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Ok, I've decided NOT to get the beverage package this time. Last year I did, and was under the impression that the gratuities I'd prepaid included the bartenders. So if I go a la carte this time, do the gratuities I've prepaid still include the bartenders, or do I need to add to each and every receipt ??

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Royal Caribbean says that the gratuities (either prepaid or charged daily) are for the stateroom attendant (and those who assist) and dining room staff (waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter).

 

The bartenders' gratuities have always come from the gratuity charged on top of beverage packages or on the individual beverage purchases. Those purchases have an 18% gratuity applied that covers them. When you get a drink a la carte, you'll see an 18% gratuity is automatically added to the bill. You may tip extra if you wish, but that's at your discretion.

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So are you saying (Nicky) that you were charged a gratuity when you got a drink even though you were on a bev package ? If so, that was wrong and you should have had it removed from your bill. The gratuity IS included in the prepaid bev package. Now...are the bartenders going to still want a tip when they give you a drink ? Of course ! But you're not obliged to give them one and they certainly cannot add it to your bill without your consent.

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Ok, I've decided NOT to get the beverage package this time. Last year I did, and was under the impression that the gratuities I'd prepaid included the bartenders. So if I go a la carte this time, do the gratuities I've prepaid still include the bartenders, or do I need to add to each and every receipt ??

The prepaid gratuities are for your stateroom attendant, waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter.

 

When you pay a la carte for drinks, you will get an automatic 18% gratuity on your receipt that is added to the total cost of your drink purchase.

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No way WAAAAAY lol I'm not saying I was charged gratuity on top of the package. I was just wondering about this year. I'm going a la carte. But if the 18% is automatically added that's fine. Just wondering if it's ok to just sign and walk away. So then the $12 drink of the day will show a bottom line of $14.16 automatically. Gotcha. It's going to be my wife, my adult son, and myself. The package would be $1214.22 for 3 of us with gratuity. I bet our a la carte bill won't be anywhere near that.

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No way WAAAAAY lol I'm not saying I was charged gratuity on top of the package. I was just wondering about this year. I'm going a la carte. But if the 18% is automatically added that's fine. Just wondering if it's ok to just sign and walk away. So then the $12 drink of the day will show a bottom line of $14.16 automatically. Gotcha. It's going to be my wife, my adult son, and myself. The package would be $1214.22 for 3 of us with gratuity. I bet our a la carte bill won't be anywhere near that.

You are correct, and yes unless the service went way above what you would expect a bartender to do I would sign and forget. I paid a la carte last time and didnt leave extra tip and still received good service.
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  • 2 weeks later...

You can just sign and walk away.  There will be a line for an additional tip, but you're already tipping 18% so there's no need to tip additional.  At some locations, there will be a digital terminal that you sign on and it will list something like "Additional Tip: $0, $1, $2, etc."  There will also be a "none" button at the bottom.

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You all who say you can just "sign and walk away" because you have already paid your 18% are correct, of course.  But I definitely felt pressure to add extra.  Always.  

 

1) The spa attendant told me to wait in the service room, then brought me my bill (which was prepaid, including a prepaid tip).  She stood over me and watched me sign.  Meanwhile, my card was far away at the front desk.  I didn't get it back until I left.  I guess those of you who could put a slash through the "extra tip" and walk out while the attendant is looking are braver than me.  I should not have been forced to sign my prepaid bill in the same room where I received the service, watched over by the spa attendant. 

2) The bar staff definitely serviced extra tippers more generously.  I watched one man wait 15 minutes for a drink, with his card lying on the bar in front of him, and finally walk off in disgust because no bartender would wait on  him (he had never added an extra tip). The bar was crowded and vastly understaffed.  The bartenders definitely helped extra-tipping friends first.  I made a point of observing and most people added extra tips, even on bills of zero (due to prepaid packages).

3) When I bought drinks or wine bottles in Main Dining, the attendant who brought the drinks also stood over me while I signed.  He was cordial and chatty, but standing over me and watching me made me feel pressure to add an extra tip.

4) Multiple envelopes were left in my room, at least 18 hours before we disembarked. My room attendant was back several times after the envelopes were left, checking in on us, which he had never done before.

 

Make no mistake, my service was great and I had absolutely no problem tipping "well over" the 18%.  I left generous extra tips.  But I want to relate that the pressure to tip over the 18% is very, very much there.  I guess if you have veins of ice you don't see it.  Or maybe I'm too sensitive. 

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Cruise-y,

 

This wasn't my experience recently on the Brilliance. In fact, in the spa, both receipts already had the final amount preprinted after the added gratuity line, so there was no pressure to do so. And in the main show lounge, often times I didn't receive a receipt for my bar drinks so there was no opportunity to tip extra if I had wanted. I did tip extra at times when the bartender remembered my name, made me something special based on my mood, or remembered my drink at Cafe Latitudes, but I never felt pressured to tip extra, although I did see some behavior in the MDR while serving wine that may have had the intent of encouraging an extra tip.

