Carnival Hikes Pre-Paid Gratuities But Will Passengers Secretly Remove Tips?

Carnival Cruise Line is hiking its gratuity charge by nearly 8 percent, according to an article in Travel Agent Central today. The charge will rise to $12.95 per person, per day for passengers in most cabins, or $13.95 per person, per day for passengers staying in suites, effective September 1, 2016. There is a question posed on the comments section of the article: "does the charge actually go to the staff as a tip? or is it just a fare increase?" The question remain unanswered.    

Carnival said that passengers can lock in the current gratuity rate by pre-paying before Monday, May9, 2016.Carnival Pre-Paid Gratuity Removed

The gratuity charge, which crew members tell me does not all go to the crew members but is diverted to pay salaries or is considered revenue (profit) for the cruise line, is only a suggested amount. Carnival says that passengers can adjust it, or remove it entirely, by visiting the Guest Services desk while onboard the cruise ship.

You can read the Carnival tipping policy here.

Earlier this week, a Facebook page called "Complaining Crewship" complained that Carnival passengers were not paying tips and posted about 30 pages of photographed pages showing the names and cabin numbers of Carnival passengers (from an unidentified ship) who had their prepaid tips removed. There were hundreds and hundreds of passengers who removed their tips. Some of these people may have removed the pre-paid gratuities and paid cash but I was left with an unpleasant feeling that they were largely stiffing the crew.

I then shared the posting and photos on my Facebook page and started a discussion regarding the problem of passengers not tipping the crew members.  A firestorm of controversy then erupted. Some passengers did not like the fact that the names of passengers who removed the tips were revealed. Others expressed their feelings that it was outrageous that many people refused to pay any tips to the hardworking crew members.

Some readers seemed not to care at all about the crew and seemed concerned only with protecting the identity of those removing the tips. I guess the power of Wikileaks, Julian Assage and the Panama Papers escapes them. Several people complained to John Heald, the Carnival head cruise director and blogger at Carnival, about the release of confidential data. Others may have complained to Facebook about the "Complaining Crew ship" page, which may have been a page operated by either current or former Carnival crew members who were tired of being cheated by the guests.

The reality of the matter is that Carnival pays crew members like waiters. bartenders and stateroom attendants a small pittance by the cruise line (around $50 a month) and then requires them to work incredibly long hours, relying on tips for the majority of their compensation.  It's quite a business model. Carnival incorporated in Panama and registered its cruise ships in Panama and the Bahamas to avoid virtually all taxes and then requires U.S. taxpaying public to pay the bulk of the crew member compensation. But many passengers view a gratuity as reserved only for spectacular and far-beyond-normal service. These guests obviously don't tip at all or only occasionally and say that it's the cruise line's responsibility to pay the ship employees.        

Well, the original post by "Complaining Crewship" seem to have been taken down (as well as the entire Facebook page), voluntarily or involuntarily I can't tell, and so did the photos I shared in the process.  But I had previously copied them all and am posting a few here (with the names redacted of those who removed their tips) to show the large number of tips removed.

Cruise lines do not like their ship employees to "out" the guests or to name and shame them, although these type of people seem to be largely deadbeats in my view, or to reveal the cruise line's unfair treatment of the hard working crew members. For example, when a Royal Caribbean created a You Tube video a few years ago showing that the cruise line was in essence stealing automatic gratuities from the crew, Royal Caribbean threatened the crew members with legal action and petitioned You Tube to ban the video. Read: "Screw the Crew" Video: Banned By Royal Caribbean & YouTube!      

So the cruise line gratuity scam continues.  Carnival will create the impression that the increased gratuities are for the crew who, in reality, will never see a penny of the increase. Many passengers will remove all of the gratuities in their entirely and hide their cheapness behind their anonymity.

