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Gratuity policy change

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Just a heads up for readers in the UK. 

The general policy of including gratuities within the listed price seems to have changed.

The "Gratuities Included" promotion which seems to have been available on almost all bookings in the past is now on "selected cruises only" according to the UK website.

More importantly all cruises sailing after April 2021 no longer show this promotion, suggesting that gratuities will be charged onboard in the same way that they have always been for bookings made in the US.

Depending on your attitude to gratuities this may be a good or bad thing!

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7 hours ago, photopro2 said:

Just a heads up for readers in the UK. 

The general policy of including gratuities within the listed price seems to have changed.

The "Gratuities Included" promotion which seems to have been available on almost all bookings in the past is now on "selected cruises only" according to the UK website.

More importantly all cruises sailing after April 2021 no longer show this promotion, suggesting that gratuities will be charged onboard in the same way that they have always been for bookings made in the US.

Depending on your attitude to gratuities this may be a good or bad thing!

 

Here I am yelling that all cruise fares should be "Gratuities Included" and there's Viking going in completely the opposite direction. Go figure.

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30 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Here I am yelling that all cruise fares should be "Gratuities Included" and there's Viking going in completely the opposite direction. Go figure.

 

Yes, “no gratuities” would go nicely with no kids, no casino, etc. Let’s keep running this idea up the mast. 

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52 minutes ago, Hanoj said:

 

Yes, “no gratuities” would go nicely with no kids, no casino, etc. Let’s keep running this idea up the mast. 

 

Every time someone opens the door, I stick my foot in. We need more feet in the door.

 

Comment here. Write it on the surveys that Viking hands to each of us at the end of each cruise.

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Well, point no. 1 - always read the fine print before you make a reservation for anything.

Point no. 2 - I am not in the habit to committing myself to automatically paying tips either up front or having such items added automatically to my onboard account.  Service tips have to be earned.  Once service of a suitable level has been provided, tips follow.  

Point no. 3 - I am going to maintain our policy on this, by ensuring clarity on this point at the time of making a reservation, and also obtaining some form of agreement to this in writing (even email).  I also make a point of double-checking briefly after embarkation.

 

When we booked what was to be our very first cruise, well before final payment was due had to cancel due to a serious personal situation.  Ok, I didn't mind the cruise line in question keeping the deposit, but I did object to the cruise line keeping the upfront cost of gratuities.  We've had 'our' policy ever since, always maintained it, and there haven't been any failures or problems with it.  

Almost time to go into 'count-down to cruise' mode, and we are content that all is well for this current planned cruise.  As to the future, we'll just have to govern our policy closely.

 

Our personal policy though, does mean that if a cruise line won't allow us to 'opt out' of auto-tips then that cruise line won't have our reservations.

 

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When you are paying premium pricing for a Viking cruise, I am surprised that they do not include gratuities in the price of all cruise fares booked in any country. On our Viking sea cruise next year for 10 days our gratuities will be $300 for our cabin. With the $6400pp fare for our PH1 cabin that $300 could have been buried or included in our cost. VO advertises they do not nickel and dime like other cruise lines but adding gratuities is a prime nickel and dime example. Do not get me wrong, I have NO problem paying gratuities to the hard working crew members and in the scope of what we are paying $300 is a drop in the bucket. 

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2 hours ago, terrydtx said:

When you are paying premium pricing for a Viking cruise, I am surprised that they do not include gratuities in the price of all cruise fares booked in any country. On our Viking sea cruise next year for 10 days our gratuities will be $300 for our cabin. With the $6400pp fare for our PH1 cabin that $300 could have been buried or included in our cost. VO advertises they do not nickel and dime like other cruise lines but adding gratuities is a prime nickel and dime example. Do not get me wrong, I have NO problem paying gratuities to the hard working crew members and in the scope of what we are paying $300 is a drop in the bucket. 

 

Well said!!

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Agree with Peregrina sometimes I feel we are subsidizing the "tip pool" for those who choose to tip nothing!!  Viking please initiate  a "gratuity included" policy!

