Carnival Cruise Line is raising its gratuity charge by nearly 8 percent, according to an article in Travel Agent Central today. The charge will rise to $12.95 per person, per day for passengers in most cabins, or $13.95 per person, per day for passengers staying in suites, effective September 1, 2016. There is a question posed on the comments section of the article; “does the charge actually go to the staff as a tip? or is it just a fare increase?” The questions remain unanswered.
Carnival said that passengers can lock in the current gratuity rate by pre-paying before Monday, May 9, 2016.
The gratuity charge, which crew members tell me does not all go to the crew members but is diverted to pay salaries or is considered revenue for the cruise line, is only a suggested amount. Carnival says that passengers can adjust it, or remove it entirely, by visiting the Guest Services desk while on-board the cruise ship.
You can read the Carnival tipping policy here. Earlier this week, a Facebook page called “Complaining Crewship” complained that Carnival passengers were not paying tips and posted about 30 pages of photographed pages showing the names and cabin numbers of Carnival passengers who had their prepaid tips removed. There were hundreds and hundreds of passengers who removed their tips. Some of these people may have removed the pre-paid gratuities and paid cash. However, it seems that passengers are just stiffing the crew.
The reality of the matter is that Carnival pays crew members like waiters. bartenders and stateroom attendants a small pittance by the cruise line (around $50 a month) and then requires them to work incredibly long hours, relying on tips for the majority of their compensation. Carnival incorporated in Panama and registered its cruise ships in Panama and the Bahamas to avoid virtually all taxes and then requires U.S. taxpaying public to pay the bulk of the crew member compensation. However, many passengers view a gratuity as reserved only for spectacular and far-beyond-normal service. These guests obviously don’t tip at all or only occasionally and say that it’s the cruise line’s responsibility to pay the ship employees.
Cruise lines do not like their ship employees to “out” the guests or to name and shame them. For example, when a Royal Caribbean created a You Tube video a few years ago showing that the cruise line was in essence stealing automatic gratuities from the crew, Royal Caribbean threatened the crew members with legal action and petitioned You Tube to ban the video. Read: “Screw the Crew” Video: Banned By Royal Caribbean & YouTube!
So the cruise line gratuity scam continues. Carnival will create the impression that the increased gratuities are for the crew who, in reality, will never see a penny of the increase. Many passengers will remove all of the gratuities in their entirely and hide their cheapness behind their anonymity.