gratuities on Norwegian cruise line

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#21
Sydney
81 Posts
Joined Oct 2015
I wish I could say 100% you can take out the tips . I have however not long ago had this conversation with my agent at Flight Centre it went like this. She checked with NCL agents here in Australia. Yes you can and I had taken out the gratuities at the time of booking but I must go to the desk on first day to make sure they will stay removed because yes they will add them. This will be done on the ship and no one will be told of this it will give me the option of giving those who I see as giving me great service a tip personally at an amount I am comfortable just as I do here and anywhere else currently. I am not comfortable with the percentage being changed currently pp.

This is unfortunately a very contentious issue on site. I think because this is a US based site and tipping/gratuities are compulsory there many who can't understand the reluctance by those not from US to have them included pre travel.

I do hope that the info you say is now maybe in place making it very difficult is incorrect. I was however only given the info that is not complicated in the last couple of weeks. It looks like we will have to wait and see.

I truly don't want this issue to spoil my trip as it is an added expense I have not factored into my trip. Fingers crossed.
#22
Cronulla Sydney Australia
482 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Please see my post #17 above.

I don't know where you're from, but I write from an Australian's point of view. Here in Australia some travel agents include the service charges in your fare, some give you the option. If you ask before finalising a booking I think any agent could make sure they aren't included; I don't know about if you book directly with NCL as I haven't done it and haven't asked them, but I've been told you can book via NCL without the charges included.

We book without the service charges. If you do that, you WILL be charged on board, the gratuities will be billed to your on-board account daily. It just happens.

But you can have them removed. Once on board our cruise we go to the main desk and request they be removed from our on-board account. We're usually told to wait a couple of days, or maybe to come back closer to the end of the cruise, during which time the charges continue to be billed daily. However, once we make the request, even if we have to wait a few days to do it, the service charges are removed. No need to fill out a form (I'd read the same as you somewhere), no hoops to jump through. We then distribute our tips ourselves, to those staff members we choose.

Perhaps that thing about filling out forms and waiting months applies to passengers other than those from my country. Actually I have vague memories of reading somewhere that those stipulations don't apply to passengers from Australia or the UK, but I could be wrong on that. Anyway, if you're Australian too you shouldn't need to worry. We've had them removed on the Norwegian Star, Dawn and Sun and will be making the same request on the Jewel in a couple of months.

It's interesting that NCL don't even refer to the charges as "gratuities" on their site. I sometimes automatically call them that even though I'm skeptical - I don't believe they are necessarily given to the staff as gratuities and in fact on the NCL site it says:
Why is there a service charge?
The reason there's a fixed service charge is an important one: Our Crew (as are the crew from other lines) is encouraged to work together as a team. Staff members including complimentary restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff are compensated by a combination of salary and incentive programmes that your service charge supports. How much is the charge?
My skeptical self thinks that if NCL want to provide incentive programs, encourage their staff to work together as a team, etc it's up to them to do so, not up to the passengers. It should come out of the fares we pay. (Not to mention the huge kickbacks they get from the tours they offer. I say that having just discovered that a tour I've just booked independently for my upcoming cruise is on offer by NCL for more than double what it's readily available for directly with the tour companies.... so I guess I'm a little aggrieved at present with cruise companies' money grabbing attitude!)

I want the staff members to actually receive any tips we pay and so like to give our tips out personally to those who have given us good service.

Originally posted by Skagway88
Hi All,

Can someone please confirm how to avoid being charged for "Service Charge" onboard NCL cruises as I prefer tipping the staff directly.

The new T&C are confusing, while point #9 states that SC is included in the fare "







the service charge referred to below (subject to your election)"
point #12 states that if removed at the time of booking they whill be charged onboard. However, if you choose to remove these service charges at time of booking, they will be made payable on-board at a rate of USD$13.99 per person, per day (for mini suites and below on all ships except Norwegian Sky*).

In addition, I've read that NCL has a new lengthy procedure, where the Purser's desk cannot remove the SC any longer, instead a form needs to be completed (stating/claiming dissatisfaction with the service) and sent to head office. The entire process can take several weeks until the funds are refunded.

