06/12/2010...12:20 pm

Tipping: Keeping it personal

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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.

Service with a smile on Fred. Olsen's Black Watch

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?



  • If there is not an automatic charge, then you are expected to tip accordingly at the end of your cruise. Drop Shippers

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrea M. Rotondo, News View and Cruise Critic UK, Sue Bryant. Sue Bryant said: Today's blog: Passengers react to Fred. Olsen's new tipping policy: http://tinyurl.com/2aw5ogz […]

  • I have always had tips included in the cost of my cruise, but have always given extra in cash to my cabin steward, as i work as a room attendant and know how hard the work is and know that it is nice to be apppreciated.

  • The included added tips in one way is fare as there are plenty of people behind the scenes that you do not see or hear and they too all work very hard to make our cruises run a smooth shop
    ok your waiter brings your food and drink but in that galley their is a team of chefs and cooks making all that lovley food and they get forgotten sometimes and there is yes of course your excellent room stewards but again he she has not being washing the sheets and ironing all day
    so come spare a thought for the back room staff who you dont see ever they too deserve a tip.

  • Clive Harvey

    I’d rather pay more for my cruise and have the tips already included as part of the overall fare. What I don’t want is having the line adding what they think my tips should be onto my account. The service is shoddy enough on Fred Olsen’s ships, so were I to sail with the company again (unlikely) I would decide who I tip and indeed even if a tip is appropriate. A tip should be earned – it is not a right.

  • i do not agree with it being on the bill, on are last cruise (ncl nor/ gem) the reception staff seemed very reluctant to take off the charge (& they would only do it on the last day) we always tip the room steward/s, as for other staff ( unseen) there is a premium charged on all drinks for that purpose,
    we do though tip bar staff when they give us friendly & extra attention, if it ever becomes compulsory, we will not cruise with the lines that do it

  • The trouble is that most of the staff rely on their tips to make a living, as the cruise companies pay them so little; I once heard that the wage was so low that it is far below what we would call the minimum wage in UK.
    They deserve to be paid for their work & if the envelope system is used then get very little( even nothing) from some passengers. It is not our culture to tip in the UK as it is in USA, wherein lies the problem.
    Some TA’s are including the gratuties in their price quote to attract customers. Celebrity are adding the gratuities to their quote; I had 3 future cruise quotes when we were on Eclipse and all had the amount added. I just hope that the staff do get the gratuity that I have pre-paid, if I choose that route in future!

  • When you tip via the automatic method does all of that money go to parties in question. Does the company take any admin fees out and they get less than you actual expect?

    • Mary Foster

      When on a Costa cruise they add gratuities every day. No way will they remove them and let you tip yourself. At the end of the cruise you have a questionaire to fill in and it depends how you rate people on these , what percentage they get paid. Our waiter told us that if we didn’t rate him excellent, then he wouldn’t get a lot. Therefore I think it is much better to either have tips included as Thomson do, or leave it to the passengers. There again, we have seen people leave the table and not give anything.

  • Geordie Paul

    I do not agree with tips charged as part of price, how do you know the tips are going to who you want. There is nothing wrong with the envelope system, mark these Kitchen Staff, Laundry etc. and tip your Steward, Waiters and Bar staff personally. Keep the Companies mits off tips.

  • I do not agree with the Companies adding the tips to customers bills. However, I feel tips should be included in the ‘overall price’ of the holiday. I always select to pay tips in advance – and then add tips to the staff who deserve tipping – otherwise staff can become very complacent about receiving tips knowing that the Companies are taking the money and charging the customers accounts. In addition, if the Companies are taking the money then maybe they will do automatically add the extra 15% charge levied on they drinks that customers have to pay – and I have noticed that on the receipts customers are encouraged to add tips to the extra 15%!!

    I would not travel Fred Olsen Lines if they added tips without my consent!!

  • Jim Mackman

    We are going on a Nile cruise with Thomas Cook in January (all inclusive). In the brochure it says ” tips will be taken at the beginning of the cruise ( get this bit) for passengers convenience” Do they think we are incapable of keeping some money left to tip at the end. I don’t think we will be tipping at the beginning of the cruise, what genius dreamed that one up?

    • cruisecriticuk

      That’s even more of a cheek than adding them automatically to your account! And so unsubtle in the wording!

  • Ayliff McNab

    This is a far more complex issue than many people think. My daughter worked as a waitress in her gap year and told me a few things on the subject. Yes it’s nice to get a good reaction but what about the staff behind the scenes. The Chefs and cooks who make sure the food is up to the mark. As she pointed out the glamourpuss waitress or steward will get a big personal tip even if their service is lousy but the rest of the staff will be ignored.
    I take the view that the Company will ensure a more equitable share out, I hope, and so would pay the standing charge. However firms like MSC who add a 14 per cent surcharge on everything they sell towards “replacing” the tipping service, whilst still chartging it, I will opt out off and in fact no longer use their services.
    I usually leave an extra tip for my cabin steward/ess and perhaps waiter but the rest goes onto the standing charge.

  • I do not like being told how much we should allow for tips,by Fred Olsen Line in the first place, we have been with them twice.in the past 2 years.now they want to make me pay even if I don’t want to.I DON’T THINK SO.if there is no opt out scheme.then I will think twice about booking with them again in 2012

  • The bottom line is that we, the mere customer are expected to pay the staff wages through tipping. A form of moral blackmail by the cruise operators. This is not how it works in the normal business environment is it? We don’t expect to have a staff tip surcharge added to our bill when we go shopping or visit a theatre or cinema do we? Reason being that we rightly assume that the staff are being paid a fair wage which usually they are in a civilised country. So assuming that the cruise operators are civilised companies, they should pay a civilised wage. A tip for great service would then be a personal choice. A fair wage would also mean that staff would clamber to work for cruise lines and good service ethos would come to the fore. OK, cruises would probably cost more but those cruise operators who went for it would soon rise to the top of the industry and find that their profits would rise without passing on all the costs to it’s customers.

  • Tipping should be left up to the passenger…I’m going on a cruise in Feb with Thomas Cook. I have absolutely no intention of tipping at the beginning of the journey. The holiday has already cost me an arm and a leg and I think it is only fair for tips to be lft if and when you want to leave them. It is not up to the passengers to make up the staff wages!!!

  • On a recent cruise we asked to reduce the daily gratuities, at the end of the cruise with the 15% add on for drinks we paid a similar amount to the original. we also got envelopes to tip those we wanted to. This way the background staff were covered and we could make our own decision who should get extra.

  • Thomas Whitby

    Low paid! What about the free board and lodging.
    Never mind transport to ‘exotic’ places that we, the customer, pay enormous fees to get to? I tip service and the surgarge on all drinks, that should be enough.

  • I am British not American: It is my custom to tip when I feel it is deserved and appropriate: never as a matter of course. I am normally quite generous but I do not feel comfortable paying “up front” as it were and I would not book a cruise with a company adopting such a policy. It is unfortunate that some on-board staff are poorly paid and I sympathise with them. However, many workers in the UK are poorly paid and our tipping policy at home is not critricised.
    The cruise lines charge premium rates for drinks in particular. Perhaps a proportion of these could be given over to their hard-working staff.

  • Having traveled with Fred The first thing we did was go to reception to log our credit card and inform the staff that we did not want graturities taken this worked we tipped who deserved to be tipped. but we felt that Fred,s Ships resembled a floating morge they all go to bed at 2300hrs

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