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Tips for Americans on Tipping in Cunard's Queens Grille Restaurant

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My wife and I went on our first Cunard cruise (Queen Mary 2) and were fortunate enough to stay in a Queen's Grille (Q2) room.  I was caught a little off-guard at the end of the cruise by the question of whom, and how much, to tip, so unfortunately stressed a bit on the final night running around getting cash and envelopes for people!  However, after asking a few other people we met during the cruise, it was clear that their answers varied widely and that they also had also searched the web on the topic (even those who cruise a lot) but failed to find useful or thoughtful advice.  So, I thought I'd write up what we did, either to help someone else consider this in the future or to receive feedback on our approach.

 

It would appear that this topic can drive snarky comments or class warfare, so please take this as a suggestion primarily to fellow Americans who might be "used to" think about tipping a certain way and are unsure how they might want to act on this particular cruise, and who are traveling in a Grille's suite.  Obviously, your individual mileage may vary.  Also, please note that I was told onboard that of the circa $14USD auto gratuity applied each day per person, only about $3-4 goes to the restaurant waitstaff. I should also not that I intend this to apply only to the waitstaff in the restaurant, and the butler/steward for a Q2 room is a different topic (one for which I have even less ability to make a good argument).

 

I was seeking to determine a "baseline" of tipping that would be the equivalent of 15% of the food charges, off which I could make changes for exceptional service.  Here's how I thought about it.  I would estimate that I can have a nice four course dinner at a nice restaurant for two for $140 (just food, before tax - say, two $18 appetizers, two $18 salads, two $25 entrees, two $15 desserts, misc).  Since we also showed up for most breakfasts and lunches, I thought it was "fair" to think we had "spent" the equivalent of $250 per day on food (again, pre-tax, no liquor, which is billed separately with an auto-gratuity that I presume goes to the separate person responsible for bringing drinks). $250 per day for two is also about 15%-20% of the total cost Cunard typically charges at rack rate for two people in a Queens suite, which doesn't seem terribly off but hardly a precise measurement.  

 

Anyways, if I wanted to establish a baseline of 15%, that would be $38 per day.  If about $3-4 of my auto-gratuity per person per day goes to the waitstaff, then for a party of two, I'd want to pay a baseline tip, in addition to the auto-gratuity, of $38-$7 = $31. For a 7-day cruise, that'd mean I'd expect to tip about $190-$200 to the waitstaff directly.

 

Even if I thought that was the "right" number, it's unclear "to whom" it should go.  In the US, you pay once to your waiter, and in many restaurants that person will pay out the busboys or hostess.  In the Queen's Grille, in addition to your waiter, there is at least one assigned assistant waiter/runner, plus the head waiter and the maitre'd. In our case, we gave about 10% of the total to the maitre'd, 20% to the head waiter, and the rest we split between the main waiter and the assistant (in our case, 50/50 since the assistant was particularly good and the main waiter slightly less so).  

 

In hindsight, and if *everyone* did this, it might perhaps be overdoing it.  If a waiter worked an entire year, had 10 tables like this, 5 nights a week, 50 weeks per year, that would be the running equivalent of $95,000 annually. Maybe my starting $140 dinner estimate is too high? There are certainly six-figure-earning waiters in NYC, but not that many. As a former waiter myself (got me through college), I don't think that that run-rate is necessary... so maybe next time I'd reduce that by a bit. Again, not trying to start an argument about class, just saying.

 

Anyway, would be interested the feedback for future Cunard cruises (which I am certain to do, it was great!)

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I am glad you had a lovely time, and look forward to reading your review. Please don't think this is a snarky comment, but the obvious answer to me, as a Brit,  is to just pay the auto tip and leave it at that.  Remember the ship is not US registered, few of the staff are US. There is no reason US tipping practices should apply.

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Ignore nationalities. As a passenger, my advice is to leave the service charge, because that's what it is in reality, on. Nothing more is expected or required but  if anyone want to tip personally, do so discreetly.

 

It's entirely up to the individuals concerned and to stress over it, would spoil the end of my holiday.

