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EDITORIAL

Cruise Guest Campaigns to Remove Crew Gratuities

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They say that two wrongs don’t make a right, but a poster on Cruiseline.com appears determined to prove otherwise. Unable to convince Royal Caribbean to address a complaint to their satisfaction, they’ve decided to take out their frustration — and receive the compensation they believe themselves due — by removing gratuities from their portfolio. In other words, they’re punishing the employees for the perceived sins of their bosses.

What The Cruise Guest Is Complaining About

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photo: Royal Caribbean

The post from BigLakeTrading begins by explaining that they are upset because their upcoming voyage upon the Allure of the Seas would not be sticking to its original itinerary due to mechanical issues. “While itinerary changes are very common (and usually welcome) due to weather,” they write, “this recent change, unfortunately, is not the case. The current issue that is causing the [itinerary change] is mechanical related.”

In fact, the ship is having issues which do not impact it on a safety level, but do limit the speed at which it can cruise. The problem is set to be addressed during a dry dock in January. The poster goes on to accuse Royal Caribbean of fraud, believing that “they misrepresented the ship’s itinerary, knowing in advance that they would not be able to produce a trip accordingly.”

Their Twisted “Revenge” Plan

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photo: Rennett Stowe on Flickr

With Royal Caribbean’s customer service reps saying that the line would not be providing compensation for the itinerary change (and pointing out that cruise contracts agreed to by each ticketed passenger very specifically give the line the right to make changes at their discretion), BigLakeTrading has decided that there “is only one remedy”… and that is to punish the innocent crew members by not only removing gratuities from their portfolio, but encouraging others to do the same.

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“I have made contact with over 40 other [passengers] scheduled for Allure of the Seas cruises through the end of the year”, the poster declares. After acknowledging that this will hurt “the people we care about most”, he says that they “are going to withhold all [gratuities] for the ship.”

The logic? “I understand this is not popular,” the poster writes. “These people work very hard for very little. However, if enough people withhold their entire gratuity for this cruise, [Royal Caribbean] will be forced to cover the difference in order to keep up morale.” Instead, the cruiser and those he’s rallied to his misguided cause intend to leave envelopes “thanking their staff for the outstanding service, but [explaining that] our ability to leave a tip was taken away by the dishonesty of [Royal Caribbean].”

What Their Notes Should Really Say!

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This is, frankly, a move we find downright appalling. Right up front, let’s acknowledge that their “ability to leave a trip” was not taken away by the cruise line. The notes should, instead, be more honest and say, “We’re ticked off at your bosses and punishing you and the loved ones who rely on your hard-won earnings. #SorryNotSorry.” Assuming each of these cruisers threatening to take part in this appalling behavior have jobs, we can’t help but wonder if they would be comfortable taking responsibility for the actions of their employers.

In our minds, the “acceptable” excuses for removing gratuities from one’s portfolio are extremely limited. But using the staffers whom you acknowledge work hard in order to give you the best possible vacation as a cudgel against the corporation for whom they work? That is borderline reprehensible.

Read More: 17 Extra Costs of Cruising

Perhaps the worst part is that BigLakeTrading ends by saying that they are “sure we will still enjoy our vacation” and you know what? They will, thanks to the staffers whom they are punishing. In fact, these cruisers — who feel as if they were lied to — are doing exactly the same thing to the crew, who will work hard all week on the assumption that they will receive a tip at the end, only to instead receive the equivalent of an empty envelope.

Final Thoughts

Should Royal Caribbean offer the cruisers compensation for the itinerary change? Perhaps. But whether they ultimately offer to do so or not, punishing the staff of the Allure of the Seas for something over which they had no control is downright shameful in our book.

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EDITORIAL

How Cruising Keeps Us Young

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The 80s music was thumping, the lights were flashing, and, as instructed by the cruise director and his staff, folks were waving their hands in the air as if they just didn’t care. Among them was Marjorie, who was celebrating her 86th birthday dancing the night away at Spice H20 aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

“This is something I’d never, ever do at home!” she told me, shouting to be heard over the music. “This is why I cruise!”

