Cruise Lines Raise Gratuities for Crew. What About Higher Wages?

Feb 27, 2017

Today I would like to share an important information with all cruise ship crew members working on the onboard tipping positions. Did you know that last year almost all cruise lines have increased the gratuities, on average $1.5 per guest per day? You might say this is a small amount which will not affect much on your monthly earnings, and you will be wrong.

Doing a simple math a dining room waiter serving a total of 30 guests in two seatings should get extra 40 cents per guest. This is $12 per day. Multiply this amount by 30 days a month and the increase is $360. If a waiter works a six-month contract that is a total of $2160. Interesting isn’t it? An Even more interesting fact is that some cruise lines have not increased the salaries to their tipping personnel on board and in all press releases they mention that the increased gratuities will go only for the crew. We have received complaints from several crew members that the tipping personnel salaries have decreased in the last two years.

Back in the good old days, the rules were quite simple. Depending on the comments in the dining room you receive a rating, then the next cruise you choose a station. Depending how many guests you have, let’s say 34, at the end of the cruise you will receive the gratuities from all 34 guests. Ok sometimes cheapatones withdraw the gratuities, but this was an exception. Unlike some crew members begging for comments from the guests, I never pushed, instead I worked hard to make sure the guest was happy and satisfied.

Today the payment system has changed and the cruise lines made it very complicated to understand, and their explanation is that this will bring better service and experience for the guests. Some cruise lines have 5 Level system which means that a waiter Level 1 will earn around 40% less than the waiter Level 5 for the entire cruise. It doesn’t matter if the waiter Level 1 serves more guests, she/he will receive a lower paycheck. In a pursuit for more comments, some cruise lines have made payment system depending on the comments from the dining room, buffet, and the bar sales. The question remains why did the cruise lines make complicated? Is it because they are not completely honest and they are taking small amounts of each crew member? If this is the case, where are the money going? Is it for the corporate bosses? Is it for financing new ships which will be launched in the following years?

I know you can be a smart guy and complain that the system is not fair, and you might be right. Unfortunately, you as a crew member can’t change the system. If you complain to the management you will get a simple answer: Don’t like it? Go home.

In the comment box bellow please share your experience about the salaries and do you think you are getting your fair share. 

Just to keep you informed these are the cruise lines that increased the daily gratuities in recent years.

  • Holland America Line
  • Starting from May 1, 2017, suites will pay $15 per guest per day, instead of $13.50, and guests in all other staterooms will be charged $13.50 per day instead of $12.50.
  • Princess Cruises
  • In 2016 Princess has increased the gratuities two times. Passengers in an interior, oceanview and balcony cabins today pay $13.50 (up from $11.50). Passengers in mini-suites and suites today pay $13.95 (up from $12), and suite passengers $15.50.
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • In May 2016 Celebrity increased the daily gratuities for inside, ocean view, and balcony staterooms from $13.50 per person, per day from the previous $12.95. AquaClass and Concierge-class increase was $14 per person, per day from the previous $13.45. Suites: $17 per person, per day (up from $16.45).
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Gratuities for passengers sailing on Royal Caribbean cruise ships were raised in 2015 and 2016 up to $2.50 per guest per day. Back in July 2015 guest gratuities were up to $1.70 per person, and in 2016 for additional $0,55 for all staterooms and suites.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • In 2015 NCL has raised the gratuities for crew two times, increasing the daily tips by $1.50 for passengers staying in any cabin including a mini suite.