Another tipping question, sorry. Do you tip the headwaiter/asst waiter for the total number of days of the cruise or the days you had dinner in the main dining room? What about the night/s you eat elsewhere?
most people (including myself) tip their dining room waiter and busboy for the total number of days of the cruise. As far as the headwaiter (or assistant maitre d') is concerned, I tip these only if they deserve it (while waiter and busboy usually do, anyway). There are some headwaiters who walk around the dining room on the first night of the cruise to say hello - and then they disappear for the remainder of the cruise and only reappear on the final eveening to collect their tips. In that case, they don't get anything from me - instead I add their "recommended" tip to the waiter's / busboy's amount. But then there are also headwaiters who really help out and try their best throughout the cruise. They are tipped for their efforts, of course.
the way tipping is handled right now by most cruise lines, not tipping the waitstaff would mean "punishing" them for you having dinner at the buffet. It really is a kind of moral blackmail. All this reaffirmes me in my opinion that the cruise lines should radically change their tipping policies in that they should include the costs for a proper pay of their employees in the cruise fare. This is what more and more European operators do. And on Japanese (and other Asian) ships, employees must not accept tips! I wouldn't support that, but I would like tipping to be what the word implies - a reward for good service.
I wouldn't say it's always a matter of how tipping is handled. As an example, on my cruise onboard Oceania's "Regatta", the service was nothing short of being superb "despite the automatic tipping". However, this is also one of the lines where automatic tipping makes more sense than on others. With the open-seating policy, you would have to tip your waitstaff every night which at least for me would be difficult to achieve as it is virtually impossible to get small dollar bills here in Germany. And asking your waiter whether he can give you change on your 20 dollar bill isn't really what I consider appropriate.
If you have an assigned dining room table, however, I don't see an advantage in automatic tipping. The cruise lines' bla bla that it is "much less inconvenient" of course only stems from the fact that the cruise lines have made tipping an inconvenient matter by creating these ridiculous policies.
I have never sailed Oceania, so I cannot comment on them.I have however sailed most all the major lines and have seen service diminish with the auto. grat policy's, I realize it's a way for the crusie lines to get off cheap in the pay roll department. We just returned from a Celebrity cruise and the service was excellent. I don't mind paying for service like we recieved on that cruise,as a matter of fact everyone got extra because the service was above and beyond in every deparment.Celebrity has aprogram that you can put your tips on your ships charge and then give the waiters and other help a voucherthat is fine, I don't know why some others don't try this.This way there is no excuse, I don't have the cash or whatever.I prefer to hand them cash but the voucher system is a good alternative to the auto grat.