Opinions-Service charges vs. tipping ????

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Northern California
7,062 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I watched with interest the recent announcement from NCL that they were now going to be charging a "non-removable" service charge of $10 per person per day. How do you feel about this charge??? Would you approve if HAL made their daily charge so that it was also not removable????
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Naperville, IL
13,067 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
I prefer tipping. Tipping is a way of saying "Thank You." I kind of do not like "service charges." The Sevice Charge is like an unwanted tax that is imposed on one. A tip is a gift for a job well down.

Richboro, PA, USA
1,054 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
I also prefer tipping. I agree that tipping is a personal way of saying thank you to someone who has rendered a service. I always prefer handing my tip to someone rather than just leaving it on a table. There is always a warm feeling and a sense of mutual appreciation when you do it that way.

A service charge, added to your bill, removable or not, eliminates all of that. No warm feelings. No sense of personal gratification or appreciation. I don't like it at all.

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Gulf Coast of Florida
356 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
I prefer the more personal approach of tipping those with whom I have had direct contact. I truly believe, human nature being what it is, that service will suffer in the long run as the incentive to excel is no longer present. As long as one is not a complete "slug", he or she will share equally in the remuneration as does one who extends himself/herself to provide the extra measure of service to pax. Service will deteriorate to the lowest common denominator of what is required to do as little work as possible and still avoid pax complaints.

Will I avoid sailing a line that has adopted this "service charge" policy? I don't think so, but my obstinate streak propels me to a position of "If $10 pppd is what they demand, then $10 pppd is ALL they'll get...nothing less, and definitely nothing more.
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(Retired, Every Day Is Saturday)
wrightwood, ca usa
40 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Is this new policy mandatory or can it be worked with upon arrival? I have read other posts on this...not sure if with or on a HAL ship one can request to not do the $10.00 and then tip on your own? Anyone current on this?
Kokomo, IN
789 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
I personanly like having "tips" or "service charges" added to my bill. Additional tips can then given directly for extra special or above and beyond service. I do think there will eventually be a reaction similar the "port fees" litigation of a few years ago. Maybe I'll get some more of the valuable coupons I received from those settlements.
Englewood, Fl
1,904 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Most of the other lines are now taking out $10. pppd and have been for awhile now.. I at first thought it was a good idea, so all the dead-beats would get nailed. Now though, it seems you are getting pressured to tip certain individuals (room stewards & waiters) above and beyond the $10. pppd. With that gentle pressure being applied, it won't be long until the $10. pppd will become a mandatory wage subsidy for the cruise line and tipping will be back in... Bombero
Western New York, USA
86 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
Ah, a topic close to my heart as I watch all the cruise lines degenerate and lose yet 1 more thing that made them what they once were. Known and fixed service charges should be included in the cost of the cruise not tacked on for an over and above cost. Since the cost is known, $10 per day per person, why not include it as part of the cruise fare. Then they can say their policy is NO tipping (required ;o) ). This will allow us to keep the tipping policy topic alive on this board and everyone else confused.

But I am serious about rolling it in to the cost of the cruise. When we started cruising, HAL claimed one of the reasons for the no tipping required policy was because they paid their staff more than other cruise lines. I haven't heard them use that statement in a long long time. Anyway thats my 2 cents for what its worth.
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Toronto, ON
430 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
I prefer tipping as I believe that some people in the service industry won't "work for" their tip if it is automatic. It is possible that the level of service will decrease with "service charges".
I know that people that are great servers deserve their tips and I also know that I don't like to tip too much for poor service
107,567 Posts
Joined Jul 2001

I still have mixed feelings over this $10 per person automatic "tipping".

We saw too many waitstaff in the dining room getting stiffed on several of last cruises. On the Oosterdam we were the only ones left in our waiter's area after the ending song. So his assistant and he got tips only from us. And both were excellent - service was excellent. When both of them returned to our area, their happy faces disappeared when they looked around and realized that everyone but us had made a mad dash out of the dining room while they were singing.

We left the new "tip" on because we wanted to tip everyone extra and didn't want that extra money being put into a pool.

Vero Beach, FL USA
3,455 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
NCL has it's free style dining, where you generally won't get the same server twice during a cruise. Would I be correct in assuming that tipping was done at the end of each meal? Perhaps many people who sailed NCL didn't tip as they figured they'd never see the server again?
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Past Cruises
1/1990 - RCCL Song of America
4/13/2003 - Carnival Inspiration
10/30/2004 - HAL Maasdam
3/26/2005 - HAL Zuiderdam
12/2/2007 - Carnival Valor
12/14/2008 - NCL Pearl
3/7/2010 - Costa Fortuna
1/6/2013 - Norwegian Dawn
3/27/2014 - Norwegian Sun

Future Cruises
10/11/2014 - Norwegian Sun (Panama Canal)

Land Vacations
06/22/1998 - Sandals Negril, Jamaica
2/14/2005 - Sandals Negril, Jamaica
6/21/2006 - Barcelo Maya, Mexico
11/29/2006 - Sandals Negril, Jamaica
1/10/2009 - Coco View Roatan, Honduras - Scuba Diving
8/23/2009 - Grand Bahia Principe, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
11/14/2009 - Barracuda Hotel Cozumel, Mexico - Scuba Diving
5/8/2010 - Coco View Roatan, Honduras - Scuba Diving
11/30/2010 - Barcelo Maya, Mexico

Future Land Vacations
None Planned (yet)
Huntington New York USA
365 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Like most of the other responders I prefer to tip. The amount would depend on the level of service.

Yet there are people whose good service is unseen and they were not tipped in the past. On the other hand I have had service that was so bad that I would not want to tip and make that clear to that person but not affect other people who deserve tips.

