I noticed on Carnival's website that you can prepay your tips when you book your cruise. Does anyone do this? If so, have you ever had any problems with them trying to take it off of your sign and sail card again?
dbug, my husband and I handle our account on board with pre-pay. It's one less thing for us to worry about. We have never had a problem. Just make sure you look over your final bill and save all of your receipts from your sign and sail account. If we feel a crew member has gone above and beyond, we tip them extra. The sign and sail card doesn't apply to the Maitre'd and you may also tip him if you wish. Also, remember, while room service is free, the tip is not included, and, therefore, you should tip appropriately for such.
The only downside to prepaying is if you get crummy service you're locked in and you can't do much about it. We put it on our credit card at the end of the cruise and augment with a bit of cash if the service warrants augmentation.
Here is the deal. Don't pre-pay. When you get your on board account set up they will add the tips to the account. You can adjust them to any way you like.
I personally leave my cabin stewards and general restaurant service tips on my account. I then tip them extra if I want. I tip the main dining room waiters and assistants depending on if and when I go to formal dining with cash on the last night.
There is no problem taking the tips off your account. Go to Info desk and they will do it for you.
With my S&S Account Statement in front of me, it shows that "Service Grats" were automatically added to our account to the rate of $10 per person, per day. So my hubby and I paid $140 in gratuity. They explain how it's broken down, but I don't have that paper in front of me, so much to your wait staff, so much to your room stewards, etc... On top of that, we gave cash "extras" to our cabin stewards ($40) waitress ($40) and her assistants ($20) as well as a few $$ to the Maitre'd. All in all we probably paid about $250 in tips. They were worth it and we wish we could've given more! They worked very hard for our comfort and we felt they deserved every dime!
When my husband and I settled in on the first night of our cruise, they had deducted the $10 per day per person. We knew we could adjust the amount up or down at the end of our cruise, so we just left it alone. We received such wonderful service that we did not reduce it at all. We had a wonderful service in the dining room, pool decks, bars, and casinos. We were impressed with the ability of the people in each area to remember our names, favorite drinks, and sail & sign card given the number of people they see on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Maybe they take a memory course. We also found that making a little polite conversation with our evening waiters went a long way in great service. Not everyone who goes on vacation is able to relax and be civil with waitstaff. We also gave cash tips to the waiter we loved on the pool deck, our head waiter, assitant waiter, and golf bar bartender, and room steward. The bottom line is the tipping is up to you, but if your trip is anything like ours you will be so impressed with the service you will want to give a little extra to the hardworkers who pay special attention to you.
I look at this way if you pre-pay you are just giving extra in wages not for service. How can you pay for service you haven't even received yet? If I have had good service for the cruise I let it ride, if not then I go and ask it to be taken off and give individually to the ones who deserved it. Usually I don't have to do this because the people go overboard in trying to make a wonderful cruise for us, and I end up giving a little extra to our room steward or someone who did something special for us. You can thank all these past cheap skate cruisers who stiffed the help when ask to give a tip for their service at the end of the cruise, so that is why Carnival puts it on automatically. Think about how much the service people make during a 12-14 hour a day and then you will feel better by giving the tips for the work they did for you to make your cruise special.
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