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3 minutes ago, Not a Georgia Peach said:

Gratuities could be included in the fare, but that does not address the issue of who is getting the gratuity.  It shouldn't be called a gratuity if it is a service fee since a gratuity is usually given based on the quality of service.

I hope you mean the AMOUNT of the gratuity can vary based on quality of service. Even then, there are often unseen factors beyond an individual’s control that affect quality of service. I don’t know how salaries work For tipped employees in the cruise business, but I can tell you in New Jersey, the minimum wage is $10 an hour - for tipped workers it is $2.63 an hour. It would have to be exceptional negligence not to tip a reasonable amount.

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16 minutes ago, jiminyC_fan said:

Just be a nice person and tip.  Stop looking for excuses to escape it.  If you can afford the trip, you can afford the tips.   If you can't, hold off until you save a bit more before booking.

AMEN!

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On 1/19/2020 at 8:08 AM, Jim Avery said:

As this subject has re surfaced, I would like to share what I learned on our recent long voyage on the Sun.  Like most of us, we get close to many of the crew.  A great hard working group if there ever was one.  One evening this topic came up.  I asked how they got paid the gratuities.  I was not happy to hear that they don't get paid at the end of the cruise or any other time.  Crew says they are told "it is part of your salary".  So no bonus checks, no distribution of gratuities collected for a cruise.  So the "gratuities" we are charged or which are included in our fare as an inducement would more accurately be called a service charge.  Viking can set the rules as they see fit but somehow this leaves me feeling a bit cheated.  Maybe cheated is too harsh a word maybe misled.

I made a staff friend on our first river cruise.  She then transferred to Ocean.  We talked about this.  She said that Viking takes good care of them and the policy was perfectly fine for her.  She had worked for other cruise lines as well so knows the field.  We remain friends to this day. I do believe people should pay the recommended tips.  I, also, believe that if one encounters a few that go above and beyond to tip them personally,

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And perhaps some are now missing the part of the conversation about how these "gratuities" are NOT being paid to the crew, and are therefore NOT tips.
I'm all for tipping. I despise people who don't tip (or under-tip).

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34 minutes ago, jiminyC_fan said:

I made a staff friend on our first river cruise.  She then transferred to Ocean.  We talked about this.  She said that Viking takes good care of them and the policy was perfectly fine for her.  She had worked for other cruise lines as well so knows the field.  We remain friends to this day. I do believe people should pay the recommended tips.  I, also, believe that if one encounters a few that go above and beyond to tip them personally,

 

At the end of the day if crew aren't happy with the arrangement there are plenty of other cruise lines they can work for.  From what we've heard staff turnover at VO is relatively low.  If crew are satisfied shouldn't we be as well?

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I for one, have no problem tipping.  I think the crew deserves it.
As do I. But once again, these "gratuities" aren't tips, and they don't go to the crew. That's the deception of how Viking presents these 'optional' (for US customers) gratuity charges. We are led ro believe that they are 'tips' that go to the crew, but apparently they only go to Viking and have no effect on how much our well-deserved crews receive.

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5 minutes ago, just_dont said:

 But once again, these "gratuities" aren't tips, and they don't go to the crew. That's the deception of how Viking presents these 'optional' (for US customers) gratuity charges. We are led ro believe that they are 'tips' that go to the crew, but apparently they only go to Viking and have no effect on how much our well-deserved crews receive.

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I've never heard of that before.  Do you have a link for this?

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At the end of the day if crew aren't happy with the arrangement there are plenty of other cruise lines they can work for.  From what we've heard staff turnover at VO is relatively low.  If crew are satisfied shouldn't we be as well?


And I feel the issue is less about how Viking treats its employees and more about how gratuities paid by passengers with the expectation that they will be distributed to the staff, are actually just kept by Viking as a 'service charge'.

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If folks would just start zeroing out the “gratuity” line-item, Viking would quickly drop the charade, and maybe start acting like a real luxury line.  They are sooo close...
See, that's kind of what I was thinking. But we passengers really shouldn't have to 'protest' in this way for Viking to drop the charade. It's kind of like their old "half price" fare pricing where no one EVER paid full price - it was just a charade, which they eventually dropped.

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5 hours ago, Hockeyump said:

UK prices include gratuities and I believe the same applies in Australia.  If these countries can do it why can't it happen in the US?

 

I'm with you! I think pushing for "grats included" pricing would get us a lot further.

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I want clarification from Viking. This is from MVJ presented under the "Enhance My Trip" suggestions:  

 

"Relax & Enjoy Your Cruise
Purchase gratuities for your onboard staff in advance so you can relax and enjoy your journey.

The prepaid amount shown is our standard tipping recommendation, covering gratuities for your entire onboard staff, including your Program Director.
When traveling, you may wish to give a small courtesy amount to your local guides and bus drivers. This can be done in cash at the end of each excursion. Recommended amounts are in your cruise documents."

 

While I readily acknowledge staff compensation is directly or indirectly affected by the payment of gratuities, everything I've read from Viking (the above as only one example) gives me the impression gratuities go to the staff, especially if I personally hand currency to a staff person. If this is not the case, Viking's policy appears misleading.

 

Indirectly, our cruise fare pays port fees, but Viking does not invoice these separately yet they use this ploy to differentiate themselves in their marketing (US at least) since some lines advertise fares that indicate port fees will be added (at least Seabourn did this the last time I looked). I factor such gratuities (or service charges) and into my total cost of the cruise and would prefer not to pay them separately. But, I don't want to hand staff tips that they are expected to turn over to Viking.

 

I hope "Enhance My Trip" means something more than euphemism for enhancing Viking's profits.

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8 minutes ago, zitsky said:

Tellus, where are you?

 

Chances are that the Viking folks stopped monitoring this thread after the first 2 or three posts thinking it is the common gratuity thread.  To get their response, someone that really wants them to weigh in should send them a link to this thread with a request for a public response.  Their response or silence will speak to their position on the matter.

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We are on a 2 VO cruises in the upcoming months and I really don't know what to do....certainly we are NOT a non-tippers...but the thought that Viking is just pocketing the extra money is upsetting!

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