I have recently spent much thought about cruise crew salaries, in particular those crew members whom we custumarily tip. Cruise lines pay these crew members literally next to nothing with the expectation that most of their compensation would come from tips. If you don't tip, you are taking advantage of these hard working people, and you should be ashamed of yourself. The only excuse I can think of not to tip the custumary amount is because of sub-standard service. If you never saw your cabin steward, then he or she did their jobs well, and you should be expecially generous in those cases.
Well... in a free market system, that's the choice of the employee. No one put a gun to his or her head to take the job. Actually, for most on board, they are the lucky ones in their town or city. We're friends with many of them and they can do extremely well if they are good at what they do. Take a look at waiter's, bus boy and similar salaries on land. Not too much difference.
For the record, on many lines, the "stiff" rate approaches 18% on average. You know... all those people who have had too much food during the cruise and decide to skip dinner on the last night. (You've seen those suddenly empty tables in the dining room on the last night.) And, ever wonder why you see folks up in the buffet at 6:30 or 7am in the morning, with their carry on luggage... or waiting in the ship's lobby? Many of them (not all) have vacated their cabins before the cabin steward turns up for duty.
my husband and I put the recommended amount into envelopes before we leave and lock them in the safe, then throughout the cruise, when the room stewardess does something cool or the waiter does something cool, we add to the the envelopes. On both of our last two cruises, we have tipped over the recommended amount.
I caught my husband adding a $5 dollar bill to the waiters' envelopes one night on our last cruise and when I asked him why he said, "they made you smile".
That is one of the nicest reasons I have ever heard of to tip!! Like they say - what goes round comes around and the "stiffers" will get theirs one of these days. Bet their table mates were glad to have a final dinner on board without them.
I agree Tom,
Those staff onboard work way too hard and am totally suprised that the stiffs are at 18%, how awful. Yes, Ernie, I have noticed in the past the empty seats at dinner the last nite out, at first I had no idea why?? There just is no reason to have to "stiff" anyone, if there is something that isn't right, let the proper people know about it, so it can be corrected and tip accordingly. We've always tipped at least the recommended amount, and in some cases more when necessary.
We have always tipped at least the recommended amount, and we have never had a waiter of steward who didn't give us good service. I wonder if any of those who stiff the ship's personnel use the excuse that they can't afford the tips? I'll bet those same people can afford the drinks on board.
I think in most cases the cruise line service staff EARN every penny with their hard work and long hours.
However, I think one might be surprised at just how well many of them do, once they add in their gratuities and consider they are earning tax free dollars. But.. as I said.. they EARN it ALL!
The long hours, and long stretches away from family likely account for why those working on ships seem to be fairly young.
Though on one cruise I remember, our waiter had told us he was leaving the ship after 19 years. He was from Cozumel, Mex. and had saved enough money to stay on the island, and purchase his own bar/restaurant. We were delighted to hear his hard work was going to pay off for him in the form of his own place.
My travel agent did the math for me by estimating the number of people the waiters and cabin stewards serve and applying the recommended tip amount. I can't remember the final figure but it was very good wages and with the room and board are included, I thought what a good wage for such young people. Yet, after seeing how much they work and how well they do, they deserve every penny and more. Too bad we can't get people back home to work like them. The cabin stewards are particularly amazing. I never do see them, they seem to do everything as fast as lightening. Although, there was this one time I saw him and I thought "ah ha, I spotted him". Here he was waiting for me to leave the cabin so he could decorate it for my birthday. My boyfriend planned it and told him to come at a particular time and I was still there. I still had no clue so I was completely surprised. What a nice job they do.
On my very first cruise, we had a great bus boy and a terrible, I mean terrible waiter.
We didn't stiff anybody, but we did give the bus boy's tips to the waiter and the waiter's tips to the bus boy. We felt it made a point without us feeling guilty
Chuck... as you know, dining is an important part of the cruise experience. If it was me, I'd have asked the MD to change my table, or the waiter, pronto. Chances are excellent that your concerns with the waiter would not be news to the MD and either the guy would be given a serious talking to or be on the way out quickly.
Tiffany- your little story is a real heart warmer. What a sweet husband you must have!
We always tip as recommended and add to those we think have gone out of their way for us. On Princess we let the tip be included in the bill, but I still wonder about that. I think in the future we will hand deliver them so we can thank the people personally.
I was surprised to read of the high percentage of people who don't tip. They know up front that tips are expected so I don't think they have any legitament excuse. I do think tips should be given according to the service provided, but the service would have to be pretty bad to warrant getting stiffed.
