I had never been aboard the HAL before so I was really impressed with the "No Tips" policy. Tipping aboard ship is always rather tricky. Who do I tip and how much and if I only use the service of the wine steward once but I eat dinner in the Rotterdam room every night what do I tip?
Forget about it. At our last dinner we sat with our tablemates with varying experience from 3 to over 17 cruises and tried to come up with an appropriate tipping policy - because regardless of what the HAL promotions tell you, there is a lot of pressure to tip. The ongoing phrase now is "although the HAL has a no tipping policy the people who have served you have gone above and beyond just because they like you so feel free to express your individual appreciation." But how much? We all ended up uncomfortable and put on the spot. We obviously had paid in our fares to cover this...or had we? We all ended up tipping what we would have on a regular cruise and resented it.
The message was neither subtle or comfortable and HAL needs to be up front. Were our tips included in our fare and therefore we overtipped? Do they leave their workers underpaid and forced to make passengers make guilt ridden tips? This was not a good thing to do.
HAL - be advised - putting passengers over a barrel is not good business - be up front and make up your mind. If you don't have a tipping policy don't have your staff bring it up at all. A nasty bit of work and not appreciated by anyone.
I was willing to pay higher fares just to get away from this and ended up paying anyway. Twice? I don't know.
And an aside once again - the final morning aboard as we waited to disembark the smiling faces and helpful hands were much less evident than before than previously encountered. Was this a set up for disappointment for all involved? My preference is to know what I'm getting into beforehand.