When travelling around the world, the subject of gratuities and service charges is often hotly debated. In the US, for example, it is customary to add a tip to your final bill as this ensures that the waiting and kitchen staff are fairly paid. On the other hand, in Japan, providing a tip is often met with confusing looks, as the staff are trained to offer service that goes above and beyond as standard. The British public generally stand in the middle when it comes to providing a tip, with the general rule of thumb being to reward good service.
However, the cruise industry raises a whole fresh debate with regards to this, with many lines implementing a discretionary charge before the cruise has even departed. This has often led to influx of enquiries aimed at the passenger services, many of whom believe the additional charge should be removed. Like it or not, though, the vast majority of lines, including traditionally British lines such as P&O Cruises and Cunard, are owned by American parent companies and, as a result, tend to follow American customs.
To make matters worse, this year saw P&O Cruises up their recommended daily gratuity from £6 to £7 for all passengers over the age of 12. It therefore comes as a surprise that, following the implementation of this, the line has made a complete U-turn by outright confirming the daily service charge will be scrapped from May 2019. This means that passengers will no longer have a discretionary charge applied to their bill – although passengers will have the option to pay a service charge at their own discretion by visiting reception during their cruise.
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.”
The line has also confirmed that crew pay will not be affected in any way by the decision and believes this will enhance the overall experience for passengers. The move could be implemented in a similar way to Norwegian Cruise Line, which offers fares that absorb the cost of aspects including gratuities, onboard drinks, port taxes and much more.
With more lines being introduced and new ships being built all the time, it is safe to say the cruise industry is enjoying continuous growth. Further, the lines listen to the needs and desires of the consumers, always adapting their service to deliver a better product.
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