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Thread: NCL: You can not remove the service charge/tips $12pp/day

  1. #1
    Newbie Poster tylerrd's Avatar
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    NCL: You can not remove the service charge/tips $12pp/day

    Hi I just got off the phone with Brandy on NCL reservations. I was told that the 12pp/day tips/service charge is mandatory.

    I have been on 6 cruises (5-Carnival, 1-Disney). On one of the Carnival Cruises I decreased the $10/pp/day charge to half of the total as a result of very bad service. On all of the other trips I added extra tip ($5/night to the head waiter, $3/night to the assistant waiter and $5/night to the room steward).


    I think a mandatory service charge is a terrible idea. Of people I have spoken with, many said the service on NCL was not as as good as it was on other cruise lines. I wonder if it might be because of the mandatory tip (their gonning to get paid regardless).

    Any ideas???

  2. #2
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    First, this is why you do not deal with the cruise line. You need to work with an agent and let them help you. These people working for the cruise line work in a call center and 95% of them have never even seen a ship. They cannot answer most of your questions properly because they have no idea what a cruise is like. Their job is to take your money and they represent the cruise line, not you. An agent represents you and has your best interest in mind.

    With that said, their reservationist is not quite right - your gratuities can be adjusted. Sometimes all it takes is a little persistence.

    This is directly from the NCL website;


    If there is a service issue can the service charges be adjusted on board?

    Guest satisfaction is the highest priority at Norwegian Cruise Line. We have structured a guest satisfaction program designed to handle any concerns about service or on-board product quickly and efficiently. However, in the event a service issue should arise during your cruise please let our on-board reception desk staff know right away, so that we can address these in a timely manner. It is our goal to reach a satisfactory solution to any issue when it happens and make sure our guests can focus on enjoying their cruise. Should your concerns not be met with satisfaction you can adjust the charges.

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  3. #3
    Newbie Poster tylerrd's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information

    Quote Originally Posted by Cruise Planner View Post
    First, this is why you do not deal with the cruise line. You need to work with an agent and let them help you. These people working for the cruise line work in a call center and 95% of them have never even seen a ship. They cannot answer most of your questions properly because they have no idea what a cruise is like. Their job is to take your money and they represent the cruise line, not you. An agent represents you and has your best interest in mind.

    With that said, their reservationist is not quite right - your gratuities can be adjusted. Sometimes all it takes is a little persistence.

    This is directly from the NCL website;

    If there is a service issue can the service charges be adjusted on board?

    Guest satisfaction is the highest priority at Norwegian Cruise Line. We have structured a guest satisfaction program designed to handle any concerns about service or on-board product quickly and efficiently. However, in the event a service issue should arise during your cruise please let our on-board reception desk staff know right away, so that we can address these in a timely manner. It is our goal to reach a satisfactory solution to any issue when it happens and make sure our guests can focus on enjoying their cruise. Should your concerns not be met with satisfaction you can adjust the charges.
    Thanks for the information and the tip. However, it is not completely reassuring as I would prefer the NCL reservationist to have told me that the tip could be decreased if the service was not satisfactory. I am sure you have been very satisfied on past NCL cruises and I suspect service may be comparable to other cruise lines, but with the issue of tips/gratuities I expect them to be at my discretion and I am assured that by Carnival’s personal vacation planners. Surely you agree that the NCL reservationist should be more honest or knowledgeable?

    Happy cruising!
    Ron

  4. #4
    CLF Officer Blizzard's Avatar
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    I agree that NCL reps should know all the answers but the reality is they do not. That is not unique to NCL. As was mentioned, most of them have never been on a ship. For many of them it is a minimum wage job and as fast as things change in the industry, they can keep up with everything.
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  5. #5
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    As John said, this is not just NCL - all the cruise line reservationists are the same; they lack personal experience and basically just read from a script.

    According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Assoc - that we all belong to) not only does more than 95% of them never been on a cruise, but the average life span for a reservationist is less than 6 months. They take the job thinking it'll be glamorous and they'll get cruising benefits, but find out very quickly that it's alot of work for very little pay.

    RCCL had a great idea and moved their most experienced reservationists - those with more than one year experience, into a special group called the STAR desk. This is a very elite group that is available only to the top 12 agencies in the USA & Canada out of the 25,000 total. I'm proud to say that Cruise Planners is one of these 12 STAR agencies, so when we call in, we're talking to people with much more experience - sure makes our job a whole lot easier.

    NCL has a special phone number for top agencies, also. In fact, they have a special number just for Cruise Planners, and when we call them, we're talking to more experienced reservationists, which again, makes our job easier.