Carnival Pre-Paid Gratuity Removal

 

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Comments (33) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Emmanuel ocasla - May 6, 2016 7:48 PM

This carnival guest gratuity paying situation is the same as RCCL nowadays they have the same system. But all these payments of guest doesnt come directly to each crew member tipping position. It goes to other depatrment salary payment,some percentage goes to the cooks,messman,roomservice staff etc.,etc., RCCL doesnt pay crew members salary from their own money. Even plane ticket for waiters and assistant waiters ,bar staff and cabin stewards have to pay their return ticket back to the ship.

Juan Jose Reyes - May 7, 2016 9:55 AM

My preference is to have front desk remove the automatic tip from my on board account and then add another 40% to the "suggested" daily tips. The cash is then distributed to deserving crew members. The money is handed to inviduals in a small white envelope. Carnival use to have envelopes for shore excursion tickets, but they stopped providing them. Part of their cutbacks in expenses to increase their profits. Another is a decrease in cabin services and dining room staff.

Joseph McDonald - May 7, 2016 1:22 PM

For the occasional cruiser these gratuities are nothing more then a way to get around paying taxes, paying salaries, paying less travel agent commissions, and most discussing to reflect a lower cruise rate.

We travel 9 months a year that would be $7,000 in gratuities payments. Recently, Carnival has increased their cruise rates for 2017 and 2018 by almost 20%. The price of oil has dropped but still the on board credits are small.

Price reductions in the cruise rates are almost non existing. Military appreciation for this month are laughable. Almost all services on the ships have been reduced.

Crew are now expected to do more. Some of the Senior Officers accepting contracts with lower rates. Lower standard Senior Officers on the ships are now becoming apparent. I have talked to other passengers who have recently completed tours on NCL and RCCL. Their experiences seem to parallel CCL.

CCL has some excellent Senior Officers on many of their fantastic ships. We have noticed a reduced quality in their Cruise Directors and a few Hotel Directors. We love the hard working crew members and yes we do give them a tip directly. In most cases more.

Still we all have to appreciate that the cruising industry is changing. One only needs to look at the passengers to quickly comprehend this change. The ports are so crowded by some times up to 5 to 6 ships at one time. Port taxes go up with the same old limited inter-structures.

The cruising industry will looking back at this decade when the biggest changes had to be made.

Karl Green - May 7, 2016 2:35 PM

Of course, it might be true. Many times we keep in contact with the guests. When they ask about if I have received the respective gratuities, I say "NO, sir, because you pulled out the money". The guest states the contrary and I take the picture of that paper above and send to him. But "fortunately" I had not been terminated or "unfortunately" nothing happened to solve this.

Earl - May 8, 2016 2:26 AM

I think the anger is misdirected. It ought to be towards all the miserly employers who don't pay their employees properly. Restaurants, bars, cruise ships, et al! Tips out to be a thing of the past. Customers ought not have to pay the staff directly.

Barry Brown - May 9, 2016 10:44 AM

I usually leave the tips on the bill but won't if it does not go to the crew. I always tip the wait staff, the room steward, extra and each waiter when they deliver a drink. It seems the better option is to remove the gratuity entirely and tip in cash during the cruise. I had no idea cruise lines did not pass all the gratuity along to the crew.

John Goldsmith - May 9, 2016 11:43 AM

I believe that the tip percentage added onto my cruise bill goes into general revenues for the cruise line, and not to the room steward, waiter in the MDR or other kitchen staff. I know that the tip that is on the drink tab that I sign for does go to the waiter, mainly because there is proof in black and white that "waiter" name and number then "cruiser" name and room number are on the bill and as the cruise I can ask and get a receipt, so I know that "waiter" has received his percentage.
As for the others who want to remove tips. Please try this at home, say in a New York bistro or a Los Angeles club...If you are not going to tip. Don't go out. Loosers like those who cancel the tips so rightly deserved by staff at any place that takes tipping should not be served.
Maybe a NEW look at all inclusive is in order???

