Tipping lies cruise lines like to tell

eAlisa / Shutterstock.com
eAlisa / Shutterstock.com

If you thought tipping was out of control in the United States, try heading out to sea.

That’s where Jane Greene discovered the tipping economy isn’t just alive and well, it apparently sustains the crew of major cruise ships. That’s a particularly interesting revelation in light of the U.S. government’s plans to regulate the cruise industry.

“Prior to our most recent cruise, we always tipped generously — above and beyond what was recommended for individuals who showed extra initiative,” says Greene, an author from Pensacola, Fla.

But on her latest cruise on Oceania, she found a surprise charge on her final bill: it included a hefty, and automatic, tip for the crew.

Oceania’s tipping policy is spelled out in its frequently-asked questions section: For guests occupying staterooms, gratuities of $14.50 per guest, per day, will be added to the final bill. Plus, an 18 percent service gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases, spa services and dinner at its signature restaurant, La Reserve, it says.

That didn’t bother Greene as much as the behavior of the crew did.

“Virtually all of these people came with hands out, expecting more,” she says. “I was told by two different staff persons that what we had been charged on our final bill was for gratuity, not for tip. Like other passengers, we felt obligated to ante up once again — but it seemed wrong, and left us with a bad taste.”

She’s not alone. I’ve been a tipping critic for years (here’s my latest rant against this fundamentally unfair way of compensating employees). Seems I have at least one reader who agrees with me. But land-based tipping is really nothing compared to the automatic tips you encounter at sea.

By the way, a gratuity and a tip are more or less the same thing. Greene says she had to pay even more than regular passengers, because she had booked a suite. Customers in one of Oceania’s Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner’s Suites where butler service is provided pay a mandatory gratuity of $20.50 per guest, per day.


Not a new policy?

Greene contacted Oceania, asking for an explanation of these fees. She received what appeared to be a personal response from a vice president, explaining the cruise line’s tipping policy.

“The entire hotel operations staff on board our ship share in the gratuities paid by our guests,” he wrote. “This ensures that each and every member of our staff embraces our service commitment to the guests. As a convenience to our guests and in order to avoid the feeling of having to constantly tip staff members, Oceania Cruises has had in place since its inception the policy of adding the suggested gratuities to guests’ shipboard account.”

That’s even more damning. Greene certainly didn’t feel as if the tips were discretionary, so if this policy has been in place since the beginning, doesn’t it make you wonder how many other cruise passengers have been broadsided by it?

And then there’s this: Starting with the 2013-14 winter cruise season, Oceania is raising its “automatic” gratuities to $15 and $22, depending on your cabin class. The only way to eliminate them is to stand in a long line at the end of the cruise, to request their removal. How convenient.

How it should be done

Years ago, when I started covering the cruise industry, I remember meeting with the president of a cruise line and asking him why he paid his employees less than the minimum wage.

“Actually,” he said, wagging his finger at me, “they make great money!”

“How?” I wondered.

“Tips,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “They can make enough money to support their families back home.”

That struck me as fundamentally unfair. Not only did it rely on the largesse of passengers — something you can’t always depend on — but it also allowed the cruise line to pay the equivalent of slave wages while also hiding the true cost of a cruise.

Restaurants are running charities by comparison.

Can it get any worse? Sure. NCL’s Pride of America had a $12 per passenger, per day “auto” gratuity before it headed to dry dock for renovations. At one time, the gratuity couldn’t be removed, but in recent years, passengers were allowed to “adjust” it at their discretion. Still, you should have seen the complaints about that one.

If you add those tips to the bill at the end of a cruise and try to guilt your passengers into paying it, that’s almost as bad as hitting you with a surprise mandatory “resort” fee at the end of their stay, which some hotels still do.

Cruise lines should be paying their staff a living wage, not forcing them to rely on handouts — voluntary or otherwise — from guests. The only beneficiaries of such a pricing policy are cruise lines, who can legally pay their employees chicken scratch. It might be useful to dodge a few bucks on taxes, too. And the only reason anyone can continue to get away with this deceptive pricing is because we allow them to.

We shouldn’t.

It’s time for the cruise industry to do what it says — to make its product “all-inclusive.” And that should include their employees’ wages.

