Cruise gratuities are going up at Royal Caribbean. This change follows an earlier increase in June 2015. According to the company,
“Effective on cruises departing on or after May 1, 2016, Royal Caribbean will automatically add a $13.50 USD gratuity for standard staterooms, $16.50 USD for Suite guests, to each guest’s SeaPass® account on a daily basis. This gratuity replaces our previously recommended gratuity guidelines($12.95 USD standard statrooms, $15.95 USD for Suite guests), and will apply to all guests who did not prepay gratuities before April 14, 2016. The new daily gratuity amount is $0.55 USD more than the previously recommended daily gratuity amount.” (Feature image credit: Royal Caribbean)
Gratuities are a fact of life in “mass market” cruising, and are in addition to your cruise fare. They are also a subject of constant discussion among frequent cruisers. If gratuities are not pre-paid, the cruise line will add a daily charge to your onboard account to cover them. These charges can be removed at the request of the guest, but you should keep in mind that most of the service staff on board is effectively working for tips.
How are Gratuities Shared with the Crew?
According to Royal Caribbean, your gratuities are divided among the staff as follows:
- Dining & Culinary Services: $8.30 USD
- Stateroom Attendant: $3.85 USD OR Suite Attendant: $6.85 USD
- Other Housekeeping Services: $1.35 USD OR Housekeeping and Suite Services: $1.35 USD
How Does This Compare to Similar Lines?
Royal Caribbean states that this change puts it in line with its competitors. NCL onboard “service charge” is $13.50 per day for standard staterooms and $15.50 per day for suite guest. On the other hand, Royal Caribbean’s largest competitor, Carnival, currently recommends $12.00 per day.
The Bottom Line
Tipping is a fact of life in cruising. Some premium lines bundle gratuities into your fare, while other lines do not. Gratuities can be adjusted onboard to account for service failures, but it is important to keep in mind that most cruise service staff are effectively working for tips. A good practice is to pre-pay gratuities when you first book a cruise, so you are protected from future increases. You can always reward above and beyond service with cash once onboard.