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  1. #1
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    Mad Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    After just returning from a 7 day cruise on Carnival, I have been caught by the auto tipping scam again. I know most cruise lines do it now, so to single out Carnival is not completely fair.

    I think this automatic tipping policy by cruise lines is deceptive and just wrong. Most of all, it leaves you with a really bad 'ripped off' taste in your mouth after a nice cruise.

    I DO NOT believe that everyone should be tipped. Gratuities and Tips are a privilege or bonus not a right. It is the cruise line's responsibility to pay their staff at, at least the minimum wage that the law requires. It is the employee's decision to either work for that wage or not.

    That said. I am a very generous tipper. Usually 25 to 30% on all bills if the service is good. 15% automatic gratuity on drinks on a cruise ship creates no incentive for the wait staff to provide any level of service. On ships where I could decide the tip, the wait staff would learn my name and what I like to drink and create a fun and friendly atmosphere in the hopes of a better tip... which they would always get. Ships that add this automatically have staff that, for lack of a better term, could not give a damn either way. As was the case with Carnival.

    Then the auto tipping on the room bill. $40 a day for 2 adults and 2 kids. This is on top of the tips I already gave the waiters, stewards, babysitters, spa staff, casino staff, bar tenders, Maitre D and more etc. Frankly this is a con. They claim these are for 'behind the scenes' staff. However, if I stay in a hotel I DO NOT tip the janitor or other behind the scenes staff. They are paid by the establishment. I tip only those that directly attended to me and only if the level of service earned it.

    A much large issue that I would like to see investigated, is where these funds go. A number of crew members have told me that they never see any of this. One guest services person told me it is used to pay for medical or other emergencies for staff who can't afford it... WHAT, they don't give their staff medical ??

    Anyway, that is my rant and I know a lot of other people agree with me. The cruise lines do have their PR team out in full force to jump all over topics like this.

  2. #2
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    A much large issue that I would like to see investigated, is where these funds go. A number of crew members have told me that they never see any of this. One guest services person told me it is used to pay for medical or other emergencies for staff who can't afford it... WHAT, they don't give their staff medical ??
    You might have been ripped off......... by the crew members........ looking for a few extra tips. the ships automatic tip policy puts the tips in a pool for each passenger then that passengers main staff (steward, waiter, asst waiter, whatever) get the bulk of the main tip, the rest is spread out, yes for behind the scenes personnel with exception of the bar staff, they are covered by the 15% that is added to your bar tab.
    You do have the option to go to the customer services desk and have the automatic tipping removed from your account, they will usually balk at it but it is your money and in the end they will remove it, then you are free to tip accordingly.
    As far as getting a wage, ship personnel are under contracts they work for a set wage, they don't have to sign the contract, they don't have to work for the cruise line, they do it because most of them make good money. The reason for implementation of the automatic tipping was so that the deadbeats stiffing the staff would start coughing up not to force the passenger that respects good service and compensates accordingly. So lets get practical, when was the last time you tipped a lido buffet waiter or server. Granted most of them do double duty as far as being dining room staff but still what about the guy that gave you a little extra up on the buffet, the auto tipping makes sure he doesn't get missed for all his service where ever it is. We usually choose alternate dining anymore so I will usually not see the same waiter twice in a cruise so auto tipping makes sure I don't stiff anybody that took care of me, then that give me the option to give extra to those that I do interact with like my cabin steward or a bar I frequent, or the guys at the lido grill that make my hamburger just the way I like it.
    And yes their medical, dental, food, work clothing, are all taken care of by the cruise line, but not out of tip money. The shipboad doctor treats far more staff than passengers any day.

  3. #3
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    Well said, bOB.

    And for everybody's information, the shipboard medical staff and clergy (if there's clergy on board) are there primarily for crew, secondarily for passengers.


