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Newbie QM2 passenger... Advice? Questions!


draggonsgate
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Greetings all! I finally did it and took the plaunge and booked my bucket list cruise. Sailing Southampton to NYC November 2022. I think I have the dress code down and what to expect on board (quite a difference from Carnival Elation... lol) and I'm more than comfortable with both that and sailing solo. I do have some questions though, and am totally open to any advice past transatlantic passengers have. OK...

 

1) Gala black tie, got that. Gala Masquerade. Exactly what is that. Is is just black tie with a mask? Would it be a social faux pax to wear a Phantom mask? 

2) Afternoon tea. Jacket or no? How about the Godiva Tea? It seems a bit more bougie than the regular tea. 

3) Is smoking still only on Deck 8 by the pool and in the nightclub balcony?

4) How long is embarkation in Southampton. I'm ambulatory, but only for a limited distance. Standing for an hour isn't going to work out well. And no, a scooter is out of the question. I'd rather crawl on board dragging my carry on behind me.

5) Tipping. HONEST advice. Yes, no, maybe? I usually tip 20 bucks on embarkation day to my steward, then 5 bucks a day after that. If they do a good job, then another 20+ (depending) on disebarkation day. I also tip 2 bucks a drink for cocktail waiters, baristas, and 1 buck for bartenders. 5 bucks in MDR for dinner, 3 for b'fast if in MDR, or 2 bucks for bussers in buffet for b'fast/lunch. I also will tip 20 bucks to the lido/smoking area deck cleaners at the end of the cruise if they keep the area in fairly good shape. I've been told yes, tip. And no, don't tip, Brits think it's rude. Personally I'd rather be thought of being rude and generous than polite and cheap. But what say you all?

6) Sailing North Atlantic from London to NYC... chilly, cold, super cold or Rose on a piece of paneling?

 

Thank you in advance to all. Unfortunatly, my original bucket list thing is unable to be done... Fly to London on the Concorde and return on the QE2... So... it's Virgin Atlantic and QM2... I'll survive, somehow... 🙂 

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14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

Greetings all! I finally did it and took the plaunge and booked my bucket list cruise. Sailing Southampton to NYC November 2022. I think I have the dress code down and what to expect on board (quite a difference from Carnival Elation... lol) and I'm more than comfortable with both that and sailing solo. I do have some questions though, and am totally open to any advice past transatlantic passengers have. OK...

For us, that westbound crossing will be the return leg after our Norway and Northern Lights sailing.

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

 

1) Gala black tie, got that. Gala Masquerade. Exactly what is that. Is is just black tie with a mask? Would it be a social faux pax to wear a Phantom mask? 

Assuming by 2022 things are back to some semblance of normal, there will be three 'Gala' [formal] nights per crossing. Typically there is one non themed evening, the 'black and white' and a third which may be of several themes - masquerade, 'royal ascot' and possibly a couple of others.

The themes are mostly observed as part of the Queens Room festivities. 

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

2) Afternoon tea. Jacket or no? How about the Godiva Tea? It seems a bit more bougie than the regular tea. 

The Queens Room tea is normal daytime attire. Mrs Bear and I sometimes will have tea in the Carthenia lounge on deck 7

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

3) Is smoking still only on Deck 8 by the pool and in the nightclub balcony?

The designated area on deck 8 was still there in 2019.

'Churchills" is the only interior passenger space where smoking is permitted

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

4) How long is embarkation in Southampton. I'm ambulatory, but only for a limited distance. Standing for an hour isn't going to work out well. And no, a scooter is out of the question. I'd rather crawl on board dragging my carry on behind me.

I've only been a 'in transit' passenger for Southampton - I don't know how it compares to Brooklyn

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

5) Tipping. HONEST advice. Yes, no, maybe? I usually tip 20 bucks on embarkation day to my steward, then 5 bucks a day after that. If they do a good job, then another 20+ (depending) on disebarkation day. I also tip 2 bucks a drink for cocktail waiters, baristas, and 1 buck for bartenders. 5 bucks in MDR for dinner, 3 for b'fast if in MDR, or 2 bucks for bussers in buffet for b'fast/lunch. I also will tip 20 bucks to the lido/smoking area deck cleaners at the end of the cruise if they keep the area in fairly good shape. I've been told yes, tip. And no, don't tip, Brits think it's rude. Personally I'd rather be thought of being rude and generous than polite and cheap. But what say you all?

