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Removing Gratuity Charges?


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14 minutes ago, Blitzburggirl said:

@rochelle_s... I think you're looking from it from the wrong angle..

 

The crew member is supposed to surrender any cash tips to be reallocated in the DSC pool.

 

Whether that happens or not... none of my business. 

 

 

Yes I understand that many people have said this is the way things are done. 

 

And incompletely understand your final sentiment of whether this happens or not being not our business. 

 

My comment was more for discussions sake, but your comment does make me curious.... If I leave the DSC in place and then tip cash over and above the DSC to acknowledge and thank those who have made my cruise exceptional, would those individuals have to pool this cash or would they not be free to keep this amount for themselves?

 

Rochelle

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On 2/28/2019 at 6:08 PM, blcruising said:

I don't, and I am a pretty curious person.

 

But I will tell you if Amazon started assessing a service charge on my coffee pods or the office supplies I buy, I probably would ask why they were doing it. If they weren't real transparent about it, I'd be skeptical. If they said it was going to pay their workers salaries, I would tell them to set their prices at a level that allows them to pay their employees salaries.

 

And if their service charge was $10 today, then $11 next year, then $12 the year after, I would definitely be curious. And if it was 15% today, then 18% tomorrow, and then 20% a year later, I'd be real skeptical, especially after reading quotes from their corporate executives about how they were laser-focused on raising prices everywhere. Evidently inflation is under control everywhere, but apparently not on NCL cruise ships. 

We have made many purchases on Amazon and not once did they ask us to pay an optional charge to pay their employees.

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11 minutes ago, rochelle_s said:

 

 

Yes I understand that many people have said this is the way things are done. 

 

And incompletely understand your final sentiment of whether this happens or not being not our business. 

 

My comment was more for discussions sake, but your comment does make me curious.... If I leave the DSC in place and then tip cash over and above the DSC to acknowledge and thank those who have made my cruise exceptional, would those individuals have to pool this cash or would they not be free to keep this amount for themselves?

 

Rochelle

 

They will then be allowed to keep the cash tip as the DSC is still  in place,

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4 hours ago, salty dingo said:

I just want to chime in here with my view - there is nothing easy about having to keep up with cash to tip people with as you go. It may be a thing for some people to hand cash but I just don't get it, and it would not make my vacation any easier to convert auto-tips to cash tips. It's not even practical given that you probably never have the same wait staff twice.

 

A huge reason I am in favor of the auto-tips is how they address the occasional traveler who does not come from a culture where tipping is customary, or just believes the tips are another way a big corporation can rip them off. There's only one way to deal with those folks and that's by making the tips mandatory, and I am glad they are.

It’s actually quite simple.  

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1 hour ago, Sam Ting said:

It’s actually quite simple.  

It’s even simpler, just raise the cruise fare the amount of the auto tip and then there’s no dickering or discussion about removing DSC, and whether or not someone is “stealing” from the crew.

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13 minutes ago, Outerdog said:

 

People say this all the time, and just like them, you don't really know what the policy is.

Okkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

 

LOL Did you notice I started my comment with “I think...” 

 

But thank you for pointing out that I don’t really know, because clearly I was under the impression I am a subject matter expert. 

 

 

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52 minutes ago, erdoran said:

It’s even simpler, just raise the cruise fare the amount of the auto tip and then there’s no dickering or discussion about removing DSC, and whether or not someone is “stealing” from the crew.

Not to mention if they were to add it to the cruise fare, some of the crew would probably be making out better, because some passengers will still tip.

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Oh Lord, I see my thread has been revived.

I haven't posted on here since we went on our cruise in March.  I gotta say, we were pretty disappointed with about 70% of our interactions with the staff on NCL Pearl.  Many seemed like they weren't motivated to work nor were they personable at all.  I understand that there are big cultural differences, so I totally get that some may be timid due to English being their 2nd language and they aren't going to be smiley and peppy like what I'd expect from an American server/bartender.  But half of the time it took 15-30 minutes to get a drink at the bar and many of the staff seemed like they didn't even want to be there.  Maybe if they were motivated by cash tips they would step up their game.... But what do I know?!?  LOL!  We were not obnoxious/drunk/disrespectful or anything towards the staff, we treated everyone we encountered with kindness, a smile and a please & thank you.  So I don't think we were the cause of poor service.

Needless to say, we didn't remove our DSC and we still cash tipped every staff member we encountered, even the ones who were slow and seemed annoyed to be working.  Our room steward was very sweet and accommodating and there were a handful of bartenders/servers that we continuously seeked out throughout the rest of the cruise because they were on top of their game and very motivated to take care of the guests.  

