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MARAPRINCE February 9th, 2005 09:37 AM

NCL's New Tipping Program
I am very curious to hear from someone who works on the NCL ships as to how they plan to enforce their new policy of a $10 per day service charge that cannot be adjusted.

On my last cruise on the NCL N. Sea, there was a large number of passengers who booked the very last minute through the internet at 1/3 the price, received an upgrade and a $100 per person cabin credit. They purchased nothing during the cruise and were "incensed" that NCL would not let me use the cabin credit to pay for the tips. So the last sea day, they went to the gift shops to use up their credits!

How does NCL plan to enforce the new policy? What if a passenger doesn't register a credit/debit card and claims not to have a checking account OR doesn't have the cash to pay for the service charges what will NCL do? I'm sure there will many of these situations.

NCL says they want passengers to report problems as they occur on board so that NCL can resolve the issues. Well, I think they better expect to have very long lines of passengers who will refuse to tip and will do anything possible not to.

Let's hear from you out there.

newmexicoNita February 9th, 2005 10:18 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
THis will not happen: there will be almost no more of these booking on line at 50% cruises offered in the first place: second everyone who does not have a Credit card is required to put cash up front; as we all know you check in with docs, ID, etc in hand before you board the ship. At that time a certain amount of cash is required if no cc is posted, same as major hotels and car companies. it will be enforced!


dawcruiser February 9th, 2005 01:36 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

What are you saying when you say. "....there will be almost no more of these booking on line at 50% cruises offered in the first place..."

I rarely pay over 60% of brochure rate. I once had a last minute cruise at a 71% discount. Are you saying that we will be paying brochure prices soon?


coolrush February 9th, 2005 01:55 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
From what I was told by the front desk workers when we went on our cruise, it can be adjusted. They do not want you to find out about it becuase they are afraid alot of people will stiff out on the tip. I am not sure if they can legally force you to pay a tip, but i am not sure legal wise what they can or cant do.

newmexicoNita February 9th, 2005 05:38 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Coolrush, intereresting< I am under the impression, like most of us, that starting May the $10 will be considered a service charge and automatic. We will wait this one out. Don, I didn't mean you could no longer get a discount, I simply meant the give away prices we have seen in the past advertised on these threads will no long exist, also the price of cruising is indeed exculating this year with almost no new ships being put into the water til 2006. This does not mean there will be no more great last minute pricing. Of course as far as discounts off the brochure prices I have yet to find one person who has ever paid brochure prices.


CruisingGal February 10th, 2005 06:34 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I think you need to understand one thing -- if you don't produce a credit/debit card or cash (or travelers checks) you will not be getting on the ship. That is each person, not each cabin. If there are 2 of you, each person has to have a card or cash to secure an onboard account. You can be assured that NCL is going to get the $10 per person per day charge.

From what I have heard from other people, if you give a debit card the cruiseline puts a hold on your checking account for a certain amount of money so that they get theirs. If you don't have enough in your checking account you could end up with checks coming in with insufficient funds.

When it comes to the money, you better believe that the cruiselines know how to get the money. You will not get over on them.

newmexicoNita, I will confess to being the first person you find to have paid brochure price for a cruise. It was our first cruise and we knew nothing. Now we book our own online -- and there is NO way we will pay anything close to brochure price.

newmexicoNita February 10th, 2005 10:20 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Actually you are probably the third or fouth person to pay full price. LOl


MARAPRINCE February 10th, 2005 11:40 AM

Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
I have no problem with that!


My friend and I always have tipped and will continue to tip. I'm only pointing out that it has happened before where the majority of passengers on a particular sailing paid ridiculously low prices to book the cruise because NCL sold off large blocks of cabins to cruise brokers who charged rates equivalent to the 3rd or 4th person rates. These same passengers were also given upgrades and cabin credits and expected to pay nothing more on board for services rendered to them. Part of their justification was "I never ate in the dining rooms or used room service. I took all my meals in the buffet area so why should I pay someone for doing nothing for me." They were also "incensensed" that NCL would not let them apply the cabin credit to pay for the tips. So the last sea day they ran to the shops to use up the cabin credit. And by the way, they also removed the tips from their statements. They left the ship owing nothing for a 7 or 10 day cruise!