There are a multitude of tipping threads - and this may turn into another one.

We leave the daily service charge in place, and will tip some folks on top of that. This includes tour guides and tour bus drivers [does not apply for you as there are no stops before Brooklyn]

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

6) Sailing North Atlantic from London to NYC... chilly, cold, super cold or Rose on a piece of paneling?

Weather can be anything the North Atlantic can deliver - the ship has sufficient reserve speed to allow the Captain to route around storms if needed. Despite that on our 2017 westbound crossing, a storm remnant put force 11 winds on the bow for over a day - many outer deck access points [deck 7 to promenade, the 'lookout' and the observation deck] were closed.

14 minutes ago, draggonsgate said:

Thank you in advance to all. Unfortunatly, my original bucket list thing is unable to be done... Fly to London on the Concorde and return on the QE2... So... it's Virgin Atlantic and QM2... I'll survive, somehow... 🙂 

 

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1 hour ago, draggonsgate said:

 

5) Tipping. HONEST advice. Yes, no, maybe? I usually tip 20 bucks on embarkation day to my steward, then 5 bucks a day after that. If they do a good job, then another 20+ (depending) on disebarkation day. I also tip 2 bucks a drink for cocktail waiters, baristas, and 1 buck for bartenders. 5 bucks in MDR for dinner, 3 for b'fast if in MDR, or 2 bucks for bussers in buffet for b'fast/lunch. I also will tip 20 bucks to the lido/smoking area deck cleaners at the end of the cruise if they keep the area in fairly good shape. I've been told yes, tip. And no, don't tip, Brits think it's rude. Personally I'd rather be thought of being rude and generous than polite and cheap. But what say you all?

 

I'm from a country that doesn't tip.  But  we are planning on being in the US next year and the whole tipping thing terrifies me. 

 

I rarely/never have cash on my at home - 99% of my transactions are by card - even more so post COVID.  

 

So how on earth do you actually tip people  as you state - do you literally have pockets of $100 in $1;'s and $5's? I'm genuinely curious. We've sailed on the QE pre Covid - ex Australia - we left auto tips on and tipping nothing else - we may have tipped the wine waiter in the MDR but we ended up missing the MDR on the last night due ill-health.  That's one of the reasons I'd rather just leave auto-tipping in place. 

 

But I'm genuinely curious as to how Americans handle this, particularly post-COVID which I believe has pushed places like Europe and UK very much into non-cash transactions 

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1 hour ago, lissie said:

I'm from a country that doesn't tip.  But  we are planning on being in the US next year and the whole tipping thing terrifies me. 

 

I rarely/never have cash on my at home - 99% of my transactions are by card - even more so post COVID.  

 

So how on earth do you actually tip people  as you state - do you literally have pockets of $100 in $1;'s and $5's? I'm genuinely curious. We've sailed on the QE pre Covid - ex Australia - we left auto tips on and tipping nothing else - we may have tipped the wine waiter in the MDR but we ended up missing the MDR on the last night due ill-health.  That's one of the reasons I'd rather just leave auto-tipping in place. 

 

But I'm genuinely curious as to how Americans handle this, particularly post-COVID which I believe has pushed places like Europe and UK very much into non-cash transactions 

Tipping on land in the US in most pars runs 20% of the tab. Less in the really rural south. If you are paying by CC it can be added to the bottom of the bill, there will be space for it. Generally I don't tip for stand in line places nor for take out but do for delivery. Cabs can be a cash proposition so do plan on bringing along some cash. Cab drivers love cash as it is never really reported.

 

P.S. We will not have you arrested if you bring along a few extra buckets of KFC and Fries.

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2 hours ago, draggonsgate said:

Greetings all! I finally did it and took the plaunge and booked my bucket list cruise. Sailing Southampton to NYC November 2022. I think I have the dress code down and what to expect on board (quite a difference from Carnival Elation... lol) and I'm more than comfortable with both that and sailing solo. I do have some questions though, and am totally open to any advice past transatlantic passengers have. OK...

