P&O Cruises has announced that it will automatically add £3.10 per day in tips to passenger accounts from next April.
It says the new policy on gratuities will make the “often confusing and sometimes awkward subject” of tipping clearer and easier for passengers.
The move has taken some by surprise, especially in view of the fact that just 12 months ago, managing director Carol Marlow was promoting P&O’s value-for-money by pointing out that unlike some of its competitors, the company did not automatically add tips.
Today she says: “Tipping has always been an integral part of the cruise experience but sometimes our passengers tell us they’ve been confused over whether or when to leave a cash tip for their waiters and cabin stewards.
“Our new tipping policy aims to remove this confusion in much the same way as most restaurants these days add a suggested gratuity to the bill.
“The recommended daily rate per person will be the same as has been in place for several years, namely £3.10, which is less than other cruise companies recommend as a daily rate. If our passengers wish to vary this amount they can do so whilst on board.”
She added: “We have had this policy in place for some time for those customers choosing to dine in the Freedom Dining restaurants on Oceana, Ventura and Azura.
“We have found the practice works well both for our customers, removing any awkwardness and confusion, and for our restaurant teams as they receive a fairer and more consistent level of tips. For this reason, we are extending the scheme to both dining and cabin stewards on all seven ships in the fleet from April 2012.
Regular passengers on P&O’s Cruise Community forum have largely welcomed the move. While one pointed out that they are not expected to add a payment to the checkout staff at their local supermarket, others are pleased to see their payments being simplified.
But perhaps one couple, posting as “Mervyn and Tish” made the most sense when they suggested: “As this is now becoming standard across the cruise industry isn’t it about time the current tip systems were abolished completely, basic wages were enhanced to reflect that loss and the cost built into the basic price of a cruise? Crew would know better where they stood with a regular guaranteed income and we would know where we stood when comparing prices of different lines? ”
I couldn’t agree more.
P&O’s £3.10 a day looks like the lowest rate in the industry (apart from the all-inclusive luxury lines and companies such as Saga, Voyages of Discovery and Thomson which include gratuities in the fare). Here’s a comparison of average rates.
Carnival Cruise Lines £6.50
Celebrity Cruises £7.50-£10
Costa Cruises £5-£6.50
Cunard £7-£8.50
Cruise & Maritime Voyages £4-£5
Disney Cruise Line £7.70-£8.70
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines £4
Holland America Line £7
MSC Cruises £5-£6
Norwegian Cruise Line £7.75
Oceania Cruises £8.75-£12
Princess Cruises £7.50-£7.75
Royal Caribbean International £7.50-£8.75