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Darren2706

Guide For Tipping

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Im going on a cruise around the Caribbean in February and was just wondering to myself.

So tipping in the UK really doesn't exist unless your absolutely desperate to give money to servers which in my experience very few people do. I've gone through my life without giving a single tip.

I've heard rumours that this is a big thing in the States and aboard US Royal Caribbean Cruises.

What exactly is the protocol here, I would never tip with a meal or drink but usually when i'm on Med cruises once I get to know for example the person cleaning my room or some bartender that I talk to near everyday I part with a few quid.

Is it somewhat of a social issue over there? Will people be judgy can you get away with it easy. It just seems bizarre to pay all this money for a cruise and then get charged all of these gratuities. I may not speak for the whole of the UK but for me and my family it tends to make us quite uncomfortable.

Thoughts?

 

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I know on the Royal Caribbean cruise we just took we could pay gratuities in advance, or have it added to our folio (billed after but for the same amount).  I thought that was supposed to take care of tips.  However, I still felt that the cabin staff and main dining room staff were really expecting to be additionally tipped.  I am interested in seeing what others have to share regarding this aspect of cruising.

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First off, welcome to the blogs, 

You have asked a questions that will undoubtedly bring up a myriad of emotions and responses. Yes, in the US there is a culture of tipping. While I am not positive of the booking and tipping process for cruises booked through the UK, if there is a possibility to pre-pay your gratuities through your cruise fare that is probably the easiest way to go about this. RC will automatically add a daily rate to your bill, and then once on board that covers your stateroom attendant, MDR service staff, etc etc. If you purchase a beverage package, gratuity is added on automatically so no additional tipping is needed there as well. If you dont buy a beverage package, that same gratuity is added to the drink when you purchase on board one at a time.

What some people do is remove the autogratuities at guest services and pay tips directly in cash. The daily rate for those not in suites is $14.50 per person per day, and 17.50 for those in suites. Again, this is supposed to be divided up amongst stateroom, dining, and other backend staff. The time I removed the autograts, I gave our stateroom attendant and main server $250ea in cash at the end of the cruise. Both of these individuals I think went well and above normal duties to make our cruise experience exceptional. I also felt that after that, did I tip enough....so now I stick with the autograts, and then tip more if I feel that the staff went above and beyond, and not worry about it anymore. 

For bar staff, I have always had a beverage package with gratuities included. What many people here will do is also tip $1 per drink additional to the bartender who is friendly with you etc, and soon you will find that you arent waiting as long for drinks etc, and that bartender becomes friendlier etc and will remember you. 

I think your best bet, is to pre-pay the daily charge, and not worry about it and enjoy your cruise. If there are any crew members that you feel stand out more than others, then reward them with some extra cash at the end of the cruise.

Here is a podcast that @Matt did that discusses tips as well that you may find helpfull. 

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/podcast/episode-51-tipping-and-gratuity

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First, please understand the difference between tipping and the gratuities.  Gratuities are a service fee that will be charged per person per day to your account.  You may or may not have paid these in advance depending on how you booked your trip.  The gratuities cover the basics like housekeeping, waiters in the main dining room, etc.  In the UK, Europe, Japan, etc, these fees would absolutely be included in the total cost of your trip.  In the US, they are a separate line item but should still be considered part of the total cost.

Tipping while on a cruise would be paying anything more than the standard gratuities, typically as cash directly to someone that went above and beyond to make your trip special.  Tipping is definitely not required though you will probably feel some pressure to give because it is part of US culture.

Tipping in general in the US is basically necessary in certain places, specifically restaurants.  Waiters are paid below minimum wage and rely on tips to make a decent salary.  It is certainly controversial and many would love to see it changed.  However, until it does, failing to tip a waiter in a US restaurant pretty much means the waiter pays for part of your meal because they have to share a certain amount of their tips with the bartender, cook, and bus boys.

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You should at least tip the amount you will be auto billed or pre pay.  Anything else would be optional.  

The differences in tipping culture are rooted in how service staff are paid in the US vs Europe.  The cruise staff are not paid well and rely on tips to make their living so it is only right to follow the tipping culture on a cruise - especially since it is added to your bill anyway.

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For a cruise that begins in the United States (only cruises I've taken) I tip a little extra to cabin attendant ($5-$10 per day) cocktail servers and bartenders ($1-$5 per order) at restaurants (specialty & sometimes included restaurants $20 or more) and other miscellaneous things (like room service or a crew member goes above and beyond). These numbers aren't set in stone ... We've given more, we've given less (although by accident) and these numbers are in addition to what's added as a tip (prepaid gratuities, drink package included tips, specialty restaurant included tip etc).

With all that confusion said, you're under no obligation to tip extra. Royal Caribbean is good about adding 18% to situations where you'd tip and of course the prepaid gratuities. Anything above that is to recognize excellent service.

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Similar situation here in Australia Darren2706. No tipping culture whatsoever, as service staff are paid a fair wage.

The cruise gratuities are included in the price we pay when we book our cruises (or at least they are with Royal cruises). Which, in the Aussie view of things, is how it should be. The service staff are getting their cut, and everybody knows upfront what the cost of the cruise actually is.

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The good news, is with Royal Caribbean pretty much gratuity is covered for your onboard experience. Auto-gratuity will hit your seapass account to take care of the dining room staff & stateroom attendant. Any purchase you make onboard has 18% auto tip, so you're good there too.

The situations outside of that where tipping is appropriate is....