 

1) Gala black tie, got that. Gala Masquerade. Exactly what is that. Is is just black tie with a mask? Would it be a social faux pax to wear a Phantom mask? 

2) Afternoon tea. Jacket or no? How about the Godiva Tea? It seems a bit more bougie than the regular tea. 

3) Is smoking still only on Deck 8 by the pool and in the nightclub balcony?

4) How long is embarkation in Southampton. I'm ambulatory, but only for a limited distance. Standing for an hour isn't going to work out well. And no, a scooter is out of the question. I'd rather crawl on board dragging my carry on behind me.

5) Tipping. HONEST advice. Yes, no, maybe? I usually tip 20 bucks on embarkation day to my steward, then 5 bucks a day after that. If they do a good job, then another 20+ (depending) on disebarkation day. I also tip 2 bucks a drink for cocktail waiters, baristas, and 1 buck for bartenders. 5 bucks in MDR for dinner, 3 for b'fast if in MDR, or 2 bucks for bussers in buffet for b'fast/lunch. I also will tip 20 bucks to the lido/smoking area deck cleaners at the end of the cruise if they keep the area in fairly good shape. I've been told yes, tip. And no, don't tip, Brits think it's rude. Personally I'd rather be thought of being rude and generous than polite and cheap. But what say you all?

6) Sailing North Atlantic from London to NYC... chilly, cold, super cold or Rose on a piece of paneling?

 

Thank you in advance to all. Unfortunatly, my original bucket list thing is unable to be done... Fly to London on the Concorde and return on the QE2... So... it's Virgin Atlantic and QM2... I'll survive, somehow... 🙂 

While not required, do plan on the jacket for afternoon tea. I plan on it for the world cruise. Good way to meet a few more people if you are traveling solo. The better dressers seem to do better meeting other solo pax.

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1 hour ago, Lakesregion said:

Tipping on land in the US in most pars runs 20% of the tab. Less in the really rural south. If you are paying by CC it can be added to the bottom of the bill, there will be space for it. Generally I don't tip for stand in line places nor for take out but do for delivery. Cabs can be a cash proposition so do plan on bringing along some cash. Cab drivers love cash as it is never really reported.

 

P.S. We will not have you arrested if you bring along a few extra buckets of KFC and Fries.

 

Fries? You mean chips I assume LOL 

 

But on a cruise ship? Do Americans litterally hand cash over multiple times a day as the OP discribes?  How do you even get small change like that? I'll get cash from an ATM on arrival - but that's normally no smaller than $20s 

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4. Unless things change post-Covid, UK immigration officers travel on board, and all the processing is done before you reach Southampton, so there is not much standing around when you get there, but quite a long walk. On board, it is a relaxed process, and I think they do a couple of decks at a time. 

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1 hour ago, exlondoner said:

4. Unless things change post-Covid, UK immigration officers travel on board, and all the processing is done before you reach Southampton, so there is not much standing around when you get there, but quite a long walk. On board, it is a relaxed process, and I think they do a couple of decks at a time. 

 

Sorry, I now see you are embarking in Southampton, so this is useless. It is too late to delete, so just ignore it and put me down as an idiot and moron.

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5. Just remember Cunard ships are not a suburb of New York, any more than they are a suburb of, say, Tokyo, so there is no reason to behave as you do at home, as it's a different place. They add a service charge to the bill. Pay that and tipping is done. If someone does extra for you, give them a bit extra.

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9 hours ago, draggonsgate said:

Greetings all! I finally did it and took the plaunge and booked my bucket list cruise. Sailing Southampton to NYC November 2022. I think I have the dress code down and what to expect on board (quite a difference from Carnival Elation... lol) and I'm more than comfortable with both that and sailing solo. I do have some questions though, and am totally open to any advice past transatlantic passengers have. OK...

 

1) Gala black tie, got that. Gala Masquerade. Exactly what is that. Is is just black tie with a mask? Would it be a social faux pax to wear a Phantom mask? 

2) Afternoon tea. Jacket or no? How about the Godiva Tea? It seems a bit more bougie than the regular tea. 

3) Is smoking still only on Deck 8 by the pool and in the nightclub balcony?

