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Norwegian Cruise Line Raises Gratuity Charges

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If you book a trip with Norwegian Cruise Line, expect to pay more for those “free” perks. For new bookings, the automatic gratuity the line tacks on to the Ultimate Beverage and Specialty Dining packages has gone up from 18 percent to 20 percent, effective immediately.

Details On The Gratuity Charge Hike

The latest increase in gratuities charges would be easy to miss if one wasn’t looking for it. After all, the increase hasn’t been publicized by the line, and it is being automatically added to the “perks” associated with Norwegian’s popular Free At Sea program. Free At Sea offers a variety of perks to passengers upon booking, with how many are available to them based on the category of stateroom being booked. While the perks occasionally change, the Ultimate Beverage and Specialty Dining packages are almost always available, and each are incredibly popular. The service charge in question only shows up in the final stage of booking, where it is listed as “Choice Promo Srvc Chrg.”

This comes on the heels of the recent decision to increase the per-day price of the package. Including gratuity, Norwegian’s beverage package now runs over $100 a day tor those purchasing it outright as opposed to receiving it as a perk.

Norwegian Drink Package Price Goes Up Again

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How much you wind up paying will depend on whether you choose one or both of the perks, as well as the length of your sailing. On a 7-day sailing, the 20 percent gratuity on the beverage package will now add $124.60 to your total bill, while the dining package (which on a week-long trip gives you the opportunity to dine in specialty restaurants for free on three of those evenings) will come with a total charge of $13.80.

Will Stateroom Gratuity Charges Be Next?

Of course, whenever you talk about gratuities, the mind of a cruiser instantly goes to the daily fee charged by most cruise lines and divided among the staff, including those behind the scenes. Currently, Norwegian’s gratuity stands at $13.90 per per (over the age of 3) per day. One of the first questions raised by cruisers across various social media forums was whether the line would next raise those rates as well. (This would likely impact not only NCL’s passengers, but those on other lines as history has proven that when one line raises their daily gratuity rate, the others quickly follow.)

Does the increase in the gratuity charged to the beverage and dining packages impact your decision when it comes time to book a cruise? 

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Cruise Trends You Will See in 2018

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The 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook was released by the Cruise Line International Association. The upcoming year will certainly be a big year for the cruise industry as current data shows cruise travel is steadily on the rise. A projected 27.2 million passengers expected to set sail in 2018!

Top Nine Cruise Trends for 2018

1. All Budgets Will Cruise 

There is a cruise for every budget, from a $159 quick weekend getaway to the Bahamas to a $40,000 three-month round-the-world cruise on a luxury line. Cruising is no longer only for the wealthy and the price of cruising has leveled out making it accessible to every household.

2. Transformational Cruise Travel 

This could be anything that transforms your cruise experience. From cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures, those returning from a cruise will have shift in perspective and a sense of accomplishment. Some upcoming cruise itineraries include the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine, guided tours through small villages and even visits inside private homes. Thrill-seekers can fill bucket lists with chances to swim with sharks in South Africa, ride a Harley Davidson in Alaska or mingle among penguins in the Arctic.

3. Sustainability at Sea 

Most cruise lines have an excellent record for being environmentally friendly, and now that’s involving cruise guests. Travelers can look forward participating in sustainable practices both onboard and off from recycling and waste management to popular voluntourism initiatives that focus on creating a positive environmental and social impact at destinations around the globe.

4. Millennials Take to the River

River and small ship cruising continues to gain traction among travelers, specifically the Millennial set. With ever-expanding itineraries and destination experiences that reach far beyond walking and coach tours and endless options for the perfect “Instagram moment,” the younger generation is embracing river cruising.

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5. Skip-Gen Cruising

Multigenerational cruising is projected to increase in popularity. But there’s a twist: “skip-generation” trips, with grandparents and grandchildren traveling together without their parents, are predicted to be highly popular in 2018 and beyond.

6. Travelers Seek Chilly Destinations 

The coming year is projected to see an increase in popularity of colder climate destinations including the Baltics, Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica. With an array of unique excursion options, from penguin watching to ice fishing, these winter wonder destinations are drawing in both new and repeat cruise travelers.

7. Healthy Doses

Travelers are seeking health and wellness trips more than ever before and the cruise industry is responding with services and experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travelers can participate in onboard health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programs, stress management, and spa services. There are even entire cruise itineraries dedicated to weight management and healthy living including Weight Watchers cruises and menus for a variety of dietary needs from diabetic-friendly to plant-based.

8. Smart Travel Technology— The coming year there will be a rise in traveler-friendly onboard technologies. Several cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that provide a personalized and seamless experience while onboard. Ranging from keychains to bracelets to necklaces and more, wearable technology on cruises interacts with sensors on the ship in order to do everything from turning the lights on as a cruiser approaches their cabin to acting as a security agent.

READ MORE: 13 Ways Technology Has Changed Cruising

9. Tapping Travel Agents – Travel agents continue to see a steady demand from consumers in planning and executing vacations. Some of the largest factors behind continued popularity of travel agents? Ease of planning, valued expertise, and affordability.

What trends do you think we’ll see in 2018?

Featured image via Carnival Cruise Line

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Princess Cruises Sale Offering $99/Person/Day Fares

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The Caribbean is back up and running, and to celebrate Princess Cruises is offering their best fares of the season for the “Exclusively Caribbean Sale” on 7, 8, 10, and 14-day cruises departing February through April 2018.

Photo via Princess Cruises

With rates starting as low as $99 per guest per day, free gratuities, and third and fourth guest fares starting at $15 a day, escape the winter chill and head to the Caribbean for a sun-drenched vacation. Fares are based on double occupancy and are available in select stateroom categories and sailings. Gratuities added to bar charges, dining room wine accounts, or spa services aren’t included in the free gratuities.

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Princess Cruises’ “Exclusively Caribbean Sale” is running now through December 26, 2017 and is available for residents of the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, and Bermuda who are 21 and older. Visit princess.com/deals for more details.

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Fascination Will Be Upgraded in 2018

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It was announced today that the Carnival Fascination will undergo a multi-million dollar dry dock in 2018 that will enhance the ship’s public areas.

The spaces will be added during a two-week dry dock taking place Feb. 4-17, 2018, in Freeport, The Bahamas, prior to the ship resuming its year-round schedule of seven-day southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning Feb. 18, 2018.

“We can’t wait for our guests to experience these exciting new features aboard Carnival Fascination when she returns to her year-round homeport of San Juan early next year,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, adding that other Carnival ships began visiting San Juan as a port of call Nov. 30.

The new food and beverage options aboard Carnival Fascination include:

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  • Guy’s Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture.
  • RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.
  • BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.
  • BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool.
  • Cherry on Top: The “sweetest spot on board,” Cherry on Top is the gateway to the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun-and-fanciful gifts, just-because novelties, colorful custom apparel and more.
  • Alchemy Bar: a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” that’s the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests’ own custom-created cocktails.
  • Bonsai Sushi Express: the success of the full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurants has spawned this casual, convenient yet equally tasty offshoot featuring a mouth-watering array of sushi, sashimi, rolls and more.

Carnival Fascination is currently being chartered to FEMA to house relief workers in St. Croix.

Source: Carnival

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