We now seem to have a source at Costa who's confirming our suspicions about the distribution of those 'gratuities' that Costa charged to our accounts without our prior permission and in spite of express instructions that some of us gave not to do so
Our source says that, 'Costa makes it sound as if 100% of the gratuities goes to the crew. It does not, at least not as a gratuity on top of the salary Costa pays. The majority of this income is in fact being used to pay the salary of the service crew.'
He goes on:
'As an 'incentive' for 'professional service' it is true that good comment form ratings are used to pay the so called 'incentive', but this amount is set, i.e. no matter how good the rating achieved, you get no more than what is set as the 'bonus'. It is for this reason that the service crew, above all the Maitre Ds, are not motivated to give good service.'
'Other cruise lines might charge your account, but they give you the opportunity to opt out and make your own arrangements with individual crew members. This used to be the case with Costa as well until December 2006, when they introduced the present system.'
Our thanks for this to our anonymous correspondent. He has confirmed my suspicions that the crew are unhappy at the distribution of their 'gratuities', and this surely explains why there is so much unhappiness and slackness amongst them. Perhaps Costa might like to publish auditable accounts on these gratuities and thereby demonstrate that 100% of what is taken from passengers against their wishes does in fact go to the low-paid staff who we are assured will be the beneficiaries.