I realize that I may be coming off like I'm a complaining entitled American.  My point in bringing up my mediocre experience with the NCL staff is because I feel like their lack of motivation to hustle is a direct reflection of the pay and lack of tips.  But again... what do I know?!

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On 10/8/2019 at 5:10 PM, rochelle_s said:

 

First off I  am not trying to be argumentative but would like to play devils advocate on how this could not possibly be true.

 

Imagine I were to go about my cruise tipping cash as I went, such as an upfront tip to my cabin steward and then cash directly to every waiter who served me along the way. On the final night I go to guest services and have the DSC removed from my account, how would they ever be able to know who received a cash tip or how much?  If it were an honour system how would an employee know that I would be removing my DSC at the end?

 

Seems to me the only employee they would be able to approach is the cabin steward and I am not sure anyone among the staff would think it was fair to single out this one department.

 

Rochelle

There have been confirmed reports (with pictures) in the recent past of lists of passengers who have removed tips in employee only areas (kitchen and housekeeping areas).  I'm not saying it happens in every situation, but I have heard that they are required to put them into the pool.  Let's assume that they stay with your server and steward.  By not using DSC, you actually harm other individuals who rely upon those tips.  Some of those tips are used for other types of employee events and recognition.  If the pool of money is reduced, those activities aren't funded as anticipated.

 

To each his own, but I don't understand the concept of NEEDING to give the tip directly to the person providing the service.  I pay my DSC, and usually prepay them.  We have given over for great service (generally on Carnival).  On NCL, your servers are different every day along with different busboys, etc.  When someone goes to a restaurant and leaves a tip on the table, do you generally think about who gets that?  That tip is split among several people behind the scenes.  It's just a little strange to me that someone couldn't care less about how a tip is split up in a restaurant but on the cruise ship, they need to control it completely.  A standard tip at a restaurant is 15-20%...  I leave that.  NCL determines the amount of DSC, I leave that.

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5 hours ago, buckeyefrank said:

There have been confirmed reports (with pictures) in the recent past of lists of passengers who have removed tips in employee only areas (kitchen and housekeeping areas).  I'm not saying it happens in every situation, but I have heard that they are required to put them into the pool.  Let's assume that they stay with your server and steward.  By not using DSC, you actually harm other individuals who rely upon those tips.  Some of those tips are used for other types of employee events and recognition.  If the pool of money is reduced, those activities aren't funded as anticipated.

 

To each his own, but I don't understand the concept of NEEDING to give the tip directly to the person providing the service.  I pay my DSC, and usually prepay them.  We have given over for great service (generally on Carnival).  On NCL, your servers are different every day along with different busboys, etc.  When someone goes to a restaurant and leaves a tip on the table, do you generally think about who gets that?  That tip is split among several people behind the scenes.  It's just a little strange to me that someone couldn't care less about how a tip is split up in a restaurant but on the cruise ship, they need to control it completely.  A standard tip at a restaurant is 15-20%...  I leave that.  NCL determines the amount of DSC, I leave that.

I think the issue is less about how DSC is distributed than whether 100% is distributed to crew, or if NCL keeps some percentage to fund its basic payroll that should be NCL-funded, and only distributes a portion to crew.  By tipping crew directly, in theory 100% goes to the crew member(s) and 0% to NCL, which is how it should be.  I've already paid my cruise fare, that's what I owe NCL the business, now any tips or DSC do NOT belong to NCL, they belong to the "tippees".

 

It's already not the norm in other industries to make compensation for laundry workers, maintenance workers (I assume),  and various other "behind the scenes" workers  tip-related.  I can see tipping out busboys, possibly kitchen workers, hostesses; direct tipping to hotel housekeeping staff - but in what other industry are some of these other back-end staff tip-dependent?  But that's how it is in cruising and I reluctantly accept it - but  my own beef is that I do want to be sure that every penny I put into DSC and other tips are NOT kept by NCL.  I already believe that's not the case "beverage service charge & gratuity" for example.  

 

So that's possibly the reason for some cruisers "needing" to give the tip directly to the crew members.  For me I'll do the DSC because it's easier and there's too much guilt thrown around otherwise, but I'm not entirely comfortable with knowing that my money is going where it should go - to the hard working crew that make my vacation special!

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57 minutes ago, erdoran said:

I think the issue is less about how DSC is distributed than whether 100% is distributed to crew, or if NCL keeps some percentage to fund its basic payroll that should be NCL-funded, and only distributes a portion to crew.  By tipping crew directly, in theory 100% goes to the crew member(s) and 0% to NCL, which is how it should be.  I've already paid my cruise fare, that's what I owe NCL the business, now any tips or DSC do NOT belong to NCL, they belong to the "tippees".

