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'Tips Included' Losing a Cruise Line

It should be said up front that when it comes to tipping, we belong to the sect that likes it included, doesn’t want to know, doesn’t care if it’s justified or not, and generally would rather not deal with it.

In an industry — cruising — where the mantra is all-inclusiveness, why are tips the exception, and why are they sometimes problematic?

Make them 15%…bury them in the fare…end of story.

Having gotten that off our chests, we know it happens only in pockets of the cruise ship industry, and that’s not likely to change, except here and there.

Like P&O.

This is a cruise line that has made no secret of the fact that it did not automatically add per-person, per-day gratuities. P&O attributes it to confusion on the part of passengers as to “whether or when to leave a cash tip for their waiters and cabin stewards.”

So starting in April, P&O is adding £3.10 per day to passengers accounts. That’s just under $5, still less than every other major cruise line. There’s a punch line to an old joke that we can’t remember which goes something like this: “Now we know what you are, we’re just haggling over the price.”

If tips were included in the price of all cruises, it would enable crew members to count on a regular guaranteed income…and it would enable passengers to compare cruise prices with more accuracy.

DAILY DEAL:
Costa Concordia
7 nights
January 21, 2012
Savona, Italy return
Inside $399
www.costacruise.com

Carnival tips the scale for balance

Call it tipping. Call it rewarding good service. Call it paying gratuities. Whatever you call it, this is one of the most contentious issues among people who take cruises.

Carnival is the latest to cruise line make news on tipping and/or gratuities, a subject cruise lines would prefer not having to address when charging more. The daily gratuity on Carnival ships goes up 15% on December 1, from $10 to $11.50.

In making its case — price increases always need to have cases made — Carnival points out it’s the first increase in 10 years. It also points out that Carnival’s rate is now in line with other lines: Royal Caribbean is $11.65 and Norwegian $12.

Like most people who have cruised numerous times, we’ve always accepted the gratuity policy as part of the trip, whatever it is, and that it’s one more thing you don’t have to think about on the cruise. What we’ve objected to is being made to feel that the “daily gratuity” should be increased if we’re happy (or happier) with the service…and that has happened to us.

To us, if you want to “guarantee” tips, don’t imply that more would be a good idea. Cruise lines can’t have it both ways.

And you?

DAILY DEAL:
Azamara Journey
14 nights
December 4, 2011
Barbados to Rio de Janeiro
Inside $2,849
www.azamaraclubcruises.com

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