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Another Cruise Line Increases Daily Gratuity Fee

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Get ready, cruisers, because it looks like 2018 will kick off another round of gratuity increases. This week, Royal Caribbean’s website indicated that as of January 2, 2018, the daily gratuity charge will go up $1 per person per day. And if there’s one thing history has shown over the past fear years, it’s that when one of the major cruise lines raises the rate, the others soon follow.

 

Royal Caribbean’s Gratuity Increase

Royal Caribbean

 

Although we’d been hearing rumbles for the past few weeks that the change was coming, it became official when a note on Royal Caribbean’s website confirmed that the new rate will go into effect as of January 2, 2018. The statement says that as of that date, the “daily gratuity amounts will increase by $1.00 per guest per day. Guests who book before January 2, 2018 can pre-pay gratuities before their sailing at the current rate. Guests who choose to pay gratuities onboard, regardless of when they book, will be subject to the new rates for sailings departing on or after January 2, 2018.”

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How Much You’ll Now Pay

When the new rate goes into effect, guests will pay $14.50 per day unless they are staying in a suite, in which case the fee will be $17.50 per day. Royal Caribbean’s official site goes on to say that, “the automatic daily gratuity is based on customary industry standards. Applying this charge automatically helps streamline the recognition process for the crew members that work to enhance your cruise.”

While the charge is the industry norm, each time any line increases the gratuity charge, a new round of complaints arise from passengers. Many question why the cruise lines don’t simply fold the total gratuity charge into the total cost of the cruise, thus preventing the inevitable outcry.

Royal Caribbean last raised the gratuity rate in 2016, at which point the daily charge was increased by 55-cents per person, per day. As always, Royal says that any passenger who “does not receive satisfactory service” can visit guest services and alter the amount paid (or have the gratuities removed entirely).

Will Other Lines Raise Their Rates?

Keep your eye on competing lines to see if they follow suit by raising their gratuity rates. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, currently charges $13.50 per per person per day, which is the same as Royal’s non-suite rate. But it’s worth noting that only a few months after Norwegian adjusted their rates to this level (via two separate increases in 2015), Royal raised their rates to match. Could a reverse situation occur here, with NCL this time following Royal’s lead? As for Carnival Cruise Line, they last raised their gratuities (to $12.95 per person per day for non-suite guests) in May of 2016.

Does the daily gratuity fee factor into your decision of which line to sail with? Should the fee be folded into the total price of your cruise? 

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Carnival Horizon Makes Inaugural Call in Canadian Port

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Carnival Cruise Line’s brand new Vista-class ship Carnival Horizon made her first-ever call in Halifax, Nova Scotia yesterday.

The day was a welcome change for cruise passengers; it was the first port stop after six days at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean. Ship officers as well as local officials held a traditional plaque ceremony in the Library onboard, where a plaque was given to the ship by the Port of Halifax and other tokens were exchanged, including a model of the ship given to the port by Carnival Cruise Line.

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Carnival Horizon is the sister-ship to Carnival Vista, which pioneered a number of new concepts for Carnival including the SkyRide bicycling attraction and the Dreamscape LED sculpture in the atrium. Some of Horizon’s unique new features include a sit-down barbecue smokehouse and brewery as well as a Cat in the Hat themed WaterWorks water park.

Click here for a video of the ship headed into the Port of Halifax.

Click here for our article on all of the free food found aboard Carnival Horizon.

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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 10: Before You Disembark

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Hard as it is to believe, our time together exploring Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships is coming to an end. But before that can happen, we need to take one last spin around the Carnival Horizon… just to make sure you aren’t missing anything!

How Do You Spend That Final Day?

Nobody likes to think about disembarkation, yet that seems to be what the mind winds up focusing on during those final 24 hours of any cruise. You’re not even off the ship yet, but the mind begins wandering to the work that will be waiting on your desk or the unmowed lawn waiting to be tended. Our best advice: Given that you are on a Carnival ship, do as they advice and Choose Fun for as long as you possibly can.

