Carnival Cruise Line Eliminates Free Room Service

Carnival Cruise Line kicked off 2019 with a pair of announcements that are sure to be unpopular with the nickel-and-dime crowd: Starting in mid-January, the cruise line will be rolling out a new room service menu on which all of the items will come with a charge. The one exception: Continental breakfasts. They will also be increasing the price of the Bottomless Bubbles package.

How Much You’ll Pay For Room Service

Brand Ambassador John Heald announced the changes on his Facebook page, saying that the Bottomless Bubbles package would now be $5.95 per person, per day for kids and $8.50 per day for adults, plus gratuity. He added that the last time the price of the package had been increased was in May of 2017 (On January 1st of 2018, Carnival raised the price of the CHEERS! package by $2 per person, per day.) Those who have already purchased the package will see their purchase price honored.

READ MORE: Carnival Raises Price Of CHEERS! Package

It was then that Heald made what is sure to be the less popular announcement, kicking it off with, “And now, let’s talk about room service.”

Before getting to the change, Heald set it up thusly, “I know in hotels and at sea, [room service] is an important part of the guest experience. Maybe there is something special about hearing the room service trolley rattling down the corridor of a hotel or the footsteps approaching down the corridor as our crew brings the BLT. Maybe I am over hotels because I have stayed in so many and have grown to dislike immensely how the waiter lifts the silver-domed top to reveal two strips of bacon and an egg that I/Carnival have just paid $37 for. And that leads me into a new room service menu that now includes some very basic charges.”

room service

The good news: Carnival will not, like those hotels of which Heald speaks, be charging $37 for two slices of bacon. The bad news: They will be charging for everything except for a basic continental breakfast. “Starting mid-January, 2019,” he wrote, “we will be starting an ala carte stateroom service menu fleetwide. A wide variety of menu items will be available with a nominal cost ranging from $2 to $5 per item. Charges apply to lunch, dinner and late-night menu items.”

Read More: 15 Changes at Carnival Cruise Line in 2018

What You’ll Pay Per Item

Prices on the new menu, pictured above, are definitely far cheaper than you’d pay for comparable items on land. Salads run between $2 and $3 dollars (with the option to add lemon chicken for an additional $2). Items such as wings, a Philly cheesesteak, and pan pizzas run between $4 and $6 dollars, while sandwiches such as tuna salad, grilled cheese or a PB&J will cost you $4. A side of fries will cost $2, with sweet potato fries running $3.

Why Carnival Is Charging For Room Service

“Over the last several years,” Heald said in explaining the change, “we have heavily invested in bringing more variety to our complimentary food choices across our fleet, while at the same time trying to find effective means to continue to reduce food waste. This new pricing structure positions Carnival on par with similar charges by other cruise operators in the contemporary market.”

Norwegian Cruise Line’s comparable room service menu is complimentary… but comes with a $7.95 “convenience charge” per order. (Photo courtesy NCL)

Heald added that, in part as a result of results from a poll he’d posted which indicated many people enjoy breakfast, “our continental breakfast will continue to be offered free of charge.”

Clearly, Carnival knows this news will not be well-received in some quarters. “We’re always tweaking things on board to make sure that we still provide a fun, affordable vacation for our guests,” he wrote. “Sometimes, we need to make a tough decision that may be unpopular but [makes] sense in the long run. Even with these changes, a Carnival cruise offers the greatest array of free-of-charge options and remains the best value in travel, yep, I truly believe that.”

A Word About Tipping

Heald’s big fear? That the price increase would bring out the cheap in some folks. “I hope I won’t be reading any comments saying that the small charge of $4 for a sandwich means that ‘I won’t be tipping the crew who brings the food,'” he wrote. “If you do order room service on our ships, please remember to tip the server. A dollar or two is fine because seeing a server carry a tray of food to cabin 2377 and have him place it on the dresser while politely ignoring the sight of someone like me in a Carnival bathrobe that doesn’t quite fit properly is bad enough. To have the door slammed in their face with no tip is far, far worse. Thanks, then, for looking after our room service waiters, it is much appreciated.”

Will having to pay for room service impact your decision to order? 

Carnival Cruise Line Eliminates Free Room Service

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