Any advice is highly appreciated
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#23
Canberra Australia
38,745 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I honestly do not know why people want to make it more complicated but if you want to tip the staff directly, the just do it. Pay the charges and tip the staff, that way you know they get it and it is easy
#24
302 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Well service charge is splited between all people who work on booard. Obviously you can tip your waiter or butler but you can not tip the people who wash your clothes or cook your food or make sure of your security on board. So we pay services charge but we reduce it. Around 5 $ p. day for our son and 8 for adult plus we tip our Butler and sometimes the splash academy people

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#25
Sydney
81 Posts
Joined Oct 2015
I can only speak for myself but for me it is the level of tipping that NCL is expecting that is a problem for me. At A$39 per couple everyday it is way above anything we would ever leave as a tip.

I know they usually sail US area where tips are compulsory but I understand they charge way more then other lines. For a small amount of effort to do your own tipping we could pay for other services offered not only on the ship but onshore.
#26
Qld Australia
354 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by verne1956
I can only speak for myself but for me it is the level of tipping that NCL is expecting that is a problem for me. At A$39 per couple everyday it is way above anything we would ever leave as a tip.

I know they usually sail US area where tips are compulsory but I understand they charge way more then other lines. For a small amount of effort to do your own tipping we could pay for other services offered not only on the ship but onshore.
Absolutely agree with you, turns me off cruising with them.

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#27
Queensland
6,953 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by jpkriseddie
Well service charge is splited between all people who work on booard. Obviously you can tip your waiter or butler but you can not tip the people who wash your clothes or cook your food or make sure of your security on board. So we pay services charge but we reduce it. Around 5 $ p. day for our son and 8 for adult plus we tip our Butler and sometimes the splash academy people

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The tips are not split between all people who work on board. The people who wash your clothes or cook your food or make sure of your security on board are not part of the tipping pool. It is only for service staff - stewards, bar attendants etc.
#28
Canberra Australia
38,745 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by Aus Traveller
The tips are not split between all people who work on board. The people who wash your clothes or cook your food or make sure of your security on board are not part of the tipping pool. It is only for service staff - stewards, bar attendants etc.
Agreed,
Personally I purchase the cruise after I have worked out the total cost (including gratuities)and just pay the fare and don't have to worry about who gets what or how they get it.
#29
Sydney, Australia
690 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
We did an NCL cruise from Copenhagen in May, we had our tips prepaid As part of the pick your perk (or whatever the promotion was called).
If you want to remove your tips, (we don't) you must go to pursers desk and request for them to be removed, they do ask you to fill out a form, you must document what the issue is and then gratuities are refunded after you disembark (from reading posts 6-8 weeks to get your refund).
They add the charge believing it's fair, you remove the charge for poor service, nothing more.
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#30
Cronulla Sydney Australia
482 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
I'd say there's entirely a possibility that we might be asked to fill out a form, but in our experience we haven't been. They were removed during the cruise.

Definition of a tip (Merriam-Webster): something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. I don't think we can accurately use the term in this instance. Even NCL calls them "service charges".
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#31
Australia
1,803 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
I'm from Aus and the gratuities are added to your onboard account unless you pay them beforehand. When booking you can choose to pay them before or onboard. I always choose to pay them onboard. I also book through the NCL site direct. I have never requested to have them taken off as I figure / when in America. I think if you do want to take them off you have to email a form post cruise. The gratuities aren't included in the fare unless you choose to pay. What is included is the taxes and port fees.


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#32
Canberra Australia
38,745 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Originally posted by sofmall
I'd say there's entirely a possibility that we might be asked to fill out a form, but in our experience we haven't been. They were removed during the cruise.

Definition of a tip (Merriam-Webster): something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service. I don't think we can accurately use the term in this instance. Even NCL calls them "service charges".
Service charges are part of the fees like taxes and such and IMO should only be removed if you do not use the service (not possible on the ship) or if the service was unsatisfactory in which case it can be reduced.
#33
australia
596 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by MicCanberra
Service charges are part of the fees like taxes and such and IMO should only be removed if you do not use the service (not possible on the ship) or if the service was unsatisfactory in which case it can be reduced.
I dont think Cruise Ship Service /Gratuity charges are " like Taxes " - the very nature of such means they are discretionary here in Australia. If they are fees - then add them to the fare - if they are not then they are optional - . My opinion .
#34
I come from a land down under
23,401 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
I HATE the whole tipping culture.