Dana - May 9, 2016 4:23 PM

I am NOT a cheapskate and I always have my tips removed. Why? Because on my last two cruises; My cabin steward and my sister's cabin steward told us that Carnival doesn't give them all of their tips. They are supposed to receive a certain amount and they never receive all of their money! So I told them; we will go and have our tips removed and tip them in person! They were very happy! I always tip my cabin steward, room services and the dining room!

Mona - May 10, 2016 6:38 AM

We were frequent Carnival customers and sail as a family of 4. We have never reduced our tips on previous cruises, but just got off the Carnival Sunshine in April and was told by some of the staff that they get very little of the tips customers leave.If we sail on any future cruises, we will be removing our tips and handing cash to our room steward, waiter, etc. Our last cruise we paid over $400 in tips, giving extra cash to our room steward, and the service was terrible. Carnival is reducing all the services but expecting guest to pay more. I feel terrible that we've paid all this money for tips in the past and I've just learned they don't even get all the tips. Carnival should be ashamed. We just cancelled our November cruise and I'm not sure we will be sailing with Carnival again. They are treating their staff and guest terrible, and I can't in good faith support a company that does this.

tinikini - May 10, 2016 12:58 PM

We did not remove our tips on 2 Holland America cruises, and also tipped our room stewards extra. The tip was already added on for drinks, so we did not tip bar servers in cash, unless they went above and beyond and some of them did. I had a server in the casino tell me that I should play a certain slot machine, and I won $500.00 and tipped him $20.00. However on our second cruise we did not tip the dining room wait staff extra, as the service was horrible, but we still did not remove the tips on our bill.

We have a timeshare in Cozumel, and it is an all inclusive. I often wonder just how much of that money the employees truly get, as well. We have a wonderful staff, and they bust their butts to give us great service. We still tip, all day long, for drinks, food, and services. Tipping is part of a vacation, and we budget for it, just like any other expense while on vacation.

Not sure what the answer is to this problem. Someone is always gonna have their fingers in someone else's cookie jar, if they can get away with it. When employees don't have the power to fight back, complain or tell guests the truth without being terminated, it just all remains the same. It is sad that the money doesn't end up where it is "claimed" to be going.

Lauren Gray - May 11, 2016 2:10 AM

My fiance used to work in Guest Services onboard CCL. He dealt with vast quantities of guests removing their gratuities every cruise.

While some of the guests removed them to tip out their staff in person, the vast majority removed them because they could and it gave them extra pocket money to spend for themselves.

The increase in automatic gratuity may be an effort to make up for the shortfall that occurs from these regularly cruising guests.

It is important to add that housekeeping has recently had their staffing numbers cut with fewer people responsible for more staterooms each cruise. They are some of the hardest working people on ships.

David - May 12, 2016 10:43 PM

There are many more people other than your cabin stewards and wait staff that work very hard to make your cruise enjoyable. Removing the automatic tips punishes these people who already work for next to nothing. If you get good service from your waiters, bar staff or cabin steward you can and should give them something extra. But, you should not forget the people you do not have direct contact with.
Does it really matter if the crew doesn't get 100% of the tips the cruise line adds to your bill? If you remove them, they get nothing.

linda - May 19, 2016 12:24 AM

how can they charge u and make u pay tips

David - May 21, 2016 3:08 PM

Linda,

The whole point of this conversation is that the cruise lines cannot "make u pay tips".

Valentina - June 15, 2016 1:48 PM

Stop cruising if you dont want to pay! Majority of those crewmembers are overworking for your generous 10 dollars that you leave at the end of the cruise!!!! SHAAAMEEEE

Caroline - June 27, 2016 12:48 AM

We have cruised fairly regularly for nearly 50 years and from what we have heard from crew members, they are always overworked and underpaid and more recently they comment on how little they receive from the automatically deducted gratuities. We have on two occasions refused to pay the gratuities to the cruiseline, instead giving the entire amount to our cabin steward, at the same time we had individually tipped crew members during the 28 day cruise. After considering the number of crew that passengers never meet, we decided we would in future pay the automatic gratuities, but continue to tip individually, as we always have done. It's part of cruising and surely we all remember a time when a tip was so gratefully received to boost the pittance that was our wages!

