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Gratuity; [gruh-too-i-tee, -tyoo-] Word Origin noun, plural gratuities. 1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip. 2. something given without claim or demand. dictionary.com There are also some labor code issues in California, and Iâ€™m sure in other States: Labor Code Section 351 prohibits employers and their agents from sharing in or keeping any portion of a gratuity left for or given to one or more employees by a patron. Furthermore it is illegal for employers to make wage deductions from gratuities, or from using gratuities as direct or indirect credits against an employeeâ€™s wages. The law further states that gratuities are the sole property of the employee or employees to whom they are given. "Gratuity" is defined in the Labor Code as a tip, gratuity, or money that has been paid or given to or left for an employee by a patron of a business over and above the actual amount due for services rendered or for goods, food, drink, articles sold or served to patrons. I donâ€™t know how Royal Caribbean Ltd is addressing the accounting of this mandatory fee to each and every person that boards their ships. But then again, they are not an American corporation. The corporation is in Liberia and based in Miami. I do not know the implications of that, nor care to. Another thing. Now they are offering free gratuities on select cruises. isn't that an oxymoron? How can they give you something free, when it is a free choice to begin with? These are not gratuities. This is not a gratuity, it is a fee. And if it is given out as a tiered amount to the service providers (asto position, time on the job, salary,ect.) and not an equal amount to everyone, is it not, a fee for salary? If you multiply the number of rooms and then the number of people in that room and times it by the mandatory â€œgratuity chargeâ€, we are paying the service staff's salary. This is a significant charge. Are we shown where that money goes? I would venture to guess that the trickle down effect to the actual service providers is miniscule. But, back to the mis-labeling of an added fee as a gratuity. A mandatory fee, or as Royal Caribbean labels it, gratuity, if not given to reward above and beyond regular service, the service provider is not motivated to provide over the top service if they get the same pay regardless. The "not so good" people and paid exactly the same as the "outstanding" people. But, now, Royal Caribbean encourages you to tip more if you see a great person. We pay a â€œgratuityâ€, then Royal Caribbean encourages us to double tip. Does that make any sense? Also what about the port intensive stops when most of the ships cruisers are gone all day and the charge for the whole day of disembarkation and the whole day of disembarking? So may questions? These charges are each and every day times each and every person, doesnâ€™t matter if you are there or not, or if you are able to use them or not. I regress. The charge for the cruise, unless you are in a high end Suite, can be 50% or less than the total cost of the cruise. Royal Caribbean tries to make more on, not in rank order, the Drinks, Photos, Excursions, and now you can add to that list, Mandatory Gratuities. Some feel this is deceptive pricing and feel blind-sided when they get home to find out they paid double or more, than they actually thought. Doesnâ€™t feel good. I still feel that Royal Caribbean and all their cruise lines offer the best bang-for-our-buck, but these issues are troubling. Why is Royal Caribbean getting involved in these practices that are causing a lot of cruisers (first timers and long devoted ones) grief? Only management can answer these questions. In the mean time, we all are just wanting to have FUN and not have to think about these things. But when issues keep bubbling to the top, they need corporate attention. Or at least a much different approach. Even the best of companies, in the best of times, need to differentate themselves from everyone else and get ahead of the pack. Royal Caribbean does that with cruise destinations and ports offered. Go beyond what is expected. WOW us.