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Posted (edited)

As "Cunard "make up the difference to an agreed maximum limit with staff when auto service charge is taken off at Pursers desk

It is better to take the service charge off and  use that cash towards tipping your Steward (ess)   /Restaurant Team  . 

The Bar staff I am lead to believe receive the Service Charge which is added to each drink and a percentage from the all inclusive, when purchased.

That way the staff win and you know your are not actually tipping 'Carnival' or the non tippers.

Edited by Pennbank

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We really enjoyed our stay in the Princess Grills last year and have booked another two cruises in grills. It is a financial stretch but the cruise and facilities in PG made us feel so good after a very stressful year it was worth it. We paid the service  charge without a quibble and gave our cabin steward extra as he was a star - really helped us being newbies to cruising. I don't think I could or should have to supplement the service charge for everyone  but that's just my thoughts. Getting slightly stressed thinking about it...

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4 hours ago, BrownshoeCruise said:

My wife and I went on our first Cunard cruise (Queen Mary 2) and were fortunate enough to stay in a Queen's Grille (Q2) room.  I was caught a little off-guard at the end of the cruise by the question of whom, and how much, to tip, so unfortunately stressed a bit on the final night running around getting cash and envelopes for people!  However, after asking a few other people we met during the cruise, it was clear that their answers varied widely and that they also had also searched the web on the topic (even those who cruise a lot) but failed to find useful or thoughtful advice.  So, I thought I'd write up what we did, either to help someone else consider this in the future or to receive feedback on our approach.

 

It would appear that this topic can drive snarky comments or class warfare, so please take this as a suggestion primarily to fellow Americans who might be "used to" think about tipping a certain way and are unsure how they might want to act on this particular cruise, and who are traveling in a Grille's suite.  Obviously, your individual mileage may vary.  Also, please note that I was told onboard that of the circa $14USD auto gratuity applied each day per person, only about $3-4 goes to the restaurant waitstaff. I should also not that I intend this to apply only to the waitstaff in the restaurant, and the butler/steward for a Q2 room is a different topic (one for which I have even less ability to make a good argument).

 

I was seeking to determine a "baseline" of tipping that would be the equivalent of 15% of the food charges, off which I could make changes for exceptional service.  Here's how I thought about it.  I would estimate that I can have a nice four course dinner at a nice restaurant for two for $140 (just food, before tax - say, two $18 appetizers, two $18 salads, two $25 entrees, two $15 desserts, misc).  Since we also showed up for most breakfasts and lunches, I thought it was "fair" to think we had "spent" the equivalent of $250 per day on food (again, pre-tax, no liquor, which is billed separately with an auto-gratuity that I presume goes to the separate person responsible for bringing drinks). $250 per day for two is also about 15%-20% of the total cost Cunard typically charges at rack rate for two people in a Queens suite, which doesn't seem terribly off but hardly a precise measurement.  

 

Anyways, if I wanted to establish a baseline of 15%, that would be $38 per day.  If about $3-4 of my auto-gratuity per person per day goes to the waitstaff, then for a party of two, I'd want to pay a baseline tip, in addition to the auto-gratuity, of $38-$7 = $31. For a 7-day cruise, that'd mean I'd expect to tip about $190-$200 to the waitstaff directly.

 

Even if I thought that was the "right" number, it's unclear "to whom" it should go.  In the US, you pay once to your waiter, and in many restaurants that person will pay out the busboys or hostess.  In the Queen's Grille, in addition to your waiter, there is at least one assigned assistant waiter/runner, plus the head waiter and the maitre'd. In our case, we gave about 10% of the total to the maitre'd, 20% to the head waiter, and the rest we split between the main waiter and the assistant (in our case, 50/50 since the assistant was particularly good and the main waiter slightly less so).  

 

In hindsight, and if *everyone* did this, it might perhaps be overdoing it.  If a waiter worked an entire year, had 10 tables like this, 5 nights a week, 50 weeks per year, that would be the running equivalent of $95,000 annually. Maybe my starting $140 dinner estimate is too high? There are certainly six-figure-earning waiters in NYC, but not that many. As a former waiter myself (got me through college), I don't think that that run-rate is necessary... so maybe next time I'd reduce that by a bit. Again, not trying to start an argument about class, just saying.

