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drgreene1096 April 13th, 2005 10:36 PM

tipping - spinoff
I saw a post from someone in "loyd's post" about tipping and I wanted to comment and for that comment not to get lost in a sea of "shame on you Lloyd"

The comment was about whether or not service would suffer on board those ships with automatic tipping.

I personally think, based on my own expereinces, that it does suffer somewhat. On my first cruise I swore that I loved freestyle dining (NCL) and that was the only way to go. Then I did RCCL and had the same waiter every night.

I noticed a few things (and you can notice by my counter which line I frequent now) about the differences in auto tipping v. me deciding on who/how much to tip.

1. on NCL we never saw the stateroom attendant after the first day.
2. he didn't come at all on the last full day.
3. we never got ordered drinks from our soda cards in the main dining room
4. there was no 'need to please' from any of the servers, except the one we had in LeBistro.
5. And the servers seemed put out when asked to bring extra milk for my daughter or to get her cold cereal --so we ended up going to windjammer and bringing cereal from there for her to eat while they got the rest of our food ready (she was only 18 months at the time)

Alas, on RCCL

1. We saw our steward every day and he made a point to ask us if we needed extra pillows, blankets, etc.
2. He would take my nightgown and cover up my teddy bear (yes, I'm an adult that travels with a teddy bear)
3. He asked us what time would be convenient for him to clean our room every day.
4. In the dining room, we ordered diet coke from our drink cards on the first night and we never had to ask Harry to bring us a refill or tell him what we drank again.

I think there is a real and significant difference and I do tip and I do it well. As many of the non-lloyds of the world probably do, I took the time to ask Ricaurdo about his family, where he was in his contract, was he going to do another and because I showed an interest in his life, maybe he gave me better service. These are people from very poor countries most of the time and while the don't "buy" their passage on the ship, they certainly aren't living in the type of cabin that Lloyd has paid for. And the majority of their money is sent home to waiting families who miss the Ricaurdo's & Harry's of the cruise industry.

Lloyd, if you are by chance reading this. SHAME ON YOU - YOU CHEAPSKATE!

cruizywoozy April 14th, 2005 03:27 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff
drgreene, I agree with you 100% even though I haven't read loyd's. It's just human nature to do better when there is the incentive to earn the tips. I also don't think it's fair to those who give their all. Most of the mass market lines now offer the automatic tipping even though you still have the choice on some.

On our last cruise you had to sign up for the automatic tipping by the second morning. Who knows at that point which ones are going to be outstanding? Also we don't tip the Maitre d' or the Chief Housekeeper unless we've actually had contact with them outside of "good evening". I know that obviously we can tip extra at the end of the cruise for extra service but if we are going to be handing out the extra money at the end anyway, why not just do it all at the end of the cruise? I know that there are many who prefer to do the automatic for the convienience even to the point of getting the tipping overwith during final payment but for us it doesn't work that way. We get great service for 10, 14, 21 days and we feel the least we can do is take a few minutes to actually thank these people in person for the great service and hand over an envelope to show our appreciation. It's not a big deal. We simply bring a tip sheet from home and on the last evening get the cash from the casino charged to our card. Divide the money into the envelopes. 15 mintues.

I don't believe we would cruise on a line where the only option is automatic tipping for the exact reasons you mentioned.

I know about automatic tipping from traveling in Europe years ago. I was "yelled" at by a cafe' waitress for mentioning that the soup was so salty I couldn't eat it. She assured me I would be paying for the soup if I ate it or not. I left much happier knowing that even though she yelled at me and I left the soup, SHE GOT HER TIP.

I know there are two sides to the automatic tipping on a cruise for convienince but no one will ever convince me that it's the right choice for us. Perfect example is NCL.

cruisequeen April 28th, 2005 02:27 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I agree with both of you. We have done the auto tipping once. We really didn't notice much difference in our treatment, until we went the next year without auto tipping. That's when we said "They are much more attentive to our needs than last year". Possibly, we just had a better staff but I really don't think so. The only person who really "tried" to make a difference when we auto tipped was our head waiter. He went out of his way to please us and because of that we gave him extra at the end of our trip. He actually told me to put the money back that it was not neccessary. I insisted and he gave me a big hug and a very warm thank you.

Unfortunately, there are some people who would not tip if it wasn't added to their bill. That is why (In my opinion) many cruise lines are going to this type of requirement.

