Yes, service has suffered with automatic tipping. On our last cruise the cabin was not made up the first day and on subsequent days towels didn't make it to our room. I only had my tray carried once on the Lido deck, on previous cruises I hardly ever had to carry it. There was no sense of camaraderie among the staff, hardly any smiles, never got to chat with the staff about their homes and families. Too bad, it takes away some of the pleasure of cruising.
Please don't label all older people as cranks, line chargers or demanding. We do not fit any of those categories, nor do our friends. Our best cruise was with mostly older people and it had the friendliest bunch you could meet. You could sit down anywhere and be immediately involved in a conversation if you wished.
We eat sensibly and never order extras. I am heavy but I never let it interfere with anyone else - I am active and don't hold anyone else up for any reason. It is terrible to judge people by their size. Might as well judge them by their disabilities or looks or....
A relative worked on the cruise ships out of Miami and banked her whole salary and lived off her tips. She went parasailing and did tours that we couldn't afford. don't think that the salaries are sent home to the families - that is a story put about to encourage more tipping. On payday the boutiques were lined up with workers buying gold bracelets, watches and perfume. One young fellow told us that they only have to work for five years to retire to their home town and live very comfortably.
Where are those low prices? We haven't found the prices to be any lower - except for Alaska this summer where bargains abound. too bad they weren't there last year when we did that trip.
Appreciate the thread Katerina, but can we break it down a bit.
On which line do you think service has suffered due to automatic tipping?
Who you get together on that 5, 7, or 10 day cruise as fellow passengers is a lottery, sometimes you feel part of it, sometimes not.
Regarding "don't think that the salaries are sent home to the families - that is a story put about to encourage more tipping"
Respect your view, but in my experience that is far from the truth for people that work on ship and from what you and I would consider poorer countries. In the majority they are the main bread winner for what happens back home
I just got the Mercury,and I found our dining room staff to be wonderful as far as sharing stories about their home.We took pictures of our waiter so that he could send some back home to his wife.Many of the staff HAVE to work abroad because there are no jobs at home to support their families.
I found that most loved talking about their families,but might be discuraged from bringing up this conversation on their own.I know when we enquired about family,most got very excited that we asked,and seemed eager to share stories.Im sure you will find some that "bank" their salaries,but many families are waiting for this money to live on.When you said relative,was this your relative? I talked to one young man from the US and he was basically passing away a few years so that he and his family could travel.He said he could travel for $40 a day and that his mom wanted him to at least work long enough for her to be able to go to Alaska.Of course he had one of the nicer jobs (holding trivia games).
I always tip more than the required money,I know I would not want to have their job.I found what they asked was much cheaper than what I would tip if I went out here in Houston!
I just returned from an Alaska cruise on the Sapphire Princess. I though the service was great. Does anyone know what the reasons for Auto tipping are? I found it kinda confusing. Even though I was already paying a tip, I got the feeling that the crew expected more money. On the last day the cabin steward left an envelope in out mailbox. My mother left a $50 bill in it on the last morning. I was a little "miffed" at mom for leaving it because we already paid the tip. I would of left maybe a twenty.
my experience on holland america has been that the service is not at all 'down.' i do think that leaving an envelope is a bit much; i might even report that. i also chip in a little extra for the room steward, waiter, and lido kids if they've been especially good.
I usually prepay (unless I'm traveling as part of a FAM, in which case, they're comped) on the lines that will allow that. As far as I'm concerned, they've earned that much just by serving me, making the bed, cleaning the bathroom, etc. If someone has done super service (I had a sommelier on Celebrity once who was so awesome, I tipped him on the final night, even though a gratuity was added onto each bottle of wine), I'm the first person to reach into my wallet and dig up some extra. Perhaps I run a risk of having inferior service and then having the unchangeable gratuity already paid for, but I've done pretty well so far.
If anything, I've regretted not having more cash on hand to do greater rewards.
I've only taken one cruise, so I don't have days gone by to compare, but I loved auto tipping. I was worried about me not giving enough. We had very good service, but believe it or not, I am easy to please. If service use to be better than it was on our trip, WOW
I've cruised HAL and Princess since the auto-tipping policy came into effect and have seen NO decrease in service whatsoever. On HAL, the majority of the crew are from the Phillipines or Indonesia - sweet, kind people who work very hard to please us.
On Princess, the crew is more varied - Caribbean nations, Europeans, South Americans, Canadians......and the service is still stellar, in my opinion.