How Millennials Changed Cruising And Cruisers

It wasn’t all that long ago that cruising was thought of as where grandma and grandpa went to shuffle between Bingo games and the buffet, occasionally stopping to nap on the promenade deck. But that was before freestyle dining, free-fall waterslides, surf simulators, robotic bartenders and on-board breweries… you know, all the things that have been added by cruise lines in part to broaden their appeal to a younger demographic.

But a funny thing happened along the way to luring those young folks: Some of us rediscovered things we thought we’d left behind… or discovered them for the first time. Cruise ships seem to have the same effect on older folks as do weddings… we go from being those people who would shout “Turn that music down!” at home to tearing up the dance floor until the wee hours of the morning.

Why sleep when you can dance until dawn at the “silent disco” party on Norwegian Bliss?

During a recent sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, I watched a teen who was scared to try the RipCord flight simulator be convinced to give it a go… by watching his grandfather do it first. And just shy of my own 55th birthday, I recently went speeding around the upper deck of the Norwegian Bliss on a go-kart before throwing myself into an intense round of laser tag. (To be fair, I killed more of my own teammates than I did our opponents, but I had a heck of a good time doing it!)

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Without doubt, this is a win/win for the cruise industry: Not only are more people hitting the high seas than ever before, but the average age of passengers has dropped significantly over the past 20 years. Plus, by continuing to offer the amenities expected by old-school cruisers even as they pump up the thrills to attract the younger generations, an ever-increasing number of multi-generational groups are sailing.

The “Something For Everyone” Factor

Taking a break from the dance floor — more, I suspect, for my sake than hers — Marjorie told me that she and her husband had cruised together for over three decades, and that when he passed away, she assumed she would probably stop sailing. But it was actually her granddaughter who, seeing an ad on TV, suggested the whole family should take a vacation together. The more they looked into the idea, the more even disinterested members of the clan came around as they found out just how much there would be to do, even if they didn’t get off the ship.

Thrills such as the SkyRide on Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon are designed to attract new and younger cruisers… but they also wind up appealing to adventurers of all ages! Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

This cruise, she says, is unlike any she and her husband had taken in the past. “I’m trying to keep up with the young folks,” she says, adding with a laugh, “and I must be doing okay, because I think they went to bed an hour ago!”

This is where I shamefully admit that Marjorie outlasted me, too. Although we crossed paths again several times during the week, including at a whiskey tasting. “I figured what the heck,” she says, raising a glass to toast. “You only live once!”

Have you done things on a cruise ship you probably wouldn’t do at home? Do you believe that cruising helps keep you young? 

 

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EDITORIAL

How Cruise Lines Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

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As cruisers, there’s little we love more than the ocean. And since oceans cover 71 percent of our planet’s surface, it only makes sense that the cruise lines want to do whatever they can to have a positive impact on both the waterways of the world and the land on which their passengers live. So while people around the world are marking Earth Day, we thought it appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge some of the major moves the cruise industry has made over the past few years to try and help Mother Nature.

  • Changing The Way We Cruise
    Let’s face it: Most of us probably don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the mechanics of cruising. But the industry as a whole is spending a lot of time and money into ships fueled by Liquefied Nitrogen Gas. In fact, Carnival Cruise Line’s Aida division is about to roll out the first-ever ship to be entirely powered by this more environmentally-friendly fuel source.

The Aida Nova will be the first cruise ship is currently under construction. Rendering by AIDA Cruises 

  • Changing The Way They Operate
    Over the past few months, all of the major cruise lines have announced plans to reduce the amount of single-use plastics… with the help of passengers. Royal Caribbean announced that not only will they be cutting back on items such as straws, but that they will also be looking into other aspects of their business to see how they can make major changes in this area.

Straws will soon be available only by request on most cruise lines… and that’s a good thing.

