This may well belong in the tipping site, but it is a gripe of sorts. (maybe just an observation.) Well, we're back from Alaska and have had our first experience with prepaid tipping. I don't think I like it. I noticed that the service was lacking as far as the dining room staff was concerned. I was constantly having to ask for tea, coffee, and water refills, no matter what room, or what meal was involved. One night everyone else had almost finished their salads and I was waiting for mine when the waiter came and cleared my salad fork off the table. I was talking to my tablemates and did not notice this untill someone mentioned it. I replied "I guess this means I'm not getting my salad ". I mentioned this to the waiter and he appologized and went for my salad. It took about 10 minutes and by this time the others had their entrees. My salad and entree finally came at the same time. This in itself is NO big deal, I'm just mentioning it. This has happened in restaurants at home and no one is perfect. At the indoor / outdoor cafes the tables were not cleaned as quickly as I have noticed on pre-inclusive tips cruises. A few times wait personell would walk by dish loaded tables and not even look twice at them. I had to motion to them a couple of times to clear dirty dishes from our table. Some of the offerings on the steam tables were allowed to run out while servers acted as if they did not know what to do which caused lines to stall. I must applaud the room service at all times, as they answered the call all hours of the day and night,and were tipped for each trip. No problem. I don't want this to be a stumbling block for anyone, as its just MY observation. I think in the future we will just have the tips removed and tip accordingly. It could have just been the cruise line. I believe we will avoid them in the future. These few sticky points may be very isolated and should not dissuade anyone from cruising. JMVHO.
I agree with your assesment of pre-paid tipping. I have never taken advantage of this and never will. I feel that it is much better to give the staff tips yourself than have them added to your account. On our last cruise, I had the tips removed on our third day. My wife had asked our waiter how this system actually worked. After the explaination from our waiter, my wife mentioned that we would be giving him and the assistant cash at the end of the cruise. Maybe it is my imagination, but I thought that the service went up a step after he was told this. I much prefer to thank and hand my tips to those who have taken care of me.
I personally like pre-paid tipping. My last cruise had pre-paid tipping and the service we received was superior to the service on any of our prior cruises. I think it must be just hit-and-miss; sometimes you get good service, sometimes you don't. That's true of cruises where gratituities aren't pre-paid, too.
Land Cruise, Britain and Belgium
Now posting as MichelleP.
Please correct me if I'm wrong but I was told the staff pools all tips anyway, so handing tips to individuals doesn't mean that person keeps it. If this is true, the staff probably prefers the charged method if it avoids being 'skunked' on the last day.