PASSENGERS travelling with Carnival Cruises will now be paying 18 per cent in automatic gratuities for drinks – an increase of 3 per cent since the beginning of December.
But far from a bigger bonus for staff, some of the tips will actually be used by the cruise line to pay for their own staff expenses.
According to a report on Crew Center, the 3 per cent increase in gratuities, which went into effect on December 1, will be split in half, with the remaining 1.5 per cent of the hike going directly to the serving staff.
The remaining 1.5 per cent will go into an “ASP pool” that’s used to pay for things like staff uniforms and return airline tickets for the crew.
While tips are automatically applied to guests’ accounts for drinks orders, it is not mandatory.
Guests can request for these to be removed by contacting the on-board help desk, although on some cruise lines, the tips directly affect staff salary.
The breakdown of the new raise in tip fees was outlined in a copy of the letter dated November 29, which has been sent to all staff serving beverages according to Cruise Law News.
It specified that the ASP pool funded “employee compensation and benefit programs that you receive; including bar level pay, itinerary stipend pay, as well as free uniform and return airline tickets.”
In a statement to Sun Online Travel, a spokesperson for Carnival said: ” We have increased the bar gratuity to 18 per cent, which is in line with the industry and hotel and restaurants on land.
“Those funds are shared across all crew members who support the beverage operations, including those our guests may not see but are working to stock, clean and run equipment and support tasks.
“A very small portion of the gratuity pool funds items that crew members normally cover beyond what the company pays for in travel and uniform costs.
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“Our crew appreciate everything our guests do for them. They work very hard and understand the policies in place.
“The salary Carnival pays them and the gratuities our guests give allows our crew to provide a better for life for themselves and their family. And they are also supportive of how we administer the pool portion of the gratuity which fully and exclusively benefits our shipboard employees.”
While Carnival are raising their tip fees, their sister brand, P&O, announced in May this year that it will be removing the discretionary service charge on all sailings from May 2019.
P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said in a statement at the time: “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.”