 

It's already not the norm in other industries to make compensation for laundry workers, maintenance workers (I assume),  and various other "behind the scenes" workers  tip-related.  I can see tipping out busboys, possibly kitchen workers, hostesses; direct tipping to hotel housekeeping staff - but in what other industry are some of these other back-end staff tip-dependent?  But that's how it is in cruising and I reluctantly accept it - but  my own beef is that I do want to be sure that every penny I put into DSC and other tips are NOT kept by NCL.  I already believe that's not the case "beverage service charge & gratuity" for example.  

 

So that's possibly the reason for some cruisers "needing" to give the tip directly to the crew members.  For me I'll do the DSC because it's easier and there's too much guilt thrown around otherwise, but I'm not entirely comfortable with knowing that my money is going where it should go - to the hard working crew that make my vacation special!

I don't believe (I certainly could be wrong) that the laundry, maintenance, etc are part of the tip pool.  This is not meant towards only you directly but this discussion occurs with each of the major lines.  People on all cruise lines are questioning whether the cruise line pockets a portion of the money kept for tips.  I can't say with 100% certainty but I am a CPA and have participated in both small and large financial audits.  In large companies such as NCL, the primary focus of the audit is on internal control structure and how they are functioning.  If management asserts (which they do) that money from DSC are pooled into an account and distributed to employees only, that would absolutely be tested by an accountant, regardless of whether they are international or US accountants.  In addition, the total DSC amount collected pales in comparison to the amount of revenue from fares, drinks and casino revenue.  Even taking a percentage of DSC wouldn't make any kind of material impact on the financial statements.  The risk of negative publicity alone would keep them from doing that.   To those who say they can "cook the books" or "creative accounting" can do anything.... no they really can't.  Those people who got caught fraudulently manipulating the books were mostly manipulating them through a bunch of different master / feeder structures.  They were funneling things through various other legal entities not included in the audits, specifically to keep them out.  Finally, if the employees are so mistreated by NCL, they can elect to work somewhere else, even another cruise line.

 

So for me, I have no concern where the money goes.

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On 10/8/2019 at 6:51 PM, Outerdog said:

 

People say this all the time, and just like them, you don't really know what the policy is.

I think it is pretty obvious, regardless of what they are supposed to do, they keep cash tips. I have also heard from some this is acceptable. Who knows? 

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CrewCenter.com, a website for cruise ship crew members, on Friday printed a letter from Richard Morse, senior vice president of hotel operations, announcing the increase and noting that guests’ bills also will have a line asking if they would like to add an additional amount.

“From this 3 percent increase, 1.5 percent will go to server and remaining 1.5 percent will go into the ASP pool,” the letter says. “As you know, the ASP pool funds employee compensation and benefit programs that you receive; including bar level pay, itinerary stipend pay, as well as free uniform and return airline tickets.”

 

The whole discussion would be settled if the cruiseline(s) just released a detailed account of where the money goes. On a 4000 pax large ship the DSC will total $60,000 US per day, $420,000 per week. It should be going to employees 100% not funding uniforms or flights home. The flight to and from the cruise contract was always a cruise line responsibility it should still be. They won't release the details because the DSC implies service charges AND gratuities. They can assign whatever portion they want as a service charge and use it how they want.

 

There are several law firms in Florida dealing with complaints by crew members, especially room stewards and waiters. Who claim that since they went from a tipping individually policy, as in envelopes, to a pooled DSC split with many more people their weekly compensation has dropped significantly.

 

The solution is simple. Charge a rate for the cruise that includes all service charges and gratuities. Display the prices for drinks and spa treatments that include all service charges and gratuities. Or go back to charging a lower price and letting the consumer decide on what service provided deserves to be rewarded with a gratuity and at what rate.

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I am sure this has been said before but I feel the need to repeat. No one is forcing the employees to resign their contracts. All the lines are looking for workers so if they don’t like the contract they can look for to other lines for jobs. However many people will confirm they have know employees onboard ships for many years. 

It is none of our business on how and to whom the dsc is distributed ? Do you ask your server if he/she keeps all of the tip or is it shared or pooled? The other point is with freestyle dinning you have walk around all the time with cash in you pockets. Also how do you tip the people who clean and reset the tables in the buffet?  Oh, you probably wouldn’t. No one is stopping you from tipping extra if you feel someone deserves it.

 

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8 minutes ago, phillyguy31 said:

I am sure this has been said before but I feel the need to repeat. No one is forcing the employees to resign their contracts. All the lines are looking for workers so if they don’t like the contract they can look for to other lines for jobs. However many people will confirm they have know employees onboard ships for many years. 

