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yogimax

What's the Real Story on Viking Tipping?

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Major cruise lines will give you a breakdown on how tips are allocated. For example, so much for your room steward, waiters, etc..

Viking, the other hand is only specific about the Cruise Director. They suggest 2 Euros a day per person. Do the math on that one. For a seven night cruise, that's 14 Euros times an average of 180 passengers or 2520 Euros or $2940. That's over $148,000 for a 48 week work year. Sound excessive?

Now, let's get to the rest of the staff. It's 12 Euros per person, per day. o.k., no problem with that, but how is it allocated? Seems like a mystery.

On our last Viking cruise, we were given two explanations...
1. Everyone, including the captain
2. Everyone, except the captain

In either case, I want more details. Am I really paying the salary of the Captain and the Hotel Director, arguably the second most important person onboard? Shouldn't s/he be paid by Viking?

I want my tips to go the room stewards, waiters and all the lower paid staff. The Hotel Director, Maitre D' and other ranking officers should be paid by Viking.

Does anyone know how Viking (and other River Cruise Lines) actually allocate their tips, and why won't Viking be up front with us?

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Cruise Directors on river ships don't work 48 weeks a year. Other than that, I don't think you can get the answers to your questions. So the choice is: stiff the CD and crew because you might be getting ripped off, or pay the expected tips to try to make sure the lowest paid people onboard get a decent income. Only you can decide which risk is worse in the general scheme of things.

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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 year, nor does everyone tip the recommended amount. If they did work 48 weeks then they wouldn't see their families at all as it is a 24/7 job while they are actually working onboard.

It has been my experience so far that while the suggestion for the cruise director may seem large when looking at it in advance, after you have experienced what they do it seems very reasonable. If they don't deliver then reduce the tip accordingly, but so far we've usually tipped them above the recommendation due to exceptional service.

This approach with guides etc. is not unique to Viking or to any particular region of the world as there is great competition to be the ones selected to work with the cruise lines.

As for the distribution of the rest of the tips, very few places that you tip, restaurants etc. will give you a full breakdown of how it is distributed and unfortunately the stories you get from lower level staff can sometimes be angled to encourage you to tip them directly, so perhaps not entirely reliable.

My perspective is that you never get to see a lot of the people who work behind the scenes to support the ones you do see (especially on ocean cruises) so direct tipping to the ones you do see is less fair than following the scheme that is in place.

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If you want someone special to receive your tips then slip them money on the side. That's what I did on our last cruise. I gave the Maid and our waiter each a little bit extra as I knew the rest of the tip money was being split. As it was explained to us, workers like dishwashers and laundry persons will also share in the tip money -- people you don't usually see on a cruise. I know everyone definitely earns their money on a cruise ship. They are working before 6am and probably working past 11pm.

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It seems like on every cruise line discussion venue either here or elsewhere there is always Sturm und Drang about tipping/gratuities. I don’t really get it. I’ve never had a job where a good chunk of my pay came from tips, but I have a lot of friends and family who do. While I think it’s a poor (and stingy) way - on management’s part - to compensate for labor, not tipping or grumbling about it isn’t going to change the system. We tip generously in all but very rare occasions. Service people generally work very hard and take a lot of unwarranted abuse.

When we are cruising we always tip/add gratuities in the recommended amount without question. I just consider it part of the fare, because if these people were paid what they should be our fares would be much higher.

I wish Viking would allow prepaid gratuities, so I didn’t have to remember to calculate what I’m spending as we set out. I’d prefer to have it done beforehand.

We also add on tips wherever we feel we have been well served. The amount of that extra is based on how much over “well-served” our experience goes.

On our river cruise my husband had an adverse encounter with a pick pocket. While we didn’t lose much cash or his passport (in the safe on the ship), he did have 2 credit cards and he was in a panic for those. Our wonderful CD Danielle came to our rescue. She calmed him down ( not an easy thing to do) and using her phone she helped us contact the card companies to cancel the cards. She was simply fabulous! She got a very generous tip over the standard Viking recommendation. Luckily I had my own cards and the rest of our cash and the debit card were in the safe! Something to keep in mind!




