Nobody wants to talk about tips on cruise ships. Making new friends over the dinner table, passengers are happy enough to reveal what a bargain they got with their last-minute fare and they’ll swap advice about the best place to buy duty-free cigarettes in Gibraltar or booze in the Caribbean.
That doesn’t stop the passengers queuing up at the reception desk on day one of a cruise to demand that the automatic daily charge for tips is removed from their on board account. Good luck to anyone who has a pressing problem they need to speak to the purser about. Bathroom flooded or bed unmade? Television not working or wardrobe door hanging off? Sorry, you’ll have to wait.
But who would want to show themselves up as mean and tight-fisted over the gratuities which are in most cases an essential part of the pay-packets of cabin stewards and restaurant waiters?
It might not be a subject for discussion but tipping is certainly one that raises temperatures, among the Brits at least. We’re not talking about our American cousins here; they are happy to shower dollar bills on everyone from bellboys to barbers. And I have a very good friend – as British as John Bull – who would always hand out a generous tip on day one with the promise that there was plenty more where that came from if he was looked after properly.
But try checking what the tipping arrangements will be on your next cruise and you’ll discover the cruise lines themselves are reluctant to make a song and dance about the subject.
The details are in the brochures and on the websites. It’s just that they are tucked away in the small print and hidden among the FAQs.
- P&O’s rates are going up from £3.10 per person per day to £3.50, effective on different ships from different dates, starting with Oriana on March 28 and Aurora last to join the party on April 24.
- Fred Olsen Cruises add £4 a day, while on Norwegian the cost is $12 (£7.50). On Royal Caribbean the extra charge is $11.65 (£7.35) per passenger, rising to $13.90 (£8.75) in a suite.
- For Cunard’s Britannia-class passengers it’s going up from $11 a day to $11.50 (£7.25) and for those travelling in Princess Grill or Queens Grill the increase is from $13 to $13.50 (£8.50).
Cunard say it has been some time since the rates were increased, and that the charges are “benchmarked against many other leading cruise lines.”
If you’re travelling with an ultra luxury line, for example Seabourn, Crystal or Silversea, gratuities are included.
Elsewhere, Thomson, Saga, Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery are also gratuity-free zones.
All of which is worth bearing in mind when working out the cost of your next cruise.
*What do you think about cruise ship tipping? Leave your comments below