It is my understanding that because of actions like this NCL has decided to implement this new policy starting in May and has been advising future passengers of this change. If they do not like the new policy, they do not have to book with NCL. Cruises are no longer all inclusive and I don't think NCL has tried to give anyone this mistaken impression.


Having such a disparity in what passengers paid for the same cruise almost caused a riot when passengers who booked directly with NCL found out that they paid almost 3 times as much as those who booked on the internet. Once passengers learned of this, the Latitude and Future Sales rep had long lines of irate passengers and didn't sell very many new cruises.

mizboog February 10th, 2005 12:48 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
WOW, that's just horrible! I can't imagine getting a great price on a cruise and then stiffing the help! The comment about not eating in the dining room, that they ate in the buffet, do they realize that people WORK in the cafe to prepare the meals and clean the tables? Some people just want something for nothing. I'm all about a great deal, but not at the expense of the employees. We could beat this topic into the ground like a dead horse and there will always be people that can justify it. I for one approve of the automatic tipping, and yes, if there is a problem I want it fixed sooner than later. Why let something ruin your cruise when it could be rectified in 20 minutes or less? I hope I don't get a bunch of these people on the Sun with me, I doubt it though since it's Spring Break and higher prices.


Maraprince February 11th, 2005 12:59 PM

Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

The problem is that many first time cruisers are misunderstanding that their cruise price DOES NOT INCLUDE TIPPING AND OTHER ON BOARD EXPENSES AND IS NOT ALL INCLUSIVE. For example, the high end cruise lines like Crystal and Silversea, Seabourn will include things like a mini bar that is restocked, some tours, wine at meals, and tipping. BUT WHAT THEY DON'T REALIZE IS THAT THE COST IS ANYWHERE FROM $6,000, $8,000 OR MORE FOR 7DAYS! AND THESE LINES ONLY HAVE SUITES.

The advertising needs to be changed. Cruise pricing is advertised "AS LOW AS" ....$599 per person. But that amount does not include port charges, security fees, insurance, etc. Tipping isn't even mentioned as extra to the cruise price. Everyone likes to feel they have secured the best price. But some passengers shouldn't take a cruise in the first place with the mentality they have. It they tried to do the same thing at a shore side restaurant, you can sure if they came back, their service would not be the greatest!

Maybe the solution is to nofiy passengers as soon as they place a deposit that tipping is extra and will be handled by a daily $10, non-adjustable, charge to their accounts. This way there are no surprises on board, or devious ways to get out of paying it once they are on the cruise.

As long as everyone pays the same amount (except for suites), it is fair. How the cruise lines distriibute the tips once they get them is out of the passengers control.

Poor service needs to be addressed as soon as it happens. This doesn't let the cruise line off the hook for responsibility but rather it places it right in front of their noses.

Almost every cruise line has open sitting for breakfast and lunch when they are in port. It doesn't take 2 hours for a meal. So why should the service at dinner be less efficient? With open seating you don't have the same wait staff and tables are fulled up as passengers enter the dining room. Once the table is full, everyone is served at the same time. NCL didn't invent something that wasn't already in existence. Tips are still expected. What has changed is that passengers have the ability to correct problems as soon as they happen. They no longer have to wait to get home and then start the process of complaining to Miami.


newmexicoNita February 11th, 2005 01:09 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
maraprince, you have some good ideas, I do want to clear up one thing: as of the past few years, when prices are advertised as "as low as" it is required that the price include port charges: taxes no, but port charges yes. I am also a bit confused about the statement about filling the tables and then serving everyone at the same time. We have cruised freestyle 3 times and never had this occur quite that way. They do try to put people together as close to the same time as possible, but not quite the way I am understanding your comments. As for 2 hours, we have yet to have a dinner freestyle or otherwise take 2 hours unless we have chosen to sit and sip coffee after the meal. We have had meals take an hour and a half which I find quite acceptable on any cruise. Dinner on cruises is expected to be a very relaxed and enjoyable part of the cruise. For those in a hurry there is always a buffet. I am not trying to stir up an argument, I am just not quite sure what you mean.


zeno February 11th, 2005 02:22 PM

Re: Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
"With open seating you don't have the same wait staff and tables are fulled up as passengers enter the dining room. Once the table is full, everyone is served at the same time. NCL didn't invent something that wasn't already in existence."