With HAL's policy whether it becomes manatory or not I will additionally tip for excellent service. Poor service employees will get their share of the pool but hopefully HAL will recognize their failures by our survey responses and take action.

So soon I think in addition to the cruise fee our charges will look like:
NDA $$$
Taxes and Fees $$$
Required serive charge $$$
Northern California
7,062 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Yes I agree with many of you that it is not a "gratuity" when it is not removable! Seems to be a poorly veiled attempt to increase the cost of the cruise without having to advertise a more expensive price!

We found the $10 pp charge okay on the Ryndam, but yes we did tip our stewards a bit more. I would not be happy if it went to a mandatory charge, as it seems to ensure that regardless of the staff's performance, they will be paid. There was some comfort to know if I was truly unhappy, I could talk with my checkbook, and remove the charge!

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obetz oh usa
2,517 Posts
Joined May 2000
As I see it: whether we like it or not doesn`t concern the bean counters, it is there and there it will stay. Eventually I think all cruise lines will make it mandantory, and we won`t be able to do a thing about it. If talk of litigation raises its ugly head, then they will add it to the cost of the cruise without it being a separate line item.
As to service deteriorating, I don`t think this will happen. All one has to do if service is not up to par is report that person to their superiors and mention it on the end of cruise survey. if enough pax make reports, someones head will roll. As always we will be able to tip for above and beyond service, and then we`ll be back to square one.....tipping! It just will cost $70 more pp on a 7 day cruise....as always, JMHO......jean
14,208 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
The main problem with rolling this charge into the cruise fare (without segregating it as a service charge) is that it now becomes taxable revenue. I understand the trend to include the service charge automatically. They are trying to minimize stiffing. However, since we're free to remove it, some scoundrels will do so and continue to stiff their hard-working servers. As of now, I'm just going to go with the flow and see if the automatic $10 does what it's supposed to. I would think it will take a full season to assemble credible data.
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660 Posts
Joined Nov 2001
A surcharge is revenue enhancement. Pre paid gratuities are supposed to go to the staff.

I would have no interest in booking a cruise line that was going to charge me a $10 a day surcharge.

I expect that the $10 a day that we pay to Holland America will go for gratuities.

Holland America has too much marketing savy to pull something like a surcharge. I wouldn't book NCL anyway. Flame away. I really don't like the cruise line.
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Washington DC
1,105 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Krazy Kruizers

I still have mixed feelings over this $10 per person automatic "tipping".

We saw too many waitstaff in the dining room getting stiffed on several of last cruises. On the Oosterdam we were the only ones left in our waiter's area after the ending song. So his assistant and he got tips only from us. And both were excellent - service was excellent. When both of them returned to our area, their happy faces disappeared when they looked around and realized that everyone but us had made a mad dash out of the dining room while they were singing.

We left the new "tip" on because we wanted to tip everyone extra and didn't want that extra money being put into a pool.

I also had mixed feelings over the automatic tipping until it was fully explained at the disembarcation talk.

We had a strange thing happen. On the second day of our 10 dayer our waiter got transferred to the Westerdam. Not one word was said to us about the new waitor who was our old bus boy. It wasn't that big of a deal - just odd. On the last dinner of the cruise no one came around to say good bye. Not the waiter, the new bus boy or even the wine steward. Needless to say no extra tips were handed out. And while we were waiting for them to come I noticed none of the waiters were doing this - just cleaning up. On other cruises there were lots of good byes, hugs and pictures.

I still think the service was good, but not great. There worst part was our wine steward had too many tables and it took for ever to get our pre-ordered wine, but he tried very hard and was extremely sweet.
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My blog - https://foxyterrier.wordpress.com

Future cruises
Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas - Caribbean - New Years Eve Cruise

Past cruises
Noordam - Lisbon to Rome - 2001
Rymdam - Alaska - 2002
Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 2003
Noordam - Baltics - 2004
Zuiderdam - Eastern Caribbean - 2005
Noordam - Greek Isles - 2006
Westerdam - Eastern Caribbean - 2007
Oosterdam - Mexican Riveria - 2008
Zuiderdam - Panama Canal - 2009
Noordam - Western Caribbean - 2010
Veendam - Bermuda - May 8, 2011
Celebrity Summit - Bermuda - July 8, 2012
Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas - Caribbean - March 15, 2013
Queen Mary - New England/Canada - October 15, 2013
2,432 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
We loved having the tips done automatically on our 7/10 cruise except that they are now on this month's credit card bill. I'd prefer to have the option of charging them ahead, as we now do with online shore excursion booking.
The service on this cruise was as great as usual. We saw no difference.
1,764 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I like the new system - it fits more in my philosophy that people should be paid a decent basic wage. With the old system, the servers and stewards, etc. needed the tips as part of their basic wage and many got stiffed through selfishness or ignorance on the part of passengers. Now that doesn't happen. On our latest cruise, I passed out an additional $150 in tips where I thought they were merited, on top of the service charge. They became true tips instead of a supplement to a substandard wage.

Now, what all the cruise lines really need to do is to build the service charge into the price of the cruise, to make it more transparent.
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- Bryan

Disney Magic - Oct 2000 Eastern Caribbean (rt Port Canaveral 7N)
Disney Magic - Jun 2002 Western Caribbean (rt Port Canaveral 7N)
HAL Oosterdam - Jul 2004 Alaska (rt Seattle 7N)
Celebrity Mercury - Feb 2005 Mexican Riviera (rt San Diego 10N)
Celebrity Millennium - Apr 2009 Hawaii (Honolulu-Vancouver 12N)
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Celebrity Solstice - Sep 2013 Hawaii (Ensenada-Honolulu 11N)