Norwegian Raises a Key Fee; Royal Caribbean, Carnival Might Follow

The cruise line has raised prices for the second time in less than a year, this time by 25%.

When you buy a cabin on Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report, Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Free Report, or Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Free Report, that’s your ticket to get on board, but it’s not a complete price. When you book a cruise you pay your core fare, along with taxes and port fees.

That gets you a lot of things, including a room, multiple venues where you can eat as many meals as you want each day, along with endless snacks, access to pools, hot tubs, and a variety of entertainment. It does not include specialty dining, internet access, soda, bottled water, fancy coffee, or alcoholic drinks. 

If you want those things, you have to pay separate fees. Some items, like a single meal in an added-fee restaurant, or a single drink, can be purchased a la carte. In other cases, it makes sense to buy packages that give you unlimited access to the internet or adult beverages.

Cruise passengers also have to (more or less) pay what’s known as a daily gratuity. These are tips that get added to your bill on a per-person, per-day basis for every person in your cabin. Technically, you can have these charges removed from your bill, but doing that requires going to guest services (which can be a long line), and it’s generally considered bad form.

These gratuities go to service personnel working onboard. That includes your stateroom attendant, dining room waiters, and others. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian have all raised their gratuity rates recently. Now, Norwegian is doing it again, and not by a small amount.


Norwegian Again Raises Its Gratuity Rates 

Gratuities are an important part of the overall compensation of cruise-ship service workers. 

These positions work a lot like many waiter jobs in U.S. restaurants, where the core pay rate is very low and tips are a significant part of the pay package. 

All three major U.S. cruise lines have struggled with staffing issues, and raising gratuity rates is a de facto way to pay crew more, perhaps making working for that cruise line more enticing.

Norwegian’s new rates, which go into effect on Jan. 1, reflect a 25% increase over the previous price hike. Passengers who book before that date and prepay gratuities can get the old rate. The new rates are:

$25 per person, per day for those in the Haven and suites (an increase from $20)$20 per person, per day for Club Balcony Suites and other cabins (an increase from $18 for Club Balcony Suites and $16 for all other cabins).

The previous rate hike went into effect in April. This hike is notable because it’s the second increase the company has made in less than a year. Customers who have not sailed during that period could be shocked by the jump.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival Also Raised Gratuity Rates

Royal Caribbean earlier this year hiked its daily gratuity rates. It sent an email to passengers outlining the increase.

As you prepare to set sail, we wanted to notify you of an update to our daily gratuity charges. As of September 7, 2022, the automatic daily gratuity charge will increase from $14.50 to $16 per guest, per day for non-suite staterooms and from $17.50 to $18.50 per guest, per day for suites. The daily gratuity is shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants, and other hotel services teams.

Carnival made its change in May.

Standard staterooms: $14.50, per person, per day (up from $13.99)Suites: $16.50, per person, per day (an increase from $15.99

Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have talked openly about struggling with staffing on their ships. The two cruise lines have noted that there are challenges in getting visas processed, though that situation has improved in recent months.

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