Is it best to pay gratuities at the end or pay as you go?

I understand your credit car is charged at the end. However, I heard you can cancel that automatic charge after 48 hours on the ship and pay them separately. What are the rules?

21 Answers

i just prepay. as others have said its one less thing to think about. while i may roll my eyes or grumble because some staff is undeserving, i may also slip other staff some extra cash just because they went above and beyond.

Interesting, will have to inquire with the steward or waitstaff as to the gratuities. We always leave tips , especially if the service was above par.

This is not true. Many passengers request cancellation of the automatic deduction from their credit card each cruise. This is definitely true for Princess Cruises. The passenger service desk representative informed me of this when I requested that our gratuities not be automatically deducted. This means that the total gratuity available to distribute has to be different for each cruise. Moreover, when I made this request to cancel these deductions, it was completely retroactive to day one.

At that time, since our waiter informed me that he was completely unaware of any gratuity given to him from our automatic deduction, I asked myself, wouldn’t therefore be better to personally hand him and other cruise staff my cash gratuity at the end of the cruise......which by the way would end up being quite generous ( as they are all very deserving) but still overall less than that deducted from my credit card. If they deduct $13.50 each for my wife and I per day, that totals $189.00 for a 7 day cruise. I would rather personally hand my gratuity in an envelope with cash at the end of the cruise as follows: waiter: $60.00, 2nd waiter $40.00, room steward $50.00. Handing this envelope with a warm handshake to me on the last day of the cruise is better for me because #1 my server is definitely receiving my tip, #2 it represents a personal thank you and #3 the cruise line is not receiving one penny of this to dole out at their whim.

Of course, the amounts given in cash can vary depending upon the service rendered.

In sum, I want to decide who gets my hard earned money.....and I already paid the cruise line when I first bought the no double dipping at my expense.

That would be a good tip for 3 of the 500 people who served you during the cruise.

As far as the paycheck, I would be willing to bet that the same percentage of people cancel the auto "grats" each cruise, therefor resulting in the same basic amount when divided by 500 or so.

Also, by cancelling the auto "grats", the person you gave cash to may be required to turn it in to the tip pool.

You will need more than 3 envelopes.

Cabin service team:

1) Head steward

2) Jr or assistant steward

3) on call deck housekeeping or steward floater (covers the times when both the head and assistant unavailable to handle a request), they also tend to be the ones that vacuum the passway your cabin is in.

Main DIning services team each meal:

4) Head waiter

5) Assistant waiter

6) Jr. waiter (usually the one that brings your bread and fills the water glasses)

7) service runner

8) bus persons

9) Maitre'D or Hostess (give them more for open seating meal like breakfast or lunch or if you have no set time for dinner, less if you have traditional timed dining)

Alternative services (tip as attended to or the area is used by you):

10) gratis drink servers in the buffet or cafe area

11) bus persons in the buffet or cafe area

12) various housekeepers for public areas (especially the ones cleaning the restrooms, or pick-up the debris left after an activity like BINGO)

This is a good representation of whom gets your automatic gratuities, but by all means it's not a complete list of everyone that gets even a percent out of the auto-grats.

As for where I get my information it is from a combination of having family that worked on ships (entertainment division) and from talking to crew members on more recent voyages. And yes the crew will lie to you about things regarding tipping, like that that all tips are pooled and evenly distributed regardless of how exceptional or lazy a crew member is or that there is not a list by the end of the cruise of cabins that reduced or removed their auto-gratuities. In part is because as a clause in their contract they are not suppose to talk to passengers about any individual financial arrangement in their contract. But in certain cases they are going for the sympathy angle to get more tips.

The big 3 cruise corporations Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian all have their payroll based out of Miami. This makes them subjective to scrutiny or audits under both the Florida Department of and the IRS. If any of the monies collect by a cruise line that are listed as being gratuities or discretionary service fees are not distributed to crew the cruise line would be fined.

Something else to know is that the crew do not get the auto gratuities until a pay period following each cruise, so they have no idea who has removed their tips and which guests added more. The auto gratuities are likely listed as something else on their pay statement, so the crew member who said he didn't get any, was likely just not completely understanding the pay statement.

We tend to pay the gratuities precruise and then tip extra as we go. We did have some bad service in certain areas but instead of cancelling our prepaid gratuities we simply do not extra tip. We never cancel gratuities although I hear talk of several cruisers going it.

That's the way we do it too. One less thing to stress about during the cruise.

Yes staff do deserve tips in most cases....however some basic maths for you to peruse. Most ships operate on a crew/passenger ratio of 1 / 2.5 or x1 crew for every 2.5 passengers. Gratuities that are expected are £10 or $12.5 per day per passenger. Simple maths dictate that if ALL crew were in receipt of tips (Captain included) this equates to £25 per crew member per day every day = £175 per week (besides their wages). This is paid whether service is excellent, good, bad or very bad. On top of this passengers have to pay a service charge of 15% on all drinks again irrespective of quality of service (I usually find I have to get my own drinks because of the length of time it takes the waiter/waitress to deliver). This is because a lot of cruise lines cut down on staff to make more profit. Tipping is mainly an American thing & some other countries even frown upon it. What should happen is that shipping companies should pay their staff a fair wage & these should not be tip dependent in my view. Or gratuities should be far more reasonable least half of what is currently expected, with passengers able to pay extra if they wish.

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