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Balloon Man

Star Clippers: honesty or moral blackmail?

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I've often wondered how much cruise ship staff are paid for working long hours every day of the week. Now I know, at least insofar as cabin stewards and waiters on Star Flyer are concerned. Nothing.

 

My wife and I just concluded a very good week on Star Flyer but we were amazed to hear the Cruise Director announce that cabin stewards and waiters do not receive a salary but rely entirely on the gratuities they are given by guests.

 

She then went-on to say that unlike some cruise lines gratuities were not compulsory on the ship, but suggested minimum amounts that could be paid in cash or added to shipboard accounts.

 

Thinking we might have both misheard we checked with the Purser. The "no wage" policy was confirmed.

 

We always auto-tip and give additional cash to staff who have helped us to enjoy our holiday. This time we felt morally obliged to voluntarily increase our auto-tip and cash payments.

 

Now I can't decide whether to avoid future cruises on the three Star clippers because their policy is akin to slave labour and we were effectively subjected to blackmail, or congratulate the line for its honesty. Is this how many cruise lines operate but are just too embarrassed to admit it?

Edited by Balloon Man

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if that is true ? I would never cruise with them .They are blackmailing you into giving a better gratuity even if the service was substandard. Passengers are basically paying all the wages for some of the crew.

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I promise you it is true. But this might be common practice and they are perhaps the only people to be honest about it.

 

How do we get this question to a wider audience?

Edited by Balloon Man

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My first response to that 'information' is that I will not sail with them again. I do think that Starclippers should be in a position to refute or confirm that information as it will damage them. Starclippers are not cheap and presumably I would have thought that an element of the expensive ticket would go towards key staff. I accept that the tips are a necessary supplement to wages but they are an acknowledgement of good service. Furthermore, I believe that US residents benefit from better offers than are offered to European customers.

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Balloon Man - it looks as if there may have been some misinformation there, or some misunderstanding or "something has got lost in translation" or a combination of all three. On the Clippers, and on other cruise lines, many of the waiters and cabin attendants are from far Eastern countries. The reason they are doing those jobs is that their wages / salaries for those jobs are significantly higher than for any job they might get back home. For the cruise lines they are less expensive to employ than "Westerners". Thus those people, the cruise lines and the passengers all benefit. On the Clippers it may be the case that the crew's wages / salaries are remitted each month through the international banking payments systems to a bank account back home so that the crew member's family can access regular income. Back on board the ship the crew members may need some money for day to day things (e.g. toiletries, mobile phone access etc,) so that is where they may be "dependent" on tips / gratuities. As for Starclippers, the owner, whose background is well known in the public area, is actively involved (with his wife) in the business. I have met him (and his wife) three times on board over the years and, in my view, he is a person of the highest integrity. Quietly behind the scenes there is some support for the crews, some of whom have worked on the Clippers for many years - part of the reason why Starclippers is such an attractive holiday and a good outfit. Hope this helps. For the record I have no commercial connection with Starclippers - just a fare paying passenger.

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Jobake. That may well be the case and it sounds plausible. But crew on star flyer told Balloon Man something different. Moral pressure was put on those cruisers to tip more. It would leave a bit of a sour taste. This is one the company should clarify.

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Hello! Sorry Guys, but it is impossible to run a cruise ship with paying passagers without paying the stewards, waiters, etc a regular salary. Something was lost in the translation or the wind. The beds, the cabins, everything has to be cleaned and done regularly. How can you have this done when the workers only live from tips or gratuities?? It is a common practice, to put the earned money on an account instead of handing out cash. That was a practice Long ago.

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In that case, the cruise director and the purser were ill judged to say or infer otherwise.

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Hello! Sorry Guys, but it is impossible to run a cruise ship with paying passagers without paying the stewards, waiters, etc a regular salary. Something was lost in the translation or the wind. The beds, the cabins, everything has to be cleaned and done regularly. How can you have this done when the workers only live from tips or gratuities?? It is a common practice, to put the earned money on an account instead of handing out cash. That was a practice Long ago.

 

Let me be absolutely clear. My wife and I both heard what the Cruise Director said. To be certain we checked with the Purser. Nothing was lost in translation or "in the wind".

 

We are not guessing. This is confirmed policy. Please don't infer or "guess" otherwise. You were not there and your assumptions are baseless. We are seasoned cruisers on many lines so not naive.

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Balloon Man - I did include the word "misinformation" in my earlier post! On one of our RC holidays in the Caribbean two things (on the same day) were not up to the usual standard (one related to something put in place by a crew member and the other, I felt, was down to the onshore provider of one of the "trips" arranged that day) and I wrote to Starclippers accordingly. If they are advised of "problems" they can investigate them and do something about them including, if appropriate, reviewing the accuracy / position of any member(s) of the crew involved. The best place to write to is:-

 

Star Clippers,

Clipper Palace,

4, rue de la Turbie,

98000 Monaco

 

or, by E Mail to:-

 

info.monaco@starclippers.com

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As far I know the cabin stewards and waiters are/were paid USD 50,= a month, the rest of their income has indeed to come from tips. The bartenders are totally dependent on how many drinks are sold

This is one of the reasons I stopped sailing with Star Clippers. Since 2002 I have sailed many times with them. Been on all three ships, one time for 78 days in a row.

I love the crew, I like the ships, I certainly don't like the company!