Yes, I do slip some extra to anyone who has been exceptional, but, on the other hand, I don't feel that anyone is "overpaid" for ANY job on a cruise ship. As far as the "relative" Katerina mentioned, good for her! We all make choices in life as to our work - maybe she's just smarter than the rest of us and found a job that she loves, pays well, and enjoys herself.
Bottom line: I see no difference in service with the auto-tipping policy. I also think I'm the luckiest person in the world whenever I'm on a cruise ship.
Consumers are tough to figure out. They want to pay Wal-Mart prices, but expect Saks quality and service. I know I'm going to get flamed for saying this, but my opinion is that the advent of mainstream (mass-market) cruising and the subsequent introduction of auto-tips are intimately associated with each other, but not for the reasons some of you are already going to try and pin on me.
The cruise lines use low fares to attract people who might not otherwise consider a cruise within their budget, and tack on the so-called nickle-and-dime charges later, along with the tips. Basically, they've got many people spending beyond their budgets. If the salaries were raised and those increases incorporated into the cruise fares, the fear is that some of those cabins might go empty.
I pretty much agree with you Okie, but along with that you have some (note, I said SOME) cruisers who really like the idea of an ala cart cruise because not everyone uses the same services and ammenities and would rather not pay for what they don't use. If I can go on a bare bones cruise and be satisfied and happy with that, then why would I want to pay extra for an all inclusive cruise?
I think that cruiseship staff are smart enough to figure out that they can get more tips on top of the auto-tips they receive, if they provide good service. Give them a little credit for having a brain.
I think auto tipping is a good idea as long as the passenger retains control over it and can object to the automatic tipping and amount of tipping if they choose. Tipping has always been pretty much defacto automatic anyway. Theres always been a certain reccommended tip, passengers generally want to tip whats fair and many have no idea of what is a fair tip so as long as they found the service acceptable they generally have always followed the recommendations anyway
I have never had anything but excellent sevice on my cruises and have tipped accordingly.
I do like the idea of tips being added to the sign and sail account. That way, I don't have to carry a lot of extra small and medium bills with me. I do carry enought to personally hand a litle extra to my steward and wait staff the last day if the service warrents it.
I think many times the decline in quality of service correlates directly with the decline in the quality of the passengers.
Seems of late there's many people that want nothing to do with the "traditional" cruise experience, and the onboard ambience and activities. But they do want top rate service without having to pay the price.
Juliet - I can manage to carry my own tray - thank you very much - but it is a nice touch for the staff to carry it for older passengers, especially when there are rough seas which makes walking difficult. disagreeing is one thing but smart remarks are another.
Kuki - you are blaming the decline in service on the passengers? How odd.
We sailed on the first HAL cruise after the automatic tip came in and the difference in service was very obvious. If we didn't enjoy the ambience and activities why on earth would we cruise. We have found 95% of the people on our cruises to be great.
As I understand it, if you tip over and above in cash to your room steward, waiter, etc. - that money is supposed to be turned in and put in the pool. Maybe not on all cruise lines, but definitely on some.
Doesn't seem fair to me.
I cruise the Emerald Princess, Eastern Caribbean on April 16, 2012
Katerina.. interestingly perhaps the staff on HAL told me they preferred the old system of tipping.
They feel they need to try even harder to provide better service with the auto tipping in place, because any removal or reduction in tips by the passengers is held against them just as negative comments on comment cards would be.
Cruznut, our waiter on Grand Princess told us that if our tips were included on the shipboard account, anything extra would not have to be turned in and pooled. If the tips had been removerd from the shipboard account, anything given to the crew would have to be turned in and pooled. They do know who has had their tips removed
Thank you Kuki - that is very interesting - I can't believe that the cruise line would look on removal or lessening of the automatic tip as a black mark against the staff. For example, we took our son and daughter-in-law on a cruise to celebrate their 20th anniversary and they went to the desk and lowered the tip amount because they couldn't afford to pay that much - they explained to the staff that they would love to give the whole amount but could not afford to. Surely that wouldn't be held against the crew!
We were discussing that first cruise after the automatic tipping came in and I suspect that the lack of cheerfulness was probably more due to there being a lot less staff doing the same amount of work. we noticed that on the Lido deck there was about half the staff than they had on the same cruise the year before.
If extra tips are given it is not fair that they have to be pooled - they are negating the whole idea of a reward for excellent service.