Uhm -Maraprince - Have you ever actually cruised with NCL? I have - and what you describe is NOT the way Freestyle dining works. With Freestyle dining - you arrive at the dining room and are asked if you wish to share a table or dine on your own. My husband I chose to dine on our own. Other people chose to share and I did not see them waiting for a table to "fill up". If other "sharers" were not immediately available, orders were taken.
Freestyle dining means arrive at the dining room anytime during opening hours including dinner hours and eat by yourselves or choose to share. Oh and if you want you can actually request to have the same waitstaff every night - if their section is not full, you will be seated there. Freestyle dining has some resemblance to "open seating" but not much.

newmexicoNita February 11th, 2005 07:14 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
zeno is right; I am t9oo wonder if Maraprince has sailed NCL which ships as her ideas are somewhat right, but too many gaps to convince me she knows what is really the situation. She may have been listening to others and added a few ideas of her own. NMNita

Maraprince February 12th, 2005 09:09 PM

Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Yes, I have sailed on NCL many, many times -- both before freestyle and with freestyle. I have been on the N. Sun for 13 days and N. Sea for 11 days both with freestyle and there is a vast difference between ships and how freestyle is carried out. It actually did take as long as 2 hours or more some nights to eat dinner on the N. Sun. Passengers walked into the shows late almost every night and it was commented on by the entertainers. What arrived at the table was not always what was ordered. That meant an additional wait to get what you ordered in the first place. Although you might have been seated right away, sometimes it took as long as 15 minutes before you were given a menu. Once all the tables in our waiter's section were filled up, he started taking orders from the last table to be filled and then worked his way back to the first table (unfortunately where we were seated).

Service on the N. Sea was quicker (about 1-1/2 hours) and there were no problems receiving what was ordered. However, some waiters had tables of 10 passengers to serve while others had only tables of 6 passengers. It was hard on the waiters since some of the tables were placed so closely together and they had so little space to work in.

On the N. Sun we never saw the various section Maitre'ds where on the N. Sea they were much more visible. This made a big difference in both the quality of the service and the efficiency of the wait staff.

I have booked 2 back-to-back 7-day cruises on the N. Dawn and N. Crown in May this year. With the completion of these 2 cruises, I will have sailed with NCL about 15 times in all.


newmexiconita February 12th, 2005 09:52 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
maraprince, with that many sailings I wonder why you think that prices advertised as form such and such do not include port charges and where you got the idea that they wait til a table is full before they take anyone's order? NMNita

Bruce Chafkin February 12th, 2005 10:40 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I worked on many of NCL's Freestyle ships for many years.
On a typical cruise, somewhere between 1% and 3% of the guests chose to adjust or remove the auto-tip. Most of those 1% to 3% claimed that they wanted to tip cash, the old way. Were they telling the truth or just being cheap? Probably a bit of both.
But the bottom line is that very few passengers seem to have a problem with this sort of tipping. Whether it is forced upon us or just pushed heavily with a chance to opt out, very few people challenge the system. It seems to work for most people.

Aberlaine February 13th, 2005 10:35 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
This thread has me very confused. I thought the tips for the staff were "automatic", that I didn't have to have enough cash to fill envelopes at the end of the cruise. Is this what you're talking about when it was said that $10/per person per day was deducted from your credit card?

If so, that's fine with me. And I will complain right away if service is below par.

I know tips for bar service, etc. isn't automatic and am ready to tip for those amenities.

Rebel February 13th, 2005 11:10 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
I'm a little confused about the following statement:

"I think you need to understand one thing -- if you don't produce a credit/debit card or cash (or travelers checks) you will not be getting on the ship. That is each person, not each cabin. If there are 2 of you, each person has to have a card or cash to secure an onboard account. You can be assured that NCL is going to get the $10 per person per day charge. "

Each person has to have a credit card? My husband and I only have one that we share, and our daughter is staying in our cabin so all 3 of us will charge everything thing to the same card. Do you just mean you have to attach a credit card to each sign & sail card? But you could all use the same card?