    Mary Ann & Pucci

  4. #4
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    Quote Originally Posted by bob View Post
    The reason for implementation of the automatic tipping was so that the deadbeats stiffing the staff would start coughing up not to force the passenger that respects good service and compensates accordingly.
    Bob... Deadbeats passengers stiffing the staff... really ??
    The deadbeats are the cruise lines if they are not paying their staff enough and need tips to make up for it. You prove my point that it is expected by the cruise line, which no longer makes it a tip but rather a fee! Tipping is not a right or requirement and if a 'deadbeat' passenger as you put it, does not want to tip anything, then they should not have to (AND I bet the bar tender wont be so quick to get to them for their next drink).

    You are also arguing on one hand that the staff get paid really well and on the other that the passengers stiff them and yet on another that the staff are ripping off the passengers for a few extra tips. Seams that you like to blame everyone except the cruise line for their fault policy.

    No I don't tip a waiter in the Ledo buffet because they are paid by the ship for what they do. I don't tip people to do their job. Same way I don't tip the checkout lady and grocery store. If a particular waiter made an impact then I would definitely slip him/her something.

    Sorry Bob but I remain unconvinced. If gratuities are required they should be added to the advertised price, not a hidden line item in a contract somewhere.

  5. #5
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    Quote Originally Posted by holfam View Post
    it is expected by the cruise line, which no longer makes it a tip but rather a fee!
    You can have the "tip" removed....so it is definitely not a fee! You will be asked why you want to remove the tip because it is assumed that you have not received excellent service and the line will want to fix that!!


    Quote Originally Posted by holfam View Post
    AND I bet the bar tender wont be so quick to get to them for their next drink.
    A gratuity is automatically added to a bar bill! It will not be removed by asking to have the "auto tips" removed. It is a fact of life. I have never heard of anyone asking to have this tip removed before.


    Quote Originally Posted by holfam View Post
    If gratuities are required they should be added to the advertised price, not a hidden line item in a contract somewhere.
    I recommend that the next time you cruise you make yourself happier by asking to have the auto tips removed and tip those you feel "deserve" your gratuity...but understand that these tips will indeed be placed in a pool and your steward, waiter or whoever may not actually "feel your goodwill" but instead "feel the pinch"!

    Oh....and yes, there are deadbeats among cruise ship passengers...you might be surprised if you found out who some of them were!!

  6. #6
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    Beryl - good for you for replying. I've been sitting on my hands and biting my tongue, but then, what would I know?!


    Mary Ann & Pucci

  7. #7
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    Quote Originally Posted by holfam View Post
    $40 a day for 2 adults and 2 kids. This is on top of the tips I already gave the waiters, stewards, babysitters, spa staff, casino staff, bar tenders, Maitre D and more etc.
    Hello Holfam, I'm a bit confused here. If you were so unhappy about tipping these people via the auto tip system, then why on earth did you give them even more.? The majority of the auto tip money goes to the very same people you tipped extra. And if you really wanted to physically hand them the tip, why didn't you just take those auto tips off your bill and then only do the in person tipping, like you wanted to. (Clearly you already knew about this system, as you said: You had
    "been caught by the auto tipping scam again."
    If this happened before, you really can't claim that this cost was
    " a hidden line item in a contract somewhere."
    I don't understand your complaint. Did you just forget to remove the auto tip? I can understand that, but if so, aren't you really just mad at yourself, and not the cruise line.

    I'm not happy with the system the cruise lines use to pay their staff., either. I would be happier with a higher cruise fare, and no tipping. But this is the way it works now, and we agree to participate when we book. It sounds like you knew, so why complain now?

  8. #8
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    So..........
    First of all so that it is clear, I am not arguing, just making comments based on personal observations, and having met and know staff of all positions and ranks on several cruise lines over my 20 years of cruising.

    It is a known fact among seasoned and even not so seasoned cruisers that hotel service staff on cruise ships are contracted, and are paid minimum wage, they know that when they sign the contract, they do not start getting a higher set salary until they reach mid management, (head steward, dining room captain, department heads) this is not secret stuff. They make their good money that I mentioned, from TIPS, just as many other service personnel do. Not uncommon for waiters/waitresses at even high end land based restaurants to have a wage base of minimum wage and take home some big bucks based on their tips, cruise ships are no different. As far as stiffing by passengers, it would be naive to think it doesn't happen, and that is what was cutting into ship service personnel's wage factor, again one of the main reasons for the implementation of automatic tipping. This is not a case of the cruise lines being cheap. Service personnel on cruise ships have been paid minimum wage and make the difference from tips for probably as long as there have been cruise ships.