    As for NCL as a whole, I have to be honest and say I'm not a big fan. We've taken several cruises with them and I feel the same as many people do - I think these 'mandatory' gratuities are not appropriate, nor do they encourage better service. In fact, I feel it does just the opposite. Plus, if they are going to make gratuities mandatory, then it should be mandatory that the cruise line include them in the cruise price. By the very nature of tips, they are something that should be and should remain optional.

    In fact, the dictionary defines gratuity as, "Something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service." Another dictionary defines it as, "A gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop. Something given without claim or demand." I guess this is why NCL prefers to refer to them as a "service charge".

    If these 'charges' are mandatory, then where is the incentive to provide good service? It would be like walking into a restaurant and giving your waiter a tip before you even sit down. And yes, I hear those who will point out that restaurants add a mandatory 15% gratuity for parties with more than 6 people. I don't agree with that either.

    Now with all that said, I don't want to make it appear I'm picking just on NCL; all the other cruise lines are just as guilty when it comes to those passengers requesting anytime, personal choice, or my time dining. All the cruise lines require pre-paid gratuities or mandatory gratuities charged to your onboard account when selecting this type of dining versus traditional dining. They say it's a service to the passenger so you don't have to carry cash and provide a gratuity after each meal. Again, I don't agree with that either as it's just another form of mandatory charges. If I choose anytime dining, then why can't they give me a slip of paper and allow me to provide a gratuity or not and have it charged to my cabin? Why should a waiter in the dining room of a cruise ship be treated any different than a waiter in a restaurant?

    While I'm all in favor of providing a gratuity for good service, I just feel it should be my choice and not something that is 'required'. And the amount I choose to provide (or not) should be up to me and my servers should not be made to feel like they cannot accept additional cash from me for fear of being fired. That's just not right. And if they are going to make it mandatory, then charge me more for my cruise and provide a better wage to the employees. Don't force it down my throat and call it something it's not.

    Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.

    Pete
    Last edited by Cruise Planner; 01-02-2011 at 06:33 PM.

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  6. #6
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    Just a few points

    First off, Carnival does not require pre-paid gratuities when choosing Any Time Dining. This fact is based on personal experience and booking clients in this dining option.

    Secondly. I just came off the NCL Pearl, and I was VERY happy with the service, from all depts. It was at least as good an any we have ever had, and better than some.
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  7. #7
    CLF Officer nealberk's Avatar
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    On Celebrity, the tips are still "voluntary" but the cruise line "makes it more convenient for you" by automatically charging them to your shipboard account.

    Yes, I agree, if they are going to be that mandatory, they should be part of the price and listed as such.
    Neal (International Association of Troublemakers)

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  8. #8
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruzinlass View Post
    Just a few points

    First off, Carnival does not require pre-paid gratuities when choosing Any Time Dining. This fact is based on personal experience and booking clients in this dining option.

    Secondly. I just came off the NCL Pearl, and I was VERY happy with the service, from all depts. It was at least as good an any we have ever had, and better than some.
    While Carnival does not require pre-paid gratuities, they, like several others, automatically charge your onboard account for gratuities and do not give you a choice if you want it or not. So while it's not technically pre-paid, per se, it is still mandatory and is therefore pretty much the same thing. Whether it's charged before the cruise or during the cruise, it's still a required charge. Anything required, should be included in the price of the cruise and stated ahead of time.

    I hear from people all the time about their 'first' cruise, that they booked it through the cruise line, and nobody informed them about the mandatory gratuities. So they were shocked when they got their bill and found a $336 charge on their onboard account for their family! It's one thing to charge it, but it's another to make it mandatory and not inform the passenger ahead of time. If you book a cruise on the NCL website, there is nothing anywhere stating you will be charged $12 per person per day for a mandatory service charge. To me, that's false advertising.

    It's like going to NCL's website and it says, "Book here and now. Best Price. Guaranteed." All agents, all online sites, and NCL sells the same cruises for the same price, so how can they guarantee they have the best price when everyone sells it for the same price?

    It should be mandatory to tell someone buying a cruise exactly how much they are going to pay, what the charges are for, and any other mandatory fees they will be charged when they get on the ship. A consumer has the right to know the total price of everything they are required to pay.

    As for service, it's like food; what one person loves, another will hate - it's all subjective based on your age, your personality, your likes and dislikes, your past cruise experiences, and so on. And it can change from one ship to another within the same fleet and sometimes changes on the same ship on different cruises at different times. For example, we've been on the same ship three times and while we disliked the first two, the third was a completely different experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. With that said, I can honestly say that in 38 cruises we've never had a bad time. While some have been better than others and some worse than others, we have always had a great time because we refuse to let the little things bring us down from our "vacation high".