Pat - June 30, 2016 12:02 PM

I recently had a cab driver in Las Vegas tell me all the way from the airport to my hotel about how cheap his older passengers had gotten with tipping. I was offended by his implication that as one of his older passengers, he was in effect, pandering (begging) on a captive audience. I paid my cabfare in cash, with no tip for having occupied his cab on a non-productive for him trip. I'm hoping that cruise personnel are not collectively pandering with their poor mouth comments to cruise ship passengers.

Mary Beth - July 6, 2016 6:35 PM

When I pay for my cruise, I pay for the service they provide. All service. Why should I pay more? When I go to the grocery store, I don't tip the cashier or the stock person. When I use the plumber or the electrician, I don't tip. I also don't tip my kids teachers. I will tip anyone who performs above and beyond the service I hire. Tipping for average service is an American costum that you don't see in many other countries. When Carnival crew members start offering excellent service all around I may keep the "automatic tip" on, until then I will take them off and tip whoever I feel deserves my hard earned money.

Shawna - August 10, 2016 11:37 AM

I am a tipped employee (not on a cruise ship) and I rely on tips for a living. The only thing I disagree with the automated tipping is that it doesn't all go to the employees but yet some goes back into the cruise line. Isn't that what the cost of the ticket is supposed to cover. I would be tempted to remove the automated tip and give cash directly to the staff that provides a service to me directly. That is what tipping is meant for.

Travis Calhoun - August 20, 2016 6:00 AM

So what did I pay $1300 dollars for if the staff isnt being paid. Carnival needs to quit this automatic tippimg and pay their enployees. At $86 per person for a seven day cruise in tips ends up being a quarter of a million dollars paid in tips. With 3000 passengers paying for their tickets, carnival makes two million dollars and your telling me they cant afford to pay their employees. That I have to.

ELISHUA GUTIERREZ - September 8, 2016 8:00 PM

is simple why do we have to pay for carnival employee we pay our ticket .traveling to the port .excursion,port taxes,and we have to pay for half of the food because now carnival vista is charging in some spots to eat.when you come to look at it you have spend in arm and a leg I had to even pay for a darn band-aid.

B Witt - September 14, 2016 8:52 AM

I always pay the "required" tips even though I dont totally agree with how the cruise lines do it.I don't mind paying the prepaid tips if the service is good across the board and I always pay extra at the beggining and end of the cruise...so we are always way more than fair, even when the service was subpar. I do think the the cruise lines should pay their employees an honest wage as it is part of doing business like any other company has to do. It may make profits lower but again, thats part of doing business. As an employee, you don't make a base salary for simply being there, and deserve a raise or extra tips if you actually do your job. you can go both ways on this...but in the end, it is the employer who is benefitting the most either way....they always get their profits.

Maree - September 30, 2016 7:25 PM

We recently cruised with RCCL on Voyager and my family and I struck a friendship with our hard working room attendant who was very honest, and he told us that he does not get paid a wage at all from the cruise company, but relies solely on passengers personal tips. I also happen to ask another room attendant and he confirmed the same thing. I was terribly saddened by this news and wondered what all of our expense had gone on as I was told by the booking agent that my cost had included gratuities in the initial price of the cruise. It's the cruise liner's way of lining their own pockets and convincing their passengers that the money/gratuities are distributed evenly. SO UNTRUE.
In future, I will cancel my gratuities and take enough $US with me to hand out to the staff that work hard for us. They are the real heroes to me!

