I remember the first cruise with my kids. They were so happy and well-cared for and I was so thrilled to have time on my own, that I felt compelled to give the staff a tip, not really knowing if this was "done". The cruise line provided envelopes for tipping the various service personnel at that time, so it was easy for me to be discreet. It was only a nominal amount, about $20 per child if memory serves.
Once automatic tipping became the norm, I didn't tip the Youth Staff. In fact, now that the kids are older and can check themselves in and out, I practically have no contact with them at all. But now that my oldest child has served as Youth Staff, I believe I have been remiss. You see, contrary to many comments I have read on the Cruise Critic forums, the young people who staff the youth program are NOT highly paid professionals. The pay works out to less than $6 per hour. On most sailings, the tips, which are shared, averaged $10 or $11 per staff member (for a whole week of watching 50+ children). It was interesting to note that the families with the best behaved children were the ones who tipped!
I just wanted to share this information for those of you who may never have thought of tipping, assuming, like I did, that these were higher compensated individuals.
I'm curious how much others tip. We just came back from a week and we were stumped as to what to give. Since kids club is "included in the price there is no way to gauge 20%. We pay A LOT for day care at home so we appreciate paying high quality child care. We ended up leaving $50 for our 2 boys but could have easily swung up or down. There is that weird, "I don't want to be cheap"...and the counter, "inapropriately garrish". Our boys are 5 and 7 and required supervised programming.
I hope others will add their tip amounts as this can be a good benchmark. FWIW, my daughter told me that two families, each with two children gave her $75 apiece, which she was very excited about, but the money had to go into the pool, of course, and her share of the week's tips ended up to be only $11.
Thank you for sharing this info. I am always fascinated as to what life is like for the employees on the ship, but too shy to ask. I figure they must get tired of answering the same questions over and over. And would never dream of asking questions about money.
I certainly will make sure I tip generously in the future! They certainly deserve it!
Do you have any suggestions for a way to recognize a particularly good employee? Is it worthwhile to write/speak to a manager? Or another way to thank them?
"Do you have any suggestions for a way to recognize a particularly good employee? Is it worthwhile to write/speak to a manager? Or another way to thank them?"
My daughter told me that it is really great to get feedback on the comment cards the ship provides. After each sailing these cards are read and the results are used for ratings. The ships even compete against each other for best ratings, so what you write (or don't write) on these cards can be a huge deal for the workers. Many times, even though parents have said wonderful things to the staff, the only comments on the cards were written by people who didn't even have any children sailing with them (cranky old people who resented the kids coming to the buffet for ice cream, for example.)
We have used the youth staff and have always found them to be wonderful. I always wondered with the gratuity left if the staff was able to keep it or if they had to pool it. I know when I was in the service industry I hated the idea of sharing my gratuities...especially since I didn't think that some of the staff would work as hard, knowing they were going to get a cut of it anyway.
So do they actually get to keep the money or do they have to put in to be shared? Is this just for certain areas?
It really does work out to have the staff pool the tips because in certain age groups, the parents never (or rarely) tip, and usually the parents of the youngest are most appreciative of the service and tip the most generously. Since the counselors all take turns working with the different age groups, it evens out the compensation somewhat.
To give added recognition to a staff member, you can write a note on the feedback form and specifically mention them. This means more than you might think in terms being offered future contracts, etc. My daughter was able to mingle with the passengers when she was off duty and I bet she would have loved it if anyone had bought her a drink! It was a real treat for her to be invited by a couple from Australia to dine with them in the main dining room one night. This was a little known perk available to youth staff on Holland America.
We have always tipped the staff in the children's center. What I tip usually depends on how much time DD age 9 spends in the center. I only have one child so it's anywhere from $35-$50 per cruise.
I will be having to deal with this next summer. No matter where you go there will always be people that tip better than others. I see it in my local daycare. Some families never donate/bring extras or really show appreciation to the teachers. Yes we pay for the services but let's be honest--daycare professionals are grossly underpaid!
I am sure I will be as generous as I can based upon my kids feedback and how much time they spend there!