The cruise line is charging more for less. Will Royal Caribbean and Carnival follow?
A basic stateroom/cabin on a cruise ship has about half the space of a typical hotel room. Cabins vary a little by cruise line, but your basic stateroom offers a queen bed that can be split into two twins, a small desk, and something to sit on, varying from a full couch to a single chair.
You also get a closet, nightstands with storage, a flat-screen TV, at least one power outlet, and sometimes USB ports (that varies by ship). Your room will also have a very small bathroom with a toilet, sink, a little storage, and a shower that looks a bit like a waterslide launch tube.
It’s a very small space that’s pretty similar on a Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) – Get Free Report, Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report, or Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Free Report ship. And when you have as many as four people living in a basic cabin, keeping the room clean is very important.
That’s why all three major cruise lines offer twice-daily cleaning services. Generally, your room steward will clean your room in the morning and then again around dinner time. Your bed(s) will be made, towels replaced, and any errant clothing will be folded and placed on the bed, chair, or couch.
In some cases, your attendant may even leave behind a towel animal.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Norwegian Looks to Cut Cleaning Services
Passengers on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian don’t pay directly for cabin cleaning. Instead, cleaning is sort of part of your basic fare supplemented by your onboard gratuities. Those tips, charged each day per person staying in your room, go to service workers onboard including your main dining room waiters and your room attendants.
And while these fees aren’t technically mandatory (you can adjust them at the Guest Services desk if something goes really wrong), most people pay them. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian all recently raised their daily gratuity fees.
Norwegian raised gratuity rates in April, making it the first of the big three cruise lines to do so.
$20 per person, per day for The Haven and Suites (previously $18.50)$18 per person, per day for Club Balcony Suites (no change)$16 per person, per day for all other cabins. (previously $15.50)
That’s a pretty small change for people staying in regular cabins and balcony rooms, but Norwegian also has some bad news for most passengers. It’s going to cut room-cleaning service from twice a day to once a day, according to a letter to employees that was leaked to Crew Center.
Norwegian Cuts Workers and Services
Norwegian plans to cut room-cleaning services across the entire fleet in 2023. The change will affect anyone staying in a room that’s below the suite level.
The cruise line tried to make the cut in services seem like a positive in its letter to employees.
“Over the last two-plus years, the collective hospitality industry has evolved tremendously. From airlines, hotels, and cruise lines, a new travel environment has emerged with renewed preferences in all aspects of the guest’s travel experience Environmental sustainability is on stage more than ever and will continue to play a crucial role in all business practices now and into the future,” the company said.
That’s a pretty bold attempt to use environmentalism to rationalize a cut in services.
As part of the move, the cruise line will be eliminating the Jr. Stateroom Steward position and the Stateroom Steward title. Instead, all the people working on cleaning rooms will be called “Stateroom Attendants.”
Workers who held the “Jr.” title will actually get a raise, while the former Stateroom Stewards will see a pay cut, but that won’t happen immediately.
“The elimination of these positions will phase out over time, allowing Stateroom Stewards to complete their current contract. The Jr. Stateroom Stewards onboard will be promoted to Stateroom Attendants on dates according to the implementation dates of the new structure.” NCL said in the latter.
These changes may also mean fewer workers are needed for room cleaning in general.
Neither Carnival nor Royal Caribbean has said anything about making changes to their room-cleaning programs.