daily service charge as part of the overall cruise price?

The "hold" on your account refers to paying with a debit card -- not a credit card. Your credit card account would not be put on hold. Different story if using a debit card since the money comes right out of your account immediately and there needs to be enough money there to cover whatever is charged to the account. To make sure that the money is there, a "hold" is placed on your account for an amount that would cover the service charge or one of more passengers in a cabin that are using the same card for that cabin.

Hope that helps!
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old February 16th, 2005, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Bruce, again, it is not an "auto-tip." The money is going to NCL. They are saying to "supplement salaries and benefits." Bottom line.. it's going to NCL!!!

If a restaurant (or any business for that matter) raises its charges to pay for salaries or benefits, you wouldn't consider it a tip and not leave anything on the table so I don't know why anyone is considering this a "tip."

NCL is confusing the matter by separating this from the upfront cost of the cruise. That's all. "Auto-tipping" does not exist on freestyle cruises. Tip as you would in any restaurant or hotel.

Marcia
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old February 16th, 2005, 10:24 AM
newmexicoNita
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

marcia, how many restaurants and hotels in Europe, Bahama's and the far east add a service charge and suggest no additional tips or just to leave loose change? This has been the policy for as long as I have traveled out of the US and the staff accepts it. It would be pretty hard and very expensive to tip as you would in any restaurant or hotel. think of the dinners we eat on ships and what they would cost on land?

NMNita
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old February 16th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I am ABSOLUTELY NOT condoning this policy of adding a service charge. I am just trying to make sure the hardworking staff doesn't get punished because NCL has decided to add this charge. It is not their fault, they are not getting the money, and it bothers me that people are not tipping because of it.

I'm losing money because this is a service charge not part of the cost of this cruise so I certainly am not defending it.

Marcia
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old February 16th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Uhm - MarciaLF: this service charge on NCL ships is NOT new (making it non alterable is new). NCL has been doing this for a while. And believe me the crew are receiving it one way or the other. NCL is not keeping it and using it for other things. BTW I asked a couple of crew including cabin stewards and waiters in the dining room - they all prefer service charge because they can count on getting something. The old tipping system was hit or miss.
My understanding from what the crew told me was that they get a certain base percentage depending on the number of passengers + extra incentive money. The ratings cards help to determine which "teams" get extra incentive money (which is why if you want to single out a particular crew member those cards are especially important).
If there is an NCL Crew member out there, please correct me if I misunderstood what I was told.
BTW : I am talking about the "service charge" NOT the "resort fee" on NCLA ships. The "resort fee" is completely different.
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old February 16th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

We are talking about the the "resort fee" on NCLA ships which will soon be on the other ships. The automatic tipping service fee is an entirely different matter. Whether or not this will be eliminated I don't know. The "resort fee" is what the seminar I went to was about and that is not divided as tips for crew.

I think this subject has been beaten to death. If you are going on a cruise with a fee of any type, ask at the reception desk whether or not this is divided as tips for the staff. If it is given to the staff, you can decide whether or not to tip; if it's not, please tip wherever you get good service.

Marcia
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old February 17th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

"We are talking about the the "resort fee" on NCLA ships which will soon be on the other ships."
MArciaLF:
Uhm - do you have any written documentation about this Marcia. I checked with my TA and she said the ONLY change that they had been made aware of was that the 'service charge' on NCL ships was no longer going to be alterable. She has heard NOTHING about the "resort fee" being applied to all NCL ships. As far as she knows it only applies to NCLA ships (POA and Pride of America).
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old February 17th, 2005, 05:47 PM
newmexicoNita
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

My understanding from my boss who has discussed this with our sales rep for NCL is exactly like what Zeno has been told. I guess we all have our own ideas as to how this will affect the crew. I did talk to our concierge on the Sea and he seemed to think it was to be used to better the benefits of the crew. it depends on who you talk to I guess. NMNita
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old February 18th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

No, they did not give us anything in writing. They gave us a nice breakfast, an NCL mug and then told us that the $10 a day fee now on the Pride of Aloha will apply to all ships by the summer of 2005. Then (after a lot of screaming travel agents!) someone asked if their client should still tip and the NCL rep at the head of the room said that this fee had nothing to do with tipping, it was originally instituted to pay the extra expenses involved with an American crew (as mandated by U.S. labor laws) and they decided to institute it on all ships.

