I am currently sailing on the Celebrity Equinox. We took advantage of the GO BEST promotion and got the Premium Alcohol Beverage Package, unlimited WiFi, $300 onboard credit, and prepaid gratuities. Specifically with the beverage package, I have been accustomed on previous cruises of the practice of the wait staff still bringing you a receipt, zeroed out (no balance due), but still a way for your to leave an additional tip of you liked.
This cruise has been different. They happily bring us our drinks, but no receipts. That means no way for me to leave any additional tip. I know that the beverage package already includes the 18% gratuity, but I always tipped just a bit more. Think of it as a bribe; It was a way to ensure that the bar servers kept coming back on a regular basis.
Like most cruisers these days, I didn’t bring much cash with me onboard. Hitting the onboard ATM comes with a hefty fee, and the casino charges a 5% fee if you charge a cash withdrawal to your stateroom account (so anything over $100 costs you more than hitting the ATM). With the dining room servers and room stewards I can easily add additional gratuities to my stateroom account. But bar servers, not so much without that little paper receipt. It has not appeared to affect the quality of service at all. So I am going out on a limb and guessing that the bar servers are getting the automatic 18% gratuity, or at least the bulk of it, and therefore aren’t feeling the need to shill for tips.
Of course we all have that one client that wants to figure out how to avoid leaving the mandatory included 18% gratuities to begin with; but there are also the clients that want to recognize and reward exemplary service (or in my case, just bribe the server to keep the daiquiris coming on a regular basis). For those clients, all we can do is prepare them. If they have a beverage package, let them know that they may (or may not) be able to provide additional tips to their bar servers. It will likely vary based on cruise line or cruise ship. If they are not presented with a paper receipt where they could add a tip, then the only option is to be prepared with a stash of one dollar bills.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.