Katerina - The cruise line definitely look on removal or lessening of the automatic tip as a black mark against the staff. You stated that you took our son and daughter-in-law on a cruise and they went to the desk and lowered the bare minimum tip amount because they couldn't afford to pay that much. This was just plain wrong of them. The cruise employees work for their tips if someone cant afford the bare minimum tips they should not go on the cruise, its not fair to the cruise employees, almost like stealing from them because that is the amount they are entitled to if they provide good service. If you took your son and daughter in law on the cruise and they could not afford to pay for the tips arrangements should have been made for you to charge the tips on your credit card. Its ok to lower the tip for poor service but if the cruise employees provide good servicIe they should receive a fair tip and not be stiffed.
Yes, service has suffered with LOWER PRICES AND MASS MARKET MENTALITY. On MY last cruise the Captain and I stood at the gangway during embarkation. He commented that many Trailer Parks must be empty this week. On previous cruises we NEVER saw people dressed so badly and behaving so poorly. After dealing with the upper classes for so many years, the staff is very demoralized, hardly any smiles, never wanting to chat with the passengers about their homes and families. Too bad, it takes away most of the pleasure of working on a cruise ship.
In the old days, working on cruise ships was a good living. Tips and benefits were excellent, even though the hours were long. Today, many of the guests tip little to nothing. They have no money. My net earnings have been cut by over 60% during the past 15 years - between the guests with no money, and the cruise line companies cutting our benefits to maintain profits with the much lower prices and much higher costs.
Where are those low prices? Twenty years ago a one-week Mexican Riviera cruise on Royal Vikiing Sea (outside cabin) was $6,000 per person. Today a one-week Mexican Riviera Cruise on Princess (Balcony Cabin) is $600 per person. This is in real dollars - without factoring inflation.
The thing that makes me unhappy is the fact that many passengers today blame the auto-tipping for a perceived reduction in the quality of service on cruise ships.
I wish that the real problem was that simple.
Has service quality on cruise ships suffered over the past few years? ABSOLUTELY.
Has the quality of passengers suffered over the past few years? Absolutely.
This new auto-tipping is a direct result of the problems caused by this new class of passenger. Many of them have no money, and cannot or will not afford to tip the staff.
Gross earnings for cruise ship service staff have dropped every year for the past 10 years. As a result, many of the best service staff on cruise ships have opted to stay home - where they can now earn more money than on the ship, and still stay home with their families.
That's the main reason why service levels on cruise ships have slipped.
And the solution to the problem is not so easy as eliminating auto-tipping. The staff on ships have pooled all the tips for the past 100 years or so. They ALWAYS knew they would be tipped - whether or not you decided to tip them yourself. In the past few years - especially with the huge price cutbacks after 9/11, far more passengers chose not to tip anything. This put a huge dent in the tipping pool and EVERYONE lost out:
>>>The service staff took a huge earnings cut. The best ones left.
>>>The cruise lines lost their best service staff.
>>>Passengers receive lower service quality from inferior service staff.
>>>Possibly worst of all, the generally lower quality of passenger means lower expectations from the staff. The average passenger these days on a mass market ship often doesn't know the difference between friendliness and service. The staff is not challenged to try as hard as they previously were. They get lazy and cut corners - because they know that most of the time the Simpsons and the Griswolds don't know the difference anyway.
Am I unhappy with cruising? Absolutely not.
If I was, I would leave too, like many of my colleagues before me.
But I am unhappy to lose the Howells and now I'm stuck with Gilligan most of the time.
It's just not as much fun anymore.
In the good old days, we often had great conversations about the best restaurants around the world, fantastic hotels in exotic places, and incredible first-growth wines we had drunk. Now I spend the greater part of my day with passengers discussing the price of a coca-cola, or giving advice on how to get a free ride to Walmart.
It's just not the same.
I had an interesting chat with an italian waiter on the Grand Princess, and he agreed with me that the service level in the dining room is not what it was when I started cruiseing back in 1980. He also mentioned the fact that years ago the entire wait staff was one nationality, but now as you know the staff is international. He claims the waiters all work better together when they speak the same language, share the same culture etc. This all sounds logical to me, but then you know better than I.
But of course, it seems like the general course of things in American society have us working harder and making less money. That's not so much an attempt to justify the cruiselines, more an indictment of the status quo in all walks of life and employment.