 

another entire topic but also Viking please add "SLOW". walker groups to your Ocean Voyage excursions!

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1 minute ago, deec said:

 

another entire topic but also Viking please add "SLOW". walker groups to your Ocean Voyage excursions!

 

Good thought. Deserves it's own thread.

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I believe that the reason cruise lines include or add tips automatically is because some of us will “stiff” the service staff given the chance. In the old days you were given envelopes for the tips on the second to last day of the cruise and it was a ritual to hand them out to the various staff. Unfortunately some passengers would become scarce on tip day. 

I believe that the service staff should be paid a wage that includes the automatic tip. This would eliminate cultural issues, “stiffing “, and any unevenness from the equation. You can always reward exceptional service at your own discretion.

The problem for the cruise lines in doing this is that most of them are afraid they will appear more expensive than a competitor who chooses to disguise the tip charge.

I’m aware that most cruise lines allow you to adjust automatic tips up or down while you’re on the ship. If you want to increase a tip just do it. If you feel a need to decrease a tip, you should probably be speaking to management about the problem. 

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UGH!  I had just told fellow cruisers about what I had found last week that Australia and New Zealand cruises gratuities included and finding not what they say on Viking website.  I am so disappointed!  I agreee with many of you, if this is luxury cruising, with luxury price, it should include gratuities.  I will be writing a lot on the surveys at the end.

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16 hours ago, blacksmith said:

I believe that the reason cruise lines include or add tips automatically is because some of us will “stiff” the service staff given the chance. In the old days you were given envelopes for the tips on the second to last day of the cruise and it was a ritual to hand them out to the various staff. Unfortunately some passengers would become scarce on tip day. 

I believe that the service staff should be paid a wage that includes the automatic tip. This would eliminate cultural issues, “stiffing “, and any unevenness from the equation. You can always reward exceptional service at your own discretion.

The problem for the cruise lines in doing this is that most of them are afraid they will appear more expensive than a competitor who chooses to disguise the tip charge.

I’m aware that most cruise lines allow you to adjust automatic tips up or down while you’re on the ship. If you want to increase a tip just do it. If you feel a need to decrease a tip, you should probably be speaking to management about the problem. 

From previous experience gained over quite a number of cruises (not VO), I have to say I find your approach a little naiive (but with not offence intended).  If a worker is 'rewarded' with auto tips for doing their job well, that's ok, but if a worker leaves quite a bit of his/her work to others, why should the lazy worker be rewarded?  Just how long would such a situation last below decks before leading to problems?  It's going to cause at the very least a nasty taste in the mouth for passengers, and an unpleasant working situation for the staff who are covering the incomplete or unattended duties as a result of a crew member being lazy or feckless.

 

No, much better to scrap the auto tips and let passengers reward (quietly and diplomatically, please) on the final evening/morning of the cruise.  Keep them on their toes until the end.  Ok, passengers may have a more comfortable financial background than the crew, but passengers are not there to be abused (and neither really are the crew).  We usually do our tips in little 'thank you' cards, with comments, so that the crew involved can show these if required to their superiors; and these envelopes are handed out quietly and succinctly on normally on the final morning of the cruise.

 

In previous sailings, when we knew that by having the same suite we had a good chance of having the same butler and room steward, and on such sailings we would always take a small gift for each person for embarkation, so that just as we take a gift when invited to the home of a friend/family member, as we feel that the ship is the crew's home, so a small gift is offered at the start of a cruise.

 

One thing we do as passengers need to always keep in mind - crew are people too.  Tipping, yes, but at the discretion of the passengers; not auto tipping willy-nilly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, blacksmith said:

I believe that the reason cruise lines include or add tips automatically is because some of us will “stiff” the service staff given the chance. In the old days you were given envelopes for the tips on the second to last day of the cruise and it was a ritual to hand them out to the various staff. Unfortunately some passengers would become scarce on tip day. 