  • The porters who take your bags on the ship and off the ship when your cruise is over ($1-$2 per bag)
  • Taxi drivers (depends, but a dollar or two extra is customary)
  • Shore excursion tour guides (I don't have a good rate to share here, it really depends on the tour. Feel free to ask others in the group what they are tipping)
  • Casino (tip the dealer $1-$2 when you are on a winning streak)

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

The good news, is with Royal Caribbean pretty much gratuity is covered for your onboard experience. Auto-gratuity will hit your seapass account to take care of the dining room staff & stateroom attendant. Any purchase you make onboard has 18% auto tip, so you're good there too.

The situations outside of that where tipping is appropriate is....

  • The porters who take your bags on the ship and off the ship when your cruise is over ($1-$2 per bag)
  • Taxi drivers (depends, but a dollar or two extra is customary)
  • Shore excursion tour guides (I don't have a good rate to share here, it really depends on the tour. Feel free to ask others in the group what they are tipping)
  • Casino (tip the dealer $1-$2 when you are on a winning streak)

My thoughts are this: I count auto-gratuity as tips (and always gladly pay them), because I have been on cruises where persons have optioned to complain and not pay these, knowing full well it came out of the crew's pockets.  Most of the crew on the ships make less than minimum wage (US or UK minimum wages) without tips. While you may be uncomfortable, imagine how you would feel knowing someone who gave you service on a ship wasn't able to make a living wage because you were "uncomfortable". Just remember you are on holiday, they are not. Most of the crew will go out of there way to make sure your holiday is a great experience, and most deserve your tip.

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8 hours ago, Matt said:

The good news, is with Royal Caribbean pretty much gratuity is covered for your onboard experience. Auto-gratuity will hit your seapass account to take care of the dining room staff & stateroom attendant. Any purchase you make onboard has 18% auto tip, so you're good there too.

The situations outside of that where tipping is appropriate is....

  • The porters who take your bags on the ship and off the ship when your cruise is over ($1-$2 per bag)
  • Taxi drivers (depends, but a dollar or two extra is customary)
  • Shore excursion tour guides (I don't have a good rate to share here, it really depends on the tour. Feel free to ask others in the group what they are tipping)
  • Casino (tip the dealer $1-$2 when you are on a winning streak)

Matt has given the best advice yet.  Anytime the company sets tip amount (Gratuity) and auto charges it, it has been taken care of and nothing additional is needed, nor expected. 

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Gratuity and Tip are synonymous in the US... Standard restaurant tip is 15%... Great service 18%... RCU charges 18%. You can go to customer service at anytime on the cruise and have them removed.  I count them as extra but necessary like port fees.  The staff are not paid living wages so they do count on them.  We took $200 extra for anove and beyond service tips.  We tipped $25 the first time we saw our cabin steward and wow what service we got.  It was so good we tipped another $25 at the end. We gave extra to our dining staff because they remembered our names and orders every single time. I also had $20 in my pocket every day for various staffers like a buck here or there for great directions and great food and drink servive in the various venues.

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On 12/17/2019 at 10:31 PM, Atlantix2000 said:

In the UK, Europe, Japan, etc, these fees would absolutely be included in the total cost of your trip.  In the US, they are a separate line item but should still be considered part of the total cost.

 

Wrong...in UK we have same system as in US, a separate line asking if we wish to prepay gratuities. If we tick yes then the daily amount is then added to the bill. 

 

 

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@Ray, I was trying to describe the generic gratuity/service fee situation in other parts of the world vs the US.  I see referring to the poster's trip confused that point.

What I meant is that prices elsewhere are "all in", no extras needed but the US insists on making things complicated.  Let's say the fair price for a certain hotel room is $100.  Most parts of the world, you'd get a bill for $100.  In the US, you'd get a $70 room charge + $10 state tax + $10 resort fee + $5 city tax = $95.  But then, that US hotel doesn't pay its workers properly so you should really also leave a $5 tip for the maid.  In the end, either way your total cost is $100 for the room and service.  I know I'd prefer the first method though.

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2 hours ago, packercruising said:

The rules are different here, because the wait staff get paid different. They depend on tips for their living. If the employers paid the full wages, they would have to charge more and there is no incentive to do a better job. At least pre-pay the gratuities.

The incentive for doing a better job would be:

a) you get to retain your employment, but mainly...

b) you might even get a tip in addition to a full wage.

Employers would have to charge more, yes, but the customer still pays the same overall amount, without the awkwardness of working out what they are supposed to tip.

Anyways, different countries, different approaches. It's fine.

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14 hours ago, Atlantix2000 said:

@Ray, I was trying to describe the generic gratuity/service fee situation in other parts of the world vs the US.  I see referring to the poster's trip confused that point.

What I meant is that prices elsewhere are "all in", no extras needed but the US insists on making things complicated.  Let's say the fair price for a certain hotel room is $100.  Most parts of the world, you'd get a bill for $100.  In the US, you'd get a $70 room charge + $10 state tax + $10 resort fee + $5 city tax = $95.  But then, that US hotel doesn't pay its workers properly so you should really also leave a $5 tip for the maid.  In the end, either way your total cost is $100 for the room and service.  I know I'd prefer the first method though.

If you are talking about hotels then yes, however booking a cruise in US or UK is the same, decide your dates, pick your cabin then once you have cabin price tick the box to add on prepaid gratuities to the total. 

 

Unfortunately some cities in the UK are now following other countries and are adding on city tax 

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