The thorny subject of tipping has arisen once again, with Fred. Olsen’s recent (very discreet) announcement that it would be automatically adding gratuities to passengers’ onboard accounts from the beginning of this month.
Compared with other lines, Fred. Olsen’s ‘recommended’ amount is small: £4 per guest, per day, or £3 on the very long cruises. And there’s still an opt-out; you can ask to have the charges removed and collect envelopes, Fred Olsen’s original system, at reception if you prefer to use cash. Or not tip at all.
Needless to say, there’s a fair bit of chat on Cruise Critic’s Fred. Olsen forum about the changes, not all of it positive. Member Star-light says: “I should not have to be instructed where and how this [gratuities] should be paid. I fear that if gratuities are no longer at the discretion of the client (as it clearly states on Fred. Olsen web site) this then could eventually lead to a drop in service standards.”
It’s not that Fred. Olsen passengers don’t want to tip, which is the common perception of Brits. It’s more a case of how they tip. Trinitytrees points out: “I am disappointed that FOC have gone down this route, this is what some other ships do, I know. We sailed for first time with FOC last summer and have booked another cruise. We did like tipping who we wanted to, when we wanted to and not be dictated to…regardless of service.”
Cruisin_Linda agrees: “When we go on the Braemar in February, we shall go to the purser’s desk and say we would like to tip at the end. One of the reasons we chose FO was for their tipping policy. I think it is a slippery slope (perhaps started by the paid for teas in the Observatory Lounge) and expect there will be a lot of moaning.”
Some would rather not have to decide how much to tip. Member Tring says: “I do not like the situation and would much prefer to pay more for the cruise and have tips included in the price as some cruises do.”
While others say they resent having the personal aspect of tipping taken away from them. Sea_Bird remarks: “It is lovely to see the appreciation as we hand our envelopes to the stewardess and waiters. They work so hard it is a pleasure to tip them. Next cruise, we shall go to Reception and ask for the gratuities to be removed from our onboard account so that we can have the pleasure of giving what we want to whoever we want, personally.”
Member Gelbel’s solution, meanwhile, is a personal message to the crew. “I’ve not long returned from a cruise on Braemar. I charged our tips to my on board account as it was easier than faffing about with cash. I gave our waiter and cabin maid a thank you card – and said I’d tipped them via my account.”
I think Gelbel’s card is a really nice idea and a, going to do it myself next time I cruise. What’s your preference? Include tips in the price? Envelopes? Or the impersonal-but-convenient auto-gratuities?