Tipping on cruises

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In the January ’04 “Boarding Pass,” the editor asked readers to comment on the trend among cruise lines to automatically add $10 per day for tips to shipboard staff.

Having been a cruise lover for many years, I have witnessed several policies used by cruise lines regarding tipping.

• I like Holland America Line’s policy the best: “No tipping required.” That does not mean that a staff member does not accept a tip; it means that HAL does not give any suggestions on the amount to tip, should you desire to do so.

On a Holland America cruise, I always tip my dinner table waiter $3-$4 a day, and half that to his assistant. I hand it directly to each of them, the last evening, in an envelope (which, incidentally, would not be preaddressed or provided by HAL!).

I feel the maître d’ should receive a tip only if a special service was provided, such as changing our table after the first dinner in the event we were unlucky enough to get obnoxious table partners. That could be the best $10 or $20 spent during the trip!

My cabin steward also receives $3 to $4 a day, handed personally to him the last day. Some experienced cruisers give the steward $5 or $10 immediately upon embarking, with the promise of more to come if good service is given during the trip.

In the bars, an automatic 15% is added to the bill as a tip, and I have never left anything additional.

• In 1999, a friend and I took a leg of the QE2’s ’round-the-world cruise on which all tips were included; however, we had such charming waiters and a lovely stewardess that we were happy to give them each an additional tip (see above amounts) at the end of the trip.

• Some years ago I sailed on a couple of Greek ships where we were requested to deposit all tips at the front desk at the end of the cruise, to be divided among the staff. I hope the staff got their fair share; it was implied that some “behind the scenes” staff also benefited from this policy. Maybe so, but I would rather tip directly.

• The tipping policy that I did not like was that on a Royal Caribbean International ship in 2002, where we were daily reminded of the “appropriate” amount in the newspaper, and on the last day the preaddressed envelopes appeared in the staterooms. We also could add to our account the recommended amount, thereby avoiding any personal contact with those who had served us.

I would suggest to RCI that they add that recommended amount to the cruise fare (and distribute it accordingly), advertise themselves as “no tipping required” and back off on the constant reminders in the newspaper; the staff would fare better by giving good service and being rewarded with tips anyway.

Reasonable people will tip for good service. It does the reputation of any cruise line no good when it states that the staff is dependent on tips for survival.

GRETA SANDBERG
San Diego, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In the January ’04 “Boarding Pass,” the editor asked readers to comment on the trend among cruise lines to automatically add $10 per day for tips to shipboard staff.

Having been a cruise lover for many years, I have witnessed several policies used by cruise lines regarding tipping.

• I like Holland America Line’s policy the best: “No tipping required.” That does not mean that a staff member does not accept a tip; it means that HAL does not give any suggestions on the amount to tip, should you desire to do so.

On a Holland America cruise, I always tip my dinner table waiter $3-$4 a day, and half that to his assistant. I hand it directly to each of them, the last evening, in an envelope (which, incidentally, would not be preaddressed or provided by HAL!).

I feel the maître d’ should receive a tip only if a special service was provided, such as changing our table after the first dinner in the event we were unlucky enough to get obnoxious table partners. That could be the best $10 or $20 spent during the trip!

My cabin steward also receives $3 to $4 a day, handed personally to him the last day. Some experienced cruisers give the steward $5 or $10 immediately upon embarking, with the promise of more to come if good service is given during the trip.

In the bars, an automatic 15% is added to the bill as a tip, and I have never left anything additional.

• In 1999, a friend and I took a leg of the QE2’s ’round-the-world cruise on which all tips were included; however, we had such charming waiters and a lovely stewardess that we were happy to give them each an additional tip (see above amounts) at the end of the trip.

• Some years ago I sailed on a couple of Greek ships where we were requested to deposit all tips at the front desk at the end of the cruise, to be divided among the staff. I hope the staff got their fair share; it was implied that some “behind the scenes” staff also benefited from this policy. Maybe so, but I would rather tip directly.

• The tipping policy that I did not like was that on a Royal Caribbean International ship in 2002, where we were daily reminded of the “appropriate” amount in the newspaper, and on the last day the preaddressed envelopes appeared in the staterooms. We also could add to our account the recommended amount, thereby avoiding any personal contact with those who had served us.

I would suggest to RCI that they add that recommended amount to the cruise fare (and distribute it accordingly), advertise themselves as “no tipping required” and back off on the constant reminders in the newspaper; the staff would fare better by giving good service and being rewarded with tips anyway.

Reasonable people will tip for good service. It does the reputation of any cruise line no good when it states that the staff is dependent on tips for survival.

GRETA SANDBERG
San Diego, CA