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Tips and gratuities

There is a long tradition of tipping on cruise ships, and this is something people new to cruising have concerns about. We agonised over the tips procedure on our first cruise in 2003.

Now the majority of the cruise companies operate a standard gratuities system. A fixed sum is deducted from the credit card registered with the ship to cover all the tips.

The figure is set on a per person per day basis. Passengers are no longer expected to tip individual members of the crew.

Tipping culture in the UK

The British take a different attitude to tipping from other nationalities. This was recognised by Louis Cruises and one of the two British officers addressed this issue when delivering the disembarkation briefing.

While the set gratuity rate does remove the concerns over tipping, it doesn’t allow you to reward individuals who have looked after you so well throughout the cruise. It also means people who you feel don’t deserve to be tipped get the same recognition as their harder working counterparts. As you might have already seen, there were one or two members of the Coral crew who, in our opinion, did not deserve any gratuities at all!

The information given out by Louis Cruises states the gratuities go to the ‘hotel staff’. From our conversations with fellow passengers, we can say the British passengers might have felt a little more comfortable knowing exactly what this means; which staff are included; and is the money distributed evenly or is it shared according to person’s rank?

Gratuity rate and procedure

Gratuities on the Coral are set at 8 Euros per person, per day. However, this is discretionary. A day or so before disembarking, you will receive a form which allows you to amend the amount you wish to pay.

There is provision to reduce the rate to anything between 5 and 7 Euros. It wasn’t clear how you could reduce the rate to less than 5 Euros, should you so wish. The form also asks you to state your reasons for the amendment.

After discussing this, at length, with some of our fellow British passengers, we compromised. We did reduce our gratuity rate, but we rewarded our chosen individual crew members as well.