Now, when I was on the Pride of Aloha, we worked closely with the Concierge because my mother had special needs for tours. He explained it to me the same way NCL did. There was also an announcement on the cruise that this ship does not have automatic tipping on the bill and please "show your appreciation as you go along." (The words were very close to that.)

As I said it my last post, we are beating this subject to death. We can speculate forever and then NCL can change their minds. No one knows what NCL will do tomorrow and if it will apply to all or some ships. Find out if there is a fee on the ship you are on and then tip (or not tip) accordingly.

Marcia
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old February 18th, 2005, 03:46 PM
pata
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

"As I said it my last post, we are beating this subject to death. We can speculate forever and then NCL can change their minds. No one knows what NCL will do tomorrow and if it will apply to all or some ships. Find out if there is a fee on the ship you are on and then tip (or not tip) accordingly."


This is so true Marcia. Most people just want to know the proper thing to do so they won't embarrass themselves by not knowing what is expected. We used to believe that the $10 per day covered everything (well, except the bar gratuities) and now we learn that that may not be the case. In my opinion, it is only the American flagged ship employees who "expect" more tips. On the other NCL ships, I think the employees always appreciate the extra tipping, but do not expect it quite so much. I think the American employees were led to believe that their income would be enhanced by all the generous tippers onboard, while the foreign employees are just so thankful to have a job they do not focus so much on that issue. Just my opinion and not trying to beat a dead horse, just trying to show there may be a different perspective depending on one's circumstances.
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old February 18th, 2005, 05:15 PM
newmexicoNita
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

pata, good points and I beleive they are pretty much on the line. NMNita
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old February 19th, 2005, 11:14 AM
True Brit
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Hi Maraprince
Since you appear to be the only one who read what I said I will repeat it!!!
It is not possible under UK banking law to place a "hold" on an account for an undetermined amount!
NCL is marketed over here in the same way as the US in that we are told that an automatic amount of $10 per day per passenger is added to your account which I have no problems with (why else would I have booked an NCL cruise for next year?)
I keep reading various posts from Bruce on various boards and I have to say they are more than a little repetitive; we should all feel sorry for the poor people who staff cruise ships! Sorry but I have said it before but they were not forced to work for any cruise line - all exercised their free rights and why should we keep paying for that!!!
Over to you Bruce.
Cheers. Paul
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old February 19th, 2005, 06:39 PM
pata
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I keep reading various posts from Bruce on various boards and I have to say they are more than a little repetitive; we should all feel sorry for the poor people who staff cruise ships! Sorry but I have said it before but they were not forced to work for any cruise line - all exercised their free rights and why should we keep paying for that!!!

Hi True Brit,
I guess I have not been reading enough posts to understand what you mean. I agree that the American flagged NCL ship"s employees have "free rights" to choose their place to work and also have the benefits of the US minimum wage laws. My understanding is that the foreign flagged NCL ships, staffed mostly by people from other countries, are contract labor and do not have the benefit of earning a minimum wage.
I was not trying to say anyone should feel sorry for these people, but to appreciate how really wonderful they can make your cruising experience. It was a joy to get to know Mr. Tipo, from the Phillipines, on our last cruise and he certainly made us feel special and pampered. In fact, the whole crew on the Sea was fantastic. Even if someone does not or cannot leave a tip, it doesn't cost a thing to leave a nice message on the comment card and it does help them keep their jobs.
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  #52 (permalink)  
Old February 20th, 2005, 11:25 AM
Bruce Chafkin
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

pata,

Please do not misunderstand. I definitely do not feel sorry for those who work on ships. I have been employed on cruise ships for many years and wouldn't have it any other way.
They generally do very well for themselves. True, they do have to work very hard and long hours, but the compensation is not too bad. On the negative side they do miss out on seeing their families, and often barely know the children they are working so hard to support and give a better life.
Are they forced to take these jobs?
Yes and No.
They could stay unemployed in their home countries or take extremely low-paying jobs there. But then their families would not eat very much and they would miss out on many of the things that a cruise ship salary buys them. In that respect they are forced to take cruise line jobs. It is the only way they can provide properly for their families.

