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New to cruising (and yet to do it) but Wilba is right. Let's have the full cost of the cruise as the price you pay and no gratuities ever! As a matter of fact, this is the one thing that has put us off cruising - the expectation of a huge bill at the end. However, soon to try it.
If you phone up RCI, Celebrity and Azamara agents at RCI headquarters in the UK they should always quote their prices inclusive of the Grats - it is the high street T/As and the Daily Mail weekend travel supplement advertisers who knock off the tips, to make their pricing look cheaper and do not tell these poor unsuspecting new cruisers about this 'expected' on board outlay, which as you say adds approx £70pp to a fortnights cruise. As cruising is the biggest boom travel industry in the UK and is seeming to be pretty 'credit crisis' resistant, I believe yes, the T/As should quote the tips and include them in their prices upfront and honestly.
Things will inevitably change in the travel business, just like every other business. The customer is king and ignore them at your peril ( if only Mr G Ratner had remembered that ! ). I remember the days when you could not book any package holiday on a fixed price. It always went up just before the balance was due for some reason or another. Customers voted with their wallet and simply went elsewhere ( or bought a caravan!).
I am equally surprised that people do not seek full information on cruises they are booking. I never fail to be shocked by some potential cruisers who are "seduced into buying a cruise" without asking basic questions. Most cruise lines produce brochures and have websites which are brim full of information about what is included and not included in the cost of a cruise. I sail regularly with Fred. Olen Cruise Lines and their brochure states clearly their voluntary gratuities policy as well as cabin details and much more. They list what is included and what is not included. I am certain all other cruise lines do the same. Surely potential customers can seek information or are they so feckless that they must have every detail fed to them.
Cruises are sold subject to the cruise company's rules and regulations and it is the responsibility of customers to inspect these and understand them. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) still applies to the leisure industry.
On the other hand should the cruise company not deliver what they have promised they should be held liable for compensation.
The problem with tipping is that it should be voluntary and should be given as a reward for good service. I believe that some American-owner lines (the majority , I fear) include gratuities in the package. This a passenger should refuse to pay in advance.
My answer to your question is a resounding YES!
If the cruise companies are to build it into the cost of a cruise, then let’s NOT call it a gratuities or tips element. This in itself then makes it a compulsory tip/gratuity. To me a gratuity is ‘an extra payment’ we make for good service. If it’s compulsory, what recompense do we have if in the unlikely event we receive bad service? Just make the cost of the cruise properly cover a decent wage for all the crew. We can then all have the option if we so wish of offering a little extra as we see fit to the personnel that deserve it, without the pressure of ‘ recommended daily amounts’ per person per day.
We never seem to question the 15% added to the drinks, which actually over the length of a 12-14 day cruise is quite some significant amount. Is there legally such a thing as a compulsory Gratuity? The very definition of Gratuity is a Gift or reward given for service WITHOUT OBLIGATION. The Cruise Companies are imposing this on us as an obligatory charge, therefore like I say, will have to abandon it and make it part of the cruise cost in general, without referring to it as Tips/Gratuities. Like I’ve probably said before, as far as grats are concerned, I like to be in control and not told or dicatated to by whom and how much. Like Wilba, I do my own thing – always cancel the on board charges, never prepay, but pay in cash at my discretion.
For every innocent there are far more that do know the policy and just too darned tight to follow it.
You can give all these people the benefit of the doubt but, in reality, we all know many 'Brits' dislike tipping.
Lets get this clear - on cruises 'tipping' is not related to the service received (as we understand it in the UK)- you are effectively paying the wages of the staff that are under the gratuity scheme. You do not tip, they do not get paid. It is as simple as that. So therefore, as I am aware of how things work, I prepay. For those who say "I do my own tipping" - do you seriously sit there making a mental note of how much to withhold each day if things are not to your satisfaction - is there some sort of sliding scale - .25p - because your waiter was late bringing your meal or is it .50p because you did not get a towel animal on your bed that eveing...how could you pay thousands for a cruise and begrudge these individuals their gross payment of £5 per day (split between 4 or 5 individuals). Build the cost of the grats into the cruise and lets have no more said about it. Go Seabourn where "tipping is neither required or expected".
Surely you do not go into a restaurant at home and before you have even sat down and ordered your meal you tip the person who serves you? No , I guess not and this is why a lot of us object to prepaying -its the pure psycology of it. (I've likened it before to another of my pet hates - the difference between a Direct Debit and a Standing Order) I want to be in control, not dictated to. However, I do appreciate for some they like the convenience of prepaying and not having to worry further about it. Build it into the cost - yes, but dont call it a gratuity - just part of the overall cruise cost.
Please Please Please........Mr/Mrs Green, I did say don't turn this into another tipping debate. We all know these arguments, but Mr 'New Cruiser' does not! He thinks a 'Tip' is just that & probably expects to hand over a few quid at the end of cruise, not supplement wages that we are too well aware of. The question is, Should the cruise companies/agents advertise the price in full, the same as a tin of beans in Tesco's.