I believe that the service staff should be paid a wage that includes the automatic tip. This would eliminate cultural issues, “stiffing “, and any unevenness from the equation. You can always reward exceptional service at your own discretion.

The problem for the cruise lines in doing this is that most of them are afraid they will appear more expensive than a competitor who chooses to disguise the tip charge.

I’m aware that most cruise lines allow you to adjust automatic tips up or down while you’re on the ship. If you want to increase a tip just do it. If you feel a need to decrease a tip, you should probably be speaking to management about the problem. 

I remember the "old" days and dinner the last night of the cruise in the MDR would have many fewer passengers eating just to avoid having to give our the tip envelope. The Lido that same night would be packed where no tip envelopes were needed.

 

Your comment about cruise lines wanting to remain competitive is mostly true for the mass marketed cruise lines. When a inside cabin on 7 night cruise sells for $599pp adding $105 to the cost for prepaid gratuities could make you non competitive. However on a premium line like Viking adding a couple hundred dollars to the cost for gratuities can easily be absorbed in the cruise cost. When the least expensive cabin costs over $3000pp adding the gratuities to the cost  would have no effect on being competitive. People will shop the mass market cruise lines to save $50pp on a fare but that is not the case for premium lines like Viking and Oceania. 

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I'll never understand why cruise companies, like all other companies, don't just pay all their staff a reasonable salary. They make billions in profits why is it left to customers who are already paying good prices to top up staff wages? I know its cultural thing but Brits and Aussies just don't agree with it. 

This is an argument that's raged between Americans and ourselves for ever. It's cultural. 

I no longer book cruises that don't include tips in the cost of the cruise. That's not a problem as so many companies seem to be adopting this business approach. 

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Obviously the opinions on this subject are going to be all over the map. I live in the US but I think I’m in camp with the Brits and Aussies when it comes to cruise tipping.

Parsley, what cruise line are you using that you have a butler, but they don’t include tips or auto tip? If you’re tipping at the end of the cruise you’re either double tipping or cruising on a line that I’m not familiar with. In a perfect world I think your method is ideal. Problem is, you may have someone in the cabin next door that received stellar service but walked off the ship without leaving a dime. Leads to tip sharing enforced by management. 

At the end of the day we are all going to pay X number of dollars for our cruise experience and should simply make informed decisions and be kind 🤗

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6 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

From previous experience gained over quite a number of cruises (not VO), I have to say I find your approach a little naiive (but with not offence intended).  If a worker is 'rewarded' with auto tips for doing their job well, that's ok, but if a worker leaves quite a bit of his/her work to others, why should the lazy worker be rewarded?  Just how long would such a situation last below decks before leading to problems?  It's going to cause at the very least a nasty taste in the mouth for passengers, and an unpleasant working situation for the staff who are covering the incomplete or unattended duties as a result of a crew member being lazy or feckless.

 

No, much better to scrap the auto tips and let passengers reward (quietly and diplomatically, please) on the final evening/morning of the cruise.  Keep them on their toes until the end.  Ok, passengers may have a more comfortable financial background than the crew, but passengers are not there to be abused (and neither really are the crew).  We usually do our tips in little 'thank you' cards, with comments, so that the crew involved can show these if required to their superiors; and these envelopes are handed out quietly and succinctly on normally on the final morning of the cruise.

 

In previous sailings, when we knew that by having the same suite we had a good chance of having the same butler and room steward, and on such sailings we would always take a small gift for each person for embarkation, so that just as we take a gift when invited to the home of a friend/family member, as we feel that the ship is the crew's home, so a small gift is offered at the start of a cruise.

 

One thing we do as passengers need to always keep in mind - crew are people too.  Tipping, yes, but at the discretion of the passengers; not auto tipping willy-nilly.