Should cruise lines automatically add tips to your bill?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • DChamp56

    I have 20 cruises under my belt and I always have the automatic tips removed from my bill if they’re there. Luckily, I mostly cruise a line that asks you before putting them on your bill (RCI).

    I’d much rather tip on performance, than just a blank $/Day. I’ve over-tipped when I’ve gotten exceptional service, and I’ve not tipped when it’s deserved (due to poor/no service).
    I do wonder also, if the “gratuity” put on a bar bill on a cruise ship actually goes to the bartender/wait staff!

    And yes, cruise lines should pay a living wage to these hard working people. Unfortunately, they’re based in other countries that have no such laws.

  • EdB

    “And yes, cruise lines should pay a living wage to these hard working people. Unfortunately, they’re based in other countries that have no such laws.”

    Even the US doesn’t have such laws. Even the states that require staff to be paid minimum wage in addition to tips, is not a living wage unfortunately.

  • BillCCC

    I voted no. I have cruised a few times and usually tip more than expected. I have never experienced any crew member mention tipping or been asked for anything. I find it very difficult to believe that Jane Greene was pushed to provide more, especially on a cruise line like Oceania which is one of the higher level lines.

  • John Baker

    I guess I’m the opposite of @dchamp56:disqus . The thing I used to hate about cruising was having to plan far enough ahead to bring the appropriate amount of cash on board for the final night tips (several hundred dollars at the time for my family). The thing that never really made sense to me was that passengers would go to the desk to get the money, to give it to the crew and most of them would turn around and add it to their ship board account (giving it right back to the ship).

    We do vary our tip amounts based on service and I bring extra to add to their envelopes when required (and have no problem standing in a line to remove / lower an amount when required too).

  • Veronica

    I think this should be up to the discretion of the passenger. What if the person provided lousy service? Are we still expected to pay or can it be adjusted? I am not saying that we should not tip at all, but it should not be a requirement. I also should be allowed to tip based on 1) what I can afford and 2) the level of service I feel I received from the person.

  • Bill___A

    Tipping has gotten out of hand and should have never been started in the first place.

  • Mel65

    When I found out there was going to be an automatic daily tip on our Princess Alaskan cruise last year, I was very annoyed. I HATE companies deciding what’s “convenient” for me. But by the end of the cruise, I had changed my mind. The service was impeccable, and NOBODY ever by word or deed indicated they wanted more; even the young man who stopped what he was doing and went from the 14th level to the 6th to get an iced coffee for me despite my saying, I’d happily go get it myself if he’d tell me where I could. I did add in a tip for “frou frou” drinks since alcohol was billed separately and at the end of the cruise added another $20 per day to the envelope for our cabin steward who had been exceptional. If anyone told the OP that she was expected to tip on top of gratuity, she should have told them the terms are virtually synonymous and it was her understanding they’d get it at the end of the trip while giving “the look”. Extortion isn’t acceptable, but beyond the daily gratuity, she wasn’t FORCED to give any extra, and if you add up 3 meals and various services, the mandatory amount is really pretty reasonable. When I’m in Vegas, I know I tip more than $20 per day to various hotel maids, valets and waiters. A cruise ship is about on par.

  • SoBeSparky

    Several points:
    1. If something is automatically added to your bill, removable or not, it should show up in the advertised price. If it they are applied across the board, then it is a crew salary item, taxable in the USA, and should be disclosed before booking as part of the total fare, including taxes, port charges and billed tips. As part of regulation, the total price should be prominently displayed, larger in type size than the low-ball price excluding billed “extras.”
    2. Pay the employees a livable wage, not something so inadequate that the crew members cannot sustain themselves, especially the behind-the-scenes people who never would get tips usually. Pay them and show it in the price. They could even advertise they pay a “livable wage” which would appeal to a large segment of potential customers.
    3. Tips should be discretionary, based on individual service, not suggested, demanded or solicited.
    4. When a cruise line assesses a fixed amount (removable upon request), then the cruise line should instruct all staff to not solicit tips, but accept any offered graciously. This should be in the employment contract.

