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Gratuities: Let's begin at the beginning!

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    Gratuities: Let's begin at the beginning!

    I'm aware that there is an active thread regarding gratuities in which we're being asked to contemplate a 're-think'. However, it seems to me that it doesn't start at the beginning.

    In fact the thread begins with the assumption that gratuities are an inherent part of cruising. We're then asked to consider whether gratuities should be included in the advertised price of a cruise.

    I believe Max summed up the consequence of incorporating such charges in the overall price extremely well:
    Originally posted by Max, Warwickshire View Post
    ...Now I stress I think the aim is laudable and I'm not trying to argue against being fairer to the crew and to those who do pay. I admire and support the impulse, I just think to increase the base price will provide at best a temporary 'sticking plaster'' and we'd be very quickly back to the status quo - with slightly richer cruise operators and slightly poorer crew and passengers.
    If we're to debate the whole question of gratuities (for brevity I'll use this word to also mean tips and service charges), surely we must begin by asking whether it is reasonable to ask customers to contribute directly to staff wages at all.

    We know that gratuities are in the interest of cruise lines, but are they in the interest of customers or staff?

    I would say not. Not only do I believe that the company should pay its employees in full, I also believe the gratuity system is both patronising and demeaning. I'm just a working (okay ex-working) bloke on holiday - not some Edwardian gent slipping coins to steward or waiter in order to underline our relative social standing.

    I believe the gratuity system is anachronistic. It suits cruise lines to call it a traditional part of cruising and, I have to say, I think it suits a certain type of passenger.

    So what do I propose? Well, I'll avoid as a matter of principle any cruise line that places the onus on me to remove gratuities. But if the attraction of a particular cruise causes me to do business with such a company, I'll remove automatic gratuities immediately.

    It's optimistic in the extreme to expect others to follow suit, but I tend to judge the rightness of an action by asking: "What would happen if everyone did what I am doing?" The answer is that if everyone always removed automatic gratuities the system would collapse. And if everyone stopped tipping in envelopes, companies would need to increase prices to cover staff wages. And isn't that precisely what so many on the forum have been calling for?

    Regards

    #2
    You are forgetting one major point Dave.

    The vast majority of cruising is aboard American ships, with strong compliments of American cruisers (UK ports of departure excluded) and the Yanks would never subscribe to those tactics.

    So you would end up with total anarchy between the crew who serve the Brits and Yanks.
    Wilba

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      #3
      I had just typed my answer to this along similar lines to Wilbas but giving examples et al but then my BT B***dy broadband decided to disappear and it was lost!

      Take a look at this article : BBC News - Equal pay rule 'threat to British shipping firms'
      We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.sigpic

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        #4
        Well im just a working class bloke and lay bricks for a living and have enough of a job trying to squeeze my hard earned wages of greedy contractors!! Nobody ever tips me and im not impressed with having to contribute to wages that Cruise companys should be paying themselves! I would like to tip as i see fit, we will see what the service is like when i go

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          #5
          Originally posted by Wilba, N View Post
          You are forgetting one major point Dave.

          The vast majority of cruising is aboard American ships, with strong compliments of American cruisers (UK ports of departure excluded) and the Yanks would never subscribe to those tactics.

          So you would end up with total anarchy between the crew who serve the Brits and Yanks.
          Hi Wilba

          Having never travelled on a ship with more than a handful of Americans on board (and having absolutely no desire to), for me this is irrelevant.

          However, I do take your point. But, as I said, I can only do my bit, and I'll never knowingly do anything simply because 'it's the American way'.

          I suppose you might be saying that this discussion on this forum is a complete waste of time since the gratuities issue is a matter for foreigners to decide - and they like the status quo. Fine, but I really have nothing much better to do this afternoon! ;)

          Regards

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            #6
            Originally posted by Wilba, N View Post
            You are forgetting one major point Dave.

            The vast majority of cruising is aboard American ships, with strong compliments of American cruisers (UK ports of departure excluded) and the Yanks would never subscribe to those tactics.

            So you would end up with total anarchy between the crew who serve the Brits and Yanks.
            sigpic

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              #7
              Dave it may surprise you but I have argued for many years along the lines of your views, and indeed Vinny's, but things are changing Dave, and like Neil, I believe it's time for a change.

              In years gone by tipping on cruise ships were par for the course, put crudely, if you could afford the cruise, you could afford the tip and we all did it without question or quarrel.

              We now have a new intake of cruisers from a different generation who see being asked to tip as a downright cheek, after all they've paid for the cruise and they ain't paying again.

              The big danger of course is the companies will/could go down the Costa route with enforced gratuities, no exceptions, and to make matters worse they go onto your final seaboard account. If I've got to pay I'd rather it be upfront on the invoice rather than a big bill at the end of cruise. Reading the Costa reviews this causes a lot of ill feeling and dissent.

              So no I don't think this discussion a waste of time, else I would not have bothered replying, but I don't think that stagnation is the answer as you and Vinny have proposed, a change is needed otherwise enforcement could be the only option.

              Wilba
              Wilba

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                #8
                Your comments, Vinny, struck a cord with me regarding the ability to afford the tip. There have certainly been times when we've given as much as we thought we could reasonably afford. And I agree with you Wilba - what I want is an honest, up-front price.

