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  1. We have removed auto-tips when cruising with Cunard, Fred Olsen and P&O and never experienced any problems - just fill in the required form at reception and it's done. We feel the rates 'advised' for auto-tipping is generally excessive and we have a preference to tip only those crew members that actually serve us during the cruise. We have also met with people who had chosen to leave the auto-tipping active and then felt obliged (or pressured) to pay personal tips too. To avoid that possibility a suggestion would be to always remove the auto-tips and then you are free to give as much as you wish to whoever you wish without the unnecessary pressure, which you can do without when on holiday.
  2. ianc

    Is Fred Olsen's Drink Package Worth It?

    We've tried the package on one of the several cruises we have taken with Fred Olsen (we are Gold Oceans members) and found it too restricting - we also found that on the other FO Cruises we spent less money by selecting and paying for drinks of our choice than we would have done had we purchased the Drinks package. At the time there was 1 Red, 1 White, 1 Rose and 1 Sparkling wine available (in certain bars and restaurants, by the glass) and there were a selection of canned and draught beers and some non alcoholic drink available. Other drinks, including some non-alcoholic drinks, cocktails and premium coffees (Latte, Cappuccino etc) were available at 50% discount. If you find an FO cruise where the Drinks package is offered free of charge, which it often is - then it's absolutely a great deal. We believe the package has recently changed, with an increase in price from £10 to £15 pppn, with a slightly improved drink selection available - however reading what's included, on the FO website, we remain of the view it is not great value and will not be opting for it as a paid for option. It is a requirement that if one member of the Cruise party wants to sign up for the Drinks package then all other members of the party must also take the drinks package.
  3. ianc

    To Tip Or Not To Tip, That Is The Question...

    The many posts on the many forums on the subject would suggest that we appear to have a minority view on the subject - or is it that many subscribers don't wish to admit they remove Gratuities from their onboard account? We've cruised for many years and always have, and always will, remove pre-assigned gratuities from our onboard account within a couple of days of boarding the ship. We will not Cruise with any Cruise line that refuses to allow Gratuities to be removed from the onboard account - However, we have found that even those Cruise Lines that claim to insist on Gratuities remaining on the Account if Freedom Dining is selected, 'are prepared' to remove them if they believe this would mean you are unlikely to book. We wouldn't trust Cruise Companies to correctly share the accrued Tip value appropriately amongst their crew - having heard, for example, that some Cruise Companies will take a handling fee from accrued gratituties prior to handing them out to their staff. Our policy is to 'choose' to give tips personally to those members of the Ships crew that have served us beyond what which would have been reasonably expected during our cruise. The amount of tip offered being commensurate with the level of service received. One of the principle reasons proposed for suggesting Gratuities be left on the onboard account is that the staff are poorly paid. Cruise Lines should not rely on the generosity (or otherwise) of Guests to provide 'their' staff with a decent wage for the work they do. If the wellbeing of their staff is such a concern, they should pay a decent wage and add that cost to the Cruise prices - then potential guests can decide if the cost of the cruise remains good value or choose not to cruise. I would suggest this is not done as it would result in a reduced Guest count on many Cruises. We have never come across Hotels that add 'gratuities to the Customer account prior to their stay - leaving it to the Guest to offer tips where they feel appropriate, usually for exceptional service. Why should Cruise lines be any different?