    In China, the no-tipping policy still exists among natives. Since formation of the People’s Republic, tips are viewed culturally as a form of welfare (harking back to colonial days, making the natives demean themselves), hence those who solicit them from other Chinese are viewed as losing face, mianzi. Employers must pay a living wage to find and retain employees, not something so small that begging for tips is required.

    But this is a duplicitous situation. Tour companies serving westerners pull off the same tip scam in the pricing as the cruise lines. In these cases, the tour company pays the employees little, but tells them to encourage tips, even embarrass westerners into tipping, like passing the “hat” (such as a church collection) openly in front of all customers on a bus after suggesting an outrageous amount compared with the Chinese cost of living. There is nothing subtle about the tour guide solicitation. It is literally in your face, eye to eye.

    Tour companies for westerners in China also do the “aggregate tip” scam where you are assessed a gross amount per day, say $20, to give to all persons who serve the tourist. To whom does it really go? Who knows, as it is collected many times by the tour guide. Remember, If any of these tip shenanigans were attempted with the natives, the Chinese would frown and just turn away from begging tour guides. “How disgusting!,” would be their thought.

  • niramerp

    Since tipping is not the custom in Australia, how do Australians react to the cruise lines policy ?


    I agree Chris, that cruise lines should pay living wages and not force crew members to rely on the generosity of guests. I usually cruise one of the lines that does not charge additional gratuities and usually experience excellent service. If the service is bad then I make a complaint as soon as possible and the problem usually vanishes.
    No business, be it a restaurant, cruise ship or other such company, should force employees to rely on the generosity of a customer to provide them a decent wage.
    It is wrong in so many ways and we need to re-draw that business model.
    After all, it is the employee that suffers when a customer refuses to tip, even if they get very good service and an expensive meal.

  • Annie M

    I have said for years the cruise lines should just add $75 per person onto the price of the cruise and stop with the auto tips. There is no impetus for the crew to go above and beyond when auto tipping is added and some of them do look at your for more. And if you want to remove them or lower them because service was lousy, they sure try and talk you out of it.

  • A.H.

    I have no problem with it being added, but it should be disclosed ahead of time and listed as a bill item. Even better would be to increase the crew wages and just work it into the cruise price, making it a true “all-inclusive” as Chris mentions.

    However, if you are going to list it as a tip, which is fine, since most of the crew is in service-oriented positions, then you have to allow people to adjust it as they see fit. In general, I have received impeccable service on all my cruises. On my last cruise I left extra for my cabin steward because he was so attentive and helpful. The problem arises when things happen like the list of non-tipping guests got distributed to the crew on the Carnival Splendor (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1180762/Outrage-cruise-passengers-dont-tip-revealed-staff.html)

  • Alan Gore

    A gratuity is by definition an amount decided by the customer. If its mandatory, call it a service charge.

  • emanon256

    Interesting read about a restaurant owner who operates two restaurants, and doesn’t allow tipping at one of them.


  • Lindabator

    And just a heads up – Royal Caribbean International is now making the gratuities MANDATORY. Reason being – everyone wants it free, the cruise, the service, etc.

  • Lindabator

    Agreed – find it VERY hard to swallow that one.

  • Michael__K

    I don’t think anyone is opposed to having the *option* to tip through their on-board account rather than in cash.

  • Lindabator

    Which is why they started adding tps on all the lines – most frequent travellers COMPLAINED about it enough. So much easier to have it on the bill, or even pre-paid.

  • Lindabator

    That’s the problem – if you can’t afford to tip them, you can’t afford to cruise. And a lot of folks barking for the most service do not wish to have to pay for it – which is why it is being added by all the lines, and even the more flexible lines are now making it mandatory.

  • Lindabator

    Unfortunately, everyone wants everything for free nowadays – the lines which include gratuities are “too expensive” for them to consider, and the only way to keep the pricing low is to unbundle. I much prefer paying more upfront, and having everything included, including impeccable service.

  • Lindabator

    Unfortunately, I hear clients all the time who are willing to spend $3000 for a week in the Caribbean on a ship, in a great cabin, trying to figure out how NOT to pay the tips (can’t afford the cruise if they tip, you know!)

  • John Baker

    @Michael__K:disqus It isn’t hard, at any point in the cruise, to walk to the service desk and state “please remove the automated tips from my account. I choose to tip with cash.”