4) How long is embarkation in Southampton. I'm ambulatory, but only for a limited distance. Standing for an hour isn't going to work out well. And no, a scooter is out of the question. I'd rather crawl on board dragging my carry on behind me.

5) Tipping. HONEST advice. Yes, no, maybe? I usually tip 20 bucks on embarkation day to my steward, then 5 bucks a day after that. If they do a good job, then another 20+ (depending) on disebarkation day. I also tip 2 bucks a drink for cocktail waiters, baristas, and 1 buck for bartenders. 5 bucks in MDR for dinner, 3 for b'fast if in MDR, or 2 bucks for bussers in buffet for b'fast/lunch. I also will tip 20 bucks to the lido/smoking area deck cleaners at the end of the cruise if they keep the area in fairly good shape. I've been told yes, tip. And no, don't tip, Brits think it's rude. Personally I'd rather be thought of being rude and generous than polite and cheap. But what say you all?

6) Sailing North Atlantic from London to NYC... chilly, cold, super cold or Rose on a piece of paneling?

 

Thank you in advance to all. Unfortunatly, my original bucket list thing is unable to be done... Fly to London on the Concorde and return on the QE2... So... it's Virgin Atlantic and QM2... I'll survive, somehow... 🙂 

Dont forget there is already a considerable daily sum automatically added to your onboard account per person. I have done many Cunard cruises including TAs and never seen anyone tip a waiter in MDR. Think you are forgetting about automatic tipping and think it is totally unnecessary to tip everyone you meet.

Edited by majortom10
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8 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

We leave the auto gratuities in place and do not tip any further and would never dream of tipping in advance because that is not a tip it is a bribe.

 

And a bribe with rather nasty implications:

1. The offensive suggestion that the person would not otherwise do their job properly;

And/or 

2. The desire to be treated better than people who have not fallen to bribery.

On the other hand, if you have held a couple of parties in your cabin, a tip at the end, for the extra work involved, would seem only fair.

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Personally recently upgraded our gratuities.

Leave the autio-grats in place.

$10.00 as a greeting (not a bribe) to Room Steward, the 2 Waiters and head waiter in restaurant.

Small tip, say $2.00 to in cash Bar Staff per drink or deck drink waiters.

$5.00 cash per small room service delivery with $10.00 for breakfast

Then a random $5.00 here and there as a thank you for an act of kindness etc..

At the end of the cruise decide if $5.00 per day for good service should be rounded up for stateroom and dining staff if deemed excellent.  No difference in tips between waiter and assistant waiter.  With a flat 50.00 for the head waiter.

Why the upgrade?   Because a relatively small amount of additional money really does do some good. Also believe “what goes around…….”.

Forgot the Sommelier, usually $10.00 cash for the decant etc., then if their wine list choices are excellent a flat $50.00 and the end of the cruise

(Remember, the Sommelier has access to a list of fine “bin ends” at reasonable prices)

 

 

 

Edited by PORT ROYAL
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36 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

Dont forget there is already a considerable daily sum automatically added to your onboard account per person. I have done many Cunard cruises including TAs and never seen anyone tip a waiter in MDR. Think you are forgetting about automatic tipping and think it is totally unnecessary to tip everyone you meet.

As advice has been asked, we take bank notes with us so we can say an extra thank you to the staff of our choice at the end of the holiday [ we don't bribe at the start of],  as well as keeping the standard service charge on account,  currency depending on whether a European trip or US, but tipping is a purely personal matter and it's down to the individual what they do. There should be NO pressure whatever to tip extra. None at all.

 

Flamboyance when 'tipping extra' is for show and should be ignored, in my view and so to reply to the highlighted part of the quote, not in the MDR but in QG, admittedly but I presume most folk who do tip extra, be it in the restaurant, bars or for those who service the  cabins don't do it for show but like us, do it in gratitude and hand it over so discreetly, that hopefully, no one else notices.

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I should add a caveat to my post 

25 minutes ago, Victoria2 said:

As advice has been asked, we take bank notes with us so we can say an extra thank you to the staff of our choice at the end of the holiday [ we don't bribe at the start of],  as well as keeping the standard service charge on account,  currency depending on whether a European trip or US, but tipping is a purely personal matter and it's down to the individual what they do. There should be NO pressure whatever to tip extra. None at all.

