Tipping is more alive than ever since, apparently, it sustains the Crew of major Cruise Ships, according to a revelation made by the US Government as part of its plans to regulate the cruise industry.
Recently, Jane Greene, a lover of cruising, reported that on her last Cruise trip, she found a surprise charge on her final bill which included a hefty and automatic tip for the crew.
Take Oceania's policy as an example:
- Each Guest occupying staterooms must daily pay gratuities of $14.50.
- Plus, an 18% service gratuity automatically added to all beverage purchases, spa services and dinner at its signature restaurant, La Reserve.
As if this wasn't enough, most of the Crew do not consider gratuity a tip making you feel obligated to ante up once again. By the way, a gratuity and a tip are more or less the same thing.
When this Guest Greene contacted Oceania for an explanation, she was advised that this is the cruise line's tipping policy. Many Cruise Lines adopt a similar policy, however the concerning issue here is the freedom of the Guest to choose how much they pay and whether the service was to their expectations.
In balance, gratuities must be considered for Crew and Cruise Lines should be able to suggest how much and even add them provisionally to the account (a full explanation much be given). However, passengers also must be able to agree or disagree with the amount, considering the level of service they actually received. Moreover, passengers should have the right to cancel or reduce the amount automatically selected. If Cruise Lines do not permit this, they have to change the name of the word gratuity or tip as the meaning is different. Moreover, passengers should then also be asked to sign a disclaimer that they agree with such a charge on board.
If the US authorities start taxing tips and regulating them, passengers will learn that on US ships tips are forced meaning the costs on board are significantly higher. This will disadvantage US Cruise Lines over European and International alternatives, especially as passengers become ever more Tip Savvy! Certainly US Cruise Lines are far more aggressive when it comes to Tips compared to their European counterparts and the situation is getting out of hand, which could impact on the future repeaters of the Industry.
To close, in the grand scheme of things adding such automatic gratuities in such a forced way, may well impact the On Board Revenue in the medium to long term and passengers may start to implement a tighter lock on their wallets affecting profitability. After all what goes around comes around!