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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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Default Why Brits Don't Tip on Ships

Why Brits Don't Tip on Ships


Outdated onboard gratuity policies complicate cultural inclinations toward tipping.
04.09.12

Much ado came afoot in 2009 when Royal Caribbean protested on the disinclination of British passengers to offer a gratuity at the end of a cruise. The situation escalated when Royal Caribbean officially notified a British cruise conference that "the line may need to rethink their strategy." Stiff upper lips trembled.


One Scotsman, upon hearing he was expected to tip at the end of a cruise, said he would refuse to leave the ship. Another was heard to say "I'd rather paddle my rowboat behind a Royal Caribbean cruise ship for a week, I would save 1,000!" His friend replied, "Why don't you row behind the Queen Mary and saved 2,000?"


Seriously, Royal Caribbean is building its brand admirably with Britain and the European nations. In 2009 CEO Richard Fain predicted the majority of the line's profits would come from non-U.S. passengers within two years time - he has been proven right, almost 60% will come from non-U.S. cruisers in 2012. That is great news for the company in the face of a weakening dollar, but there is just one drawback - that tipping thing.


Americans tip generously - and while that is a good thing, it has created a dependence on the part of Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines, for a major part of the line's compensation to several crewmember positions onboard.


According to the worldwide tipping guide at Magellan's Travel Source, Americans are arguably the best tippers in the world, to the point where it is very rare for any business to feel the need to include a mandatory service charge on any bill. That is different from the rest of the world where restaurants especially never trust the guest to dig deeper, so they include a service charge on most bills. In Europe a 15% service charge on almost any restaurant bill is de rigueur.


While 15% is a pretty standard service charge in Europe, left to their devices most Europeans will tip less. The Magellan guide says that if a service charge is not included in the bill then the average Brit will leave only 10%. The French and most Western Europeans are likely to leave only 5%.


The Americans are outdone by only one place - the "city-nation" of Macao, the Asian version of Las Vegas, where it is normal to tip 10% in addition to the service charge on the bill. But the point is that mandatory service charges are common outside of America.


Carnival Corp. and its subsidiary cruise lines, plus NCL and other lines have mostly moved to automatically charging tips to the guests' shipboard accounts. This is better than the old system which, frankly, never made any sense. The old system required bringing enough cash to fill the tip envelopes at the end of the cruise, or to procure the cash onboard the ship (at sea) somehow. The ATMs that some ships now have onboard charge an outrageous $5 service fee. Most casinos charge a 3% service charge to get cash from your shipboard account. Then one had to personally stuff the envelopes and hand them out to each of the service people (who then pooled them and redistributed them anyway).


I suppose some guests find this process satisfying, but I find it about as pleasurable as paying taxes.


Royal Caribbean still does not add gratuities to guests' onboard accounts unless the guest specifically asks for it to be done. That requires the passengers' authorization; filling in a form and handing it in to the purser's desk in the middle of the cruise, when end-of-cruise tipping should be the last thing on his mind. If the passenger asks too late (well before the last day of the cruise when the tips are actually paid) he is told he must to go the "cash route" to fill those envelopes. The guests who do opt to include the tips on their shipboard account are still given verification slips to put into envelopes and hand to the servers.


Bottom line - the staff has to get paid. It isn't paying gratuities I object to, it is the old gratuity system that needs to go away. In the "cashless" cruise ship system, asking passengers to cough up cash at the end of a cruise has never made sense. And in Europe, where cruising is just catching on, but tipping has never caught on, if many passengers don't tip it is because the cruise line gives them so many reasons to opt out. We say, "do yourself and the guests a favor and make the tipping process as seamless and invisible as possible."
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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:33 AM
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I would say "well travelled Brits" probably tip, but we have been out for meals with those less worldly & mention of a tip was greeted with emotions varying from horror to abject confusion. A tip here is viewed as a bonus for good service not an automatic award, & generally 10% would be regarded as the Max. If the place puts service on the bill we generally leave nothing extra. We prefer no service charge & tip cash so the staff get it. I think the cruise tip tradition is a con to get us to pay the wages, we do it but I find the whole thing buttock clenchingly embarrassing.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:53 AM
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I have always been one who hated the "last night envelope stuffing" ritual. I was happy when the cruise lines started to automatically add the gratuity, service charge or whatever you want to call it, to the onboard account. It made life simpler. If I want to give someone extra then I do it. If I or someone wants to give a note of thanks to someone they can still do that.

