What To Expect On Board
Several top cruise-industry chefs were lured away from other cruise lines to ensure that the artistry of world-renowned master chef Jacques Pépin, who crafted five-star menus for Oceania, is properly carried out. The results are sure to please the most discriminating palate.
Oceania simply serves some of the best food at sea, particularly impressive for a cruise line that charges far less than luxury rates. The main restaurant offers trendy, French-Continental cuisine with an always-on-the-menu steak, seafood, or poultry choice and a vegetarian option.
Intimate specialty restaurants require reservations, but there’s no additional charge for Toscana, the Italian restaurant, or Polo Grill, the steak house. On and Riviera, passengers have those and more restaurants from which to chooseJacques, the first restaurant to bear Jacques Pépins name, serves French cuisine Red Ginger features contemporary interpretations of Asian classics Privée hosts private, seven-course menu degustation dinners for a single party of up to 10 and La Reserve serves exclusive wine and food pairings.
A casual dinner option is alfresco dining at the Terrace Café . Although service is from the buffet, outdoor seating on the aft deck is transformed into a charming Mediterranean courtyard with candleholders and starched linens.
Oceania was the first cruise line to upgrade their bedding to the highest standard, so you can count on a good nights sleep on these ships.
Were Not Against Tipping*
*Post-publishing update: May would like to make it clear that she isnt against tipping. In an email just now she explained:
We left the cash tip in our room on the desk before we went to breakfast. When we got back from breakfast, we found the undated invoice on the door. We had already left the money and did not take it back. And we believed the cruise line gave us the invoice in error and we could correct it later. We were not against tipping and tipped our guides as well on land tours.
Included Gratuities As A Booking Perk
Lines with service and gratuity charges sometimes will throw in free gratuities as a booking incentive. Princess, for instance, over the past year has been running promotions that include not just free gratuities but free shipboard Wi-Fi and a free drinks package, too.
Norwegian also has run promotions that include free tips along with other freebies.
Dont worry: When lines offer such deals, it doesnt mean the crew will receive less gratuity pay the week you cruise. The lines that offer these deals say theyll pay a normal gratuity to the crew on your behalf.
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Can I Opt Out Of Paying Gratuities Or Have Them Adjusted
Most cruise lines allow guests to remove automatic gratuities. You can do so by going to guest services and making the request. You can also adjust your gratuities up or down. If you choose to pay tips in cash, there are usually some envelopes available at the guest service desk.
There are some exceptions. Norwegian Cruise Line has onboard service charge will is charged automatically for guests 3 and up, and distributed among staff that serve you in various ways. Rather than reducing the amount payed, they point out on their website that they will work to resolve any service issues experienced.
The fact is, the tips that crew get from passengers make up a good part of their wage. Crew members work really hard and make the difference between an ok and a memorable cruise vacation. Since this is the current pay structure for most major cruise lines, removing tips really affects the cruise line workers.
I go into more detail about this topic in this post: Can You Refuse to Pay Gratuities on a Cruise?
Cruise Tipping Etiquette Should I Give More Than The Recommended Or Suggested Amounts
As much as some people opt to remove gratuities on their account, some give extra. If you feel that you want to tip above and beyond the cruise tipping guidelines, go for it.
This is a personal decision and Im not sure if theres a tipping etiquette for it. If you feel that you wish to give an extra amount to anyone who you feel has done a great job, they will be appreciative.
What I can say, on a personal level, is that we have found that the majority of cabin stewards, waiters, assistant waiters and ship staff have given us amazing service. In fact, I think most would agree that cruise line staff make a huge difference in the cruise experience.
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How Much To Tip On Cruises
Part of the issue is that information about gratuities on cruise ships is often buried in the small print of the fare or the websites frequently asked questions.
Some cruise lines coyly refer to tips as service charges.
Search for gratuity information on the cruise lines website, and you find tips are voluntary and at your discretion, but dig further and you discover there are automatic onboard service charges.
You may not really know what gratuities are expected until you see theyve been added to your bill at the end of the cruise.
What To Do If Youre Not Satisfied With The Service On Your Cruise
This may be rare, however if theres a problem with service or you have a complaint on your cruise, that you should bring this to the attention of the staff member, supervisor, or guest services when it occurs. The worst thing you can do is wait until you are home from your cruise to address it. Its unlikely to do any good by this point.
In reality, the cruise staff on board want you to be satisfied, so this is the time address a problem. Not only will it improve your cruise experience, but youre also allowing the cruise ship staff the opportunity to make things right.
