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Old 08-08-2004, 07:43 AM
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Okay fellow cruisers, I just read this over the newswire and wondering if it concerns any of you as it does me:

Beginning May 2005, Norwegian Cruise Line will be the first cruise line in the industry to charge a non-removable and non-adjustable onboard gratuity on a fleetwide basis. The fee will be extolled from passengers' onboard accounts at the amount of $10 per person, per day. Until then, NCL ships will maintain their current gratuity policy, which is still priced at $10 per person, per day, but offers passengers the opportunity to change or remove their tip entirely. With the exception of Pride of Aloha, which has already implemented the non-refundable, non-adjustable "service fee".

NCL's rationale for the mandatory service charge, says spokeswoman Susan Robison, is that "our carefully designed incentive programs are predicated on all crew having to be team players and being treated equally in compensation as a result. It throws everything out of balance for some crew members to be receiving amounts from some passengers and other crew members not."

Well, is this the wave of the future? Will all cruise lines soon follow suit? Hmm, I wonder how long it will be before the crew begin to expect a tip from passengers, in addition to this new "service fee"!

Would love to hear others thoughts -
Nancy
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Old 08-08-2004, 07:43 AM
NancyN's Avatar
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Okay fellow cruisers, I just read this over the newswire and wondering if it concerns any of you as it does me:

Beginning May 2005, Norwegian Cruise Line will be the first cruise line in the industry to charge a non-removable and non-adjustable onboard gratuity on a fleetwide basis. The fee will be extolled from passengers' onboard accounts at the amount of $10 per person, per day. Until then, NCL ships will maintain their current gratuity policy, which is still priced at $10 per person, per day, but offers passengers the opportunity to change or remove their tip entirely. With the exception of Pride of Aloha, which has already implemented the non-refundable, non-adjustable "service fee".

NCL's rationale for the mandatory service charge, says spokeswoman Susan Robison, is that "our carefully designed incentive programs are predicated on all crew having to be team players and being treated equally in compensation as a result. It throws everything out of balance for some crew members to be receiving amounts from some passengers and other crew members not."

Well, is this the wave of the future? Will all cruise lines soon follow suit? Hmm, I wonder how long it will be before the crew begin to expect a tip from passengers, in addition to this new "service fee"!

Would love to hear others thoughts -
Nancy
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Old 08-08-2004, 08:25 AM
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Interesting! I have heard rumblings about this, but am surprised at the timing of it. I think you are right about the "Service Fee" as simply becoming a part of the cruise tariff with additional gratuities expected for better service.

You are also right about the other lines following NCL's lead. I am sure it will happen. Imagine what an accounting nightmare it must be to adjust hundreds of passengers accounts for thee gratuities.

With tounge in cheek, here are some other ideas for fees that cruise lines might impose.

How about a "Food Preparation fee"? you know, for the cooks to prepare the food?

or a "cabin sanitation fee" for the materials that are used to clean the cabin. It could also cover the cost of laundering the towels and other items.

There should also be a "pool usage" fee. This could be a one-time fee for each pasenger to use the pool facilities.

Don't forget the "Entertainment Fee" I mean those entertainers cost a lot of money and I don't see why the cruise lines should have to shoulder the cost.

These are just a couple of ideas I had. Can you think of any other fees that could materialize?

Tom VBG
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Old 08-08-2004, 12:54 PM
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Hi Nancy,

this has been discussed in the German forum for a week already. I have also created a poll there and these are the results so far:

- I like the new service charge: 0 (0%)
- The old tipping policy was better: 2 (13%)
- I like to hand out tipping envelopes: 6 (38%)
- All tips should be included in the cruise fare: 5 (31%)
- I have a different opinion (please explain): 3 (19%)

By the way this is what I wrote in the current issue of Cruising & Beyond:

quote:
Dear friends of "Cruising & Beyond",

for the third time in a row, Norwegian Cruise Line makes it into C&B's editorial. The company has not only been integrated into a new corporation within the Star Cruises Group, but it has also announced a controversial change in its tipping policy. Effective May, 2005 "a service charge of US$ 10 per person, per day will be added to your onboard account. For children ages 3-12, a US$ 5 per person per day charge will be added to your onboard account; there is no charge for children under the age of three. This is a fixed service charge and is not adjustable. [] Unlike most other ships in the cruise industry, there is no required or recommended tipping on Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America ships. Our staff is paid salaries. Guests should not feel obliged to offer a gratuity for service that is generally rendered to all guests." Currently the above mentioned daily amounts are added to passengers' onboard accounts as tips which can be increased, decreased or removed at each passenger's discretion.