It is none of our business on how and to whom the dsc is distributed ? Do you ask your server if he/she keeps all of the tip or is it shared or pooled? The other point is with freestyle dinning you have walk around all the time with cash in you pockets. Also how do you tip the people who clean and reset the tables in the buffet?  Oh, you probably wouldn’t. No one is stopping you from tipping extra if you feel someone deserves it.

 

 

You might feel its none of your business, but I want to know my tips are going to the actual people who serve me, we we reduce the DSC to zero and tip as we go.  We found once the waiters knew we were cash tippers, the service was much improved.  Several times the waiters told us to request their table the next time we went to the dining room and the service was great, just like the old days.

 

Have a great cruise!

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11 minutes ago, phillyguy31 said:

Again do you ask you server in a land restaurant what happens to their tips? 

You are missing the point of this debate.  No one is asking about or objecting to waitstaff tipping out the busboy and kitchen crew.  However, what if your land restaurant 20% tip went directly to the restaurant, not to your server, so it was a sneaky way to charge more for your meal, at the expense of that server?  THAT is the real issue.

 

No one doubts some percentage of DSC goes to cruise staff.  Some think it’s 100%, some think it’s less.  No one knows.

 

So the question isn’t “what % goes to the steward, what % goes to the waitstaff” - the question is “what % gets taken from the crew and goes to NCL?”

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3 minutes ago, phillyguy31 said:

So you are doing this because you assume that NCL is taking part of the dsc and not using it for the employees without any evidence to this assumption. 

I’m doing nothing, phillyguy31, other than joining the debate.  As I’ve said I pay the DSC because it’s considered the “right thing” to do, and I tip extra where warranted.  I have my doubts about 100% of the DSC going to the crew, but with no evidence for or against I take the conservative route.  Since NCL has stated that no additional tipping is expected and required, I don’t hand out extra tips right and left, just, as I said, for exceptional service.

A lot of negative energy seems to float around for those who dare question the whole DSC thing, along the lines of “you wouldn’t ask wait staff in a land restaurant what happens to their tips”.  I think it is fair and legit to ask the question on this board, but without data, to take NCL at their word until proven otherwise.  Ymmv

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20 minutes ago, phillyguy31 said:

First I want to apologize, I thought it was you who posted about removing the dsc and it wasn’t.  Why not take NCL at their word instead of taking the negative path. At least until it can be proven otherwise.

Thanks....the whole DSC thing seems very inflammatory here!  I don’t know one way or another and I don’t lose sleep over it - I was initially responding to a post about “you don’t question land-based waitstaff about where their tips go, why question DSC tips?” And I explained why someone might indeed, legitimately question DSC because it’s a different beast entirely. 

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More than one employee on the POA this summer told us (without us asking) that the DSC does NOT go to them. Not sure if the POA is a different beast bc they also said that they get overtime and are paid minimum wage? Mostly an American crew. There was a lot of turnover before the cruise. One waiter said that he had been the Asst. on the last cruise and his "partner" abruptly quit and he was made waiter with no assistant for our cruise. A bartender said that his "partner" had also abruptly quit the week prior. Some seemed happy, some seemed overwhelmed with work. Definitely a different crew vibe than a typical ship.

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Guys listen. This is to each your own, but to echo what the previous poster in #149 just said:

 

The contracts are a set amount. When a crewmember is “hired” their contract is a set amount, their commitment on board is a set amount of time and the expectations of their work performed is set. The Officers as well as the staff have a set salary, or contract as well. That is it. Contract Crewmember Jane is paid $X for X days, period. If her service is not to expectations her contract may be terminated (among other reasons).

 

What this means is your Service Charge is backfilling the cruise line’s bottom line. It’s additional revenue. The cost of contract employees for a given time period is a set fixed expense for them, this is additional backfilling revenue. 

 

So that being said, I used to pay the Service charge however now I do not. NCL is making record profits, FDR made as much in 2018 as almost the RCL and Carnival CEOs combined! Prices and additional fees are high enough. I will personally tip restaurant servers, room stewards, Butlers (if applicable), Concierge, Maitre D’s, etc that I see on a regular basis all week. My Specialty Dining and Beverage package has a mandatory 20% service charge that cant be waived therefore I DO NOT tip additionally in specialty restaurants and bartenders. Now if I frequent a Specialty Rest and the same server provides great service, I will tip them nonetheless. My tioa typically cost more than I’d pay the cruise line in the service charge. This way the employees I tip personally leave their contract with that much more than they would have received had I backfilled NCLs bottom line. 

 

Hope that helps someone understand this a little better. 

 

Mark my words NCL under FDR will be the first line to mandate service charges. MSC and others tried it and ended up reversing it due to the backlash, Frank doesn’t care about the backlash, he knows customers will still pay. It’s a matter of time. 

Edited by SailBreakaway
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