  • emanon256

    “I also should be allowed to tip based on 1) what I can afford…”

    A 10-year-old boy walked up to the counter of a soda shop and climbed
    onto a stool. He caught the eye of the waitress and asked, “How much is
    an ice cream sundae?”

    “Fifty cents,” the waitress replied. The boy reached into his
    pockets, pulled out a handful of change, and began counting. The
    waitress frowned impatiently. After all, she had other customers to wait

    The boy squinted up at the waitress. “How much is a dish of plain ice
    cream?” he asked. The waitress sighed and rolled her eyes. “Thirty-five
    cents,” she said with a note of irritation.

    Again, the boy counted his coins. At last, he said, “I’ll have the
    plain ice cream, please.” He put a quarter and two nickels on the
    counter. The waitress took the coins, brought the ice cream, and walked

    About ten minutes later, she returned and found the ice cream dish
    empty. The boy was gone. She picked up the empty dish—then swallowed

    There on the counter, next to the wet spot where the dish had been,
    were two nickels and five pennies. The boy had had enough for a sundae,
    but he had ordered plain ice cream so he could leave her a tip.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I can live with the tip being included, but in the article double-tipping was being encouraged and that’s just wrong. In Europe, where having the tip included is quite common, you’re looked upon as being foolish if you leave a large additional tip. And even here in the U.S. I’ve been many places where gratuity was included in the bill and never had anybody outright request an additional tip, nor had anybody try to argue that “gratuity” and “tip” were different things. Behavior like that would get you fired many places, but the article made it sound like it was the norm at least on this one ship.

  • devand

    I do not like the automatic or mandatory tip policy. When I have cruised on ships that add your tip at the end, I have always had them remove the tip (or asked them not to charge it) and they have begrudgingly done so. I then tip based on the overall service I received during the cruise and make sure to include all who have served me personally. I’m sure some behind-the-scenes staff didn’t get a portion and, for that, I’m sorry but I can’t be assured they do with auto tipping anyway. Our worst cruise was on the NCL ship mentioned who had the automatic tip added to our bill. The service was terrible in every aspect. Our steward acknowledged that the crew doesn’t work harder or “try” because they don’t know if it matters. They don’t see the correlation between their work and the tip because they don’t see the tip. He said, “Why work harder when the guy who isn’t gets the same amount?”. Sad point.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I only cruise on the cruise lines that have a “no tipping” policy. Regent Seven Seas, Paul Gauguin, Seabourn, Silversea. Here’s Regent’s stated policy:

    “Gratuities are included in the cruise fare for all RSSC vessels. If
    guests feel strongly about expressing their gratitude to the crew, they
    should be encouraged to make a donation to the Crew Welfare Fund at the
    Purser Office. This money is utilized for crew parties and events.”

    And Silversea’s:

    “All gratuities aboard ship are included in your cruise fare; none are expected.”

    Pretty straightforward.

    I’m a repeat Paul Gauguin cruiser…as they used to be part of Regent, their policy is the same. We always get phenomenal service, so we always contribute to the Crew Welfare Fund. We do this because we’ve gotten to know some of the crew, and it brings us pleasure to know that we’re helping them have parties. But if we were dissatisfied with the service, we wouldn’t. That’s how tipping should work.

  • bodega3

    I had clients cancel their cruise after making a deposit when they found out that their tip was going to be placed on their account and that they had to ask to take it off. They are very firm in their beliefs on tipping and this one crossed the line as far as they were concerned. And I agree. If a tip is automatically added, then it isn’t a tip. With that said, in years past, before this new policy was started, you were given envelopes and the workers would have to come by your table or cabin to get their money. It was awkward IMHO. I have yet to meet a cruise line employee who didn’t earn their ‘tip’. They usually earn extra.

