Guests aboard MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside have noticed a new addition to the main dining room menu – a surcharge for additional entrees.
This follows similar policies implemented onboard both Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International ships in the past year, and is part of a growing trend on cruise ships.
New Dining Charge Spotted on MSC Cruises
Guests currently sailing on MSC Seaside have reported a new charge in the ship’s two main dining rooms – a $5 (USD) surcharge. The notation is listed on the menu and is only listed for entrees: “a surcharge of $5 for second entree or more applies.”
This new charge is an unwelcome surprise to many cruise travelers who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the perceived “nickel and diming” on cruises, when a seemingly inexpensive base fare is augmented by multiple extra fees.
Carnival Cruise Line was the first major cruise line to implement such charges in the main dining room in early November 2022, but that cruise line’s $5 surcharge only applies to third, fourth, and more entrees – the first two remain complimentary. MSC Cruises, however, appears to be charging the fee for the second entrée as well.
Royal Caribbean International quickly followed suit with an extra charge in late November 2022, but only applied the fee to broiled lobster tails. The fee is substantially higher, however, at $16.99 per extra tail, plus an 18% gratuity.
MSC Cruises’ extra fee applies to all types of entrees. While guests onboard MSC Seaside have confirmed the charge, it is not yet known whether the charge is being implemented fleetwide or if it may be in a test phase aboard limited ships or select sailings.
MSC Seaside is currently homeported from Port Canaveral, offering various itineraries to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean ports of call, including Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, Nassau, and the cruise line’s private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
In late November, the ship will reposition to homeport from Martinique to offer southern Caribbean sailings through the winter months.
The 150,000-gross ton vessel features 15 passenger decks and can welcome 4,132 guests at double occupancy. In addition to the two main dining rooms onboard, MSC Seaside also offers a variety of other dining venues, including a pizzeria, steakhouse, seafood specialty restaurant, casual buffet, and more.
Why Charge for Extra Entrees?
There has been much speculation about why cruise lines have begun charging extra fees for multiple main dining room entrees, and three main theories have emerged.
Cruise lines have touted the practice as an attempt to help curb food waste, which has significant costs and requires extensive cleanup and disposal. By charging extra fees, cruise lines hope to discourage travelers from choosing multiple entrees “just because” that they may not care to finish. Cruise lines have also noted that higher food prices have led to the need for some extra fees to offset increased costs.
With many cruise passengers enjoying extra entrees of elegant dishes, a nominal fee can also be a very easy revenue stream for cruise lines as they continue to struggle with debt from the 15-month industry-wide pandemic shutdown.
A third explanation for extra entrée charges is that reducing multiple orders can help speed up dining service, particularly for early seatings when dining rooms must be turned over in time for late seatings to begin. Extra orders during late dining times can also slow when the dining room shuts down, creating difficulties with crew scheduling.
It must be noted that the extra charge on all lines – MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean – only applies to main courses. All guests can still order multiple appetizers and desserts without any extra fees, no matter how many they select.