 

Flamboyance when 'tipping extra' is for show and should be ignored, in my view and so to reply to the highlighted part of the quote, not in the MDR but in QG, admittedly but I presume most folk who do tip extra, be it in the restaurant, bars or for those who service the  cabins don't do it for show but like us, do it in gratitude and hand it over so discreetly, that hopefully, no one else notices.

I should caveat the highlighted part by saying 'Flamboyance when tipping is for show'. 

Not done in our book. Discreetly does it.

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Plus nobody 100% knows for definite, many think they do but cruise companies are very iffy about it, where any cash given as tips is kept by the staff or handed over and placed into the general pool. Over they years heard so many different stories of cash given is kept if auto gratuities in place or handed over if not but nobody knows for a fact where it goes. What really galls me is how cruise companies make people feel guilty in leaving the auto gratuities on and tip further because of the poor pay staff receive from Carnival plc. In 2020 Arnold Donald CEO of Carnival plc received a salary of over $13 million dollars an increase of 20% on 2019 when cruise lines had no income and were on the knees knowing whether they would survive or not. I find it in the 21st century that staff being paid so poorly and having to rely on handouts to receive a living wage distasteful especially when senior managers of Carnival plc are paid so high and while people keep paying over the top tips Carnival will carry on paying poor wages because it boosts their profits.

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11 minutes ago, Victoria2 said:

I should add a caveat to my post 

I should caveat the highlighted part by saying 'Flamboyance when tipping is for show'. 

Not done in our book. Discreetly does it.

Agree, discreetly with the “assistance with the Menu selection” protocol 

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3 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

Plus nobody 100% knows for definite, many think they do but cruise companies are very iffy about it, where any cash given as tips is kept by the staff or handed over and placed into the general pool. Over they years heard so many different stories of cash given is kept if auto gratuities in place or handed over if not but nobody knows for a fact where it goes. What really galls me is how cruise companies make people feel guilty in leaving the auto gratuities on and tip further because of the poor pay staff receive from Carnival plc. In 2020 Arnold Donald CEO of Carnival plc received a salary of over $13 million dollars an increase of 20% on 2019 when cruise lines had no income and were on the knees knowing whether they would survive or not. I find it in the 21st century that staff being paid so poorly and having to rely on handouts to receive a living wage distasteful especially when senior managers of Carnival plc are paid so high and while people keep paying over the top tips Carnival will carry on paying poor wages because it boosts their profits.

I am pretty sure that nugget re handing over cash was effectively knocked on the head by Bellboy.

 I might not have as much Cunard experience as he or know as much about Cunard but I have developed ties with a few members of staff enough to ask them various questions and they corroborate his comprehensive reply which has been 'pinned' on this board.

 I can also say, in over thirty years of cruising, I have never been made to feel guilty over anything. The only person who can make you feel guilty, is yourself.

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4 minutes ago, PORT ROYAL said:

Agree, discreetly with the “assistance with the Menu selection” protocol 

Either that or the Cunard equivalent of a Paul Hollywood handshake!

( I watched 'Bake Off', but no handshake last night!)🙂

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13 hours ago, lissie said:

I'm from a country that doesn't tip.  But  we are planning on being in the US next year and the whole tipping thing terrifies me. 

 

I rarely/never have cash on my at home - 99% of my transactions are by card - even more so post COVID.  

 

So how on earth do you actually tip people  as you state - do you literally have pockets of $100 in $1;'s and $5's? I'm genuinely curious. We've sailed on the QE pre Covid - ex Australia - we left auto tips on and tipping nothing else - we may have tipped the wine waiter in the MDR but we ended up missing the MDR on the last night due ill-health.  That's one of the reasons I'd rather just leave auto-tipping in place. 

 

But I'm genuinely curious as to how Americans handle this, particularly post-COVID which I believe has pushed places like Europe and UK very much into non-cash transactions 

I usually bring 300-400 in singles, 5's, 10's and 20's for tipping purposes. 

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13 hours ago, lissie said:

I'm from a country that doesn't tip.  But  we are planning on being in the US next year and the whole tipping thing terrifies me. 

