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.