Gratuities – A Reward or the abdication of Slavery?


What do you really think about them?  In my 27 years in travel I can honestly say that I have come across more people who begrudge paying gratuities than those who don’t.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean that these people are tight or don’t like rewarding people for good service, in fact the opposite is true as they are happy to leave a tip for the people that really do make a difference to their holidays. They just do not like the fact that cruise companies add gratuities automatically to our on-board accounts and then expect us to go and ask to have them removed if we want to pay people ourselves for the service we receive. This is often such an abhorrent thought that people leave them on, feeling too embarrassed to ask to have them removed. I do think it is much more an issue we British have, though correct me if I’m wrong, other nationalities do not seem to have the same qualms about asking the companies to remove them. Surprisingly neither do nationals of countries whose culture is to tip like that of the United States of America. Even the majority of Americans prefer to choose who to give their money to and quite rightly so.  I also think it is unfair to expect families to pay gratuities for children, I mean fair enough the parents are getting the service but do we really need to charge children? Come on cruise lines what are you thinking?


We are often made to feel guilty if we remove the gratuities because then the other people who help like laundry people and catering staff do not benefit, but surely this is where the system fails. Isn’t it the responsibility of the cruise lines to ensure that they pay their staff sufficiently for the job that they do, then any tips are purely a reward for going the extra mile. Should they really be expecting us the customer to pay for their staff wages, a bit cheeky to say the least isn’t it, especially when we are paying quite substantial prices for the cruises in the first place. Cruises are good value I grant you, when you look at what is included, you will get no argument from me on that score, but in most cases they could not be termed cheap, so again I ask do these companies have the right to ask us to subsidise their workforce.

cruise staff

 Isn’t it the fundamental right of employees to be paid a fair wage in the first place? Come on cruise lines it is time to put your money where your mouth is and pay these amazing people who work so hard for you and do such an amazing job what they deserve and stop trying to make them beg for hand outs which is what in affect you are doing.They are so much better than that.


When I have been on a cruise, in fact every time I have been on a cruise, the inevitable conversation comes up. At some point, someone brings the subject up of whether you have pre-paid your gratuities or not.  I get sick of hearing ‘they get paid much more than they would in their own country. How patronising is that? It should not matter what nationality they are or which country they come from they still deserve basic civil rights and this should include a decent wage.


It is not only cruises where this problem occurs. Recently I went to a restaurant and had a lovely meal. My friend and I got the bill and were putting the money together to pay it and as usual leaving a tip as the service had been excellent. I then noticed on the bill that they had already added 15% as a gratuity. I was a little taken back by this. Maybe it’s me and maybe I don’t usually take much notice. Maybe lots of restaurants in Britain now add a service charge automatically without mentioning it to the customer, but this really annoyed me.  The bill was £35 so this added £5.25. We were probably going to leave £2 as a tip, it was only lunch after all, I just thought this was a cheek. Whatever happened to the humble Tip jar?


Am I being too British? Too stiff upper lip!  Maybe most people don’t care but I work hard for what I have and I care where it goes, to who and what for? If you have been on a cruise think back. What made the cruise so special? That cabin steward who was so funny and made the kids laugh with those towel animal antics, the waiter who remembered you on your second night aboard even though he must have seen hundreds of people or perhaps it was that bar man who made you the perfect cocktail and remembered your favourite nightcap even when you hadn’t been in that bar for several nights.  They are the unsung heroes of our cruises not just the  wonderful ships and ports of call.

  What do you think on the matter? I would love to hear your opinions. Do you perhaps work on a cruise ship? Maybe you have a different point of view? If so let me know what it is? I look forward to a good debate!

4 Comments on “Gratuities – A Reward or the abdication of Slavery?

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About Me

I have worked in the Travel Industry for 33 years, ever since leaving school. My Dad was in the Navy so I guess I get my wanderlust from him. I was a Manager in a successful Travel Agency for 16 years before joining I am married and have a son who…

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