MarciaLF February 13th, 2005 11:56 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
I think everyone is making this more complicated than it really is only because things have changed.

If you go to a resort hotel you are (very) often charged a "resort fee" -- just like NCL's $10 a day. You go to restaurants when you want to eat and wait for a table if none is available -- just like NCL's Freestyle DIning. At the end of the meal you tip the servers -- just like you should on NCL.

Now, I am not in any way saying I like or agree with this, but I'm trying to put it in light of the way it was explained to me (as a travel agent) at the October NCL seminar. Unfortunately there has not been enough negative feedback for this to change much. The Pride of Aloha has been consistently sold out. I am sad to say that I think this will be the "wave" of the cruise future.


zeno February 13th, 2005 01:00 PM

Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Some people seem a little confused about a few things:
1. NCL and NCLA (Hawaii - POA) DO NOT handle tipping in the same way.
NCL - "daily service charge" - $10 pp - ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to tip extra. The crew is NOT expecting you to tip extra. YOU DO NOT tip your servers at the end of a meal - certainly NOT in the dining rooms - although it's a nice gesture to add a few bucks to the bill in the "pay extra" restaurants.
NCLA - "resort fee" (that confuses everyone) NOT A TIP . The crew is expecting and hoping that you tip them.
2. Each person DOES not require a separate credit card but your sail and sign card does have to be backed by A credit card. My husband and I had our sail and sign cards backed by his AMEX. However when we cruised with a friend in 2003. Her S&S card was backed by HER credit card and our S&S cards were backed by my husbands.

CruisingGal February 13th, 2005 01:34 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

You do not have to have 3 different credit cards. Each of you will get a separate card for onboard charges. You have to give a credit/debit card for each one. You can use the same card. When the cruise is over, the cruiseline will charge all unpaid charges to the credit card number you give them.

If you use a debit card, a separate "hold" will be put on your checking account for each person. For example, if the hold is $150, a total of $450 hold will be put on your checking account. Even if you plan to pay off your charges with cash before the end of the cruise, there will still be a hold on your checking account until the final bill is paid. That could conceivably be a problem for some people. (I don't know what the exact amount is, I am only using this amount for example purposes ONLY). I have seen on another board where someone gave a debit card and then paid the onboard account in full with cash before they disembarked. They got home only to find out that checks had bounced because of the hold the cruiseline put on their account. They didn't know about the hold. I am sure it is in the "fine print"somewhere so the cruiseline is covered.

This is a good example of why one should visit boards like this -- to find out all the information that one should know about BEFORE leaving for a cruise.

Maraprince February 13th, 2005 02:12 PM

Re: Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

I am only telling you what happened on the N. Sun when I sailed on her 13-day transatlantic voyage. During the voyage I had plenty of time to try out different eating venues on the ship. Only after tables in a waiter's section were filled up with passengers arriving within 10-15 minutes of each other and asking to share did the waiter start to hand out menus starting with the last table to be filled up. If you choose to not believe me, then you had to be there! This is what happened on the N. Sun. As of result, many passengers opted out of automatic tipping which at that time they could. Now, that policy has changed.

It did not work the same way on the N. Sea who seemed to have a faster way to get passengers served without rushing them but still allowing them to make the shows on time. Again, as I stated before, there is a difference from ship to ship on how well or not freestyle works. Also, when large groups are aboard and insist on eating together at the same time, overall service differs.

