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If you’re booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise and want to save yourself a little money, here’s a bit of advice: Pre-pay your gratuities, pronto! Why? Because the line is upping the daily charge again, and the new rates will apply to any passenger who hasn’t pre-paid their gratuities by April 14th. (Those who do not pre-pay will have the gratuities charged to their SeaPass account each day.)
The New Rate
So what will the new rate be? Never fear… it’s not going to break the bank. The new fee will be $13.50 per person/per day day for standard staterooms and $16.50 per person/per day for guests staying in a suite. For those keeping track (and we know you are!), that’s an increase of 55 cents per day over the previous $12.95/$15.95 charged. This is not an unusual move in the industry, with Norwegian Cruise Line raising the rate twice in 2015 so that passengers now pay $13.50 per person/per day, with suite guests paying $15.50 per person/per day. Princess similarly raised rates at the beginning of 2016, with their guests paying $12.95 per person/per day, and guests in suites paying $13.95.
Nickel-and Dime Crowd
Of course, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that an increase of any size is going to ruffle some feathers, especially among the nickel-and-dime crowd, and will also lead to debate about the levels of service and whether or not it is acceptable to have the gratuity charges removed in favor of tipping individuals based on the services they provide. It’s long been our belief that the folks who toil so hard to make our trips the best they can possibly be — including the vast majority of crew members who are never seen by guests — more than earn the amount charged by the lines.
Should They Go All-Inclusive?
That said, we can’t help but wonder if perhaps the cruise lines could, as a whole, avoid the inevitable uproar over increases by simply folding the gratuity charge into the total cost, thus making it — like the cost of eating in a main dining room — an “invisible” charge unnoticed by passengers.
Do you agree that the staff is worth the increased gratuities, or do you believe you should be allowed to tip-as-you-go?