  • kimrod219

    Great article and truly ‘spot on’ re the psychology of both giving and receiving tips. Thanks for the hotlink.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Before I stopped cruising the mass-market lines, I always hated the envelope ritual. AWKWARD! That was one of the reasons I stopped cruising them.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    “Automatic tipping” is about as asinine a concept as anything I’ve encountered. Cruiselines need to pay their people properly. I tip generously, but I only tip those people who give me great service. Isn’t that the whole point of a gratuity? Tipping someone you’ve never encountered is ridiculous, just another way for cruiselines to inflate their prices while seemingly innocent. On the other hand, people who will spend $5K on a cruise will not tip at all, that is equally ridiculous. Bringing the cash for tips is part of packing for a cruise. If you can’t be bothered to bring the cash for gratuities, you should not be cruising.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And yet another reason why I stopped cruising the mass-market lines. They have driven pricing down so low in order to fill their ships that the experience has degraded to a Motel 6 on the seas. If you want a return to what cruising used to be, you have to pay for it. You’ll find it on the luxury lines. With “no tipping” policies.

  • Michael__K

    Chris mentions long lines, particularly at the end of the cruises. If you haven’t experienced that, then maybe that criticism doesn’t apply to the ship(s) or cruiseline(s) you’ve used.

    Far more common than someone who wants to tip 100% in cash is someone who wants to adjust tip amounts up or down. And it’s premature to decide that until near the end of the journey.

    I don’t understand why adjusting the amounts must require waiting in line. Give every passenger a carbon copy form with guidelines and space to enter different amounts if they choose. Have drop boxes for the passengers to deposit the forms. Passenger keeps their copy in case there’s any confusion.

  • Brian Jewell

    Chris, you have at least one other reader who thinks tipping is a horrible and unfair system that ought to be abolished. I wrote a series of posts about it on my blog “God, Money & Me” earlier this summer. http://godmoneyme.com/2013/07/09/problems-with-the-tipping-culture/

  • Joe Reimers

    I hesitate to ascribe greed or dishonesty to an industry’s decisions when accounting for cultural differences is also in play. As Americans, for good or ill, we are accustomed to tipping. We may grumble about it, but it’s part of the system, and most of us deal with it. Conversely, in other parts of the world, tips are not the norm. and “all-inclusive” is expected to mean precisely that.

    The impression I get is that cruise lines are increasingly adding auto-tips (which can be altered upon request) to give an appearance closer to the all-inclusive model while retaining the passenger’s capability to reward good service or not reward poor service. (I know Disney Cruise Line had to experiment with this when they first started doing Mediterranean cruises, since most of the passengers were Europeans who were not expecting to have to tip. If memory serves, DCL built the suggested gratuities into the “paid-in-full” due date, but allowed for that to be refunded upon request. To most travelers, it came across as the expected all-inclusive fee. But I may be misremembering.)

    From the cruise line’s point of view, I don’t think they really care whether you tip on your own or whether they build the “suggested” tip rate into the overall cost of the voyage: for them, it’s ultimately a zero-sum game, because they’re not making or losing money either way. But I’m also guessing tipped crew prefer tips rather than a straight per-passenger fee, because they can make more money that way.

  • Veronica

    I agree with what you are saying – great point. I actually do plan for tipping when I travel.

  • Veronica

    I got it :o)

  • Kirtsch

    Recently experience our first cruise. We were aboard and NCL ship and pre-paid the gratuities before sailing. Seemed easier to pay in advance than have the extra expense at the end.

    We made it a practice to converse with our stewards, waiters, etc. to express our gratitude for their service as well as gain an understanding of what their lives were like aboard a ship.

    We were disgusted to learn that the crew members were required to pay for their “stateroom”, their food, their laundry, etc. out of their salary/tips! That makes cruise lines even more greedy than previously thought. Made me feel guilty for crusing …

    I agree with other posters – pay a fair wage to the crew and include that extra expense in the cost of a ticket. I’d love to cruise again, but, I’d rather take longer to save enough money to go, than go sooner and feel bad for the crew while I’m there.

  • Margaret

    I wonder how much of that TIP they take automatically from you actually gets to the employee. I bet they add a administrative fee to that before they hand down the money…makes me sick

  • Steve T,

    I don’t know why people wouldn’t just figure the gratuities as part of the cost of the cruise. Cruises are dirt cheap, for the most part, compared to what you receive. I have never been a cruise where the services wasn’t impeccable. What’s the difference between a $650.00 cruise plus $150.00 tip, and a $800.00 cruise no tipping allowed. I have a restaurant where servers used to make $2.13 hr plus tips (averaged about $18.00 to $20 an hour with their pay)and cooks made around $13.00. Now in Florida they make me pay the servers almost $6.00 hr, and the cooks are down to around $12.00. How fair is this to the cooks. This is what happens when the government gets involved. Before I start getting hate mail about my cooks pay, this was done out of necessity to stay open with this not so good economy. Also the average here in fl is around $10.50, anyway. And for all those people against businesses not paying a living wage, do 3 things, stop going to fast food places, stop going to the big box walmarts, and stop ordering online from the cheapest seller. Go to some locally owned businesses and restaurants, or even the bigger chains.

