Tips for tipping on cruises with service charges

Q&A

May 11, 2008|By San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

Can you explain the service charges that are collected on cruise ships? I thought it was up to the passenger to tip.

Most cruise lines allow passengers to tip at their own discretion. If a cruise line puts an automatic tip or service charge on your bill, you can go to the purser's desk and request that it be removed. This will allow you to tip individually.

There is some confusion with Norwegian Cruise Line, which adds a fixed service charge of $10 per person per day ($5 for children ages 3-12) to your onboard account. The cruise line says money from this charge goes to the crew and that tipping is neither required nor recommended.

You can still tip NCL crew members if you feel they've offered exceptional service. And some staff positions -- the concierge or bar server, for example -- are not covered by the service charge. So you should always tip them.

Do I have to get a visa for my vacation to Germany?

No, you don't need a visa if you are a U.S. citizen carrying a valid U.S. passport and plan to stay for less than 90 days. Ditto for Canadian citizens with valid passports.

However, check the expiration date on your passport well before your trip: It must be valid for three months after your return, according to the German National Tourist Board's Web site, cometogermany.com.

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