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I don't want to discuss the ethics or practices of tipping. I just need to know if there is any way to adjust the automatic gratuities after I leave the ship.

I know that I agreed to this when signing up online. I just didn't catch that it had to be on the ship.

Their website says they don't allow this. But is there any way around this? I called customer service and they told me they will not let me adjust it after leaving the ship. And would not let me escalate the issue to a manager.

Can I call and try to get another representative? What is the legal basis for not letting me adjust it after disembarkation? Do I have any recourse at all?

  • 1
    I can easily imagine that upon "signing off" your account at the end of the cruise (often the night before leaving the ship), the charges are right then submitted to your credit card, and that the cruise line doesn't want to go back and undo or post a credit. From a legal POV: what do the cruise Terms & Conditions say about payment and tipping? – DavidSupportsMonica Sep 4 '19 at 23:11
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    I don't think they make you "sign off". They say they give you an itemized bill printed out on the last day, but I don't remember getting one. Also, the ToC when I paid for it state the rule, I just didn't catch that it was only while on the ship. – Drew S Sep 5 '19 at 3:55
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    At first reading I wondered if this was a bit petty, but then I followed the link: "Standard Staterooms: $13.99 USD per person, per day; Suite Staterooms: $15.99 USD per person, per day" Holy crap, that's a lot of money to surreptitiously add to the ticket price someone already paid. For a ten-day cruise for a couple, that'd be $279.80 added to your bill. That's ridiculous. – Kyralessa Jan 16 at 15:48
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    It's worse than that - the tips do not increase the amount of money paid to the workers. It essentially goes to the cruise line. – DJClayworth Jan 16 at 15:59
  • @Kyralessa I also love how they shame people into paying under the guise of "you need to pay the employees". No, I don't pay the employees. They pay the employees. – JonathanReez Jan 17 at 0:02
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No you cannot. Part of the game that Carnival and the other lines play is that they claim the gratuities are optional but they only let you adjust them in person on the ship on the last day of the cruise (when customer service is at its busiest). Essentially you can only change the gratuities by giving up several hours of your time on the cruise. It goes without saying that this is deliberate.

The legal basis is that the terms and conditions said all this, you agreed, and that Carnival doesn't care if you are p***ed off once they have your money. And anyway the other cruise lines are doing the same.

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    Thanks, that's what I figured. Legally they've got you because you can't purchase the ticket without agreeing to those predatory tactics. I just thought I'd give a last attempt to see if someone knew some secret way. – Drew S Sep 5 '19 at 3:54
  • This is purely speculation, but I have considered going to customer service and handing them a signed and dated letter instructing them to remove the automatic gratuities. No idea if it would work. – DJClayworth Sep 6 '19 at 14:24
  • This answer is laughably inaccurate which is why I downvoted. – Johns-305 Dec 23 '19 at 15:59
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    @Johns-305 You would help everyone more by posting an accurate answer, then. – Kyralessa Jan 16 at 15:43
  • @Kyralessa There you go. Accurate, but not what people want to hear, but I'm ok with the downvotes. Just watch. – Johns-305 Jan 20 at 14:54
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It may be possible; I would certainly try. But you will have to sue them in the small claims court. You would represent yourself, the fee is small ($30 or so), and it becomes part of judgment if you win the case.

What you could argue is that the "we charge you automatic gratuities which you have to jump through multiple hoops to cancel" was not part of the original terms in the cruise purchase. I've never seen it presented clearly while buying a cruise - especially if you buy it at 3rd party retailer like Costco travel. And this is an important term.

Those terms are introduced later, during the check-in procedure, as part of "cruise contract". However at this moment the cruise has been already paid, and you're not having an option to decline the contract and get the full refund. Thus what Carnival is essentially doing is coercing you into contract modification, adding new terms which were not disclosed during the purchase. And the terms itself are not very clear.

Carnival also knows that this practice is shady, considering how deep they hide it. Thus once they are served with lawsuit, they will likely try to settle it with you. Don't waste your time talking to their support, they can't do anything. Like with most American companies, the only people who have real power in the company are those who read the court papers.

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Can I adjust automatic gratuities after disembarkation on Carnival Cruise Lines in the USA?

No. (There are reasons, but are irrelevant because you cannot.)

But is there any way around this?

No.

Can I call and try to get another representative?

Yes. (But it won't make a difference.)

What is the legal basis for not letting me adjust it after disembarkation?

The contract you freely entered into with the cruise line.

Do I have any recourse at all?

Yes, litigation. (But you have an immeasurably small chance of prevailing.)

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    I don't think this adds anything the other answers don't already say. – DJClayworth Jan 20 at 15:07
  • I disagree, The Q-and-A format is communicative in a different manner, and the 3d and 5th questions add info not previously present. – DavidSupportsMonica Jan 20 at 15:22

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