I am sailing on a new ship in Dec so do not expect anyone to know if they have auto tip however I was curious about giving the wait staff and steward a gift. Other than an international calling card what would be an appropriate gift for these hard working folks?
They get to call home from the ship every day unless they're on on-shore duty, but I never thought about an international calling card! They'd get to call twice, what an awesome idea! But the Carnival Spirit crew (or just staff?) also gets free internet access. Your dining staff and cabin steward most likely don't get to go off the ship much to use the calling card. Not sure about how it would work on board, would love to know though.
From my one cruise, talking to the crew/staff a lot, I just get the impression that they're trying to save money. Our waiter Jiri was saving to go to the University. (College in that cute Croatian accent!)
I think that just like your relatives, no one gift is right for everyone. Cash is what they're there for. They sign 8-10 month contracts and work like dogs to bring home that loot. I think if you can add to their success, that's the best gift of all.
Denise, thanks lots. I had asked my ex who worked on a ship and he suggested toiletries. I was not sure about purchasing such "personal" items. Money is ALWAYS a good thing. The last time I cruised it was over Christmas and I gave our steward and waitstaff $20 each for christmas and they all wanted to give it back telling me tip day was the last day. I think they though that was all they were getting. With the tipping being automatic these days I wanted to do something that would make me stand out too. I am not all that altruistic. You are right about the crew squirrelng away their money. Many of them have big plans.