 

I am trying to guess that you are saying you prefer a luxury cruise line that includes gratuities and that you, additionally, give extra tips at the end of the cruise for exemplary service. While giving a thank you note is certainly charming---I highly doubt that it does any employee any good or that their supervisor can do anything meaningful with these accolades. This is 2019 and these employees are contracted. A hand shake and a 'Job Well Done' don't get them any more compensation on their contract. Please correct me if I am wrong.

 

As far as 'lazy' workers reaping the benefits of auto tips----I will leave that to their co-workers and management to sort out. I don't spend mental energy fretting and  micromanaging who gets what.

 

Personally, I think VO would be doing themselves a service, from a marketing perspective, to includes gratuities in all fares (no matter UK vs. Australia. vs. US). That would truly align them as a 'luxury' line. 

At the price point of VO, there is absolutely no marketing advantage to shaving a couple hundred dollars off the cruise price. And clearly it is an emotional hot button for those who don't live in a tipping culture.

 

I would be interested to hear from those who have perhaps worked in the cruise industry--what are the financial/tax reasons that a cruise line would choose to NOT include gratuities? Is the $$ handled differently from a tax or pay perspective? Is there some advantage for VO to do auto gratuities in some countries as opposed to including it in the fare?

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Broker- I think you may have hit the nail on the head. If the cruise line can dodge taxes by charging us while at sea, this may explain Vikings policy on tips. I’m not an international tax expert, but it would be interesting to hear from someone with expertise on this subject. 

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On 9/12/2019 at 6:57 AM, deec said:

Agree with Peregrina sometimes I feel we are subsidizing the "tip pool" for those who choose to tip nothing!!  Viking please initiate  a "gratuity included" policy!

 

another entire topic but also Viking please add "SLOW". walker groups to your Ocean Voyage excursions!

You certainly have my vote! I agree that the tipping added is not in keeping with the marketing package that Viking presents. Please include tips in the fares Viking!  It has always surprised me that they are not included given the promotion of all inclusive. 

 

I agree with you Deec on the excursions break out. It would be very beneficial to all parties. If I recall correctly, Rivers does this - so Viking knows how to implement. Maybe a new thread makes sense to get some legs going on the topic, so we do not  hijack the intent of this one. 

Edited by Vineyard View

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15 hours ago, broker1217 said:

 

I am trying to guess that you are saying you prefer a luxury cruise line that includes gratuities and that you, additionally, give extra tips at the end of the cruise for exemplary service. While giving a thank you note is certainly charming---I highly doubt that it does any employee any good or that their supervisor can do anything meaningful with these accolades. This is 2019 and these employees are contracted. A hand shake and a 'Job Well Done' don't get them any more compensation on their contract. Please correct me if I am wrong.

 

As far as 'lazy' workers reaping the benefits of auto tips----I will leave that to their co-workers and management to sort out. I don't spend mental energy fretting and  micromanaging who gets what.

 

Personally, I think VO would be doing themselves a service, from a marketing perspective, to includes gratuities in all fares (no matter UK vs. Australia. vs. US). That would truly align them as a 'luxury' line. 

At the price point of VO, there is absolutely no marketing advantage to shaving a couple hundred dollars off the cruise price. And clearly it is an emotional hot button for those who don't live in a tipping culture.

 

I would be interested to hear from those who have perhaps worked in the cruise industry--what are the financial/tax reasons that a cruise line would choose to NOT include gratuities? Is the $$ handled differently from a tax or pay perspective? Is there some advantage for VO to do auto gratuities in some countries as opposed to including it in the fare?

Sorry, your 'guess' is wrong.  I don't use the word 'guess', I use the term 'assume, and we all know that assuming can be a foolish thing to do.  My strong preference is for a cruise line which offers a cost which does not include auto-tips or tips of any type.  I prefer to have a cruise line which honestly charges FOR THE CRUISE.  Paid for excursions and tips are at my discretion.  

 

As to what are the reasons which a cruise cruise line may identify with for choosing not to include tips in the price - transparency and honesty!!!