LisaK April 29th, 2005 10:47 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff
i totally agree with all of you. Tips should be earned and not given.
I think that service does suffer with automatic tipping, where is the incentive? Its not even tipping anymore, its a part of the crews salary, if this trend continues to grow, why don't the cruise lines just add it to the salary and do away with automatic/pre-paid tipping and leave tipping voluntary???

taylorkia April 29th, 2005 11:46 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff

babe ruth April 29th, 2005 12:33 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
drgreene 1096:

Allow my to present a slightly different view on this matter. To start with, know that I am going to tip on a cruise ship (and other places) and the only question for me is as to the method by which I tip.

Yours is a comparisson of RCI and NCL. We cruised both lines when "tipping envelopes" were used. We always found RCI to have the best service compared to NCL. So there may be more factors than tipping mechaincs at play here.

Some of the so-called "lux lines" have tips included in their higher fare. Everybody tips, or they don't sail! On the other side of the coin, the service crew there are paid better than if they were on a ship with separate tipping of some kind. They had the best-paying service crew jobs on the seas, and they wanted to keep them. As a result, we found the service under this system to be the best we'd experienced on any cruise ship.


Bruce Chafkin April 30th, 2005 09:04 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff

This nonsense seems to go on forever. What you newbies do not ever seem to realize is that tip shave been pooled - and thereby guaranteed - for the past 100 years on nearly every cruise ship in the world.
The envelopes you used to give the waiter - and still do on some of the more traditional lines - were NEVER kept by him. As soon as the last guest went down the gangway,
all the waiters went to the diningroom and handed in their envelopes to the Maitre d'.
The Maitre d' and his assistants counted up all the money, placed it in a pool, and then divided it up according to how many "points" each waiter had earned in the Maitre d's book.
It was ALWAYS pooled, the waiter ALWAYS knew he would get tipped even if you did not tip him. There was the same incentive 20 years ago that there is today. Why didn't the waiters tell you they pooled the tips? Because they learned early on that Americans tip better if they think that the money is going to one person. As soon as you find out that others are sharing in the pool, you tend to tip less. Most waiters are not stupid.

There are four changes today:
1.The pooled tips come from the Purser instead of opening all the envelopes.

2. The really cheap passengers who disappeared on the last night to avoid tipping are now embarrassed to remove the tips through the Reception Desk. This means the pool is larger and the waiters earn more tip money.

3. The quality of passenger has gone down dramatically over the past 20 years. They tip far less and are not nearly as sophisticated as before. Their expectations of service and quality are far lower than they were 20 years ago. Some waiters get lazy because they know that many of their guests do not really understand real service anyway.

4. With all the extra restaurants on many ships these days, you rarely see the same waiter twice. He rarely has the chance to get to know the guests as he did 20 years ago. This results in you having to explain to him your wants and needs every time you dine - rather than just once like you did 20 years ago. The service you receive under these circumstances does not seem nearly as personal as it did before.

sls April 30th, 2005 09:29 PM

Re: Re: tipping - spinoff
My opinion is it's all a training issue. With the number of ships that are being cranked out I don't believe they properly train the crew anymore. The pursers desk people aren't in the tipping pool and they have to be some of the snottiest unhelpful people around. Maybe since they aren't working for tips they don't feel they have to be nice.

If Carnival spent as much time training the waitstaff to take care of the diners needs as they do teaching the song and dance numbers....

That being said, I've never had a bad waiter or room steward just some that were better than others.


babe ruth June 6th, 2005 02:24 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
To revive a post that is getting a bit old here, I noted that the OP compared NCL with RCI. We cruised both of these lines BEFORE there was any auto-tipping, and service on RCI was ALWAYS the better of the two. So would I agree that service on RCI is better than that on NCL? Yes. But would I agree that tipping method is the reason? No. Rather, RCI is just a little highr priced line than NCL (as a general rule). One of the things you get for the aditional fare is a larger crew per 100 guests. More people to serve you equals better service.


Dorothy June 6th, 2005 05:26 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
According to some of the "old salts" on this board, the tips are *not* always pooled, Bruce.


Bruce Chafkin June 6th, 2005 05:44 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff

I'm not sure who these "old salts" are. Former cruise line employees, or people who took more than 10 cruises and think they now know everything about cruising?

But I can tell you that of the 23 ships (10 different major cruise lines)I have worked on over the past 31 years, all except one of those ships (Seabourne Pride) had a pool where all the tips were shared - regardless of how they originally were given to the staff.
Even the RMS Ttianic had a similar system in place - although I must admit that I am not old enough to have experienced it myself.