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Can I Pay Extra
Absolutely. In fact, the staff will love that you want to give them more money. If you want to pay extra, we suggest simply handing cash directly to the people you want to recognize for their service. This happens regularly for passengers feeling generous or thankful for the staffs work during their trip.
Why You Should Pay Cruise Gratuities
Paying gratuities and tipping the staff aboard a cruise ship is not compulsory but is considered the right thing to do. Cruise Tipping is a gesture of goodwill to reflect your gratitude for the service provided and to say a big Thank You to the crew members. These are the ones who have looked after you throughout your cruise serving your drinks, cleaning your stateroom and keeping everything shipshape.
The main reason for tipping on a cruise is to compensate for the relatively low paid staff for all their hard work. Many of the crew aboard a cruise ship are earning relatively low wages. They make up their income to a reasonable level through the tips and gratuities that most guests pay for the brilliant job done by the crew.
Those who complain about the idea of paying cruise gratuities always use the argument that the cruise lines should pay a fair wage to the onboard team members. On the other hand, the cruise lines would counter this by saying one of the most significant incentives to the crew is the prospect of big tips. By using this approach, they believe it encourages the team to work harder and offer the highest levels of service, resulting in a superior onboard experience for all guests. We dont think than not paying cruise gratuities is an option.
How To Snag A Free Drinks Package
Most big-ship lines offer one or more drinks packages for an extra charge but you might be able to get one of the packages for free. Some big-ship lines will throw in drinks packages for no extra cost as a perk during limited-time booking promotions.
The line perhaps best known for throwing in free drinks packages as a booking perk is Norwegian. Norwegian seemingly always is running some variation of its Free at Sea promotion that brings a choice of a free drinks package, free specialty dining, free excursions and other perks. Depending on the cabin category you book, you can get one or more of the freebies thrown in.
Other lines that sometimes run promotions with free drinks packages include Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America.
How Much Should You Tip On Your Cruise The Cruise Lines Suggest These Gratuities
As Dwayne explained to May, automatically adding gratuities to passengers onboard invoices has become standard practice in the cruise industry. And although tipping isnt mandatory on your cruise, its proper cruising etiquette to do so. When figuring out your cruise budget, dont forget to factor in these suggested tips per passenger, per day.
*The cruise linessuggested gratuities updated and checked for accuracy: Aug. 2, 2021. And if you have any cruise questions, check out our Ultimate Guide to Cruising.
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House Select Package Us$3995 Per Person Per Day
The House Select beverage package is the least expensive. It offers champagne, wine and beer by-the-glass, but only during lunch and dinner at dining venues .
The price of the House Select package includes gratuities.
It is important to note that only your drinks are covered by this drinks package. In other words, you cant order drinks for a friend using this package.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Included: Regent is the most all-inclusive line: flights to and from the embarkation port, shore excursions, pre-cruise hotel room, transfers to and from the ship in all ports, specialty restaurants, expert lectures, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, 24-hour room service, all beverages, youth programming on select voyages, Wi-Fi, fitness classes, self-service laundry, gratuities, and sauna and steam rooms in the spa.
Not Included: Laundry services including dry cleaning and pressing, and salon and spa services.
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How Can I Know How Much I Will Be Charged In Tips
When you book your cruise, the gratuity amount is usually disclosed in full for your trip, with an option to pre-pay the amount with your cruise fare.
If youd like to calculate exactly what your gratuity amount will be before you book your trip, then you can use our calculator here. Simply enter the cruise line, length of trip and the number of passengers and it will show you precisely how much youll be charged.
Who Gets The Gratuities
From the passenger perspective, the gratuity amount is simple pay a set amount per person, per day, and be done. So you might be charged $15 in tips for a day.
On the cruise line side, that money gets cut up to be distributed. The tips are spread out between the room steward, dining staff, and others.
For example, of a $15 charge, $7 per day may be distributed to your room steward, $5 to the dining staff, and the remaining $3 is spread among other customer-facing positions on the ship.
The good thing about automatic gratuities is that this breakdown is done automatically by the cruise line instead of having to give tips to several different staff members at the end of your cruise.
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A Guide To Cruise Ship Gratuity Charges
Several cruise lines have recently raised their gratuities and at the same time others have lowered them or rolled them into the price of the cruise. So who is charging for what and how much?
