Laurie - I like your pre-tip idea. Think we'll do that next time. We've done it before but kinda forgot about it. In August, we asked for extra towels three times and the steward never brought them all week. The pre-tip might 'encourage' him to remember. :grin
One thing I've always liked about cruising is that I can come up with a realistic budget. I like having my tips already in envelopes before we even set foot on board. We cruise because we establish the fee up front and no more money talk until we return. If the service is adequate we'll distribute the envelopes. If we're receiving exceptional service at any point in time we'll prefer to tip at that time. If we have to wait the feeling's gone.
My husband and I only give the suggested gratuity amount. Just knowing we have to tip everybody (some of which we have little contact with) is enough.
My Uncle who cruises 2-3 times a year says he stop tipping all together and he makes a very good living. His take is similar to yours that good service/pampering/good food/good entertainment is the cruise lines sales pitch. So our cruise price should already reflect compensating for these services. If he receives exceptional service (over and above their advertised job expectancies) then he'll tip. Other than that he feels the cruiselines should pay their employees better and stop milking their passengers. He felt the crew viewed the suggested gratuities as an given rather than a reward for exceptional service.
We don't agree completely but we do when it comes to regular advertised service. We agree that room service is not going over and above the job duties. If everyone does their job we'll give the tips. No More. This is our vacation. And you're right no one tips us for doing our jobs.
For your 1st cruise set aside the suggested gratuity then leave it alone and get your feet wet. You will received good service. If it's poor complain to someone in charge. Your Cruise Price guarantees this!
Learn through experience. As mentioned Tipping is optional. Don't feel you'll received bad service if you're not tipping at the level of others. That can backfire on you. Especially being a first timer. Our first cruise our cabin steward came so much he became a bother and we had to tell him when and when not to come.
Most replying they tip over and above the suggested amount are seasoned cruisers. Season cruisers are usually at a point (financially) in their lives where they can pay for premium serve. Most less frequent cruisers (especially first timers) aren't there. Let's face it cruising is alway one of your more economical vacations for what you receive. Many choose cruising for this reason. Some have a hard enough time gathering the cruise price. So they should received poor service because they can't tip excessively. NO! Good service is an INHERANT GIVEN with you Cruise Price. So don't let the tipping bog you down.
Rogster, your primary goal is to enjoy cruising for the first time over 7-Days.
Most either Love cruising or Hate it.
So focus on LOVING IT !
Enjoying yourself (i.e. relaxing, getting entertained, pampered, and eating great food with GREAT SERVICE!).
I know that cruising is good value for the money for a "upscale vacation" but please lets face it, cruising is not a CHEAP vacation. CAMPING in a tent , with food from the grocery store is a cheap vacation. I know because that is what we have to do for a " family vacation" We can't afford the cruise for 5 people and " we get a seperate cabin for the kids" type of trip. Please don't misunderstand me, I don't mind this , I'm just getting a little annoyed with some cruisers who go on and on about "how economical" cruising is. Ha. It's a good value "luxury" vacation as viewed by many other ( working poor) people and yes I hope one day to have the luxury of frequent cruising, because I do consider it luxury!! Those who can cruise often are lucky and yes I am sure that they have had to work for it, but let's not forget that for many cruising is a rare treat, saved for anniverseries and other special occassions. P.S. Yes I am jealous LOL how on earth do yu get the kind of job that allows you to cruise 4 or 5 times a year!! ( and not be retirement age)
I am a very picky person and service REALLY matters to me. So that said, I tip the room steward an extra something up front to ensure I get the morning news wires under my door befreo I get up, to leave extra towels, to get em extra fruit if I am going on an excursion, that kind of stuff. And if they have done a beyond average job with the room, I will tip extra at then end of the week. I am talking maybe a $20 up front and maybe an extra $10 in the end, in addition to whatever the standard is.
If the wait staff has gone out of their way to learn our names, like and dislikes and is friendly and personable, then I tip them extra as well. I may stiff the head waiter this time since the bugger never even come to the table except on the last night.
And I always tip on excursions if I was well treated.
A lot of frequent cruisers:
(1) Have little or no financial obligation to children
(2) Shop around and find really cheap deals. (cruising has the most deals available
(3) Have low overhead. (financial responsibilities)
My uncle is a frequent cruiser and never tips.
His view is tipping and make or break your decision to go.
The more I read responses regarding this matter the more I agree that the responsibility should fall on the cruise line (& tour companies) and not on the guest.
This is great you can tip in this fashion.
But someone whose had to save for months or on a strick budget tipping your room steward $30 alone is A LOT!
Therefore, (All Whose Reading This Response), if someone (i.e. Ron) had to ask this question in the first place, more and likely there maybe a budget issue and they would like to know how little they can get away with without loosing FACE!
Big tippers should be careful of their response. If one can tip in this fashion they would have never posed the question.
Go according to the guidelines of your cruisebook and don't feel compelled to do anything more than you will naturally do.
Here is what I did when we were on our first cruise this August. We are in our 20's and had saved up to go on this trip. (Free Airfare made this trip able to be done). We did not tip above the standard amount because we felt that was a fair amount for the service provided considering that these are all paid employees of the cruiseline, and this was not a Free Trip.
As it got torwards the end of the week, we felt that the wait service had been ok but nothing special in the dining room (Having to wait and always ask for drink refills, etc.); However our room steward had done a Fantastic Job, and was extremely helpful with a luggage issue. (Note: The $10 a day is broken up $6.50 for the wait staff and $3.50 for the cabin steward.) With this being the case, we adjusted our tips ot be $5 per day for each due to the service that we received from each side. I know that many will not agree with doing this, but this is how we felt about the service provided.
After reading these boards in retrospect, I would have removed the 1.50 from each of us from the auto billing and given a $20 to our room steward since I now believe that the tips are divided between all the members of the department and they do not go to the individual. (I am not sure of this though)