Tipping on Cruise Vacation
By Anna Lynn Sibal
In the United States, it is common practice to leave tips for the servers after dining at a restaurant, or to hand some small bills to the bellhop or the maids who catered to your needs at a hotel. Giving tips is, for Americans, a way of showing gratitude for service rendered and well-delivered, and at the same time a gesture of encouragement to provide even better services.
Of course, not all cultures look at tipping this way. In some countries, it is not expected for you to tip the people who served you. There are even some places in the world where tipping is actually seen as offensive. It varies from country to country and culture to culture.
What about when you are on a cruise vacation, you may ask. Are you supposed to give tips to the cabin and dining crew whenever they provide you with service? The answer to that is it depends on the policy of the cruise line you are sailing with.
In earlier times, a passenger may give tips to the cabin and dining crew of the cruise ship he or she is sailing with. It is actually a grand gesture because tips from the passengers make up a substantial amount of the compensation the crew members get while working on board the ship. Traditionally, it is even the practice before for the steward to distribute envelopes to the passengers on the last night of the cruise. The cash that the crew gets from these envelopes serve as their tips and are distributed amongst themselves afterwards.
Some cruise liners still maintain this traditional way of getting tips from passengers, but there are many that are implementing other means of acquiring gratuities from the passengers for the cabin and dining crew. There are a number of reasons why many cruise liners are now veering from tradition. One of these reasons is that cruise liners are becoming more and more international, and so, some passengers are used to tipping extravagantly while others are not accustomed to giving tips at all. Another reason is that a cruise ship typically offers more services, more amenities and more dining choices nowadays that tipping can become confusing for passengers.
To make the business of tipping easier for both the passengers and the crew of the cruise ship, many cruise liners now charge a flat service fee in lieu of tips. Most of the time, the service charge is set at a certain amount on a daily basis, and typically it is $10 to $15 per day and depending on the class of the passenger. Of course, a passenger may still slip a bill or two into the palm of a crew member who served him or her well, but the passenger is left to do that to his or her discretion.
The best way to know if you should give tips while you are on your cruise vacation is to check out the tipping or gratuities policy of the cruise line you are sailing with. You can ask your travel agent about it, or you can look it up on the cruise line’s website.
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