I have seen way too often people who tip thinking that it entitles them to better service (just look at all the threads that talk about handing out $$$ to the steward on the first day, or a tip to the bartender to get faster service when things are busy) or to treat those receiving the tip as some lesser being.

HOWEVER, having become aware of how the system works, with staff getting minimal pay and relying on the service charges /tips to make an income, I leave the auto tips in place on line's that have them.

What worries me most is that some seem to insist that not only should you leave these in place but then MUST tip extra again, to the degree that over the last few years some crew seem to expect to get extra.

I have tipped extra when someone has really gone out of their way to make my experience special.
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#35
2,807 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by GUT2407
I HATE the whole tipping culture.

I have seen way too often people who tip thinking that it entitles them to better service (just look at all the threads that talk about handing out $$$ to the steward on the first day, or a tip to the bartender to get faster service when things are busy) or to treat those receiving the tip as some lesser being.

HOWEVER, having become aware of how the system works, with staff getting minimal pay and relying on the service charges /tips to make an income, I leave the auto tips in place on line's that have them.

What worries me most is that some seem to insist that not only should you leave these in place but then MUST tip extra again, to the degree that over the last few years some crew seem to expect to get extra.

I have tipped extra when someone has really gone out of their way to make my experience special.
Agreed.
#36
Batehaven, Australia
10,117 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by GUT2407
I HATE the whole tipping culture.

I have seen way too often people who tip thinking that it entitles them to better service (just look at all the threads that talk about handing out $$$ to the steward on the first day, or a tip to the bartender to get faster service when things are busy) or to treat those receiving the tip as some lesser being.

HOWEVER, having become aware of how the system works, with staff getting minimal pay and relying on the service charges /tips to make an income, I leave the auto tips in place on line's that have them.

What worries me most is that some seem to insist that not only should you leave these in place but then MUST tip extra again, to the degree that over the last few years some crew seem to expect to get extra.

I have tipped extra when someone has really gone out of their way to make my experience special.
Well said Mr Gut, I agree. This 'double tipping practice that has evolved over the years, i.e. leaving auto tips on and then giving staff extra is wrong. Now the service crew expect it all the time, share of the tipping pool and cash in hand. It started across the pond I fear.

It is one or the other, not both.

Finally, I love a good tipping thread, in my opinion...auto tip/gratuity/service charge, whatever name, means' automatic wage subsidy.' For that is what it is, the cruise lines whoever they are don't want to pay the full service crew wage, they want the passenger to subsidise it. User pay syndrome.
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#37
Batehaven, Australia
10,117 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by sofmall
Wow, I hadn't heard there's a Panama Canal cruise departing from Australia! Excellent!

When you book with NCL from Australia, the service charges may or may not be included in your fare. What I mean is that it's possible to have them removed from your fare at the time of booking, but you will need to ask to have them removed, or if booking online look for a mention of it (a box to check, for example, to remove them). I've done heaps of dummy bookings when looking for the best fares for cruises we're taking, with NCL and other cruise lines too. I've checked out the NCL site itself and independent online travel agents. A lot! I love cruising!

Presently we're booked on Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Jewel and we booked through my daughter who works for Flight Centre. I specified that I wanted the service charges removed and they were.

If you're unsure if the gratuities were included in your fare at the time of booking you'll need to contact the travel agent you used and ask if they were included. If they weren't, you'll be charged them on board. They'll be added daily to your on board account. You CAN then go to the purser's desk once on board and ask for them to be removed. We did that on Norwegian Dawn last November and it was done. We paid our tips ourselves, to the staff members directly.

If you find you have been charged the gratuities at time of booking, wish you hadn't, and have not yet paid your final payment, it might be worth asking the agent if you can have them removed.
Not been on NCL, but if you do not pay the auto tip and pay your cabin steward, MDR waiter(s) cash tips, are they required to hand them in to their supervisor, a la Princess and other lines? Bearing in mind NCL service staff would probably be advised if their guests had removed or declined to pay the auto tips?
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Cheers..(Uncle) LES - Princess Captains Circle Elite. - 460 days.

