Let’s talk Gratuities

The idea of paying someone for the service we expect is foreign to Australians. This practice is very common and expected in most parts of the world. Cruises are no exception; crew members expect a gratuity payment for their service. The reason for this expectation is they are paid a minimal monthly wage from the cruise line. Some crew work more than 10hours each day of your cruise to ensure that it is an extraordinary experience for you.

As someone who has worked on a cruise line I would not have survived, or even worked, without a gratuity income. My wage from the cruise line was $500 per month for working 6 days a week and up to 12hours a day. Don’t get me wrong it was a wonderful experience, but I would not work for 72 hours a week for a weekly pay of $125 (which is about $1.75 an hour.) How many of us would?

So why should we as Australians pay gratuities on a cruise?

Most cruise lines in Australia incorporate the gratuities within the fare. They do this for two main reasons:

  1. This is to ensure the crew members are financially rewarded for the amazing cruise experience they provide. If no one paid gratuities, the cruise line would find it difficult to entice the best crew members to work on ships visiting Australia. Crew members will take contracts on ships where they can receive an income based on the service they provide.
    Lack of quality crew members became an issue for the cruise lines prior to gratuities being incorporated in the cruise fare.
  2. To keep cruising an affordable holiday option for most Australians. Without this affordability the cruise market in Australia would reduce, and Australians would not have the choice of cruise line and ships that currently visit our waters. A thriving market has meant that the Australian cruising public are enjoying new ships visiting our waters, ships such as the Majestic Princess, Ovation of the Seas and the Viking Sun.

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara, Silverseas, Seabourn, Carnival Australia and P&O Australia are just a few cruise lines who include gratuities in your fare. Everyone is a winner! The crew are happy, which filters to a better experience for you, the guest. It also ensures you do not have to worry about tipping. Let’s be honest, it is not in our culture and we can find it daunting.

Princess Cruise Lines has the gratuities included in the fare if the cruise starts and ends in Australian ports.

When you ask your cabin steward to deliver breakfast to your cabin, or bring you a second helping of your favourite desert, think to yourself, would I do that for $1.75 an hour?

You may be able to find a low price for your cruise by purchasing through a non-Australian website; however you will be charged gratuities on board the ship. The standard gratuity is from US$13.00pp per day. You will need to factor this in when looking for that extra low price on a foreign cruise website. Are you really getting a good deal from these websites?

When you are comparing price, also check your vulnerability. Are you covered for insolvency when booking on a foreign website?  If they are not an AFTA or ATAS Australian Accredited Agent, how safe is your money?