What's the Real Story on Viking Tipping?


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#21
603 Posts
Joined May 2005
We have cruised with Uniworld twice and it's wonderful being all inclusive. We came off the ship with a bill of $168.00 for our optional excursion ..... ..We tipped our housekeeper extra at the end of our two week cruise she was exceptional..Also every evening before dinner we had a cocktail before dinner in the lounge. The waiter knew our drink and was always so cordial to us. We also tipped him.. The crew all worked very hard..
#22
76 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
Originally posted by Carnevale
I agree and really appreciate the ocean cruise lines that add a set amount every day to our account. We will be on our 1st river cruise soon and we are not looking forward to talks about tips....that will be a real turnoff for us. Our booking on Viking gave us included gratuities so it may feel odd not to be handing out envelopes if indeed that is how it is done on Viking. I am assuming what we have covers the CD’s tip but am not certain. Does anyone know?
We sailed on on Danube Waltz earlier this year and had pre paid gratuities. prior to departure, I called Viking and they said the the pre-paid gratuities cover ALL onboard staff including the cruise director, valued at about $300 overall. Any other tipping would just totally be discretionary.
#23
New York
9,388 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
In my personal opinion there are two types of variables on any cruise: the things you can fix by paying more money [e.g. gratuities] and the things that you can't fix once on board [e.g. quality of food and wine]. I would rather sail on a line that has the fixed things right, and pay extra for the fixable things.
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Email me: [email protected]
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I am not an employee of Cruise Critic and I don't speak for Cruise Critic. All opinions are mine alone. Also, I'm only a Host on the various River forums -- everywhere else I'm "just plain Jazz."

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#24
FL
14,466 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Host Jazzbeau
In my personal opinion there are two types of variables on any cruise: the things you can fix by paying more money [e.g. gratuities] and the things that you can't fix once on board [e.g. quality of food and wine]. I would rather sail on a line that has the fixed things right, and pay extra for the fixable things.
Ditto!
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143 cruises since 1964, 16 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaStella, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016, October 2017
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent ocean cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#25
FL
14,466 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Mark_T
The cruise director is an independent contractor and only receives the tips, no other payment, also as Jazz said they don't work anything close to 48 weeks a yea
Not sure which line you are referencing the CMs on the lines I sail with DO get paid, and not just in gratuities.

When we sail with inclusive lines we still tip specific staff members who go above and beyond.
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143 cruises since 1964, 16 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaStella, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016, October 2017
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent ocean cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#26
2,043 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Originally posted by caviargal
Not sure which line you are referencing the CMs on the lines I sail with DO get paid, and not just in gratuities.
As per the post that started this thread I was referencing Viking...

They are not alone in this approach, but obviously the more inclusive/ no tipping lines do things differently.
#27
Huntersville, NC
5 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
I quizzed our Viking cruise director about the tips, because it was my first river cruise. He explained the independent contractor aspect, and that he alone got the tips from that particular envelope. The rest of the crew, including the captain, shared in the tips from the other envelope. I wish I had asked him if the other 51 (I think that was the number) share EQUALLY. So, I don't know how they divvy it up.

When we checked out, I asked what the "recommended amount" worked out to, and they told me 168 euros (12 * 2 * 7) so I said put us down for 200. Then we put money in separate envelopes and handed them personally to the young man who took care of our cabin, the maitre d, who really looked after our special dietary interests, and a small amount to the piano player. My wife and I actually like to tip to show our appreciation for excellent service. I guess it's an American thing. My wife tends to be more generous than me. At the end of the day I can say that we are fortunate enough so that an extra $200 or so won't make a difference to us.
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#29
NY
282 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
I agree. I have taken 4 Viking cruises and tipped the recommended amount and nothing more.
However, I always questioned (to myself) why we are asked to tip when sailing thru out Europe. After all, tipping is not necessary (meaning the locals don't) in a typical European restaurant. No tipping for cab drivers or even housekeeping in a hotel.
#30
New Hampshire
935 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Originally posted by MikeyB
I agree. I have taken 4 Viking cruises and tipped the recommended amount and nothing more.
However, I always questioned (to myself) why we are asked to tip when sailing thru out Europe. After all, tipping is not necessary (meaning the locals don't) in a typical European restaurant. No tipping for cab drivers or even housekeeping in a hotel.
Sadly, I believe it's because Viking wages are low and the crew, mostly people behind the scenes that we do not see, rely on the tip money to help feed their families.

I would prefer that Viking INCREASE the fare to cover the tip money. But I have found Viking corporate to be intransigent.
I love Viking shipboard personnel.
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2018 Uniworld Portugal, Spain & Douro River Valley June & Viking Sky Med Odyssey October
2017 Viking Sea Viking Homelands May/June & Viking Forseti Chateaux & Bordeaux September
2016 Viking Lofn Amsterdam to Basel October 2016
2015 Viking Buri Portraits of Southern France April & Silversea Silver Spirit Mediterranean (Istanbul) September
2014 Viking Freya Romantic Danube September
#31
2,043 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Originally posted by philw1776
I would prefer that Viking INCREASE the fare to cover the tip money. But I have found Viking corporate to be intransigent. I love Viking shipboard personnel.
It would be nice if all the restaurant chains in the USA did the same, but I guess that isn't happening either

Tipping does vary across Europe as well, it is not universally zero in all cases.