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Here was my takeaway on Navigator last year. I was certainly never displeased by any service I received, but I have no idea what would cause me to tip more than the already generous 18%. A bartender pouring me a drink, or a waiter bringing me a meal doesn't strike me as anything special Especially given that the drink is $12, the added 18% makes it $14ish. I mean c'mon, where we going here ?? Like I said, the service was fine, but none of these things made me think "omg, I can't believe he did that for us"

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You all who say you can just "sign and walk away" because you have already paid your 18% are correct, of course.  But I definitely felt pressure to add extra.  Always.  

 

1) The spa attendant told me to wait in the service room, then brought me my bill (which was prepaid, including a prepaid tip).  She stood over me and watched me sign.  Meanwhile, my card was far away at the front desk.  I didn't get it back until I left.  I guess those of you who could put a slash through the "extra tip" and walk out while the attendant is looking are braver than me.  I should not have been forced to sign my prepaid bill in the same room where I received the service, watched over by the spa attendant. 

2) The bar staff definitely serviced extra tippers more generously.  I watched one man wait 15 minutes for a drink, with his card lying on the bar in front of him, and finally walk off in disgust because no bartender would wait on  him (he had never added an extra tip). The bar was crowded and vastly understaffed.  The bartenders definitely helped extra-tipping friends first.  I made a point of observing and most people added extra tips, even on bills of zero (due to prepaid packages).

3) When I bought drinks or wine bottles in Main Dining, the attendant who brought the drinks also stood over me while I signed.  He was cordial and chatty, but standing over me and watching me made me feel pressure to add an extra tip.

4) Multiple envelopes were left in my room, at least 18 hours before we disembarked. My room attendant was back several times after the envelopes were left, checking in on us, which he had never done before.

 

Make no mistake, my service was great and I had absolutely no problem tipping "well over" the 18%.  I left generous extra tips.  But I want to relate that the pressure to tip over the 18% is very, very much there.  I guess if you have veins of ice you don't see it.  Or maybe I'm too sensitive. 

We experienced the same thing, on the last three cruises (2 different ships, 3 sets of "staff"), so there is definitely some "encouragement" to tip over and above.  I have now chosen to opt out of the automatic gratuities as soon as we get on board.  Much as it is a pain to have to juggle the extra cash, I am now preferring to do the old envelop thing to maintain a little control.  On our last cruise, for the first time ever, I refused to be "guilted" in to tipping.  Despite having the Head Waiter stop by and "chat" at surrounding tables, not once in the fourteen days that we sat at the same table in the same Dining Room at the same time every night, did they feel the urge to come over.  I get that they are busy but I'm pretty sure the two minutes it would have taken to say hi, how is everything could have been managed.  Our wait staff and steward were incredible so I divided the Head Waiter's share between them as, in my opinion, they were more deserving.  As stated by someone above, the gratuity is to reflect a service level therefore - no service no gratuity!

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Lana, I often see this and wonder about it each time. What did the wait staff do that was "incredible" ? They brought you soup ? An entree ? Suggested desserts ? Sometimes folks describe the service as "amazing". Maybe I missed something, but I didn't find anything to be amazing or incredible. As I've stated before on threads in reference to gratuities, I was very happy with the service I received on Navigator, but I think 18% is generous.

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Nicky, I guess "amazing" is subjective.  However, while I have rarely tipped additional in the dining room, there are several around the ship I have tipped extra.  For example, one server in the Windjammer several cruises ago was so attentive when we dined in there at night that we gave him a cash gratuity.  On another line, every time we walked through the café, the server there always grabbed a pickle for my son as my he learned on the first day how much my son loved pickles, so we tipped him at the end for going out of his way every time.  And regularly, I tip at the coffee bar as they quickly learn my morning routine and will have it started before I even step up to the counter to order it; thus, I can get back to my other vacation activities faster, which I appreciate.

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I've also had both so-so service and excellent service.  Excellent service has been when our MDR waiter remembers that I love iced tea and brings it out each night without me asking (and keeps it full all through the meal). Or they remember that my wife and I love a particular type of bread and make sure we have extra each evening.  We've also had the Starbucks experience that DocLC describes where the barista smiles and knows your normal order as you walk up to the bar.  These are the kind of touches that we have noticed, but it doesn't happen with every wait staff, that's for sure.

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I think there are definitely 2 types of service professionals, those who let tips come as they will and those who get a little pushy. Mix in there the customers comfort level with societal norm amounts for the gratuities and you have a great recipe for 'mileage may vary'.

 

 

I've tipped the 15% mark on land and felt comfortable, sometimes bumping to 20%, especially if im not paying cash. The 18% gratuity onboard the ships is already pushing past my land standard and is why I personally dont feel the compulsion to tip more unless they just plain knocked it out of the park for me. Another way to look at it is my feeling of 'hey, youre getting 18%, you could get 0 if I just dont get drinks at this bar or skip spa service' etc etc. The good service staff IMO will as I said let the tips come to them, not get pushy.

 

As a side note I think some staff stand there when they hand it to you on a cruise simply because they dont want to inconvenience you with having to hunt them down again just to hand over a slip that takes 2 seconds to sign.

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