According to a study conducted by NCL, 95% of its passengers do not change the current tips added to their accounts, while 5% do so for various reasons which according to NCL virtually always result in no tips being paid. NCL claims that hence, the planned change would only affect 5% of its passengers. "We recognize that, just on principle, not everyone will find this new policy acceptable and we also recognize that some people budget their cruises with the intention of not paying the service charge regardless of their on board experience. That is why we are giving plenty of notice of this adjustment in our policy prior to its implementation across the fleet next summer," said NCL's Director of Public Relations, Susan Robison.

To be honest with you, dear friends, I indeed do not like this new charge. To explain why, I do have to explain why I have disliked most cruise lines' tipping policies for years. In my opinion - and in accordance with the word's definition - a tip should be a reward for good service. If the service is not good, one usually would tip less or nothing at all. Many cruise lines, however, have been paying their employees ridiculously low salaries, with a large amount of the final income resulting from so-called tips, which were "officially" voluntary, but often heavily solicited and almost considered mandatory by both passengers and crew members.

It is a matter of course that in the end passengers pay for the crew's work and service they benefit from, but there is no doubt it would be better to include that amount in the original cruise fare. However, doing that would result in travel agents earning commission on that amount (unless it is billed as a "non-commissionable fee") and cruise fares would appear higher and hence less competitive compared with competing cruise lines' prices. The problem I see is that a vast number of passengers embark for their cruise totally uninformed of certain important policies. I'm sure many of you have read cruise reviews where e.g. passengers complained about bottled water in their cabin they - surprisingly - were charged for. Thoroughly reading brochures and working with a specialized travel agent generally avoids inconveniences like that, but many passengers look only for the lowest fare without receiving professional advice. At the end of their NCL cruise these passengers will find themselves presented with a bill of US$ 70 per person per week, even if they did not buy anything onboard during the whole cruise. For a family of four, this adds to up to US$ 280 per week - probably too much for some people with low limits on their credit cards. And those who would like to settle their onboard account with cash will likely be forced to pay the new service charge up front at embarkation.

To make this clear once more, I have no problem whatsoever with jointly paying the crew members' salary with all passengers on the same cruise, but I don't like to do this through "tips" which are actually a kind of service charge (and to be fair, NCL is the only major cruise line now at least calling it a service charge!) or through a non-adjustable service charge added to my onboard account. It's not the amount I don't like - it's the way I am expected to pay it.

Another problem is that NCL will not comment on whether the whole US$ 10 will actually be paid to its employees or whether parts of it will simply be used to maximize the cruise line's profit.

In my opinion, NCL missed a great opportunity here to break with the industry's ridiculous system of obtaining the crew members' well-deserved salary. Raising the rates for a one-week cruise by US$ 70 would have made NCL's cruises look more expensive than their competitors' ones, but an informed passenger, booked through a knowledgeable travel agent who explains this, likely wouldn't find this that bad at all - knowing that the hassle usually involved with tipping on a cruise ship would not apply to him.
<SNIP>

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Raoul Fiebig

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Old 08-08-2004, 01:57 PM
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Hi Raoul,
I guess I will have to be more diligent about reading the latest issues of Cruising & Beyond! The poll results are interesting, thus far. You will have to provide us with periodic updates (or teach us how to read German) - VBG!
Nancy
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Old 08-09-2004, 05:09 AM
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Let us face reality. Customers are reponsible for these policies. We do this by forcing every industry to be competitive and to do this they cut services to lower costs. I now have 3 jobs besides my regular one. I pump gas, feed deposit bottles into a machine and now check out my own groceries. All of these services used to be provided but now is being done by the consumer. The way to change is to shop somewhere else but the almighty dollar speaks and we continue to go to the place that is the cheapest. How many people do you see paying the extra 3 cents a gallon to have their gas pumped?
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Old 08-14-2004, 03:19 PM
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Nancy, I'm sure you are right - There is no question that this will become the wave of the future. First HAL made their policy change and now NCL makes it a mandatory service fee. I really do not mind tipping, but I like it to be on my terms.

Hey, Tom - How about a "public restroom fee"? After all, they aren't the cabin stewards' responsibility - someone has to keep them clean and serviceable.

Or what about a "Sitting Fee" when formal portraits are taken? We all know how much time and effort is devoted to making us look our best and professional photographers don't come cheap you know!

Shelley
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Old 08-15-2004, 08:33 AM
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I can't believe I didn't think of those. They make tons of sense. There should be a "Tender Fee" for those using the tenders and I really think there should be an upgrade for those that want a guaranteed seat in the tender.

How about an "Emergency Standby Fee" to cover the staff that has to perform during the emergency drills?

VBG

Tom
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Old 08-16-2004, 12:06 AM
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I'd add a "Cover Charge" for the disco (They do it on land - why not at sea) and a "Lifejacket Rental Fee" (just in case you don't bring your own from home).
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Old 08-16-2004, 06:37 AM
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Roflol, how could we have missed such an obvious opportunity? Of course, there must be a "life jacket rental fee", You could have a flat rate for the whole cruise, or a much higher hourly rate in case of emergency.

Tom
 
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