Cruised with Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, P&O Australia, P&O UK, Carnival, Sitmar, Sydney Harbour Ferries. World Cruise, plus British Isles, Europe, Med, Greek Isles, Transatlantic, Asia, USA, Panama Canal, South America, Central America, Caribbean, Alaska, Canada, Japan, South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand.!

**Last cruise: Queen Mary 2 - Sydney - HK, 16 nights, 2 - 18 March 2017.

**Next: (We were booked on Adonia x 2, but they sold the ship on us.)
Sapphire Princess - 26 May 2018, Scandinavia, ex Southampton - 7 nights B2B with..
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Royal Princess - 18 June 2018 - British Isles, ex Southampton - 12 nights.

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#38
Brisbane
381 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Originally posted by NSWP
Bearing in mind NCL service staff would probably be advised if their guests had removed or declined to pay the auto tips?
If the service staff were informed, then by the logic of tipping culture those passengers who had their auto gratuities removed could expect the better service in the expectation that tips would be forthcoming at the end of the cruise. While those who prepaid could go jump.


The whole tipping thing is a farce that doesn't even stand up under its own logic.
#39
Batehaven, Australia
10,117 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by SinbadThePorter
If the service staff were informed, then by the logic of tipping culture those passengers who had their auto gratuities removed could expect the better service in the expectation that tips would be forthcoming at the end of the cruise. While those who prepaid could go jump.


The whole tipping thing is a farce that doesn't even stand up under its own logic.
If the service staff - cabin steward/MDR waiter(s) were permitted to retain the cash.
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Cheers..(Uncle) LES - Princess Captains Circle Elite. - 460 days.

Cruised with Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, P&O Australia, P&O UK, Carnival, Sitmar, Sydney Harbour Ferries. World Cruise, plus British Isles, Europe, Med, Greek Isles, Transatlantic, Asia, USA, Panama Canal, South America, Central America, Caribbean, Alaska, Canada, Japan, South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand.!

**Last cruise: Queen Mary 2 - Sydney - HK, 16 nights, 2 - 18 March 2017.

**Next: (We were booked on Adonia x 2, but they sold the ship on us.)
Sapphire Princess - 26 May 2018, Scandinavia, ex Southampton - 7 nights B2B with..
Sapphire Princess - 2 June 2018, Baltic Heritage, ex Southampton - 14 nights.
Royal Princess - 18 June 2018 - British Isles, ex Southampton - 12 nights.

'Adventure before Dementia - Live for Today !!'
#40
Cronulla Sydney Australia
482 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Originally posted by NSWP
Not been on NCL, but if you do not pay the auto tip and pay your cabin steward, MDR waiter(s) cash tips, are they required to hand them in to their supervisor, a la Princess and other lines? Bearing in mind NCL service staff would probably be advised if their guests had removed or declined to pay the auto tips?
A very good question and one that has bothered me. I can only hope they are not required to hand them in.

It would seem ridiculous that a genuine tip (as opposed to NCL's so-called "service charges"), ie a tip to thank for excellent service from a specific individual, should have to be handed in. I feel that would go against the whole reasoning behind a tip. But who knows?

Does anyone have insight into this?
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Norwegian Jewel, October 2017, Papeete to Sydney
Norwegian Sun, April 2017, Santiago (Valparaiso) to San Francisco
Norwegian Dawn, October 2016, Bermuda-Caribbean-New Orleans
Rhapsody of the Seas, March 2016, Round the Horn
Radiance of the Seas, November 2015, Australia Top End - Bali
Celebrity Solstice, April 2015, NZ - Tahiti - Honolulu
Voyager of the Seas, November 2014, Singapore to Sydney
Voyager of the Seas, March 2014, NZ - Australia
Carnival Spirit, June 2013, S. Pacific
Carnival Breeze, 25 October 2012 Europe
Pacific Jewel, 2010, S. Pacific
Norwegian Star, 2009, Panama Canal
Carnival Spirit, 2008, Alaska B2B
Carnival Spirit, 2008, Hawaiian Islands B2B
Pacific Sun 2006, S. Pacific
Norwegian Wind 2002, Hawaiian Islands & Fanning Island
Pacific Sky 2001, S. PacificSa