First timer here---I can't figure out this whole tip situation. First of all I never thought about it when booking this cruise. Now I find it is an automatic charge on NCL. I am not opposed to tipping; actually quite the opposite. I too, worked in the service industry and made my living off of tips.
I read that I could adjust it up or down depending on service and this made me a little happier. That was until I read that all the tips are pooled together. So what is the point of tips then? Please tell me this isn't so.
Can anyone tell me how NCL figures the tips? I heard it was higher than most in the industry. I would like to know what to plan as far as budget, but I would also like to reward good service and not just stick with whatever is standard.
First of all the service personnel on board are on 6 mo contracts and recieve $50 per month pay so Tips IS their salary.
The tips are pooled, however if you have left the tips on your account alone, and then you give someone additional tips they are allowed to keep these. If you remove tips and hand out cash instead, then they must turn those in and they will be pooled.
The $10. pp per day is very cheap really for the 16 to 18 hours a day these people put in.
and even if you don't eat in the dining room, the same people man the buffets and other venues so they are still working for you. So unless there is a major problem just leave the auto tips on your bill then tip additional if you like.
The rank and file crew (waiters, cabins stewards, etc) are paid US$50 per month, plus tips. The Union takes US$20 per month, leaving a net salary of US$1 per day.
A standard working day is minimum 10 hours. That 10 hours is rarely 10 in a row. Usually it is split into 2 or 3 different shifts - making for a very , very long day.
Most crew work a 10 month contract, followed by two months of UNPAID holiday. During that holiday they and their families also have no medical coverage. Many of the crew have very young children at home. Whe they finally do return for their unpaid holiday, the children no longer recognize them.
NCL pays for air tickets to and from the ship, assuming that the crewmember successfully completes his contract.
Most crewmembers have families at home. The crew do not pay for food or board on the ship, but in most cases they must pay for food and board for their families at home.
Almost every crewmember is recruited through a Recruiter in his home country. These recruiters often charge a very hefty price to certify the crewmembers for employment on a ship. That fee can be as high as several thousand US dollars - and is usually paid by the crewmember. In some countries (Philippines is a very good example) the recruiter requires the cruise line to send some or all of the crewmembers tips and salary home through the recruiter. The Phillipine government supports this so they can collect taxes and other fees from the salaries. At the same time, the recruiter takes the opportunity to play a bit of monkey-business with the exchange rates and skim off a further percentage of the salary.
In most cases the tip / service charge is pooled among a great many people who assisted in the services you received. You did not see most of these people as they were scrubbing toilets, setting up buffets, and vacuuming carpets while you were out.
Most of the crew live in small (10 feet by 15 feet) cabins with 4 other room mates. The cabins are clean and modern, but certainly not ideal. All the crew eat from large buffets. The food is plentiful and reasonably healthful, albeit a bit boring at times.
Nobody is forced to work on ships. They do it because they cannot find reasonable jobs at home - and they must make the money to pay the bills for their families.
Would you - could you - do this with a smile on your face every day for 10 months??