Tipping on cruise-tours

We went on a 16-day cruise-tour from Beijing to Shanghai, “China’s Cultural Delights,” with Viking River Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 877/668-4546, www.vikingrivercruises.com), Aug. 5-21, ’06. Airfare was included, and the price was $5,500.

We were very satisfied with the cruise except for the matter of tips, but since it was our first cruise we didn’t really know what to expect. I believe the cruise brochure “suggested” $6 to $8 per helper per day, which seemed rather steep to us. Other people on the trip thought that amount was standard; otherwise, the cost of the trip would have been higher. Still others remembered being on cruises of the same quality where tips were forbidden.

This “tip” was to be left in an envelope at the front desk upon our departure. Worried that some workers might skim their cut off the top, some of us decided we would handle it our own way and so on the last day we pressed our tips directly into the hands of those who had served us well during the trip, and they thanked us graciously. I realize this may not have been fair to the unseen workers, but the tip system is not fair.

Incidentally, we had a fine trip escort who spoke English well. Several times he “scolded” me for tipping the shore-tour bus driver or the lecturer on the bus too much. He explained to me that under the communist system they should all be paid the same. Finally, I explained to him that my money had been earned under the capitalist system and would be awarded under the merit system. He just shook his head. When we departed, I gave him a fat envelope, which I hope helped him to understand.

I would like to hear from fellow travelers about their experiences on this matter. (See page 4.)

By the way, I want to thank those of you who were so kind in replying to my inquiry, in ITN’s “Person to Person” section, about cruises up the Yangtze River. I put your names and addresses on my computer and began thanking you one by one, then my dog, no, my computer ate the site when I had barely begun. So if you were one who did not receive a personal ‘Thank you,’ please know I am very grateful, and I considered each bit of advice and loved all of your insider tips.


Chesapeake, VA