Same old advice applies, just add the recommended tips to the cost of the cruise and compare that with the lines that do include tips.
#32
Toronto, Canada
1,341 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
My problem is not on the cruise itself, it is all the people with their hands out on excursions. I wish the lines would pay and tip them, and just up our cost a bit. (Just on my way back from Vietnam and Cambodia on Ama; so these issues aren't unique to Viking.)

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AmaDara, Vietnam and Cambodia, 2017
Aegean Odyssey, Istanbul to Venice, 2015
Bike and Barge Holland, Bruges to Amsterdam, 2014
Uniworld, Vienna to Basel, 2011
Uniworld, Tulips and Windmills, Antwerp to Amsterdam, 2010
#33
Jekyll Island, Georgia
161 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We just returned from a Viking cruise on the Douro. We were given two envelopes for tipping during the cruise portion. One envelope was for the 3 Tour/Program Directors to share equally, and the other was for the ship staff, which Viking recommends should get a higher amount per day, per person. In addition, we tipped the bus drivers and local guides as needed. On this particular trip, the Tour/Program Directors get much less (Viking recommends 2 Euros per day, per person) since they really don't do much for the individual traveler unless you have a problem. It's the ship staff that works the hardest.
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01/2018 - Vantage Irrawaddy River Cruise
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04/2017 - Grand Circle Panama Canal Cruise & Panama
2016 - Grand Circle Hidden Gems of the Dalmatian Coast & Greece
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#34
2,043 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Originally posted by gnome12
My problem is not on the cruise itself, it is all the people with their hands out on excursions. I wish the lines would pay and tip them, and just up our cost a bit. (Just on my way back from Vietnam and Cambodia on Ama; so these issues aren't unique to Viking.)
Actually, on both of our recent Viking cruises (China & Vietnam/Cambodia) and also on our Egypt cruise with Movenpick, our main guide handled all incidental tipping for us.

We never had to worry about finding small bills or deciding who to tip, we just gave the guide a small sum of money at the start and they handled the rest, along with a very open process of delivering the tips and a full accounting to the group of how it had all been spent at the end.

It made even Egypt essentially a zero tipping zone from our perspective.
#35
NY
282 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Twototravel-
Is it true that on the Douro cruise that tipping to cruise staff must be made in cash and cannot be charged? If so, did they explain why? Thanks
#36
VA, MD & FL
6,495 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by MikeyB
Twototravel-
Is it true that on the Douro cruise that tipping to cruise staff must be made in cash and cannot be charged? If so, did they explain why? Thanks
On Vantage Douro we were told that anything changed was treated as including 23% Portuguese VAT so tips if charged would be decremented about 19% (1 - 1/1.23). Hence all tipping was in cash.
#37
Jekyll Island, Georgia
161 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Originally posted by MikeyB
Twototravel-
Is it true that on the Douro cruise that tipping to cruise staff must be made in cash and cannot be charged? If so, did they explain why? Thanks
Yes, tips must be given in cash. Recommended Euros, but I'm sure dollars would be okay too. The only thing you can pay with a credit card is your ship spending....drinks, souvenirs from their on board shop,etc. The WiFi is iffy even when docked, so they warn passengers to be flexible paying...if the WiFi is down when you go to pay off your account on the last full day, you will need to pay it in cash. WiFi was terrible going thru the locks and around high mountains along the river. Other times it was just slow due to so many people using their devices at once.
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01/2018 - Vantage Irrawaddy River Cruise
11/2017 - VRC Douro River Cruise
04/2017 - Grand Circle Panama Canal Cruise & Panama
2016 - Grand Circle Hidden Gems of the Dalmatian Coast & Greece
2013 - VRC Magnificent Mekong Cruise/Tour
2007 - VRC China Yangtze River Cruise/Tour
2005 - Holland America Alaska Cruise/Tour
1998 - Nile River Cruise/Tour
#38
369 Posts
Joined May 2013
[
Yes, tips must be given in cash. Recommended Euros, but I'm sure dollars would be okay too.[/quote]

Just wondering why would you think dollars would be okay, too? The crew would have to go to a bank to and get dinged on the exchange rate .
RB
#39
New Jersey, the Philly end
7,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Grand Circle program directors do the tipping for local guides and drivers as well as the porters in hotels. Tips are cash only, one envelope for ship's crew, one for the program director. The amounts suggested by GCT in their documents are listed in usd; the bulk of our tips are in usd with non-Euro local currency include if we have any remaining.
#40
New Hampshire
935 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Originally posted by Ritabob
[
Yes, tips must be given in cash. Recommended Euros, but I'm sure dollars would be okay too.
Just wondering why would you think dollars would be okay, too? The crew would have to go to a bank to and get dinged on the exchange rate .
RB[/quote]

Excellent point. Passengers too busy to be inconvenienced to get Euros before or during a cruise but do not mind making hard working crew take time to go to a bank and spend their valuable time off exchanging dollars for Euros. Of course everyone claims that they tip more in $ so as to cover the exchange. It's the inconvenience. Folks unwilling to be inconvenienced who don't mind inconveniencing someone with limited time off.

Try handing Canadian dollars to someone in the US in a Canadian border state.
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2018 Uniworld Portugal, Spain & Douro River Valley June & Viking Sky Med Odyssey October
2017 Viking Sea Viking Homelands May/June & Viking Forseti Chateaux & Bordeaux September
2016 Viking Lofn Amsterdam to Basel October 2016
2015 Viking Buri Portraits of Southern France April & Silversea Silver Spirit Mediterranean (Istanbul) September
2014 Viking Freya Romantic Danube September