Terrifying?  
Well for us it was the first sail out of Fort Lauderdale and our first experience of USA tip culture.  
 

Our group stayed at the Marriott Beach and all went down for dinner.  Average meal, normal level of service.   Bill presented and I took care of it and noted the gratuity box and put in $20.00 and a few cents to round it up to $300.00

No longer than 3 minutes later, the MD came almost running to our table brandishing our Bill in an irate manner and loudly wanting to know what was wrong with the service etc, having left, in his opinion, a very small tip.

Now that was scary.  Welcome to America

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, PORT ROYAL said:

Terrifying?  
Well for us it was the first sail out of Fort Lauderdale and our first experience of USA tip culture.  
 

Our group stayed at the Marriott Beach and all went down for dinner.  Average meal, normal level of service.   Bill presented and I took care of it and noted the gratuity box and put in $20.00 and a few cents to round it up to $300.00

No longer than 3 minutes later, the MD came almost running to our table brandishing our Bill in an irate manner and loudly wanting to know what was wrong with the service etc, having left, in his opinion, a very small tip.

Now that was scary.  Welcome to America

 

 

 

Haha - the last time we flew into LAX - we came off  a delayed over-night flight where I'd booked and pre-paid a day hotel which included a transfer. A van came and picked us up. We spend the day slept, washed, ate in the next door restaurant. 

 

Didn't have any cash, couldn't find an ATM near the hotel - got the transfer van back to LAX. That driver practically swore at us because we had nothing to tip - literally had  his hand out and was very unimpressed! 

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Hi @lissie

I’m American and can help you out.

Don’t fret… Yes, we tip in America but you don’t have to use cash always.

In a sit down restaurant where you use a card there will be a place for you to write in the tip and it is added into your total price for your card.

The standard tip in a restaurant is at least 15%… typically we leave 20%.

Sometimes at a counter service restaurant you may see a tip jar where you can put in some extra change or bills if you want for equal distribution for the workers… but you don’t have to leave anything in the tip jar if you don’t want to. A tip jar is not the same as a tip at a sit down restaurant.

You won’t tip in a store… things cost what they cost.

In a bar, we would give the bartender a tip. Sometimes we add the tip to the card payment and sometimes we leave cash for the bartender.
Now

Regarding tours… tour guides often accept tips… So we always keep cash on hand for them. I always think it is nice for the guides. Shows my appreciation for their hard work.

Tipping with drivers is something that is done… so just have some cash on hand… or if you use UBER you can tip your driver through the app.

Let me know if you have any specific questions dealing with tipping while in America and I will be glad to help 😊

 

draggonsgate

I think your Phantom mask would be fun on a Masquerade night!

 

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11 hours ago, PORT ROYAL said:

Terrifying?  
Well for us it was the first sail out of Fort Lauderdale and our first experience of USA tip culture.  
 

Our group stayed at the Marriott Beach and all went down for dinner.  Average meal, normal level of service.   Bill presented and I took care of it and noted the gratuity box and put in $20.00 and a few cents to round it up to $300.00

No longer than 3 minutes later, the MD came almost running to our table brandishing our Bill in an irate manner and loudly wanting to know what was wrong with the service etc, having left, in his opinion, a very small tip.

Now that was scary.  Welcome to America

 

 

 

20% is the general amount so you were off by around $40. Most wait staff love twos as they are easier to serve and tip better, Big parties are bears to serve and tip far less as the bill to the payer always looks huge. Many restaurants in the US simply add an automatic 20% to the bill if the party is larger than four people.

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4 hours ago, Lakesregion said:

20% is the general amount so you were off by around $40. Most wait staff love twos as they are easier to serve and tip better, Big parties are bears to serve and tip far less as the bill to the payer always looks huge. Many restaurants in the US simply add an automatic 20% to the bill if the party is larger than four people.

Help with this tip question

We had a great Mexican dinner in Orlando, where the guacamole, salsa and jugs of cocktails were prepared/mixed live at the table.  Our waiter discreetly asked when paying by my credit card if the tip could be in cash.  Which I did.  
But why was that?  We thought it could be that the restaurant may not pass on the tips to staff.

Edited by PORT ROYAL
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