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Tips Keep the Cruise Workers Afloat

September 15, 2002

Your article "Cruise Control: On Some Lines, Tips Are Automatic" (Travel Insider, Aug. 18) leaves out some important aspects of cruise gratuities. Many cruise line employees are underpaid. Even on lines where gratuities are included, wages tend to be low. Cruise lines can continue these exploitative practices because their ships are registered in other countries, so they don't have to comply with U.S. labor laws.

Many cruise employees are separated from their families for long periods and work well beyond eight-hour days for wages that teenage baby-sitters would consider inadequate.

Although I can sympathize with American travelers wishing to understand how they will be expected to tip, it is equally important for them to understand how much cruise employees may be relying on their largess. Cruise prices are wonderfully low if one chooses to discount the human cost of the equation.




Regarding the letter "Sink Automatic Tips, Cruise Fan Says" (Letters, Aug. 25): We agree that cruise passengers should be able to tip whatever is appropriate to the crew rather than to have a fee added to the cruise price, but not if it results in depriving the staff of hard-earned and well-deserved remuneration. Too many customers may use this as an excuse not to tip at all. If you can't afford the tip, don't go in the first place. And don't use poor service as an excuse not to tip. Crew members are usually hard-working and from economically deprived countries. They deserve and earn their gratuities.



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