The listings below offer a look at the amounts major lines are currently are charging to passenger bills in automatic gratuities. In addition to a flat-fee, per-day charge for gratuities, some lines also add a 15% to 18% gratuity to bar bills on ships. In some cases, lines also add an additional gratuity charge to bills at extra-charge restaurants on ships and for spa services. The rates for the daily charges listed below are per person, per day. This list is current as of Apr. 3, 2017 and may change at any time. Your agent at Dynamic Travel & Cruises can give you the latest info on the gratuities for the cruise of your choice when you book. Just ask.
Alaskan Dream CruisesDaily gratuity charge: NoneNote: Gratuities for crew are not included in the fare and are at the discretion of travelers. Company policy.Additional charges: None
Note: Gratuities for crew including bar staff are included in the fare. Company policy.Additional charges: An 18% gratuity is added to bills for spa services.
Carnival Cruise LineDaily gratuity charge: $12.95Note: Passengers in suites pay $13.95. No gratuities are collected for passengers under the age of 2. Company policy.Additional charges: A 15% gratuity is added to bar bills.
Tipping Starts Before You Board The Ship
Seasoned cruisers know one of the most nervous times is waiting for your luggage to appear in your stateroom. The worst thing that can happen is that just your luggage tags turn up!
So when you are pierside consider giving your luggage handler a $2- $5 tip per item, depending upon the size, weight and amount of your luggage. If youre travelling alone and with only one large piece of luggage, a $5 tip is appropriate. Consider the gratuity as a kind of insurance that your bags will make it safely onto the ship.
Some of the Luxury and Ultra Luxury All-Inclusive cruise lines will often have baggage handlers of their own from the ship, and they do not expect tips as these are all included in the cruise fare.
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On Some Ships Many Gratuities Are Automatically Included
Most major cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account. The fee is usually between $12 and $15 per passenger, per day, and the cruise line then divvies up that money between all service-oriented crew. Worth noting: Almost every cruise line includes an automatic 15 to 20 percent gratuity on all bar bills , and 18 to 20 percent on spa services, so there is no need to tip extra unless you want to.
Still, if you’d like to contribute more or less toward the daily gratuity charge, just head to the onboard customer service desk. Note, also, that there are some additional times when a little cash on hand could come in handy: for porters at the terminal, for instance, or shore excursion guides, and kids club counselors. In those cases, do some research on your cruise lines’ policies in advance, and set aside some cash for those situations if needed.
What Are Cruise Ship Gratuities
While the name sounds fancy, gratuities are nothing more than a tip paid to the staff members for service during the cruise. The staff works hard to ensure that your vacation is a great one. As a thanks for their service, its customary to provide a tip.
The gratuities go to staff that provide passenger-facing services. That means people like the room steward who cleans your cabin and the dining staff.
These days, the gratuities are set daily amounts paid by each passenger. Instead of one passenger paying a lot and another paying hardly anything, these set amounts ensure that everyone pays their fair share.
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How Do I Adjust The Amount Of Gratuities
For most people, the service they receive on a cruise is outstanding. They recognize that the staff goes above and beyond to make their vacation enjoyable. But thats not always the case. With millions of passengers sailing every year, theres inevitably going to be some who receive poor service.
If thats the case and you decide you want to change the amount you are charged for tips then you can do that. Gratuity charges are not mandatory and can be adjusted. To do so, simply head down to Guest Services on the ship to tell them that you want to change your tip amounts.
That said, its unusual to adjust the gratuity amount, and the staff works extremely hard to make your trip enjoyable. If you have a major issue, however, you can change your gratuity amount accordingly.
A Credit Card Dispute Over The Forced Cruise Tips
The response from Oceania only served to frustrate May further. Her next move was to file a credit card dispute over the gratuities.
Unfortunately, Mays credit card dispute of the $320 in cruise tips was doomed from the beginning.
The Fair Credit Billing Act allows credit card using consumers to dispute billing errors. But although this act provides much-needed protection to consumers, credit card chargebacks are often misused. And as weve seen time and again when a consumer uses the dispute mechanism in a way it wasnt intended, it only leads to more significant problems:
In Mays case, she found that her attempt to dispute the automatically added cruise gratuities was just a waste of time.
I filed a complaint with Chase Card Services. I provided extensive documentation. After a month of going back and forth, Chase came back and said it wasnt possible to dispute the tips. So I wasted a total of two months.
I would like for Oceania to be outed for deceptive practices. They provided only UNDATED invoices and claimed they APPLIED the gratuity charge to our account, four days before disembarkation. But they never shared the invoice or charge with us until we disembarked. It is impossible to dispute a charge of which you have no knowledge. How can a large travel company like this get away with this lack of transparency in their billing?
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