I personally would like to see the gratuities eliminated and just rolled into the cruise fare. The problem with that is that you would no longer see the "$350/seven day, inside cabin" deals that lure many people in. It would end the International issue where non-Americans feel they are being taken advantage of by having gratuities automatically added to their account or "expected" to give the suggested amount.

The trend that bugs the heck out of me is that since the cruise lines have implemented the automatic gratuities people now think they have to give MORE otherwise they are a cheapskate. If someone wants to give a crew member extra that is their business but it is not required, suggested or a cruise line policy. You are not a cheapskate nor will you receive worse service if you don't give extra. If you do receive bad service then bring it to the attention of the Head Housekeeper or Guest Services ASAP. If you get the "sob story" from a waiter or cabin steward about how hard they work and that they don't get their fair share of the gratuity pool don't let that sway you. These are the crew that "usually" are the least deserving and you can feel sorry for them but you are getting suckered. They may get less but there is a reason for it.

I have tipped extra many times but I don't do it for someone doing their job. If my cabin is straightened twice a day and I get clean towels and enough toilet paper then the person did their job and I feel no additional gratuity is required. If I ask for additional ice each day, a different lounge chair on the balcony and additional clean up of the room, then I will probably give additional.

My own personal opinion, with no scientific basis, is that most people who pre-tip "Slip the cabin steward $100 at the start of the cruise to ensure good service." do it more to make them look and feel good rather than to get good service. There is no guarantee that you will receive good service if you pre-tip.

Gratuities have always been a "hot topic" and until they are eliminated it always will be. Sort of like smoking.

Take care,
Mike
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Old April 9th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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The real problems crop in Australia which apparently has no tradition of tipping at all. It's a city in China.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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Thumbs up Perhaps a few bucks won't hurt

What I don't get is during my travels, the Pound was 1X2 to the Dollar, why are they so cheap?? Many Brits I have met resent the service Americans get aboard by tipping well. So why don't they simply tip more and get better service??? When our dear British come to Orlando, remember its a full 20% and 25% gratuity in New York!

In life, often you get what you pay for: if you can afford the voyage, then you should be able to afford $12.00 per night. Why don't the Brits give 12 Pounds per night!!! I mean all this over just $6.00 equivalent, I mean really!!
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Old April 9th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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I could have written Mike's post. It is exactly how I feel about it. Royal Caribbean is the most bizarre of all mainstream lines with this topic. You'd think that pre-paying gratuities or filling out the form to add them to your onboard account would make it easier, but no, you still get the little paper vouchers and envelopes that you are expected to hand out with a flourish. I have to ask that if I didn't give the waiter his tip voucher, does that mean he doesn't get the money and RCI keeps it? I doubt it. But having the envelope and stuffing some play money in it can play on an American's mind (or a person from Macao) and perhaps entice him to put some greenbacks in there too to make it look proper.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 04:16 AM
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Many find it hard to believe that the cruise line tipping scheme began in 1912 on a British Shipping Line - The White Star Line.
(Although it was American Banker J.P. Morgan who owned the line at the time.)

I guess some British Cruising Traditions are not as sacred as others.

I love it when cruisers claim that the tips are a scam to force the passengers to pay the wages for the crew.

So if the tips were not recommended/expected/required, do they think that somebody else would be paying the crew's wages???
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gkbii View Post
What I don't get is during my travels, the Pound was 1X2 to the Dollar, why are they so cheap?? Many Brits I have met resent the service Americans get aboard by tipping well. So why don't they simply tip more and get better service??? When our dear British come to Orlando, remember its a full 20% and 25% gratuity in New York!