  • Finding Creative Ways To Recycle
    Proving the environment isn’t something cruise lines are only now thinking about, we reported back in 2015 on the fact that Disney Cruise Line was donating its used cooking oil — we’re talking tens of thousands of gallons — to the Bahamas Waste Management organization so that they can in turn use it to fuel some of their vehicles!
  • Encouraging Passengers To Do Their Part
    Most cruise lines offer their passengers the option to get more than one use out of their bathroom towels. And while this might seem like a rather insignificant move, it actually can have a pretty huge impact. After all, if even 100 passengers on each ship opt to get more use out of their towels, think about how many items that takes out of the laundry stream over the course of a year, thus conserving a whole lot of water!
  • Making Decisions That Aren’t Always Popular
    Not every way in which the cruise lines help the environment is always a big hit with every passenger. To this day, Carnival still gets complaints from people who didn’t approve of the decision to remove table cloths from the Main Dining Rooms during most meal services. But again, the number of items taken out of the laundry cycle (and the amount of water and energy conserved as a result) is downright staggering when looked at over the course of a year.

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    The amount of laundry processed by a cruise ship each day is staggering.

  •  Making Recycling A Priority
    Most cruise lines do everything in their power to separate garbage. On some ships, food scraps are ground up and turned into fish food. On others, room stewards sift through garbage to try and separate recyclable items.
  •  Being A Part Of The Global Community
    Over the years, cruise lines have thrown their financial and even political support behind numerous charitable organizations including the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, making it clear that they care not only about the environments populated by their passengers, but the many creatures with whom we share the planet.

 

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EDITORIAL

Cruiser Suggests Removing Gratuity To Send Message

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Upset that a cruise during which she hoped to relax was disturbed by construction taking place on the ship, a disgruntled passenger took to a message board to vent. It was the type of complaint that pops up from time to time on cruise-related message boards, claiming that a significant number of passengers had complained to guest services about their restful vacation being disrupted by the work being done. And like clockwork, one of the people responding to the original posting offered a suggestion which is made far too often.

“When things like this happen,” he suggested, “everyone should go to guest services and remove the daily gratuities. That will send a powerful message to the cruise line!”

Nassau Bahamas

Except, of course, that it wouldn’t. And worse, it would be punishing the wrong people. Think of it this way: If you go to a restaurant and the waitress works her butt off to give you the best service possible, but the food isn’t very good… should your server be punished via a lousy tip? Or would it make more sense to speak to a manager regarding the chef who prepared the food?

Still not convinced? Imagine it was your child working in that restaurant, doing an absolutely top-notch job and yet being stiffed on tips because the chef prepared bad food.

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide To Cruise Tipping

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The daily gratuities charged by most cruise lines are a subject of much debate. Personally, I’ve long advocated that the charge should be rolled directly into the price of the cruise (which would also cut back on the inevitable outcry which arises each time they are raised). I also think there should be no circumstances under which they can be removed.

“But what if the service is bad?” some will ask.

“Doesn’t matter,” I will respond. Because even if you do come across a few bad apples during the course of your cruise, the vast majority of the crew members — including many you will never see, let alone acknowledge — work hard to make sure you have the best possible vacation.

“I remove the gratuities,” some will say, “and then individually reward those who provide me with good service.” Again, I will remind them of all the people who work hard behind the scenes and who will never be on the receiving end of their magnanimous dispensing of individual tips.

Personally, I can think of nothing that could ever justify my removing the daily gratuities charge from my bill. Beyond that, however, the notion of removing the tips of hard-working individuals as a way to “send a message” to their bosses is incomprehensible to me.

Want to send a message to the corporate offices? Write a letter. Send an E-mail. Heck, take your business to another cruise line and then write a letter letting the one you’ve left behind exactly why you decided to do so. If you truly believe that money talks, then surely the loss of a loyal customer is going to speak far louder than would the comparative pittance that is the daily gratuity charge.

Under what circumstances would — or have — you removed the daily gratuity fee? Do you think the cruise lines should simply roll the fee into the overall cost of the cruise? 

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Hi, this may be of interest to you: Cruise Guest Campaigns to Remove Crew Gratuities. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/cruiser-campaign-remove-crew-gratuities/