On my now over 1,100 cruises the waiters and stewards ALWAYS knew they would be getting a tip - regardless of whether you tipped them or not. The incentive for service has ALWAYS been more or less the same.

babe ruth June 6th, 2005 06:11 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Bruce and all:

I know from the "nickel and diming" thread on this board that Bruce has been confirmed to actually be a veteran manager with a number of cruise lines.

Bruce, I again appologize for a couple of my posts over there that were surly. Not my usual style. There has been a long-running dispute on this and other cruise boards about whether tips are pooled or not. Thanks for clearing it up.


gigi June 6th, 2005 08:42 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
My personal preference is for automatic tips. We have always tipped either the recommended tip or above, but I still do think there is less incentive with the automatic tipping. Even if tips were always pooled (and I think on our first cruise the waiter told us that theirs was), it still seems like with the old way there would have been some peer pressure for everyone to do their part to increase the pool. If one waiter was doing a below par job then his co-workers could know that he would not be bringing in his fair share of the pool. Unless that's what the points were about, assigning a percentage of the pool based on the percentage a waiter brought in, which still brings you back to a waiter gets a higher reward based on the quality of his work minus whatever was required to be shared.


babe ruth June 6th, 2005 09:20 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
And frankly, we'll "go with the program" with any tipping system, but we prefer "tips included in the fare." And we have never seen service suffer under this system.


Maddog June 6th, 2005 10:32 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I have no idea how the automatic tips are distributed on Princess crusies (other than the $3.50 and $6.50 split between the room steward and waitstaff), but having just returned from a cruise on Island Princess I can tell you every crewmember I encountered was there to please the passengers. It didn't matter if they were a room steward, waitress/waiter, cocktail host/hostess, or maintenance person. They treated everyone as they would the captain. I feel the tips were well deserved.
One of my traveling friends saw a lady who was very upset at the cashier in the store because she wouldn't give her a free set of playing cards for the cardroom. The cashier tried to explain to the nasty person that she couldn't give her a free deck of cards from the store, but would ensure cards would be delivered to the cardroom. The passenger was very rude and was never going to sail with Princess again. (No loss, as she seemed to be a real angry person who could never be satisfied.) Even though the cashier was not on the tip system, she made sure cards got delivered to the cardroom. My buddy warned the person delivering the cards that the lady wanting the cards was not a nice person.
The pursers on Island Princess did all they could to take care of the passengers. On the next to last day there was a long line at the Pursers desk. The Assistan Purser was out front getting copies of room charge statements for people that were only in line for those.
I was out on deck one morning watching the day go by and a crew member trying to clean the glass on a door. It didn't matter where he was in the cleaning process, when a passenger came to the door he stopped what he was doing, opened the door and said good morning with a smile on his face. What should have taken a couple minutes took about 15 minutes. Never once did he have a sour look on his face or roll his eyes as some people came out on deck and went right back inside.
I know I didn't have interactions with every crewmember but enought to know they were there to please the passengers.

babe ruth June 6th, 2005 10:55 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Well, if Bruce says the tips are pooled and always have been, I'm sure it is true. And I'm glad to hear that the service crew on your Princess cruise was good. We have cruised many lines, both "budget" and "luxury" and have always found the service to be better than anywhere we could go on land. That is why I advocate "going with the program" on tipping, whatever it may be. Envelopes with "suggested amount? Do it. Auto tipping? Do it. Tips included in fare (my favorite) You'll do it as you have no choice!

Bruce may be surprised to learn that although I am sensitive to "nickel and diming" on cruises, I don't consider tipping to be such. In the US, we tip for good service, by tradition. For the high quality of service we've had on all levels of cruise lines, it would be criminal not to tip. We had some friends who went with us on a line with "tip envelopes on the last night." They skipped out on the last hight and stiffed all their service crew. They are our friends no longer, and we'd certainly never cruise with them.


Darcy June 7th, 2005 07:45 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I also prefer having the tips added to my sign & sail card, with the option to remove them if service is poor (which has never happened). We also tip more to those who have gone out of their way to make our trip more enjoyable.

Paul Motter June 10th, 2005 12:01 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
One thing Bruce pointed out that is important is this... a lot more cheapskates do not tip than you probably think. I once asked some RCI room stewards how many passengers do not tip at the end of a cruise and they said it is as high as 30%!!!!