But if the cruise lines pay their crews next to nothing, in the expectation that most of their compensation will come from tips, then who really is taking advantage of the crew? We passengers?
In some professions, it's customary that staff receive the majority of their compensation from tips. Here in the United States, the law recognizes this phenomenon and allows a lower minimum wage for such employees. For example, a tip of 15% of the bill is customary in a restaurant. Now, it's true that the restaurant owner could add an automatic service charge to every bill, as is customary in some European countries, or raise prices and wages and institute a "no tipping" policy, but that's not our custom.
Although our laws do not specifically require a patron in a restaurant to leave the customary tip, failure to do so is morally reprehensible unless the service is grossly deficient. The people who work in restaurants rightfully expect to receive the preponderance of their income from tips precisely because that's the accepted social custom in our society. To fail to tip when the service is not grossly substandard is to deprive those individuals of their just income.
The same is true of a cruise ship. The line could raise its fares and its wages and institute a "no tipping" policy, or the line could add automatic tips to all stateroom accounts (some lines, BTW, are already doing this, and more probably will follow suit). The same reality applies, though -- the customary tip is a moral obligation unless the service is grossly dieficient because that is the customary manner of providing just compensation to the recipients.
> On Princess we let the tip be
> included in the bill, but I still wonder about that. I think
> in the future we will hand deliver them so we can thank the
> people personally.
We left the automatic amount on account for the last cruise and tipped our waiter and assistant waiter extra on the last night. They did an excellent job.
I still wonder how much of the automatic amount they received. Does the cruise line split up the automatic tips among all the waiters, or since we had traditional dining, does our whole amount go specifically for our waiter and assistant?
A few musings and thoughts....
Dean Renner...has to have the "every big business is bad" mentality....don't loo now, but cruiseline jobs are NEVER vacant...2 friends we know that work on HAL have put2 kids thru college, build his mom a home and have a third child just starting college..in the phillipines..thaks to evil corporatations!
Tips are being automatically added because so many STIFFS out there can barely affrd the curise, none the less tip for quality service...
When we went on the Disney 4 night cruise we didn't go to dinner the last night because we were at the specialty resturant. We were there for breakfast the next morning (the waiter was kindof rude to us) and gave our tips then. We did not add extra to any of the staff though because the room stewart didn't do a good job (we had a dirty dish in our room from the 1st night to the last) and we were not at all impressed with the wait staff (except Palo's). If it had of been a longer cruise I would have complained even over my husbands protests. He hates to make any kind of wave.
As for "every big business is bad", I don't recall making that statement.
I do recall making the statement that hard work and superior service should be generously rewarded.
And gratuities are a wonderful way that passengers can reward those.
Gratuity as in "gratuitous violence" in a movie, for example, means extra, or unneeded. I believe that all employees should earn a living wage for their efforts, and that gratuities are in addition to that living wage, and are not in place of it.
My husband, Jose, was a waiter on Carnival for 15 years, and for the majority of that time took home tips in an amount that justified his living apart from his family 75% to 85% of the time. He watched his children grow up without him, but he was able to make sure that they and their mother were taken care of financially. He was almost completely cut off from world events unless it was something so monumental that the passengers were talking about it and kept him and his co-workers informed. This was in the days before crew members had TVs, before internet, before cell phones, when the crew members had to line up at a few public phones to spend their hard-earned dollars trying to stay in contact with their families. Please don't remind me that no one held a gun to his head and forced him to live this kind of life. He will be the first to admit that it was a choice he made, a difficult one, but one that provided his family with a comfortable way of life. When I met Jose, in 1995, the end of the good times had already begun. With the growth in popularity of the cruise vacation in the mid 90's came the introduction of more and more new ships, each adding thousands of new berths to the market. This brought increased competiton among the cruise lines, which benefitted all of us who love to cruise. It brought increasingly lower and lower cruise prices! I don't know about most of you, but it's been a long time since I paid as much for a cruise as I did in 1995 and 1996. With the lowered cruise prices came a less sophisticated cruiser, and, for Jose, the beginning of the end. Jose's last contract was on the Holiday, based in Los Angeles for 3 & 4 day cruises to Ensenada. The rate of people stiffing him and all the other waiters was approaching 50%. By the time he bought his own round trip tickets from Costa Rica (crew members who work for tips pay their own travel costs) and paid for his communication costs with his family, he had a grand total of $3000.00 saved to show for 6 months work. He said, "No more." Please remember how your waiters, assistant waiters, bar waiters and cabin stewards impact the quality of your cruise experience and reward them accordingly.
