Tipping etiquette varies across the world, from being mandatory in some cultures to being seen as patronizing in others. It depends on the culture you are visiting and the customs practiced, so careful consideration before opting to tip or not is the key. A little cultural awareness can save you a lot of confusion, time, money, energy and especially embarrassment.
Believe it or not, tipping is a hot-button topic that is currently provoking strong reaction among cruise passengers.
Richard Fain, the chairman of the board of Royal Caribbean Cruises, suggested that he would examine his company’s gratuities policy as they approach more U.K. and European passengers. The fact is they don’t tip as much as their American counterparts. While other major lines automatically add daily gratuities to your bill, on Royal Caribbean ships you have to stuff tip money into envelopes for the staff at the end of the cruise.
The situation will only become worse. Royal Caribbean expects that the majority of their customers to be international in the next few years and there are many countries where tipping is simply not part of the culture.
What do you think Royal Caribbean should do?
1. Apply a mandatory tipping fee or increase the cruise fare to be inclusive of tipping.
2. Pay staff more wages and leave tipping optional.
Most other cruise ship lines recommend tips totalling about $9-$13 a day, and most automatic tipping programs are in this range. Here are average tips for each crew member:
Dining Room Waiter $3-$4 a day
Assistant Waiter or Bus Boy $1.50 – $3 a day
Dining Room Maite D’ $.50 -$1 a day
Dining Room Head Waiter or Head Server $.50 – $1 a day
Room Steward $3-$4 a day
In North America tipping is expected and comprises a major component in hospitality wages. Tips are applied to almost everything so when you are travelling and not used to incurring these extra costs it can be a shock to your wallet if you don’t remember to factor it in. In many parts of Europe tipping can be considered ostentatious, arrogant or wasteful. This is mainly because in many European countries, laws were passed that made it mandatory to include service in the bill. This ensured adequate wages to employees and relatively well paid service industry professionals don’t rely on tips. But hospitality workers such as waiters, bartenders and concierges will generally appreciate any tips.