  • bodega3

    I never understood how restaurants are allowed to get away with paying poverty wages. Why should I tip to cover you not having to pay your workers, just like on cruise ships?
    Also, why should I tip a percentage? Does my $100 meal really mean the server deserves $20 vs my $30 meal where the server gets $6?

  • emanon256

    I read your blog post and I could not agree more. You summed it up better than I have ever heard it before. Thank you! I used to teach personal financial management to college freshman as a side job and always loved it. Your blog/teachings reminded me of that job, hopefully will find an opportunity to do it again in the future.

  • jonricha

    I love the “stop going to the big box walmarts” crowd. Capitalism can be cruel. Don’t blame the customer, we are going to spend our money in our own best interest. Sometimes that is cheapest price, sometimes best service. I like local places as much as anyone, but they have to offer more value in some aspect for people to shop there. Blaming the consumer is sour grapes. By the way, i have alot of respect for business owners, I would love to be one someday.

  • SandyO

    We travel with Vantage both on their river cruises and land tours. On the cruises there is a suggested amount for the ships staff/crew and another for your “program manager” who is your guide, and ‘go to’ person for the duration of your trip. But…and this is the nice thing….nothing is added to your bill; you go to the reception desk and either place an envelope into a box there or tell them how much to charge to your credit card. And you hand your program manager an envelope, sealed and unmarked if that’s what you want, at the end of the trip. I have been know to do an extra tip to our waiters and cabin steward if there has been exceptional service but this is not encouraged by Vantage; they say they want to make sure those behind the scenes get a fair share too.

  • BillCCC

    I agree that crew members on cruise ships are paid poorly in comparison to passengers. As far as I know they are not held against their will. I have to pay mortgage, food, laundry etc out of my salary as well. If you feel guilty then you probably should not cruise.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    This is a little off topic, kind of, in that my wife and I like to go on river cruises on the Potomac. We often see people who don’t tip the staff. This includes even the tourist barges that have a staff that run the boat. Another time, we go to wine tastings and see people not tipping the staff. These aren’t poor people but rather well-to-do upper middle class government workers.
    Another funny story, off-topic: My wife found that when she worked as a waitress, she got the same amount of tips for working LESS tables. Because she could spend more time and attention upon the individual customers, they tipped more which offset that there were fewer customers to tip her. So she gave the extra tables to the other waiters and waitresses.

    Final observation: I don’t like the tipping rule of percentage of price since it punishes waiters who do hard work at hash diners. They work hard too and should get paid as much as someone who works at a fancy steak place. Hmmm, another observation: The guys who work at the fancy steak places in the kitchen sometimes get little money. So we make an effort to ask them to come out and tip them personally.

  • Steve T,

    To Bodega: I didn’t invent the system, it is what it is, and I’ve always thought of a “restaurant job” as an entry level job. If you want to make more, move up the ladder. Also a $100 meal usually is a higher level of service, by better quality servers, who only have a few tables a night. To Jonricha: I never said stop going to Walmart, I said if you’re against low paying jobs, stop going there.

  • bodega3

    But the restaurant business fights to keep the wages low just like the cruise line, as you want to get us in and they charge us a tip. I am not blaming you, but your industry is cheap!
    I disagree that the more expensive the meal the better the service. We have left a $1 tip at some pretty expensive places and over tipped at some little hole in the wall places that gave us amazing service. We have NEVER over tipped at an expensive restaurant.
    A client was in Arkansas on a trip and was talking with the waitress at the diner where my client stopped in for lunch. The waitress made between $2-3 an hour and the tips were to bring her up to minimum wage. But when you get coffee at a counter, tips left are 25-50 cents, so that is a lot of work for very little wage. Cost of living, with the exception of housing, is pretty much the same across the US. At a upstate NY dinner by the airport where we stopped before our flight, our waitress made between $3-4 an hour, with tips expected to bring her hourly rate up. I know the cost of living in her area, having family there, and that is poverty pay! No different that the cruise lines except the cruise lines are not bound by US laws, but restaurants are. What is wrong with this picture?