 

At the end of the day, at least when we give tips, we KNOW precisely who has received them, based mainly on our hope that if (and it doesn't happen often) we are unable to give an envelope to a specific member of the crew, then at least by giving an envelope with that person's name on it, it has a good chance of actually reaching the intended recipient.  I don't loose any sleep or worry about what we do, it's easy enough to notice when items have been attended to or not, and easy enough to realise who has done the bulk of the work.  Maybe it's because we don't do a lot of whole day excursions, and because we enjoy the calm and quiet of our suite that we easily realise who has done work and who hasn't.  

 

We most certainly do not live in what you refer to as a tipping culture; the culture in our country is based on things like art, history, literature, architecture and archeology.  If and when we are in a country which is what you refer to as a tipping culture, we maintain our normal procedure - those who provide good service receive a small remuneration quietly proffered, those who are sloppy probably receive a different kind of tip - a piece of advice on how to improve; short, sharp, to the point and quietly and discreetly given, as normal. 

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If we only tip those we interact with then how do we reward those we don't see? They play just as big a part in ensuring we enjoy our cruise.

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4 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

We most certainly do not live in what you refer to as a tipping culture; the culture in our country is based on things like art, history, literature, architecture and archeology.  If and when we are in a country which is what you refer to as a tipping culture, we maintain our normal procedure - those who provide good service receive a small remuneration quietly proffered, those who are sloppy probably receive a different kind of tip - a piece of advice on how to improve; short, sharp, to the point and quietly and discreetly given, as normal. 

 

Well--you may find such behavior not appreciated in countries where the servers rely on tips to feed their families.

While I would prefer that certain industries in certain countries do pay their employees a living wage---I also understand that I personally cannot change that system. Therefore, I follow local customs and tip where it is expected. Just as I do NOT tip in countries where it is not expected. Respecting local customs is part of travel--whether it be tipping or not wearing shorts in certain countries or covering up when entering a religious building. My personal opinion on any of those things doesn't matter---local customs/expectations win as I am not the arbiter.

 

 

And I fully understand how irritating the tipping customs are to non-Americans.  

I don't see US tipping customs changing quickly so I am accustomed to building 20% into the cost of tip required services. It's simply how we operate, just as in your country the menu prices are higher to accommodate living wages for employees.

Edited by broker1217

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58 minutes ago, broker1217 said:

 I fully understand how irritating the tipping customs are to non-Americans.  

I don't see US tipping customs changing quickly so I am accustomed to building 20% into the cost of tip required services. It's simply how we operate, just as in your country the menu prices are higher to accommodate living wages for employees.

I know a waiter who works at a very high end 5 star restaurant here in Sam Antonio and he hates the idea of no tipping or making a "living" wage. On an average  night he can make $400 to $500 in tips.   Last year he made over $100,000 as a waiter and he knows a "living" wage paid by the restaurant would be nothing close to what he makes now. He is not the only waiter at his restaurant who makes that kind of money in tips.

Edited by terrydtx

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I’m solidly in Pelegrina’s camp on this one....including tips in the fare would be much more in line with the higher end product Viking offers overall.

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1 hour ago, broker1217 said:

 

Well--you may find such behavior not appreciated in countries where the servers rely on tips to feed their families.

While I would prefer that certain industries in certain countries do pay their employees a living wage---I also understand that I personally cannot change that system. Therefore, I follow local customs and tip where it is expected. Just as I do NOT tip in countries where it is not expected. Respecting local customs is part of travel--whether it be tipping or not wearing shorts in certain countries or covering up when entering a religious building. My personal opinion on any of those things doesn't matter---local customs/expectations win as I am not the arbiter.

 

 

And I fully understand how irritating the tipping customs are to non-Americans.  

I don't see US tipping customs changing quickly so I am accustomed to building 20% into the cost of tip required services. It's simply how we operate, just as in your country the menu prices are higher to accommodate living wages for employees.

 

Extremely well put.  We couldn’t agree more with your viewpoint.  You have a great job at putting into words what certainly some of us feel, but can’t express it as well as you.  Thank you.

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