P&O Cruises Removes Crew Gratuities. Will Other Cruise Lines follow?

Aug 21, 2018

P&O Cruises has sent an email to their customers informing them that the company will no longer charge gratuities or as they refer to discretionary daily service charges.

Starting from May 2019, the current £7 daily service charges will be removed to ensure guests peace of mind once the cruise is booked knowing it has all been taken care of, the company states. This will apply across the P&O Cruises fleet, the company said.

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “We take huge pride in giving guests a holiday experience that’s truly memorable and special.  By removing the daily discretionary Service Charge, P&O Cruises will make enjoying a cruise holiday an effortless experience, knowing that great service comes as standard.”

Daily service charges are common practice across most cruise lines as an additional cost on top of the cruise package. The charge is essentially a tip for all of the hardworking crew, dining room staff and housekeeping that make the cruise possible. The tipping system has been a hot debate by the crew and guests and bout groups were not satisfied because these “gratuities” can be removed by passengers request.

Will Other Cruise Lines Follow?

P&O Cruises is part of the Carnival brands and there is no news on whether other cruise lines will follow suit. However, the gratuities removal by P&O Cruises might be a test to see if the new system is a success and if they can incorporate on the major cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Costa Cruises.

Two years ago Carnival Cruise Line Senior Cruise Director John Heald said: “We need to look closely at removing crew gratuities. I know I said this here some months ago but having seen how hard this brilliant crew have worked on this inaugural cruise and having seen for 29 years how hard the brilliant crew have worked on all of our ships………….I truly think we need to look closely at removing gratuities and to see if we can do something to stop it for anything but legitimate reasons such as poor service etc.”

It’s a fact that many crew members, especially those working as a tipping personnel are not happy with the current system because some guests chose to remove the service charges. Another problem for the crew was that they felt they were cheated due to the fact that each year cruise lines were increasing the service charges but this was not reflected in the crew salaries. On the contrary, the salaries for the crew went down. Last year we made an analysis showing that the gratuities increased by 70% from 2010 to 2017.

The current tipping system is so complicated that most of the crew, if not all, don’t understand it and the final paycheck depends on guests comments from different venues, sales and guests served. Some tipping crew working for other cruise lines say that they receive more or less same salary each month with the current tipping system.  This means that other cruise lines have unofficially implemented the fixed salary for all crew.