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I have no problem with tipping and yes, I did tip to the general fund and extra to a wonderful stateroom attendant.

The crux of my question was "to whom do the tips go?" If, indeed, the hotel director and maybe even the captain are taking part, I would assume they and other officers would be receiving the bulk of the tips while lower paid staff receive significantly less.

Most, if not all of the major cruise lines will break down the tips and say, for example, that the stateroom attendants receive $3.50 per day per person. Why can't the river cruise lines do the same?

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[quote name='yogimax']Most, if not all of the major cruise lines will break down the tips and say, for example, that the stateroom attendants receive $3.50 per day per person. Why can't the river cruise lines do the same?[/quote]

To be honest I've never used an ocean cruise line that provided that level of detail, nor would I have expected it.

I'm not even sure what use I'd have for the information anyway, any more than I ask each restaurant to tell me how they divide the tips there either...

When I find that staff are returning to work for the same line year after year, I have to assume they are happy with whatever system they have.

I don't consider it my role to pass judgement or bypass their system.

A little extra for special cases for sure, but the base line we always follow to make sure all are covered.

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[quote name='Mark_T']To be honest I've never used an ocean cruise line that provided that level of detail, nor would I have expected it.

A little extra for special cases for sure, but the base line we always follow to make sure all are covered.[/quote]


I'm NOT arguing the baseline number... I'm asking who gets it.

In all truthfulness, almost every ocean cruise line breaks down their tips...

Here's Royal Caribbean's...

$6.10 - Dining Services
$3.45 - Stateroom Attendant
$3.95 - Other Hotel Services

Here's Carnival's....

Housekeeping Team: $4.05 ($5.05 for suites)
Dining Team: $6.40
Alternative Services: $2.50

Here's a summary of Celebrity's...

"This gratuity is shared by your stateroom attendant, dining services staff, and housekeeping staff members who help enhance your vacation experience."

Notice they explicitly state who will receive the tips.

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Keep in mind that the people who work on river ships often perform several duties and not just one job. The person who serves dinner might also be serving canapés in the lounge on special event nights. Everyone helps take the suitcases to the rooms and back out on disembarkation day.

Grand Circle told us that the tips for the crew were pooled and divided equally among the whole staff. No one position received any more, or less, than anyone else.

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[quote name='yogimax']I'm NOT arguing the baseline number... I'm asking who gets it.

In all truthfulness, almost every ocean cruise line breaks down their tips...

Here's Royal Caribbean's...

$6.10 - Dining Services
$3.45 - Stateroom Attendant
$3.95 - Other Hotel Services

Here's Carnival's....

Housekeeping Team: $4.05 ($5.05 for suites)
Dining Team: $6.40
Alternative Services: $2.50

Here's a summary of Celebrity's...

"This gratuity is shared by your stateroom attendant, dining services staff, and housekeeping staff members who help enhance your vacation experience."

Notice they explicitly state who will receive the tips.[/quote]

I regret that I saw nothing in your examples which showed where in the levels of seniority the split stopped, there really is no 'explicit' statement at all, it is all still very vague.

... and again, I'm happy that it is vague :)

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Yogimax,

We just got home last week from the Douro River in Portugal so this is still fresh in my mind. There were 3 Cruise Directors on our ship. It seemed like one did the bulk of the work (i.e. All port talks and daily briefings). I'm assuming all three shared the 2 euros a day with her possibly getting a bigger share than the other two. She said the tips for crew included everyone else which she proceeded to name (job descriptions, not actual names). She left the Captain out of the briefing so again I'm assuming he was not included in the tips but his 2 mates were included.

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IMO just drop the "tipping" (which doesn't seem entirely voluntary)! and add a specific "service fee" so you would a better idea of how much a cruise would actually cost. Passengers wouldn't have to listen to talks about tipping and the crew would have a better idea of how much they are going to be paid.