    Maybe they should just be added to the advertised price and be done with it, but then once you are onboard the ship, you have paid your fare, no refunds, you have paid your tips, no refunds, you get bad service, no refunds, no choice. At least with this method you have choice, if your getting bad service, you go to the customer relations desk and have the auto tipping removed, done, over, your in control now. So as far as having tips being made part of my fare, that I would have a problem with because then I have no control at all, no matter what cruise line it is.

    But, this policy is not hidden real deep, buried somewhere in the contract, most all cruise lines make it quite prominent on their websites, in their what you need to know brochures and yes it is in your passenger contract.

    As far as the comment about you might be getting ripped off by a crew member, tongue in cheek, but it is also pretty well known that crew members will look for that soft spot in passengers and plead poverty or whatever else they can do to drum up a few extra bucks in tips, cabin stewards and waiters alike.

    The bottom line is still real simple, if one doesn't like the way the cruise line does it, opt out, have the auto tipping removed, take control and pay who you want. The only option you would really have to go to the wall over is having the 15% removed from a bar tab, BUT you can even do that if you think it is worth it.
    As far as the deadbeats, yup, they have the right to not tip at all, and they don't get thrown overboard, they don't get chastised, the don't get a red X on their forehead........... but if the cruise the same line, the do get remembered.

    Nope, I'm not trying to convince you, just open your mind..............

  9. #9
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    This happened the last time I went on NCL but we were notified in time that we could dispute it. Frankly I didn't even think about it this time on Carnival and I am not one that reads every line of a contract when going on vacation. The first time I saw this charge was on the day of checkout when we got the bill and it was way to late to dispute.

    If I had known (or remembered) this, then I would not given my 2 waiters in the restaurant $60 each or the Spa Staff $40 each or left money in the room... never mind the rest. Now you telling me that the $120 I gave to my 2 waiters will go into a kitty and not to the waiters ? This makes me even more upset.

    That said, it is a fee or tax, not a tip. Otherwise it would work in reverse where you could "opt in" to automatic gratuities, not be forced to "opt out" by their rules and timing. There should be big signs in the restaurants, bars, rooms and spa stating that tips are included on your bill.

    I don't mind and can understand the 15% on the bar bills but I still think it is a flawed way to incentivise good service... "why should I do any more than I have to if I'm getting the 15% anyway". I bet they would make more and create a better experience by allowing passengers to tip bar staff directly.

    Anyway, I've made my point thanks for the comments. Personally I don't trust for profit corporations to do what's right with money intended for their staff, call me Naive.

  10. #10
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    Re: Auto gratuities on Carnival and other cruise lines

    When auto-tipping was started there were many that did not like the procedure. There were others who did like the convienance of not having to bring extra cash onboard. And of course there are deadbeats that were part of the equation for setting this method up. It was no cruiseline conspiracy as what I'm interpreting what is being said.

    I understand your frustration and I'm guessing you are relatively new to cruising. Most cruiselines do a pretty good job communicating the auto-tip policy. And it's not a matter of reading the fine print on a cruise contract. Some lines notify passengers when the cut-off day is for removing auto-tipping via announcments or the daily newsletter.

    I personally don't care for the pre-paid tips. Yes, there are cruiselines that require the "tips" be paid at time of final payment if you choose to participate in anytime dining. I think that should be called a "service charge".

    I disagree on the 15% bar gratuity when it's connected to service. Those wait staff want that tip just like any other bar staff/server in a restuarant. I don't mind having it added to my bill versus carrying cash around. I'm glad those days are over.
    Maureen


    Carnival Dreaming out of New Orleans

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