Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has addressed the distinction between crew member gratuities and paid salaries in response to social media chatter about how the cruise line distributes tips to team members. This should help clarify how gratuities are given to team members and whether the extra monies do in fact count as extra appreciation.

Social media outrage has been circulating with the idea that Carnival Cruise Line does not really distribute gratuities to crew members in addition to the salaries they earn. Instead, the idea is that gratuities are used as employees’ base pay first, and the cruise line only makes up the difference to the contractual salary amount.

John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line’s brand ambassador who has worked with the cruise line since 1989, addressed the ridiculous assumption and confirmed in no uncertain terms that this is not at all how the cruise line pays crew members.

“Normally I would never comment on this but let me say categorically that this is nonsense, totally 100% false and 100% inaccurate,” said Heald. “We do not use the gratuities you so graciously give to ‘pay the crew.’ It is utter fabrication and untrue.”

Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

All crew members have a salary they are paid from Carnival Cruise Line, based on their position and years of experience. Any gratuities offered by guests – whether automatically added to onboard accounts or offered personally in cash – are added to their pay rate as an above-and-beyond appreciation for their above-and-beyond service.

Carnival Cruise Line’s service gratuities are currently $16 per guest, per day for standard staterooms and $18 per person, per day for suites.

Carnival’s website clearly states, “100% of your gratuities are distributed to the crew who you interact with, such as your stateroom attendants, dining and culinary services staff, as well as others who work behind the scenes to enhance your overall cruise experience.”

Travelers can pay gratuities in two ways, either by pre-paying at the time the cruise is booked or paying through their Sail & Sign account during their cruise. Tips are added to guests’ onboard accounts on the next-to-last day of each sailing.

Gratuities are a sensitive topic for many travelers, and Heald has addressed different aspects of these crew appreciation payments many times.

For example, cruise fans have often wondered why gratuities are not automatically included in the cruise fare, as they are in some parts of the world or on different cruise lines.

Heald has clarified that there are no plans for Carnival Cruise Line to automatically add gratuities to the fares for North American cruises, though cruises from Australia do have tips built in to the cruise price.

“Adding the gratuity to the price of the cruise is what we do in Australia and while I know of no plans to do the same from our ships that sail from North America perhaps one day it will happen,” Heald said in response to this idea.

Carnival Cruise Line Crew (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Price Increases (Including Gratuities) Set to Begin

While many guests would prefer the tips to be included in the cruise fare, Carnival’s option for guests to pre-pay gratuities at the time of booking effectively does add the service recognition into the overall cruise price, and it is an option available to all travelers.

The exact accounting as to why Carnival Cruise Line does not add tips directly into a cruise fare is a complicated issue, and likely relates to local taxation laws, financial profit recording, and other factors that make it simpler and more straightforward for gratuities to be recorded as an extra charge.

One of the most contentious topics is whether or not cruise travelers should have the option to remove the automatic gratuities from their onboard accounts.

Many guests appreciate the convenience of having gratuities added automatically, which eliminates any guesswork about which crew members are in gratuity positions and how much a customary tip would be.

Carnival Cruise Line Guest Relations Desk (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock)

Other passengers prefer to tip in cash, offering a personal thank you or note with the gratuity they extend to crew members. Some travelers may also prefer not to tip at all, depending on the service they have received or their personal opinions about tipping.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Offers Details on How Gratuities Are Shared

Many travelers have argued that Carnival should not permit gratuities to be removed, but Heald has also addressed this issue quite clearly.

“We will continue to allow people to remove gratuities if they wish. We know (because we ask the crew) how many tip in cash instead of the pre-paid amounts. I understand why many wish to do this,” he said. “It is important to remember that lots of people who do remove gratuities tip the same amount in cash or more even and that is wonderful.”

What are your thoughts on crew member gratuities? How do you prefer to pay them? Should they be included in the cruise fare? Join the discussion on the Cruise Hive boards!

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