Thirty percent is a lot. You might think you are getting better service because the tips are earned rather than expected, but at least with the new policy the crew is getting the money they actually deserve and not getting stiffed by the cheap-skates. Hopefully, that is an incentive to work harder.

Mike M June 10th, 2005 01:11 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Norwegian Cruise Line did an interesting study and that the majority of people who requested that their automatic tips be removed from their onboard accounts so they could personally tip their servers found that they didn't. (Cruise News Daily, July 26, 2004: Policy Expands/ For Different Reasons)

I think the new policy does give the crew more of an incentive and I find it much more convenient. I actually hated having to divide up the little envelopes at the end of the cruise. Now if I do want to give a person extra it makes it much easier. If I don't then I at least know the person is covered.

Take care,

Paul B June 11th, 2005 11:18 AM

Re: Re: tipping - spinoff
I couldn't face myself in the mirror if I did not tip the people who work so hard for me on the ship. We usually give a bit extra to our steward and wait personnel if we feel it is justified. If tips are shared, I hope they get to retain the bit extra they receive.

I do think that the automatic tipping is a better way to go then raising the price of the cruise since eventually the new prices would exceed the current prices plus the tips.

Magnolia Blossom June 15th, 2005 10:34 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I want to ditto the previous poster about service on the Island Princess. We've just returned and it was the best service we've received in many years.

Flower June 15th, 2005 12:22 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Hello ! I'd like to give you some information from "behind the scenes"... as I'm working on a cruise ships. May be some of you already had figured out the whole system by yourself, but that's how I see the things. Pre-paid tips is not always fair distributed...The " first line" service personal is underpaid, those are employees working for $ 50 a month, with no day off, up to 12-14 hours a day. These are the people to make your cruise more enjoyable. What often happened, to the waiter, for example, is that at the end of the cruise he is getting tip only from 6 out of 12 guests, because of table changes, special restaurant dinning options, etc...We assume he provide an excellent service. If the cruise was 14 or more days?? It is very annoying .. The petit officers- like head waiter, etc.- they have good salary anyway,and better living conditions and they don't need to do the hard job of your waiter, so they have enough time to "please"you, meanwile to give hard time to your waiter... I have to mention that during the lack of space onboard the cruise lines employ as less personal, as possible, often giving more duties to employee than he can manage with- THE REASON #1 FOR POOR SERVICE.
I exclude some workers I've seen that are not responsible persons, the only way to treat them is to write your comments and hand them to the front deck.
In my oppinion tipping personally at the end of the cruise is the best you can do.
I appologise for the mistakes, English is not my first language.

gigi June 15th, 2005 03:39 PM

Re: Re: tipping - spinoff
Hmmm...Flower, thank you for your comments. That is always my fear, that the person who does the hard work is not the one who benefits. Does tipping personally mean that passengers who want the employee to get the tip should directly hand it to the person? Rather than leaving it for the person or letting it be charged to the account? And if you give it directly to the person would they then get to keep it themselves rather than splitting it, perhaps not fairly?

If you can answer that would be nice and might affect whether I allowed the charge to be placed on my account or took it off and gave the tip personally. Although that would make me somewhat uncomfortable, I would prefer it if the person who worked so hard benefitted. Don't get yourself into trouble, though. It's not worth your losing your job to answer a question from a stranger.


banker June 15th, 2005 06:20 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I have to throw my 2 cents in (surprise surprise!)

I think we should look at the service issue as an overall ship issue. I mean to say that the waiter makes less and has worse conditions etc compared to the officers - well, like in any organization, maybe the person on the floor doing the most physical work is paid less than the C.E.O. who golfs for the day. But, like any organization, the exec makes a decision trying to putt from the fringe or gains or cements a client while doing so, that is worth a lot more to every worker in that company. That is also why he/she gets paid more. Society puts a much higher value on every minute of that persons time than the person doing a different job. That's just the way it is. The head waiter (or similar) also has much greater accountability and responsibility to make sure your waiter does what he/she does.

This may not be directly relevant to our discussion, but is relevant to gain a greater sense of how things work.

(PS- this explanation works for me when my wife complains that she works harder than I do while I've been golfing all day)

gigi June 15th, 2005 08:21 PM

Re: Re: tipping - spinoff
I have no problem with that concept. My superintendent, several levels above me makes mulitple times what I do. The cruise companies are making their tips their compensation. I don't have to count on my clients to tip me. The organization pays me a salary. And don't forget we're talking about these folks making $50 a month. That's not a whole lot anywhere.

