A Guide to Cruise Ship Gratuities
Gratuities or Tips can be a very emotive issue and sometimes quite controversial. In some countries gratuities are part of daily life and it is taken for granted that a reward is given when good service is provided. For those who are not familiar with the concept of paying gratuities it can be quite daunting to have to pay gratuities on a cruise. In this guide I share with you the reasons why gratuities are appropriate and who, when and how these should be given on your cruise. Hopefully I can also clear up some of the most common misconceptions and provide helpful advice about why you pay on board gratuities.
Why You Should Pay Gratuities
Paying gratuities and tipping the staff aboard a cruise ship is not compulsory but is considered the right thing to do. It is a gesture of goodwill to reflect your gratitude for the service provided and to say a big "Thank You" to the crew members who have looked after you throughout your cruise serving your drinks, cleaning your stateroom and keeping everything shipshape.The main reason for tipping on a cruise is to compensate the relatively low paid staff for all their hard work. Many of the crew aboard a cruise ship are earning relatively low wages, and they make up their income to a reasonable level through the tips and gratuities that most guests pay for the brilliant job done by the crew. Those who complain about the idea of paying gratuities always use the argument that the cruise lines should pay a fair wage to the crew members whereas the cruise lines would counter this by saying one of the biggest incentives to the crew is the prospect of tips and this encourages them to work harder and offer the highest levels of service, resulting in a superior on board experience for everyone.
How to tip
These days it is customary for most cruise lines that have a tipping policy will automatically add gratuity charges to your on board account. Whist you are normally welcome to tip staff in cash, the old system of leaving money in an envelope for them to find has been largely phased out. Each of the cruise lines will have their own tipping policy and charge different daily rates and percentages for their crew gratuities. Some examples of this include Princess Cruises who automatically add $11.50 per person to your bill each day, while P&O Cruises only charge £3.75 per person per day. On top of this expect to pay a service charge of between 15-20% on all your drinks!
You will also find that some cruises line do not expect you to pay gratuities whilst on-board as these are included in the cruise fare. Companies who operate “All Inclusive Packages” include Seabourn, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and many of the Luxury Cruise Lines. Always make sure you understand the gratuity policy at the time of booking
When to tip
Most cruise lines automatically apply a gratuities automatically, which will be due for payment at the end of your cruise, however there are other numerous other options available when it comes to paying your gratuities.You will find that most cruise staff ship will go out of their way to make your feel really welcome and very special, and they really go the extra mile providing exceptional service to make sure you’re every need is catered for.
Whether it’s your cabin steward fulfilling a special request or the bartender remembering your name and favourite drink, there are lots of reasons why you may feel that is right to give a certain crew member a little extra. In this case, it is suggested that you give out cash tips on the last full day of your cruise. It is also a good idea to consider a tip to the right person at the beginning of your cruise which can improve your experience and offering the staff member the motivation to provide the very best service for the rest of your cruise.
With many Cruise Lines, Gratuities are an important element of the crew's pay. Don't let them down
Who to tip
By paying your gratuities automatically to all the crew on-board you may feel that this doesn't really do justice to those crew members who have gone beyond the call of duty, most cruise line staff will accept extra tips, while for other crew members it is not quite so appropriate.
Cruise ship staff who will generally accept additional tips include cabin stewards, butlers and room service attendants, bar tenders and dining room waiters, shore excursion tour guides, spa therapists and casino dealers.
However there are certain crew members such as your ship’s captain and other high ranking officers who are generally extremely well paid without receiving gratuities and so you would not normally offer these.
You Decide !
At the end of the day it is you choice as to whether or not you pay gratuities automatically on-board, or pay gratuities in cash. It is important to remember that most crew members rely on tips to subsidize their basic pay and will go out of their way to make sure you have a wonderful time on-board. To be fair to the crew always think twice and remember the service you have enjoyed before you consider removing gratuities from your bill.