We are currently on a Caribbean cruise operated out of Miami. On board there is a beer dispenser (PYOB - Pour Your Own Beer), which charges per ounce directly to my room. The machine is self-operated, although a staff member does have to refill the keg periodically.

There is no mention of a tip or gratuity, nor is there an option to amend or remove one, but the amount that is charged to my room is always 18% more than what is displayed on the machine.

In American Cruise ship culture, is this an appropriate practice?

  • 4
    I'd separate American and cruise ship culture here. Pour-your-own-beer bars are rare in America, and while I haven't taken a grand tour of them, I don't believe there's any tipping typically involved unless you're getting food. Cruise ships have particular automatic gratuity policies that are nothing like most US restaurants and bars. Feb 9 '19 at 5:25
  • Related (but no duplicate): travel.stackexchange.com/questions/111863/…
    – RHA
    Feb 9 '19 at 10:20

In American/Cruise ship culture, is this an appropriate practice?

YES. It is appropriate for a US based cruise/cruise line.

The gratuity is automatically added to all beverage purchases. Automatic gratuities are pooled so all Beverage Service crew will share it.

The machines still require regular cleaning, servicing and maintenance which is done by the bar staff.

You will find the same scenario on Royal Caribbean with their Bionic Bar where the Gratuity is also automatically added.

You will find the same scenario on Norwegian with their wine dispensers where the Gratuity is also automatically added.

  • 11
    A better framing of the question is probably whether it is appropriate for the machine to display a price that is 18% below what it actually charges. (And then the answer might well be that it is in line with US practice -- IIUC they're not usually displaying the actual price-to-the-customer on goods in shops either). Feb 8 '19 at 22:00
  • 2
    Yes, it is 100% inline with US customs to not display a gratuity amount on menus. This is the case ashore as well. Neither Carnival or Royal Caribbean do so on board. Norwegian does for whatever reason they have chosen.
    – Johns-305
    Feb 11 '19 at 13:28
  • 3
    Yes, it is also 100% in line with US customs to not display the total amount due on an item because tax rates very by jurisdiction.
    – Johns-305
    Feb 11 '19 at 13:30
  • Given that you've noted the fact that the machine is operated by bar staff, is it fair to take from this that those bar staff would otherwise not receive a living wage?
    – quant
    Feb 11 '19 at 15:48
  • @quant They receive more than a living wage. Jobs on cruise ships are highly sought after. Tipping/gratuity is part of the de facto compensation plan in American culture. No one is being taken advantage of. In fact (I may make a video about this) the crew on my last transatlantic sailing was eager to begin the Caribbean season because...wait for it...Americans tip much better so they make a lot more money.
    – Johns-305
    Feb 11 '19 at 15:59

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