In life, often you get what you pay for: if you can afford the voyage, then you should be able to afford $12.00 per night. Why don't the Brits give 12 Pounds per night!!! I mean all this over just $6.00 equivalent, I mean really!!
Tipping that much is completely alien to our way of life, people here do their job & don't expect tipping for it. It's not us who are cheap, it's the US way of life that expects the customer to pay the staff not the employer. It is only Americans that do this as far as I know, the impression other countries have is Americans have so much money they expect to be able to buy anything they want.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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I see some Americans say they tip but they secretly go to the purser & remove them while condemning people who question the tips added to their account

some brag about how much they tip but do they in reality or are they trying to look like the big shot????
On a Princess cruise we overheard a lady in the casino tell another passenger "they remove the tips that way they have more to spend in the casino"

So do not blame the Brits or any other nationality
Some have to have tips added to their cruise fare & it is paid with the final payment

I agree with Mike ..just add it to the cruise fare ..if you do not like the bottom line ...you will get use to it if you want to cruise
we tip the recommended amount & if someone goes above & beyond we tip a bit extra to them & mention them in the final survey (which goes a long way for them)

As for tipping more because that GBP is worth more ..well how long does it take to earn the GBP compared to the almighty USD ......
I am guessing the same ..... food & housing costs in the UK are much higher than in North America
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Old April 12th, 2012, 06:23 PM
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Nice post Mike.

I have observed over the years that handing out $5 & $10 at the beginning of every cruise to your room steward, head restaurant manager respectfully at each venue really make a big difference.

I do request extra hangers, ice changed out in my cabin daily, upgraded amenities such as terry cloth robes, slippers shampoo/conditioner, shoe shining, mattress pad on bed, fresh cleaned bedspread (standard issue for suite guest) are usually delivered, even though I am elite with many of the cruise lines.
The Restaurant manager always greets at reservation desk and has access to many items in the kitchen not on the menu, such as escargot, frogs legs, divers scallops just to mention a few items.
Just make it a point to remember names.
The host is also a key person many frequent captains members overlook.
They can really make things happen, including sold out land tours, bridge and kitchen tours, complementary bottle of wine at your table are just a few perks they can arrange.
I have even received an upgrade from the hotel manager to a large suite on the third day of a 10 day cruise, which was arranged during the cruise on a golf course at first port of call and a few cold beers.

Anyway, for all the gals reading this, the magnified mirrors always come in handy!
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Old April 17th, 2012, 08:45 PM
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Actually, israelis are the WORST. Trying to get a dollar out of them is like pulling teeth.
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbound22 View Post
Actually, israelis are the WORST. Trying to get a dollar out of them is like pulling teeth.
When I was at the duty free store at BCN, I had a nice chat with a guy that said that El Al passangers were cheap and spent nothing, while Russians were good spenders.
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 07:32 PM
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Oh Paul,
I too hate the bus driver trick....Before I leave on a cruise I always get at least 20 single dollar bills, they get you left and right...
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Old April 11th, 2012, 12:32 PM
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Exclamation The bottom line is paying staff

Hi Paul.


1) Total cost for cabin including port fees/taxes/tips should be a standard practice on advertising.

2) A price break down can be itemized to reflect the number of guest in a cabin at time of reservation, so the cruise staff gets confirmed payment too.

3) The staff will get burnt before the Cruise line losses a profit in all cases.
The cruise line always calls out unpaid accounts via public announcement before disembarkation on all unpaid accounts..

4) Any passenger whom over spends on gambling/drinking/tours/Spa and photo's will simply stiff the employees hoping to receive their tips.

5) The cruise lines knows this and still fails to incorporate this cost into cruise contract.

SHAME ON THE CRUISE LINES FOR NOT PROTECTING THE INTEREST OF THEIR EMPLOYEES!

The airlines now must advertised total cost for flight including all tax and Government fees.

Thank you Sprit Airlines for your PAST deceptive marketing practice and non refundable credit card charges received before passengers found out about the extra fees to fly on your airline.
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