Another reasons is that Americans/Canadians do get far better deals than Europeans. Also the fact we cannot book outside Europe, to take advantage of special deals/lower pricing, annoys me very much. I know more cruise companies stick to this policy, but are offering more realistic cruise fares in Europe. For the price of a one week cruise, added with the single supplement (minus the past passenger discount) and the early booking discount, I can easily cruise for two or more weeks on most cruise lines and getting much better food, than with Star Clippers. In my opinion they are way overpriced for what they offer. This was not the case till about four years ago. The only reasonable price offered is for the transatlantic crossings, but they are nowadays filled to maximum capacity.

From what I have heard they are also in the process of replacing the crew coming from the Philippines and Indonesia with people from India.

The captains/officers are not getting paid when they are off duty and have to take out their own insurance when being at home. So it is not just the very hard working crew but also the officers/captains who are not treated very well, in my opinion.

It is not my opinion only, I know for a fact that a lot of the passengers I used to sail with, have decided to take their business elsewhere. They were all seasoned travellers with a lot of SC cruises under their belt.

I do miss the crew and the ships, but I don't agree with how they treat their crew and I no longer want to pay for passengers outside Europe.

Just my thoughts.

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A lot of food for thought. Thanks. I must say I am quite disappointed.

 

Can I ask who you now cruise with?

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Aha! Now I got it. I guess I am a bit slow. Campaign against Star Clippers. "Confirmed policy" from whom? The people who work there (and they do work hard) didn't know any of these things before the started work? Not even the captains and the officers?

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Yes. A conspiracy. Balloon man spends months on these forums asking about his forthcoming trip etc and then puts forward a post seeking confirmation or otherwise about what he was told by staff. They are paid fairly or not? I think not given the prices charged. Maybe the Cuban thread was a campaign also?

 

I liked SC - I would consider it again but not if I am pressured to give more tips.

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All the lines I am aware of (Star Clipper, RCI, NCL, etc) that have suggested or mandatory tipping, pay very little to the cabin stewards and bar/wait staff.

 

They get room and board and medical care and a VERY small stipend (e.g. $50/month) Their take home pay is primarily dependent on the tips. It's the industry norm...

 

It's similar to restaurant wait staffs in the USA. They are paid less than the minimum wage, because it is expected that tips will up their total intake.. For tax purposes, the government requires monthly reports from the restaurant and employer!

 

Other lines, line Windstar add a mandatory service charge that floes to the staff. Some luxury lines don't have tipping, but have higher cruise fares to compensate.

 

Aloha.

 

John

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But. Is that company policy or was it communicated as such by non-management staff.

 

As my OP said, it was announced publicly by the Cruise Director and confirmed privately later by the Purser. No wages. No $50. This was not something whispered to me by a disgruntled staff member.

 

As my title to this thread asked: is this moral blackmail (it felt like it) or honesty that other cruise lines fail to exhibit? I don't know.

 

I'm not anti Star Clippers. We enjoyed our cruise and may sail with them again - assuming they would have us back.

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As my title to this thread asked: is this moral blackmail (it felt like it) or honesty that other cruise lines fail to exhibit? I don't know.

 

 

Coming from America, where tipping is the norm, I'd call it honesty. Considering the number of folks on board from the UK, AUS, etc where tipping to this amount is not normal, it make sense to me to explain how the stewards and dining staff earn their money.

 

Now here's a tipping situation that did catch me off guard on a trip to London... Everything I had read said there isn't much tipping going on.

 

I took a boat ride from Westminster Pier to Greenwich. As we approached the end, the Captain came on the speaker and explained how his and the deck hand's pay was wholly dependent on tips, and then walked around with a hat for said tips...

 

From what I had read before, this was unexpected in the UK. But I paid some any way. I thought it was a bit pushy. <shrug>

 

Aloha,

 

John

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John. What is annoying though is that star clippers charge Europeans more than Americans for the same cruise. I have no problem tipping when in the US - generally you know that you can add 25% to the prices to cover tip and tax, and one budgets accordingly. But, paying big money for a cruise and then having to tip over and beyond the recommended tip is difficult. I gave the recommended tip but maybe others did not.

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But, the OP's subject was that SC don't pay anything at all to the cabin stewards and waiters. I quote, "nothing". That is the subject. Not that tips are expected, and not that we as Europeans pay more than the Americans - that is another,,,,very important story. But another story.

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I think the inference is that Americans pay less, so are happy to tip more. Europeans, and certainly Brits hate tipping if the service is not outstanding. On our first Star Clipper cruise we gave extra in cash to our room steward who went out of his way to give advice when a port and excursion was changed.

 

We hate the hard sell re tipping. It would be better to add it to the fare if its actually crew wages. Although I guess that means it would incur more tax at point of sale?

 

Balloon man do e-mail Monarco......they will reply. It would be nice to know.

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Ional I don't want to escalate this so while I value your suggestion I won't contact head office. There is no reason why two senior officers would lie or invent something that was untrue. However being honest might be their policy and not company policy, in which case going to the top might get them into trouble.

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I think the inference is that Americans pay less, so are happy to tip more. Europeans, and certainly Brits hate tipping if the service is not outstanding.

 

 

 

Yes that is what I was inferring.

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It's more complicated than that. Yes, tipping in the UK is limited. I believe it is even more limited in some places such as Australia and may even be taken as an insult in Japan.

 

In my wanderings I have found that only people from the US want to pay extra for a service they have already paid-for (which probably means the people on Star Clippers who rely on tips probably prefer winter in the Caribbean to summer in the Med.)

 

But in the UK we have very strong consumer protection laws. And the protection they provide has to be paid for and I believe that is the main reason why we pay more.

 

I can book my cruises through a US TA using a friend's address and pay less but would lose the protection I gain from booking in the UK.

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