I live in Germany, where a 15% tip is included in your bill. Does that mean that there is no tipping? No, it doesnīt. Most Germans will round their bill up. If you go out for dinner and your meal costs 33.50 Euro, then the bill is rounded up to 35.00 Euro. The bill is taken care of at the table and the waiter is simply told the amount that one wants to pay or given the amount if what you want to pay is in your wallet.
Most that have been here from the US to visit us are surprised that an extra tip is given considering it is included. Waiters do indeed earn more than in the US but their wages are also not spectacular. A good chunk of them only work part time, meaning they are earning almost next to nothing anyways. I donīt know if the 15% gratuity is paid out directly to them or if the tips are split between all wait staff. That is also reported as income so are subject to tax as well. What is paid above and beyond that isnīt. Most wait staff do indeed try to provide good service because they want that extra bit of tip.
When we go out for dinner and the service is good then we have no problems giving a generous tip especially if it is a restaurant we go to more often. If the service is lousy and truly not acceptable then we donīt tip at all. We figure the 15% included will have to do.
Weīll be cruising with RCI and from what I understand tips can be taken care of up front....canīt recall the name of that at the moment. Weīve decided to do that simply because we know then that we donīt have to worry about it. This will be our first cruise and it will be nice to know that all of the bases are covered. We will though give an extra tip if the service is very good. I already see giving an extra tip to our cabin steward for having to deal with us.
One thing I have read is having plenty of 1$ bills available. Living in Germany, it is impossible to goto our bank and request them. While at our bank last week, I asked if it was possible. No chance (and we have a good bank!). Smallest denomination that they could get would be 5$. Since our cruise leaves on a Monday, I guess Iīll have to find a bank then that will be able to exchange for 1$ bills.
Dh made me laugh. He said we should be thankful that we will have to deal with bills rather than the Euro coins. True! Walking around with some bills in ones pocket is certainly much nicer than having your pocket bulging with coins.
I remember waiting in line to get an extra copy of my statement on Paradise from the purser's desk. The man behind me was muttering about how he thought the whole thing was all-inclusive. While it could be that the drinks and shore excursions were more than what he thought they would be (and he was handed a reciept to sign so this shouldn't have surprised him), I suspect he was upset about the tips automatically added to his bill. I just silently laughed because throuigh this board and other research, I knew what to expect going in.
O.K. I have to add my two cents here - I just returned from the Carnival Inspiration. They are now automatically adding tips to the bill. Fine with me, but the service was not as good as when we did the tipping ourselves. My room steward never introduced himself to us, cleaned the room one time per day (eves - sometimes in the afternoon he would make the beds, but usually it was found the way we left it), the only time I saw him was when he did not knock in the middle of the afternoon and barged right in while I was changing. My waiter got my order wrong 3 different nights, I had to ask for my bottle of wine (which they kept stored for me)on 4 of the 7 evenings, and he made several mistakes with the others at our table. Did I stiff them? No. I won't. Because even with all that the service was still wonderful. But - my table mates all cut their tips for room stewards and waiters. I had a chance to talk to one of the cocktail waiters. He makes $50 per day, works from 7 am to 7 pm 7 days a week, and with his tips makes about $500 per week. Not enough for the hard work as far as I'm concerned. Anyway - I think I just got unlucky this cruise. All the staff on the ship was so very nice to us.
We recently cruised on a line where tips are actually included in the fare! (Other tips were forbidden.) Our room stewardess was very friendly and professional, and had many discussions with my wife and I pursuant to our questions about life at sea. She had worked for several lines before with the usual tipping procedure, and confirned that the 50% "stiff" rate is about par for the course on some of these lines. She said her salary on this "tips included" line was about equal to what she would have made on the "tipping" lines IF 100% of guests tipped at the recommended rate. But they didn't, and she, in fact, doubled her pay by switching to the "tips included" line. She said the list of applicants for jobs on this line is "a mile long". As a guest, I too liked this arrangement. Other things were lincluded beyond tips, so I had a bettr grasp on total cruise costs than when tips (and many other things) are extra.
But as for the ship where tipping is "suggested", fact is the worst service I've had on one of these was far better than anyplace I've been on land, in many countries! Suggested tips only run from about $65 to $84 per 7day cruise per guest. An outright bargain for the service you get! So when I go on one of these, I always factor in an additional expense of $200 for the two of us for tips. No problem. Now, if I could get this good a degree of control over my bar bill on non-inclusive ships-----.