Will Cruise Lines Dump Gratuities?

Want to hear cruise lovers let out a collective groan? Tell that that a line is increasing the daily gratuity charge. In recent months, several lines have upped the fee, which typically run on average of $12-$15 per person per day and are, unless pre-paid, generally applied to your shipboard account.

A Better Way?

Gratuities are a hotly debated topic among cruisers, with some suggesting that by making them automatic, it encourages poor service. After all, if the staff knows that they are going to get paid one way or the other, why work harder than is necessary? Of course, this particular approach only works if the servers in question assume that the passengers aren’t going to offer up additional tips, beyond the regulated gratuities, to those who provide excellent service.

But what if gratuities, instead of being listed separately, were simply folded into the cost of the cruise? This would serve the dual purpose of assuring that behind-the-scenes personnel – meaning the folks who work behind the scenes and therefore don’t have a chance to personally earn those extra tips – receive financial recognition for their work while cutting down on passenger complaints. After all, if the gratuities are simply part of the overall cost, they become like many other aspects of your cruise cost: virtually invisible.

The Argument For Inclusion

Imagine for a moment if cruise lines broke down every cost associated with your cruise, listing not only the cost of gratuities but fuel, gasoline, laundering your towels. Every time the price for one of these went up, message boards would be filled with people complaining. And given the fluctuations in food and fuel costs, the numbers would change fairly often!

Instead, those costs are bundled together and presented as the total cost of your cruise. Why not treat gratuities the same way? The option to remove gratuities could still be offered, but we suspect that if the charge itself weren’t presented separately, far fewer people would even think about it, let alone take steps to remove it. By in essence advertising what the per person, per day charge is, the lines are practically drawing attention to the gratuities, making them a particularly easy target for people looking to shave a few dollars off the cost of their cruise.

Should cruise lines fold the cost of gratuities into the total price of the cruise? Have you ever removed the gratuities from your bill? Hit the comments and let us know!

8 Responses

  1. Here’s the deal. You see a line a mile long the last night of the cruise with people removing their tips from their bill. Sure, they may say they pay the room steward and waiters “in cash”, but many more people are just plain cheap. If the cruise lines add this to the price of the cruise, what incentive will staff have to give great service? None.

  2. Go back to the old way. Put envelopes with the name or title of the person or people in a category eligible to be tipped in each cabin the morning be fore the last day of the cruise. Then it will be up to the guest to tip each individual or department as seen fit. Yes, there will be those who skate away without tipping, but that’s just todays society and mentality. hat would eliminate the long lines at customer service and make room for legitimate questions or complaints.

  3. Cruise lines are trying to avoid paying the travel agent commission on tips. Having the tips included or prepaid I think provides a better cruise experience since you no longer worry about it and removes the need for cash. I have always received great service on all four ways (cash,automatic, prepaid and included) since cruise staff have always been fantastic.

  4. The gratuities should be included as part of the cost. Firstly, this would ensure that the staff receive the tips. People are sneaky and it is sad to hear them cheaping out. As for the cruise lines having to pay commission to travel agents, if people are opting out of paying at all then this would ensure that 100% of the customers are paying. Better to pay a small commission on 100% of the passengers then to have 20 to 30% of the people not paying at all. Secondly, with respect to the staff having the incentive to provide great customer service by not having the fees directly included in the price it is obvious that the staff on these ships value the opportunity for employment and would not risk their positions. Delivering exceptional customer service often has little to do with money and is often a personality trait. Personally I would prefer to pay for all of my trip up front rather than have a larger bill at the end for a fee that is already part of the cost of the trip. Why not get the fee out of the way. It is deflating at the end of a cruise to be faced with an outrageous bill. At the end of my cruise this summer my gratuities bill is $300. That is nothing to sneeze about, especially if I suscribe to other activities while onboard. The cruise companies need to take a stand on this issue and simplify it for everyone. It is a win win situation.

  5. I got to see the Agency Confirmation that was sent to the TA I used to book a cruise. What we see as the cruise rate has two components. Commissions are only paid on the commissionable portion of the price of the cruise. Port fees are part of the price and considered “non-commissionable fare” as are taxes and fees. They would do that with tips as well. The price of our cruise was $827.20, but the TA only got commission on $420, at 16%.

  6. I am all for “prepaying” my tips. The longer the cruise, the larger the amount on your bill at then end. The last thing I want is to have a large balance on my CC at the end of the cruise, just from tips, how about adding a few shore excursions, specialty restaurant, drinks on top of that, sure one heck of a bill at the end. The more I prepay, the less on my account. I do want the cruise lines to “include” tips into the fare total. Much easier to have full cruise amount upfront, so I can determine my “vacation” budget on board.

  7. Gratuities may be reasonable for countries that operate that way. In Australia, the employer is required to pay decent wages to his employees, and that is reflected in the prices we pay for everything. The idea that having paid for the item or service, we should then give away some more money to help one employee is ridiculous. Tipping should not come into Australia, and cruise ships departing from Australian ports should not expect Australians to pay tips. It’s not our way.

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