I do however reget the direction that cruise line companies have taken with regards to business plans and compensation for the crew.
When American Millionaire JP Morgan purchased the White Star Line in 1910, things began to go downhill. He decided he could save loads of money by paying the crew nearly nothing, and forcing the passengers to supplement their salaries with tips. That practice continued through to this day and will probably be with us forever. Unfortunately the quality of passenger, and the size of his wallet have gone down dramatically over the years.
Over the past 2 decades, cruise line companies have caved in to the American Middle Class, making cruising cheaper and cheaper. The only way the companies can afford to do this is by continually cutting the salaries, tips, and benefits to their employees.

In 1972, the average daily recommended tip on Royal Viking Cruise Line was $19.75 per passenger per day. Most passengers tipped far more than that. In those days, that was quite a bit of money.
Today, the worldwide average recommended (or forced) tip is $9.75. Less than half.
The cruise lines have effectively cut their employees salaries by 50% to enable the middle class to cruise. To add to the troubles, in recent years as many as 30% of passengers tipped nothing at the end of the cruise. They couldn't - or wouldn't afford it.
Is that your problem?? Yes it is.
Since good cruise line employees have had their salaries reduced so dramatically, many are now finding other jobs at home that pay the same or more than a cruise ship job. They are now staying home with their families (something they wanted to do anyway) and still are able to support them reasonably well. This puts the cruise line companies in a bind. They are forced to hire sub-standard service staff (at sub-standard wages) to take care of you on your discounted cruise. Then you complain that the service is poor and properly refuse to tip them, reduciing salaries even further.
Do you see where this is going?
The discount cruiser is driving down the quality and success of the cruise industry so he can have his "all-inclusive" $499 7-day holiday.

Who suffers in the end? You do.
The cruise line employees will be quite happy with their new jobs back home in the Philippines, I will continue receiving my very generous management salary, and you will still be complaining about poor service on your $499 "cruise of a lifetime".
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  #53 (permalink)  
Old February 20th, 2005, 04:09 PM
pata
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Well thanks Bruce for that explanation. You truly have a gift for seeing the broader picture. Naturally, am trying to envision the future cruise experience based on what you have said. Personally, I am glad that middle class (me) can now have a cruise experience and I am also glad that other people can work and stay home with their families (Mr.Tipo). So, I guess I am looking at a future cruise experience that is structured so that you must swipe your sail card to have assistance of any kind? Just having a little fun here. So, if you want your bed made you just swipe your card and someone appears (for a charge of course) to do that for you? Or for each dining choice you just use your card to pay for whatever you choose, also for a charge? So, ulitmately, each and every one will pay for whatever services they choose to use. Then, the staff will be conpensated for all their work and the passengers will have control over what they choose to pay for. Seriously tho, I think having a clear picture of how it all works helps cruisers make their own personal choices about how to tip. Thanks for the insight.
Pat
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  #54 (permalink)  
Old February 20th, 2005, 10:18 PM
Maraprince
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Bruce,

May be I'm missing something. I thought that part of the original reason cruising dropped off was due to airlines ( i.e., Concord) being able to fly quicker to European destinations -- one of the original destinations for cruisers -- allowing more time once you arrrived. The airlines are what caused the decline in ocean liner travel. It was only when the cruise lines partnered with the airlines and stopped looking at them as competitors that things started to pick up for the cruise lines. Since there are only a limited number of wealthy passengers who could afford to travel on long voyages, shorter trips became more favorable.

"Middle class" passengers make up the bulk of passengers with "Baby Boomers" the largest group. Today it is more common to see grandparents taking their childern and grandchildren on cruises since they have the money and time to travel.

Also, once passengers got a taste of "homeport" cruising with its convience, many of them no longer wanted to deal with air port hassles, flight delays, lost luggage, etc. when they could get to the ports via car or taxi. Plus, they didn't have to fly in early just to make the ship and add more money to the overall cruise.