  • Phreak

    The automatic tip is split between all “tipped” employees on the ship. The “extra tip” goes directly to that person. Spoke with several different employees on three different cruise lines…

  • Kirtsch

    You’re right, of course. Our steward assured us he felt good about his job and was helping his family in the Philipines. He seemed pleased when we gave him a few $$ as our personal thank you for his efforts. It’s easy to forget how comparatively blessed we Americans are.

    I’m not so pure I’ll never cruise again. Seems like the solution for me will be to save enough to cruise with one of the lines mentioned by others who include gratuities in their fare structure. I presume the higher cruise prices are a result of better pay for their crew (?).

  • http://www.lipglossandabackpack.com/ LipglossandaBackpack

    Have you been raped? I’m not sure that I would consider being overcharged on two or three cruises a year in any way comparable to being raped.

  • TonyA_says

    Geoffrey, you know how this works, right? Our customers want cheap. So the cruise lines delivered. That’s all there is to it. I already ignore all the complaints below a certain price :)

  • Simone

    Most Aussies adopt a “when in Rome” policy. Same with most people from non-tipping cultures such as Japan, and Iceland. In most parts of France, the tip is automatically included in the bill, and the menu will say “service compris”, meaning you don’t need to tip.
    When I travel I read about all the local customs and abide by them so that I don’t stand out like a dumb tourist.
    I’ve been to Australia ten times and can tell you that the Aussies hate the tourists from tipping cultures who come in and start tipping like they’re in the US. They say it’s ruining their nice non-tipping society. If you look at restaurant prices in Australia, you’ll see they’re a lot higher than in the US, and that’s to account for the living wages the workers get.
    Point is, if you go to a place where tipping is appropriate and the workers are dependent upon it, then tip. If you visit a place where there’s no tipping, don’t tip. Learn the customs, or ask.
    Be a good traveler, not a dumb tourist.

  • DChamp56

    Sorry, I have 2 cruises booked on RCI and was able to “opt-out” of the automatic tipping on both.

  • TonyA_says

    If the service was poor or missing, why did you bother to cruise again?

  • Lindabator

    But not on future cruises – that’s he latest from their sales department. Sorry!

  • LarryD

    Those who find auto-tipping abhorrent should try mentally changing the term to “service charge,” and factor it in as a cost of cruising. I’ve not personally travelled on any cruise line that doesn’t reveal the fact that auto-tipping is in place, and it’s not hard to calculate what the total will be long before you get the final bill.

  • WhyDidntIThinkOfThat
  • DChamp56

    Not sure where you’re getting your info. I just booked last week, 2 cruises, one out in January 2014 and they asked in both cases if I wanted pre-paid gratuities, to which I said no. I deal straight with RCI, not a TA.

  • Lindabator

    ROM Royal Caribbean – MONTHS ago – obviously you don’t read Cruise Critic – as MANY passengers have been contacted by the line as to the mandatory tipping – you can opt out of pre-paying, but will pay once onboard – check out their website as well.

  • Lindabator
  • francestoronto

    I have been on three cruises with Oceania, including a lengthy one of over a month. I haven’t seen a hand held out for a tip.

  • francestoronto

    I just checked my invoice from my Oceania cruise. It clearly says “Gratuities are not included in Oceania Cruise fares. If not prepaid, a gratuity of 315.00 USD per guest will be automatically charged to the guest’s onboard account.” This should not be a surprise to consumers!

  • Grant Ritchie

    Mandatory tips; there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one. :-(

  • Lindabator

    HAHA – agreed!

  • stephen_nyc

    I just spent the past I don’t know how many minutes (geez, maybe an hour) reading all his posts & postscripts and whatnot about the subject. He hits the nail on the head big time. He has 6 posts, 4 postscripts, and 1 closing thought. It is a page turner and I also encourage everyone to read them all.

    Thank you emanon256 for the link.