I agree with your statement, but I worry about the servers not being fairly compensated and I doubt even their pay with tips even hints at equity.


gigi June 16th, 2005 05:57 AM

Re: tipping - spinoff
P.S. I would have edited the previous message if possible (sorry), but I don't like the way I said that $50 isn't a lot of money. It is to me! I comparison shop for everything including much, much less. I was writing in terms of a monthly salary to pay for a family's housing, food, health care, education, etc. But $50 is a lot to me!


Flower June 16th, 2005 03:19 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Hello Gidi!! Charging to the account is also good, but it can be tricky sometimes- for example many guests does not know how exactly to spell the name of the crew member. I used to work for greek cruise line before where all thee guests were told that they don't need to tip us personally, but to leave the tip at the end of the cruise at the front deck in the envelops.." because there are a lot of people you don't see during your cruise, so we can share it equally". At the end of the cruise the tip was equally shared....between the greeks. Not even a penny for us, or the filipinos. So what use to happened: Mr. and Mrs. Smith coming at the last day of the cruise and told me "Thank you for your sevice...we left something for you at the front deck". I never got this tip, because I'm not greek and my pride does not allowed me to tell Mr. and Mrs Smith , so I just thank them too.... I changed the cruise line and now I'm verry happy with my new line.
Tipping is personal choice. Some people said... "I didn't like the service- why they don't train the people better?" This is impossible - because of the working conditions , hours and payment. This is what makes it different than any organization onshore. I have motivation to work there- the tourist service industry is much more prestigious than it used to be before. Personally for me the guest happiness is more importaint than the tip I get (or not).
Tiping policy: Just another way that the cruise lines use not to pay the servise personell itself.

banker June 16th, 2005 05:05 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
That's a great work ethic Flower, when you have that kind of mindset, the rewards will come in life.

By the way, were Mr. and Mrs. Smith trying to kill each other??


cruisingrandma June 17th, 2005 01:54 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
I work for tips as a waitress in a supper club. Well I can tell you that there are so many people out there that have no idea how much or if they should tip at all. They have no idea or they jsut don't care. i have No idea! It gets very frustrating tho. We give good service and I try to be as upbeat as possible. Then we get some people who jsut dont tip or very little tips. We make $2.33 per hour. So we depend on our tips to make our wages. I understand if someone cant afford the extra. Well then they shouldnt go out to eat. If u cant act properly then stay home. U go out to have someone wait on u then u must pay for the services. I would never think of going to a place that people get tipped and jsut leave a mere pitance or nothing. That is just rude.... I go on a cruise. i tip at least the amount required. Then if i get some good service and the cabin is kept to my liking. Well then they get extra. i would never not give a tip. If i ahve a problem with someone I will complain to the authorities. But they will always get there tips. There is no excus not to tip. i ahve been on 6 crusies and have always gotten wonderful service from them all. they all work very hard for there money. Besides we need to treat them all like human beings also. They r not our slaves. Dont ever talk down to anyone even if they r waiting on u. They are equal to u in every way. They jsut choose to work at service like u have a choice as to where u want to work. That doesnt make them under u. but always beside u.... Try to remember that.... Happy cruising....

babe ruth June 19th, 2005 10:56 PM

Re: tipping - spinoff
Well, as we can see from the post above, tipping has worked its way into the food and beverage service industry in the US, both on land and at sea, to the point that the service people (who are covered by it) are actually allowed to be paid less than Federal minimum wage --- with the expectation that they willl receive tips. So in a very real sense, tipping has worked its way into Federal Law!

Now in a restaurant or bar where I recieve wait service, I would not think about not tipping, unless the service was REALLY bad (hasn't happended yet). And certainly on cruises, in all price ranges, we've found service to be really great --- even at its worst --- compared to what we have experienced on land. So whether it's tip envelopes, tips automatically charged to our account, or the true tips included lines, we have always "tipped" in one form or another.

Actually, rather than griping about tipping for the excellent service that at least we have always received on ships, we should be griping about what I experienced last night in a restaurant in Dallas. It was one of those "get in line, order, seat yourself, and get your order when we call your number" places. But do you know what? They had a jar for tips!!!! Tips? For what? No complaints about the restaurant, because before we walked in, we knew it was a self-service place. But tips for self-service???

Hey, OK, you caught me. The one time I DIDN'T tip!!


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