Posted August 3rd, 2017, 11:09 PM
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.
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
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
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