 

Anyway, would be interested the feedback for future Cunard cruises (which I am certain to do, it was great!)

 

All a bit over analytical for me. The sooner we go "Aussie style" the better.

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1 hour ago, Pennbank said:

As "Cunard "make up the difference to an agreed maximum limit with staff when auto service charge is taken off at Pursers desk

It is better to take the service charge off and  use that cash towards tipping your Steward (ess)   /Restaurant Team  . 

The Bar staff I am lead to believe receive the Service Charge which is added to each drink and a percentage from the all inclusive, when purchased.

That way the staff win and you know your are not actually tipping 'Carnival' or the non tippers.

 

Im not sure in what sense 'better'. Seems more hassle and stress to me.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

 

Im not sure in what sense 'better'. Seems more hassle and stress to me.

 

Its better for the staff as they receive the cash from the customer and the company make up the shortfall of auto tips to their agreed limit in their pay to them.

No hassle in attending the Pursers and signing a form. 

 

Obviously Cunard ( Carnival)  Would prefer the auto tips kept on as this would save them a considerable amount of money.

Edited by Pennbank

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Welcome to Cruise Critic BrownshoeCruise, it's good to hear you enjoyed your first Cunard cruise.

As you have noticed, tipping threads here can get people very animated. I look forward to hearing more about the cruise.

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If only the world was like Japan , where staff get paid decent wages, and tipping is almost an insult.

 

But the proviso is staff get paid decent wages. 

 

When tipping becomes US style of almost a non discretionary charge, it is no longer a thank you .

 

I always pay the auto gratuity,  any more depends entirely on the service be extra special.

 

 

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We always pay the auto tip and additionally give a small amount to cabin and wait staff as a thank you with a card and personal message. We stretch our budget to sail in Grills but to us it is worth it. The main reason for choosing the Grills is that I have dietary issues and the dining and galley staff always ensure there are plenty of options for my meals.

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Simple really pay your daily auto gratuity wherever you are eating whether it be in QG or Britannia forget about any other form of gratuity and enjoy your cruise.

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12 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

Simple really pay your daily auto gratuity wherever you are eating whether it be in QG or Britannia forget about any other form of gratuity and enjoy your cruise.

This is my approach too.  If I received exceptional service I would give extra, but that is a rare occurrence 

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You are already paying a higher auto gratuity in QG than so why think about paying more. 

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7 hours ago, BrownshoeCruise said:

Anyway, would be interested the feedback for future Cunard cruises (which I am certain to do, it was great!)

 

As you said, you have been a server. You know what it meant when, occasionally, a patron gave you a large tip. 

 

So I vote for “tip as you wish” above and beyond auto-gratuity. 

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I also sought advice on this thorny issue. You may find the following site as helpful as I did: “An Insider's Guide to Cruise Tipping” http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=132 . It is an opinion piece (that is, NOT Cruise Critic's suggestion) on the Cruise Critic site. It gives reasoning for “who”, “how”, “when” and “how much” over and above the daily levy, and I have found it a useful guide. 

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This question always brings a variety of replies some pro tipping some con. Here are my thoughts on the subject which are offered for free and can be dealt with accordingly. I am an American and we are used to tipping for services provided. I know that the staff on Cunard, usually come from less prosperous countries, and most have families they support. So that motivates my generosity. 

 

The people I provide a tip in addition to the daily shared tip are my Butler and steward, my waiters and usually a bar tender in the Grills Lounge and the Comodore club if that person has been particularly helpful for the entire voyage. 

 

The amount of the tip is based on the number of days that the voyage lasts. It is US$ 5 or a multiple of that amount depending on the role and the amount of help. I have also declined to leave an additional tip or given a reduced amount to individuals whose efforts have been more casual and less than enthusiastic. 

 

I give the tip very discretely directly to the person in one of my 'personalized stationary and envelops' the Concierge graciously provides me along with a note of thanks. I do it the day before dis-embarking as the staff some time gets shuffled on the last day. 