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There are some cruise lines ie. Uniworld that include tips in their 'all inclusive' fares. There are no envelopes at the end of your cruise to fill.
Crew / staff are well paid and they have a decent benefit package...according to some of the staff we spoke with.
RB

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[quote name='nancyevans']IMO just drop the "tipping" (which doesn't seem entirely voluntary)! and add a specific "service fee" so you would a better idea of how much a cruise would actually cost. Passengers wouldn't have to listen to talks about tipping and the crew would have a better idea of how much they are going to be paid.


Sent from my iPhone using Forums[/quote]

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?

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This is from the Viking website and it will also be included in the packet you receive from Viking pre-trip and also a reminder on the last day.

The following guidelines are based on typical amounts; they vary by region so please read the section for the region to which you will be traveling. Please note that local city guides and coach drivers are not included in the onboard gratuities; any tipping should be done in cash on the day of the tour as you are not likely to see them again.

Europe
In Europe, we recommend that you tip in euros. Guidelines:
Program Director – €2 per guest, per day <— this is the CD
Onboard staff – €12 per guest, per day
Local city guides – €2 per guest, per day
Coach drivers – €1 per guest, per day

The tips for the program director/CD and onboard staff can be added to your onboard account and paid with a credit card. No other tips are required. You may add additional amounts to the bill or give less if you wish. You may also give cash to those who went above and beyond or those you personally feel deserved more. It’s up to you.

We put the standard amount on our bill, then tipped a number of people extra in cash.

We always tipped the tour guides and bus drivers.



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[quote name='Ritabob']There are some cruise lines ie. Uniworld that include tips in their 'all inclusive' fares. There are no envelopes at the end of your cruise to fill.

Crew / staff are well paid and they have a decent benefit package...according to some of the staff we spoke with.

RB[/QUOTE]



Scenic and Emerald are no tippping lines also. These two lines are Australian owned. Australia has a no tipping culture. From what I've read, Australia takes pride in paying all workers a living wage.


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[quote name='nancyevans']IMO just drop the "tipping" (which doesn't seem entirely voluntary)! and add a specific "service fee" so you would a better idea of how much a cruise would actually cost. Passengers wouldn't have to listen to talks about tipping and the crew would have a better idea of how much they are going to be paid.


Sent from my iPhone using Forums[/quote]

I have to agree with this. I just have no interest in trying to figure out how much to tip to whom. Royal pain in the backside. I also think Viking (or any other lines that already don't) could institute a 'pre-paid gratuities' policy. The one thing I liked about going with Tauck for my first river cruise is that it was totally all-inclusive. Walked off the ship at the end without ever having paid a dime to anyone (of course, you're paying for it anyway with the basic cost!).

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The good news is that there are many different cruise lines to choose between so it isn't hard to find one that meets our needs in this regard.

We just add the recommended level of tips to the cost when making comparisons.

It has been easy to charge the tips for the crew to our onboard account, and we knew in advance what cash we would need for the CD.

If you prefer not to deal with this small amount of planning then there are other lines which do not need it...

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[quote name='three4rd']I have to agree with this. I just have no interest in trying to figure out how much to tip to whom. Royal pain in the backside. I also think Viking (or any other lines that already don't) could institute a 'pre-paid gratuities' policy. The one thing I liked about going with Tauck for my first river cruise is that it was totally all-inclusive. Walked off the ship at the end without ever having paid a dime to anyone (of course, you're paying for it anyway with the basic cost!).[/QUOTE]



It was nice to walk off the ship not owing anything or spending time on the last day tipping. Didn't have to tip drivers or guides either so no need to make to have appropriate coinage.


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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..

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[quote name='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?[/quote]

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.

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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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[quote name='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.[/quote]

Ditto!

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[quote name='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

[/quote]

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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[quote name='caviargal']Not sure which line you are referencing the CMs on the lines I sail with DO get paid, and not just in gratuities.[/quote]

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.

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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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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.

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[quote name='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.[/quote]

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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[quote name='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.[/quote]

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.

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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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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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[quote name='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.)[/quote]

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.

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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

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[quote name='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[/quote]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.

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[quote name='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[/quote]

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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[
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

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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.

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[quote name='Ritabob'][
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[/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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