Celebrity Revises Tipping Policy

For the past 6 years Celebrity has been my preferred cruise line. One of the policies that differentiated Celebrity from other lines was their tipping policy. In the past Celebrity would only add your tips to your onboard account if you filled out a card requesting that the tips be added to your account. If passengers wanted to add additional tips they could also do this as part of the “opt in” process. I always felt that this was a very classy way of handling the tipping, giving the customers the option of auto tipping but not “ramming it down their throats.”

However, last month Celebrity announced that they were going to automatically adding the tips to the Seapass accounts. If passengers want to have them removed they must then make a visit to the guest services desk and request that they be removed. Reductions in the amount or deletion of certain charges would not be allowed, only a complete removal of the charges. The passenger could then tip in cash it they so choose.

The other noticeable change in the policy is that the over all amount increased by about $1.50 per day per person. The range of total tips increase from $10.00 – $13.50 per day per person to about $11.50 -$15.00 per person per day. The range reflects a difference in tipping requirements based on certain classes of state room that have additional services like Concierge Class and Suites.

Also, while the tip for the Assistant Chief Housekeeper is now gone, a new category of tipping has replaced it. Celebrity calls this the “Alternative Service” tip, and states that this tip will be shared among other service personnel. I thought that this tip was rather strange.

While I have always felt that Celebrity has had fantastic service that merited the full tip amount and sometimes more, I think that this move is a huge mistake on the part of Celebrity. They are starting to look more and more like every other cruise line and not the “Premium” line that they had presented themselves as previously. The increase in the tip amount is not a huge amount when you look at it on a per day basis. However if you look at it in a total per family per cruise, the amount of the increase adds up to about $42 for a 7 day cruise for a family of 4. That amount is very close to the extra amount that I might add to to my tipping for a few key service personnel that I felt gave extra special service. So I’m not sure that I would be inclined to tip extra since the easiest path is just to tip the suggested amount using the auto tipping. My concern is that this new policy could lead to a decline in service levels on the ship as many passengers may share my thoughts and simply auto tip for both mediocre and excellent service.

If you sail Celebrity and have thoughts about the change in the tipping policy, please share you thoughts with us. I have updated our tipping policy page to reflect the changes at Celebrity.