As a culture, tipping in general isn’t as big in the UK as it is in other parts of the world. There’s an attitude of expectation, that the service we receive should be standard and why should we pay any extra for rewarding it? They’re just doing their job. But is that right?
I mean it’s not like we’re all extremely tight, we do put a tip down in a restaurant, and I do think there’s also a bit of that British awkwardness that would stop us reducing it by much if we felt service was poor.
But I think there’s a bit of a stigma when it comes to tips (gratuities) on a cruise ship. As Brits we’ll generally pay them but we might not feel as comfortable doing so. We might not tip at a hotel, so why would we tip our stateroom assistant?
The argument is generally that cruise ship staff don’t get great wages, and gratuities are a key part in making that up so that they make a comfortable living. Now while it’s pertinent to note that I’m fully in favour of paying gratuities and would never baulk at it, if I was to play devil’s advocate you could ask why don’t the cruise ships simply pay staff more, and remove the tipping culture?
But that’s not going to work. Firstly, it is a British thing – other countries tend to tip a lot more commonly and a lot more generously, particularly in the USA (and let’s be honest, Americans make up a large percentage of cruise passengers around the world). And secondly, I think there’s an idea that having cruise ship staff requiring tips helps to keep them providing the best service possible.
It’s a bit of a funny issue sometimes. I know my feelings – I’m perfectly happy tipping on-board. But I know people who’ve removed the tips from their accounts, to give them more spending money. Is that wrong?
Of course if you don’t like paying gratuities, you could always look for cruises where they are included free as part of a special package, or where they’re included in the price of your cruise anyway.
Let us know your thoughts.
By Ian Lewis