Maree - September 30, 2016 10:55 PM

We recently cruised with RCCL on Voyager and my family and I struck a friendship with our hard working room attendant who was very honest, and he told us that he does not get paid a wage at all from the cruise company, but relies solely on passengers personal tips. I also happen to ask another room attendant and he confirmed the same thing. I was terribly saddened by this news and wondered what all of our expense had gone on as I was told by the booking agent that my cost had included gratuities in the initial price of the cruise. It's the cruise liner's way of lining their own pockets and convincing their passengers that the money/gratuities are distributed evenly. SO UNTRUE.
In future, I will cancel my gratuities and take enough $US with me to hand out to the staff that work hard for us. They are the real heroes to me!

Larry Jerden - October 3, 2016 9:59 PM

The cruise lines need to raise the fare by whatever it takes, pay their employees, and drop the "gratuity" scam. I for one am tired of being "tipped-to-death" by everyone who has a hand out. Employers need to pay their employees and just charge a price to cover it. I've never "stiffed" a cruise staff, but resent the model--especially the river cruise companies, who often operate in countries where tipping is unknown and tell their passengers it is "the custom" to tip. It is totally BS. Pay your employees!!! Don't expect your customers to do it. You quoted me a price for a trip--then THAT is the price I should be paying.

Thomas J - October 16, 2016 10:45 PM

Some of these comments are stupid. Most people that remove the gratuities are just cheap and look for any reason to justify their way of thinking and be ok with it. Truth is a cruise is very cheap compared to other means of traveling and it's do in part to the low wages paid. So if you want a tip less cruise, be prepared for it to cost a hell of a lot more. Same goes in any other service industry where tips are paid. This is why the cost is so cheap. Unfortunately, the people removing the tips and low balling these hard working ladies and gentlemen is sad. You can actually see exactly what kind of lowlifes go to the service desk on the last day to remove them. 9 times outta 10 they're the biggest losers on the cruise and probably got on thru a time share presentation. On better boats you won't see this clientele but on budget friendly cruises, these assholes are everywhere.

Cruise worker - October 20, 2016 7:04 AM

Cruise companies vary widely. I have worked on 3 US flagged cruise ships. One was American Cruise Lines, that only pays their stewards and deckhands a flat rate of $30 a day. The rest of the pay for these crew members are the shared tip pool. American Cruise Lines only hires people for 12 week temporary rotations so you have a constant stream of new green employees. They are actually getting sued in a class action lawsuit that I was just notified about (because I am an ex-employee). The second boat I worked on traveled the Mississippi River and it paid a flat rate of $50 a day to their dining room staff and worked them to death 14-16 hours a day. The 3rd boat I worked on was a tiny company in Alaska and they paid Alaskan minimum wage ($9.75 an hour) plus overtime. That was the first cruise line I worked for that actually paid us by the hour instead of a flat day rate. That was much more fair and I feel like the company was much more aware of how many hours we were actually working. When you work for a low day rate, they want to squeeze as much juice out of you (the worker) as possible. The shared tip pool as a means of compensating employees is wrong in my opinion. A 'gratuity' should be just that-- recognition for exceptional service. When cruise lines find ways to avoid minimum wage laws and pay their crew ridiculously low wages and rely on their customers to make up the difference to then pay their workers a decent wage, that is wrong. They should be paid the equivalent of minimum wage and then any gratuity on top of that is the gravy to encourage exceptional service. Think about working 14-16 hours a day every day for weeks and months at a time with no days off and getting paid a rate of $30-$50 a day. What other industry would get away with that? It is not fair to the workers and it puts a burden on guests. I will tell you that plenty of guests are extremely cheap and will not tip no matter how good the service. It is really a slap in the face to the crew when we bust our a*sses to provide exceptional service and we have guests who run us ragged and they can't even leave us a $20 pity tip after sitting at our table for 25 straight meals. Obviously they liked us enough to continue to return to our table for exceptional service but they couldn't acknowledge that service with 'a little something' at the end of the cruise.