Yes, the vast majority of today's passengers have to work to pay for their cruises -- they were not born wealthy like the passengers of the past. Does that mean they shouldn't get good quality service? Why does this seem to be a problem unique to NCL? You don't see the other cruise lines having a problem attracting good help. I would imagine that the cruise industry is no different from other travel industries as far as turnover. As a worker you will go to whoever will pay you the best.

So I am confused by some of your reasons for why passengers are the blame for the problems!!!!!!!

Maraprince
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  #55 (permalink)  
Old February 21st, 2005, 09:34 AM
Bruce Chafkin
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

MaraPrince,

Please read my post again. The cruise lines alone are to blame for their own problems. Nobody else.

The powers that be decided to go for the mass-market, lowest common denominator, quantity over quality business model - just like the airlines. Unfortunately, middle America loves lowest common denominator, preferring low price rather than high quality. The most financially successful cruise lines operate very much like McDonalds and Wal-Mart. The American Market supports that model and encourages other cruise lines who want to make a profit to do the same.
I'm not sure where you got the idea that the airlines and cruise lines are partners there days. We were friendlty for a few years - but now we are bitter enemies. We are essentially competing for the same discount traveler market.

In the 1960's it was cheaper and faster to FLY somewhere.
Today it is cheaper, safer, and less hassle to CRUISE somewhere.

If you think the airlines like the cruise lines, check out the seat and itinerary you get when you purchase your air through the cruise line. The airlines intentionally sell us the worst air packages (but very cheap) so that you will choose to buy directly from them next time.
The airlines are definitely NOT our friends - nor our partners. The airlines and cruise lines are curently locked in a battle to the death to win over discount travellers.

I really do not like NCL. They are arrogant, not service-oriented, treat their employees badly, and make many errors in their business. But if you think they are the only cruise line having problems finding good crew, you are sadly mistaken. When I worked for RCI, Princess, HAL, and Renaissance, we faced EXACTLY the same recruiting issues that NCL faces. EVERY cruise line has slashed salaries and benefits to their employees in order to cut costs and attract discount cruisers at a profit. EVERY cruise line has lost their best employees to hotels, airlines, and other hospitality companies that have not reduced - but actually increased - salaries and benefits.

Should the middle class (that cannot afford to take an expensive cruise) expect to receive good service on a mass-market cruise ship??
Absolutely.
But they should also expect to pay for good service. Quality costs money.

When the cruise company company effectively reduces service salaries by 50% over a 20 year period, you must expect and assume that service staff will not be as good as before. When 30% of today's cruisers tip nothing at the end of the cruise - further reducing salaries by another 30% - you must expect and assume that service will suffer as a result.

You get what you pay for .
McDonalds prices get you McDonalds service.
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  #56 (permalink)  
Old February 21st, 2005, 04:45 PM
pata
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Just wanted to add there is a very good article about the cruise industry in general in the Frommers newsletter today. Gives an explanation about the fluctuating costs in today's market and was very informative about the future pricing and across the board policies.
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  #57 (permalink)  
Old March 6th, 2005, 01:16 AM
Stanley
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Default Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Hey people, we're only talking $10 a day per person here. We're still having our rooms and toilets cleaned and beds made. Ice to the cabins, etc. Even if you are eating at the Buffet.... the waiters change positions from time to time so it all evens out for the servers and us, the cruisers. Do we all realize that the servers and rrom attendants are paid about $50 a month and depend on the tips that we leave for them. If we aren't happy with the way our room was done or our towels folded or is we don't like the service when we are dining, speak up right there and then. Ask for the MaitreD. Sort it out immediately and don't stew about it. I would bet that most of us are happy with the service we receive on the ships. If we can't leave the tip or pay the service fee of $10 a day then maybe we shouldn't be on a cruise.
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  #58 (permalink)  
Old March 7th, 2005, 11:51 AM
Maraprince
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Default Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Stanley,

Unfortunately it is the mentality of some passengers who think that they are "pulling a fast one" on the cruise line by not tipping -- not a question of being able to afford it. These are the same passengers who will return home and brag about not tipping!

I certainly agree with you about reporting poor service as soon as it happens to the right person on board. Why should it make your cruise miserable? You waited a long time for the voyage why not enjoy it! But, sadly there is always that minority that will complain about everything as justification for not tipping.
!


Maraprince
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