    Pete

    Awarded American Express Vacations 2013 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD!! (Best of the best!)
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  9. #9
    Newbie Poster tylerrd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruise Planner View Post
    While Carnival does not require pre-paid gratuities, they, like several others, automatically charge your onboard account for gratuities and do not give you a choice if you want it or not. So while it's not technically pre-paid, per se, it is still mandatory and is therefore pretty much the same thing. Whether it's charged before the cruise or during the cruise, it's still a required charge. Anything required, should be included in the price of the cruise and stated ahead of time.

    Hi Pete, This statement above is not true. "Carnival does not require pre-paid gratuities." - This is correct. They actually do give you a choice if you want to put your gratuities on you sign & sail account or use a cash account (where you pay in cash the last night). That is still an option (perhaps not advertised) and again it is not mandatory so it it not at all the same thing as NCL. It is not a required charge. If by the most unlikely event you were treated like crap be the crew, spat on ever time you were seen, you could choose a cash account and not pay a single sent for gratuities to the crew. I've never heard of such a thing, but to say Carnival requires you to link your sign and sail account to a credit card is false and to say that Carnival requires gratuities is completely false. NCL is the only cruise line that I have found thus far that does require such. Again, you are not required to link a credit card with your sign and sail account, this is not true. They do give you the choice if you want to do this or not. I am not sure where your information on this, but I just got off the Carnival Miracle 2 weeks ago and this was the policy then.

    - I hear from people all the time about their 'first' cruise, that they booked it through the cruise line, and nobody informed them about the mandatory gratuities (AGAIN ONLY ON NCL). So they were shocked when they got their bill and found a $336 charge on their onboard account for their family! It's one thing to charge it, but it's another to make it mandatory and not inform the passenger ahead of time. If you book a cruise on the NCL website, there is nothing anywhere stating you will be charged $12 per person per day for a mandatory service charge. To me, that's false advertising.

    - I agree, but I have been on enough cruises now that I expect it. Also, I think $12 is $2 too much, $10pp/night is more appropriate based on the service. Also based on the overall cruise price too. A good base price is between $70-90/day per person.

    It's like going to NCL's website and it says, "Book here and now. Best Price. Guaranteed." All agents, all online sites, and NCL sells the same cruises for the same price, so how can they guarantee they have the best price when everyone sells it for the same price?

    - Yeah, great point.

    It should be mandatory to tell someone buying a cruise exactly how much they are going to pay, what the charges are for, and any other mandatory fees they will be charged when they get on the ship. A consumer has the right to know the total price of everything they are required to pay.

    - I agee totally.

    As for service, it's like food; what one person loves, another will hate - it's all subjective based on your age, your personality, your likes and dislikes, your past cruise experiences, and so on. And it can change from one ship to another within the same fleet and sometimes changes on the same ship on different cruises at different times. For example, we've been on the same ship three times and while we disliked the first two, the third was a completely different experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. With that said, I can honestly say that in 38 cruises we've never had a bad time. While some have been better than others and some worse than others, we have always had a great time because we refuse to let the little things bring us down from our "vacation high".

    Pete
    - That's a great attitude to have. No point in having a bad vacation because things aren't going your way! ! ! I agree whole-heartedly. For critical analyses (what I try to share with members of cruise critic and other websites) however I must address all pros and cons and I keep great notes of our vacations (I enjoy it) and document our vacations.

  10. #10
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    Carnival does charge mandatory gratuities and in a couple of cases, they actually do pre-paid gratuities. This is directly from the Carnival website;

    What is the tipping policy onboard?
    Service Gratuities
    For your convenience, we automatically charge the gratuities for dining and stateroom staff to your onboard Sail & Sign account. The total amount is $10.00 per guest, per day (our recommended guideline) as follows:
    $ 3.50 Per Day Stateroom Services
    $ 5.50 Per Day Dining Room Services
    $ 1.00 Per Day Alternative Services: distributed to other kitchen and hotel service staff
    For Cruises-To-Nowhere, gratuities of $10 per guest, per day must be prepaid.
    Our Staff is totally committed to exceed your expectations in every way possible. If you are not satisfied with the service you receive, we encourage you to contact the Guest Services desk while onboard. This will allow us to address your concerns in a timely and appropriate fashion. At your discretion, you may adjust the gratuities at any time while onboard. Gratuities will be deemed undisputed unless a request to modify is received prior to disembarking the ship.
    For beverage purchases, fifteen percent of the bill is automatically added to the Sail & Sign charge. Room Service staff may be tipped as service is rendered. Tipping your Maître d’ is at your discretion, based upon the service you receive.
    NOTE: BARBADOS CRUISES
    All gratuities are pre-paid and automatically added during the booking process for Barbados itineraries.


    Notice they say they "automatically charge", which in my book is the same thing as mandatory.

    Also, you'll notice they also specifically state pre-paid gratuities are done for cruises to no-where and for Barbados cruises.

    Pete

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