CashInHand - October 25, 2016 5:30 PM

I always remove the auto grats and tip in cash. I firmly believe a tip is given for going above and beyond. I refuse to give a "tip" just because or for someone who does only the minimum. I work hard, and I dont get tips. These people take on these jobs knowing the wage. Some will call me cheap and accuse me of stiffing the crew. How arrogant! I prepare envelopes at home before I sail so the cash is ready when the crew go above and beyond. It is not my responsibility to pay the crew wage. Sorry. But I can guarantee if you "rock my world" you will be tipped sooo well. I love handing over an envelope loaded with cash! Saying a personal "thank you" also. If auto grats became mandatory, then I will simply take my vacation dollars elsewhere

Paul - December 2, 2016 10:41 AM

I am going on my second carnival cruise this new years. My first cruise i initially thought the tips were too much, but after seeing how hard everyone works on the ship, and how well they take care of you i left it at the default amount.

Then i met a guy who used to be an officer on a Carnival ship, and he filled me in on where the tips really go, i was appalled.

My second cruise this new years i will be bringing envelopes and cash for tips.
I will tip the barmen as i would normally anywhere else, i will tip the cabin crew and dining crew also, an envelope for the staff in the buffet area, but what/who else should i be giving an envelope ?

Juan Jose Reyes - January 23, 2017 7:35 PM

Removing the mandatory gratuity and directly giving the money in cash to the room attendants and dining room staff at the end of the voyage is my way of making sure that the money goes to the right service personnel. My wife and I actually give more than the mandatory minimum.

The gratuity pool system does not work for us. We don't drink alcoholic beverages and sugar water drinks. Why should we tips the bartenders?

Jay - February 7, 2017 8:16 PM

When I started crushing they still had the envelope system and I tipped accordingly to the service I received. I always remove the auto tipping and tip the same people I used to accordingly. I'm never going to get caught up in all this shot about who tips and who doesn't and people screaming about how unfair to the crew is. We all make choices and if they are unsatisfied by their job then they should do something else.

Jay - February 7, 2017 8:17 PM

When I started crushing they still had the envelope system and I tipped accordingly to the service I received. I always remove the auto tipping and tip the same people I used to accordingly. I'm never going to get caught up in all this shot about who tips and who doesn't and people screaming about how unfair to the crew is. We all make choices and if they are unsatisfied by their job then they should do something else.

Richard Arnold - March 12, 2017 12:00 PM

Yes, I just got back from my first cruise, and a worker that cleans the tables in the normal dining area, not the fancy dining area told my wife and I that they work for 8 months and get two months off, and get paid ZERO from Carnival; they only get paid according to the gratuities paid by the guests. The ship was Carnival Breeze, departing from Galveston. They charge 12 dollars per day, per person in prepaid gratuities. The ship can hold around 3500 people, but has a crew of around 1500. So, doing the math, for a 6 day, 7 night cruise, would be 12 x 6 x 3500 = 252000 / 1500 = 168 per crew member, per week. The worker said that they work breakfast, have a short break, and come back and work lunch and dinner. Let's say that they ONLY work 12 hours a day. 168 / 12 / 7 = 2 dollars per hour. But they may work closer to 14 hours a day for general dining room, which would be 1.71 per hour. If you remove your prepaid gratuities, it would mean that those that work behind the scenes, like dishwashers and those that pick up the trash, and other hidden places in the ship that you don't interact with would make even less, probably closer to 1.50 an hour, if they are so fortunate. A lot of the workers were from Indonesia. The cost of living and wages are a lot lower in those parts of the world, but they are also away from their family for 10 months out of the year, pay money to use internet in order to call their families back home, uniform costs and often have to pay for their return flight home, as well as pay to the employment company that got them the position, basic research shows. Elegant dining room waiters get left a significant amount of tips for their over and above, excellent service, I'm fairly sure, as well as those that mix drinks; but that doesn't account for the rest of the staff that don't usually get tipped extra, and rely on the cruise line to distribute among them the prepaid gratuities. I feel sad that that is the way it is, but I don't know what can be done about it. Raising the price of gratuities to give the staff a better raise would skyrocket prices and make cruises unaffordable for many families, thereby decreasing the number of jobs available to overseas workers.

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