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Old February 19th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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Default Prepaid "gratuities"

Just returned from the NCL Jewel (Feb 10th - 15th)....and left feeling a little jaded....In the cruising industry, all cruise lines charge a "prepaid gratuity" of so much per day (varies on each cruise line), but NCL is sneaky about it. I read the "welcome to NCL" book in our stateroom when we arrived and they made a point of stating "....unlike other cruise lines in the cruise ship industry, we do not have a Prepaid gratuiuty policy in place on our ships..." leading me to think that the prepaid gratuities would not be charged to my room. Because of this, we tipped cash to everyone who assisted us throughout the week. On the 4th day of the cruise, our statement arrived for all of the charges through out the week,and there was the wording "service charge" of 10$ per day per person (which is a standard charge for gratuities in the industry), amounting to a $100.00 in charges. I've been a frequent cruiser and honestly do not mind paying the prepaid gratuities.....but do not try to deliberately be obscure about the policies. I did in fact take the accounting statement to the reception desk and had most the prepaid/service charges removed as I had already spent over 75$ in tipping with cash. They stated they do not charge "gratuities" but instead it called it "daily service charges". This means, they basically decided to call it something else, but it still gratuities" anyway you slice it or whatever you decide to call it....they did not hesitate to remove them, but again, I didn't like the highhanded way it was being done.....
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Old February 19th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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It's described in the brochure and I'm sure on their website. It is the passenger's responsibility to read the fine print and/or research these aspects of their cruise. I don't think you can really blame them for your not knowing about it.

Other than that, how did you like the Jewel?
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Old February 19th, 2008, 02:07 PM
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other than that issue, absolutely loved it! Great cruise, lovely ship etc...and you are right, it is my responsibility to read all of the printed material, but in my defence, the literature is misleading....on one hand, "...unlike other cruise ship, NCL doesn't have any prepaid gratuity policies", but they really do, and its called service charges....if they would have stated soemthing like that instead of the way it was worded, it would have saved alot of confusion and bad feelings. I don't object to paying them, in fact I felt really funny about not paying them and we used cash to tip everyone instead.....but I didn't budget to pay twice the normal gratuities as everyone else onboard.....
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Old February 19th, 2008, 05:26 PM
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Our TA told us about the service charge when we booked the Pearl.
Ya know, all that cash you handed out ended up in the same pool shared by all.
We asked our steward what we could do special just for him. After about ten minutes of saying "nothing, nothing" he admitted that a phone card is great.
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Old February 19th, 2008, 07:26 PM
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I am cruising on the Jewel next week. You are saying that no matter what I read, I will be charged the 10.00 per day, so I dont have to tip during th cruise. Just want to make sure I do this right. first time cruiser!! By the way--how was your trip on the Jewel?? Which ports?? I am doing Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia. if that is what you did, give me some tips on anything or shore excursions!!!
thanks
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Old February 20th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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Yes, the charge of 10$ per day per person is automatic and you do not have to tip individually (unless you REALLY want to).....its better that way anyway, then you do not have to worry about having cash on you all the time...I wish I had paid better attention to the printed material in my room, then there wouldn't have been any confusion on my part.....

The Jewel itinerary for us was Grand Cayman and Cozumel, so I can't help you out with shore excursions, but I did alot of research before we left and didn't book anything through the ship because the stops we had were so well known and commercialized, but DO NOT make any excursions on your own in unknown, undeveloped areas....its a good way to get left behind....look over the excursions available through the ship and stay safe! If you book an excursion through NCL, you will not get left behind, but if you are on your own and say, a snorkel boat breaks down, you would have to make your way to the ship on your own. If the ship has already sailed, you are TOAST!
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Old February 29th, 2008, 04:29 PM
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We were on the cruise right after you, the 15th to 24th (9day). I also read through the info - noticed that the charges are not necessarily gratuities but are actually used by Norwegian to pay the regular wages as well! The wait staff are paid about $1,200/month and work 12 hour days. I'm sure any cash tips you give out are greatly appreciated, we gave about $400 in all over the 9 days on top of the required $10pp per day. The cash tips would not be pooled but go directly into the pockets of those you tip (I'm sure they share with staff that help them out). I simply stick to the same rule as on land, if service is exceptional then I tip more.
In any event, I believe NCL doesn't call the fees a "gratuity" because they are using it for wages and incentives, as described in their brochure.
p.s.
Had a great cruise!
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Old February 29th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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If you take the service charge off, any money give to individual crew members must be shared. If you leave the service charge, any money given to a crew member is theirs to keep. Some people don't realize this and believe they are only giving a tip to one person, not realizing that you are actually hurting the person you want to thank.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 11:43 AM
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I am sorry you misunderstood, but I think it is very clear and would not have felt obligated to tip on top of the $10.00 per day. Do we give extra? As a rule, yes. We feel $10 per day is a bare minumum. If we were to go to a restaurant and enjoy a 5 or 6 course dinner the bill would be a minumum of $70.00 wihich would be a tip of $10.50 if I figure correctly (a mimum that is) That is the gratuity for 1 person a day. Add to that 2 or 3 other meals, housekeeping, etc and you would go way over the $20.00.
So don't feel cheated.

Nita :o
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