                But I still think there is something inherently wrong with the notion of tipping in this day and age. I discussed this with my partner earlier and when I asked her why it's me who always has to hand over the envelope, she said she felt that tipping is demeaning. Surely she's not the only one who feels this?

                Regards

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Dave, Whitstable View Post
                  Your comments, Vinny, struck a cord with me regarding the ability to afford the tip. There have certainly been times when we've given as much as we thought we could reasonably afford. And I agree with you Wilba - what I want is an honest, up-front price.

                  But I still think there is something inherently wrong with the notion of tipping in this day and age. I discussed this with my partner earlier and when I asked her why it's me who always has to hand over the envelope, she said she felt that tipping is demeaning. Surely she's not the only one who feels this?

                  Regards
                  There will be a time and it is coming sooner than later that Europeans will not be able to afford to cruise, if you look at what is going on elsewhere in Europe it will likely mean the cut backs here and the big rise in unemployment which many still think won't happen, but it will. Currently there is a jump in people from Dundee going abroad, but where are they paying for it from, well their redundancy money in many cases, well it won't last forever, so one way or the other cruise lines are going to find it hard to get business in 2011/2012 and maybe a year or two more. So thinking of them adding gratuities to the total would be unrealistic. It will simply be that we Europeans will cut back and if a cruise is still an option then they will look for more ways not to pay gratuities, but time will tell. Certainly at this time last year we had booked two cruises for 2010 and so far for this coming year, none.
                  Last edited by Bill Blyth, Dundee; 4th July 2010, 04:42 PM.
                  Bill Byth
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                    #10
                    Although many cruise lines sell cruises to British passengers, most of them cater for an international clientele. Furthermore, very few cruise lines register their ships in the UK. (Cunard and Ocean Village being notable exceptions.) The following list, which might not be complete or up to date, indicates the extent of the problem.

                    Celebrity Cruises - Malta
                    Costa - Italy
                    Holland America - Netherlands
                    Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Voyage) - Norwegian
                    Marco Polo - Bahamas
                    MSC - Panama
                    NCL - Bahamas
                    Oceania - Marshall Islands
                    Fred Olsen - Bahamas
                    P&O Cruises - Bermuda
                    Princess Cruises - Bermuda
                    Royal Caribbean - Bahamas
                    Swan Hellenic - Bahamas
                    Thomson - Cyprus, Malta, Bahamas & Italy
                    Voyages of Discovery - Bahamas

                    We should not forget that shipping companies recruit most of their service staff from third world countries. Ships' crews earn a lot more than they would earn at home, so UK wage rates would be totally inappropriate. Most of them are perfectly happy with the situation. Registration in 'Ports of Convenience' enables the ship's operators to ignore UK minimum earnings legislation.

                    That said, I would much prefer to pay a fully inclusive cruise fare (without any expectation or requirement to give massive gratuities to the staff). But when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unfortunately, the only realistic approach is to treat gratuities as an unavoidable part of the cost - and budget accordingly.

                    Personally, I think it is degrading to hand cash in envelopes to my cabin steward, waiter, etc., so I prefer cruise lines to add a fixed service charge to my cabin account. On ships that offer flexible dining, that is probably the only workable alternative to fully inclusive fares. However, I am always prepared to opt out of all automatic service charges (and state my reasons), if service is unsatisfactory.
                    Last edited by BobTroll, Leicester; 4th July 2010, 04:47 PM.

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                      #11
                      Its an interesting topic this one, and one that sparks many of us into life, sharing our thoughts, views, likes and gripes with the current 'system(s)'. Perhaps we are mssing the point in that across the cruise industry there are many different systems of paying gratuities and that means that inherently there should be a cruiseline that operates a system that suits each of us. However, this is slightly misbalanced with the dominence of the American operators.

                      so we have cruiselines that operate a no tipping policy, some that offer a descretionary policy, some use a mandatory service charge, some you have to pay if you select freedom dining and perhaps there are others, but does this not demonstrate that they are all trying different business models to achieve the same objective. The result of which can be read many times over when you read the reviews for each line. For example if you take two extremes, cruisers with Cunard very rarely mention gratuities and cruisers with Costa mention it all the time.
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                        #12
                        Last edited by Delboy, Essex; 4th July 2010, 05:15 PM.
                        Delboy


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                          #13

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                            #14
                            couldn t have put it better myself i agree with every word i always cancel automatic tips then tip who i want to tip Steve W Bradford

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                              #15
                              I stated on another thread that I had always been against "automatic gratuities" that is until our recent QM2 cruise, to be honest I found it a much more civilised way, but that is only my opinion and it is up to each individual to do what they feel comfortable with.

                              There is the option to remove AG's and had I received bad service I would not have hesitated to do so, I'm happy to say as far as Cunard are concerned the service was "second to none" :D

                              These "boys and girls" look after us so well, where else do you get such excellent service and always with a smile, so come on guys - you know the score !!! you may not like it but be careful what you wish for, you may just get it and it doesn't necessarily mean it will be better. :D
                              Jo

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