Sure, you’ll have to pack your suitcase eventually… but the last day of your vacation is when you should slow down enough to soak it all in. Give yourself a little extra time to sit in a quiet spot, staring out at the sea and taking mental photographs. Have a long, leisurely brunch (during which you allow yourself to have a second, and maybe even a third, Bloody Mary. Head to Cherry on Top and get one more of those amazing ice cream sandwiches, which you know you’re going to have cravings for once you get back home.

Choose your cookie. Choose your ice cream. Choose your toppings. Eat. Could anything be simpler?

One thing we’d definitely recommend you do in advance: If you have a specialty restaurant you want to enjoy that final dinner-at-sea in, make a reservation. For many people, dining at the Steakhouse, for example, is a perfect capper to their cruise. Tomorrow, they’ll be back to making their own dinner and clearing their own tables, so why not have one final high-end meal?

Go ahead, live a little… it’s the last night of your cruise!

Another thing you definitely want to make sure to do on that final evening is head to the casino to cash in any winnings you might have! One of our favorite ways to make sure we go home with a little money? Cashing out whenever we have a decent win on a slot machine, putting a fresh $20 bill in the game… and sticking those tickets into the safe in our stateroom and not touching them until the week is over. When it’s time to head upstairs on the final night and pack our bags, we grab those tickets and cash them out.

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One way we fight the melancholy that can often set in on the final day is by booking another trip, which on the Carnival Horizon can be done by visiting the future cruise desk on deck 10. Then, having put it off as long as we possibly could, we finally head back to the room and pack. After spending a fair amount of time deciding what to bring and what to leave behind during the days building up to the cruise, the packing-to-disembark process is a lot quicker and easier. You know the drill: Throw everything into the suitcase, don’t even bother folding it, taking as little time as possible.

The saddest thing ever? Seeing all the suitcases lining the hallways, waiting to be collected on that final night.

If you need any information at all about the disembarkaton process, make sure to check the Fun Times or ask at Guest Services. But don’t leave this until the last morning… trust us, the staff will have their hands full trying to get everyone off the ship so that a whole new group of passengers can board and begin their vacations! In fact, if you have anything at all you need to deal with Guest Services about, try not to wait until that last evening, because the place can become a bit of a zoo!

And remember that there is no room service available on that final morning, so if you want to grab one last free meal, you’ll have to actually leave the room… or at least convince one of your traveling companions to do so! Again, consulting the Fun Times will tell you where you can go for that final meal, whether it’s a sit-down breakfast or just grabbing some coffee to get yourself going!

Sadly, it is here that we, too, must part ways. Here’s hoping that you’ve enjoyed our special, in-depth look at the Carnival Horizon. Keep checking back for more information on not only this ship but the upcoming Carnival Panorama, which we’re already excited to explore!

 

 

 

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Property Brothers to Set Sail on Royal Caribbean Ship

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Royal Caribbean and the Property Brothers themselves, Drew and Jonathan Scott, are excited to announce a special upcoming cruise aboard Mariner of the Seas. 

Fans can join the twins this December 3 to 7 on a four-night voyage aboard the ship, which will have just completed a $90 million renovation this year. Sailing With the Scotts will include presentations with the brothers, as well as panel discussions and workshops. Attendees will also get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the latest season of Brother vs. Brother, as well as a personal session of 20 Questions with Drew and Jonathan. The twins will also host shore excursions, meet & greets, photo sessions, and dance lessons, as well as their Scott Living Showroom at Sea, featuring a sneak peek of new pieces from the brothers’ own home goods collection.

photo: Sailing with the Scotts

The brothers will be donating $25 to the charity WE (formerly known as Free The Children) for each stateroom sold for this special sailing. Every $25 will provide one person with access to clean water for life in a developing community.

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Cuisine aboard the ship includes sushi, hibachi, freshly made pasta at Jamie’s Italian, and bar bites and arcade games at Playmaker Sports Bar & Arcade. The vessel will also feature the new Bamboo Room tiki lounge.

During the day, travelers can enjoy rock climbing, ice skating, surfing on the FlowRider, and the new Sky Pad – a virtual reality, bungee jumping adventure, as well as an escape room and glow-in-the-dark laser tag.

For more information on this special cruise, visit sailingwiththescotts.com.

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