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EDITORIAL

Will Cruise Lines Dump Gratuities?

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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!

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