If you reread my post, I said that many first time cruisers do not understand that although a cruise is advertised as "as low as" that port taxes, insurance, etc. and tipping on board are ALL extra and NOT included in the cruise price. Unfortunately, it is the way the advertising is worded and cruises are promoted that lead to misunderstandings for first time cruisers.

his is exactly what happened on the N. Sea. Many of the passengers felt their cruise was "paid for in full" and no additional monies were due unless they made an on board purchase. Sadly, many of them bought nothing, didn't tip and left the ship owing nothing. NCL has changed their policy to avoid this problem by adding the $10 per day, per person charge to the bill.


newmexicoNita February 13th, 2005 03:03 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
maraprince, I do not mean suggest you are not telling the truth, but I do know this happens rarely. I wasn't on the same Sun cruise you were though I have been on the Sun. As for the "as low as" my point is, you said this does not include port charges and by law it must. Anyone, first time cruiser or not should know gratuities are not part of the cost of cruising. If they don't know when they book they certainly would learn by reading a brochure or their TA would inform them. I certainly tell all my cliants what is and is not included. Taxes and insurence being extra is something they may not be aware of til the price is quoted in full. As for the "as low as" prices in the papers, as soon as they call they will be informed of the total cost, not to mention those rates usually only apply to one or two sailings. I don't feel this has anything to do with the New Tipping policy anyway.


pata February 13th, 2005 04:09 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Just want to add that I have seen the same type of dining seating referred to by Maraprince.
There have been a few times in our limited sailing experiences where we saw the waiter wait until the table was filled before taking the individual orders, thus making the ones who arrived first have to wait longer. This was probably done to create a dining together experience rather than to intentionally annoy anyone. And the realtionship to tipping policy is that one is not inclined to tip if they feel they have waited much too long for service? The simple solution is to ask to be seated alone...which is a choice we always had with freestyle.

newmexicoNita February 13th, 2005 04:43 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
pata, we just haven't had that experience. We have normally, if not eating alone or with friends been seated with people that have not been seated more than 5 minutes. I guess we have been lucky. Back in the beginning of freestyle one of the big gripes was the opposite: they didn't wait to fill the tables so everyone was at a different stage of dinner and it was uncomfortable for some. Guess they can't please everybody.


MarciaLF February 14th, 2005 09:16 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
It was explained to myself and a room full of 300 travel agents that the way the Pride Of Aloha is doing it now -- $10 resort fee, tip on your own -- is the way ALL NORWEIGN CRUISE LINE SHIPS will be doing it by the summer of 2005.

This was October 26th. I have not received anything from NCL changing this policy.


newmexicoNita February 14th, 2005 11:09 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Marcia, that is exactly the way it has been explained to us as well. The service charge though, will go to the staff as I understand it. this is just like what you get in many Europian coutries as well as Bahamas. They have an automatic service charge and tippin on top is up to the individual. I do not believe it will be necessary to tip an additional $10 per day or anything like that, but rather to those who go above and beyond. What do you want to bet other lines will soon follow like they have with the auto $10 applied to your sign and sail card? NMnita

Peebeegee February 14th, 2005 11:15 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
Speaking from over the other side of the pond what on earth is this "hold on checking account" being mentioned if trying to pay by debit card? Backward we may be in some ways but to my knowledge this is impossible under UK banking law and quite rightly so; I am not giving anyone carte blanche to put a hold on my bank account (with the exception of the manager and he doesn't need my permission!) and suggest that the US adopts the same policy - just an idea if someone would care to mention it to George W!!!
I always pay by credit card (unless it had already suffered meltdown) so it really doesn't concern me.
Cheers. Paul

coolrush February 14th, 2005 11:36 AM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program

Speaking from over the other side of the pond what on earth is this "hold on checking account" being mentioned if trying to pay by debit card?

Yup it is. I was quiet worried about this hold and it ended up being less then the overall bill, in the end they just rebilled me the defference. So yes if you use debit card expect at least 70 x people going. In our case it was about 150 dollars.

MarciaLF February 14th, 2005 04:05 PM

Re: NCL's New Tipping Program
I think I have said this before, but I will repeat it one last time...

The $10 a day service fee is NOT a tip. It is NOT going to the staff. NCL was very clear on that during the seminar I went to. It was originally instituted to help pay for extra staff benefits that were mandated by the American crew -- like vacation, medical plans -- but they decided to institute it across the ships to help cover "rising costs in crews." It should NOT have anything to do with how and when you tip.

I think we're going around in circles here. As a TA I feel cheated by NCL not including this in the cost of the cruise and I think they are really taking advantage by adding it to voyages, HOWEVER, I don't want to see the very hardworking crews cheated because people refuse to tip thinking the $10 a day is going to the staff as a tip.


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