 

I have noticed that If I see the same person on the next cruise they are usually very pleasant and welcome me back aboard. I was lucky enough to have one Butler for two 14 day voyages, she told me how much she appreciated my tip, and her enthusiastic effort showed it. 

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Of course it would be okay not to tip extra- when a certain amount per day gets automaticly to you bill. If I was extremly satisfied with a certain service -  or for example the waiter or cabin steward was esp. helpfull- I usually put a 50 Dollar note into an envelope and hand it over discret-  no big show! That goes for the waiter and the cabin steward! It is not expected - if you like do to so- just do it!

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Posted (edited)

Welcome to CC BrownshoeCruise.  Tipping is the No. 1 contentious topic here, followed by the dress code, then smoking.  I applaud your being mindful of the crew compensation, and since you had worked in the service industry you are far more sensitive to how demanding this can be. 

 

Personally, I always leave the autogratuities in place.  It's more practical as this example will illustrate:  On a recent 21-day sailing I had a table with a set of three waiters on the EB crossing.  On the return I had a different table and three new waiters.  I changed tables and had a third set of waiters.  Now imagine the impracticality of hunting down 9 waiters and attempting to pass envelopes to them on a busy last night!  And if you dined in Verandah or another restaurant for one or more nights how do you locate them? 

 

I chose to discretely pass an envelope with extra cash only to those who "went the extra mile" or performed exceptional service.   Makes it easier for me and everyone who served me gets some degree of gratuity compensation. 

Edited by BlueRiband

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ugly american here.......i tip well for good service ....not so well for not so well service .....i have no qualms about it being a bribe ......make way ugly american going through 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/6/2019 at 6:02 AM, Pennbank said:

Its better for the staff as they receive the cash from the customer and the company make up the shortfall of auto tips to their agreed limit in their pay to them.

Without knowing what Cunard's guaranteed minimum is, it's hard to claim that they will be making up any shortfall. Perhaps the guarantee is 10% under that resulting from everyone else leaving their gratuities in place. Maybe it's as much as 40% below what a waiter customarily earns between default gratuity and additional cash tips.

 

Perhaps not, but if you don't know, you just don't know.

 

I leave the auto-gratuities in place as it's the de facto acceptable contribution from passengers and then I might choose to tip a small amount above that level.

Edited by Underwatr

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1 hour ago, newjoisey said:

ugly american here.......i tip well for good service ....not so well for not so well service .....i have no qualms about it being a bribe ......make way ugly american going through 

 

Would you do that wherever you are in the world? Japan, Australia, Holland?

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34 minutes ago, Underwatr said:

Without knowing what Cunard's guaranteed minimum is, it's hard to claim that they will be making up any shortfall. Perhaps the guarantee is 10% under that resulting from everyone else leaving their gratuities in place. Maybe it's as much as 40% below what a waiter customarily earns between default gratuity and additional cash tips.

 

Perhaps not, but if you don't know, you just don't know.

 

I leave the auto-gratuities in place as it's the de facto acceptable contribution from passengers and then I might choose to tip a small amount above that level.

 

But you are giving the staff the cash in hand (Tip) , letting the company make up the difference in their shortfall  arrangement, Can not see how that can be a disadvantage to the staff.  Disadvantage to the Company yes, but not the staff.

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15 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

 

Would you do that wherever you are in the world? Japan, Australia, Holland?

yep

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Posted (edited)

I just returned from a Baltic cruise on QV in Queens Grill. We did tip at dinner, but, only to those who delivered exceptional service. We did not like our first table, so they completely re-arranged part of the dining room so we had a beautiful round table facing the windows. Tip for the Matre ' d. One of our Head Waiters went way above and beyond to assure we had a great dining experience every day. Tip for them. Our Wine Steward worked with us to keep our wine within the $12 limit of our drink package. We had some amazing wines because of him. Tip for him. We also left the auto gratuity in place. Yes, we are American, and I believe that excellent service demands some appreciation. I will continue to believe that, whether in Queens Grill or not.

Edited by Stella1250

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