Home YOU ASK - WE ANSWER Q: Should we tip servers in cash only?
Q: Should we tip servers in cash only? PDF Print E-mail

We’re going on a cruise that includes ports in the Mediterranean soon, and we’re not sure about the tipping practices there. Friends who've cruised say we should use only cash. What do you suggest?

A: There are all kinds of answers, depending on where you are. For example, for cruises, you may have your cabin steward and dining staff tips automatically added to your bill at a rate of up to 20%. You can set this up as soon as you go aboard. This will save you from the inconvenience of doling out cash a dozen times a day for each service.

When you’ll be wandering around the Riviera on your own, expect to tip just about everyone. This includes waiters, bellhops, taxi drivers, garage attendants and others. All prefer cash tips, rather than adding in the 15 or 20 percent on your credit card form.

The simple reason is that it gives them a chance to avoid some of the heavy income taxation in France and other European countries. For example, your $5 cash tip goes into the server’s pocket. A credit card tip is usually recorded, and after taxes, in real income is worth as little as $3.

When in doubt about tipping, ask for information on the local tipping customs when boarding your cruise ship and when you check in at hotels.

Bon voyage!

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