Along with the upcoming increase in per-passenger gratuities, Carnival Cruise Line has recently announced other increases for onboard services. What prices are increasing, and what does this mean for a cruise traveler’s budget?
Gratuity Rates Increase
The per person, per day gratuity rates for Carnival cruisers will be increasing for all voyages setting sail on or after May 1. In an April 4 email sent to guests booked on upcoming voyages, the company stated that for voyages from May 1 and onward, gratuities would be $14.50 for standard staterooms, and $16.50 for suites.
“Our shipboard team members work hard to provide exceptional and friendly service, so we hope you will agree that this slight increase is well deserved,” the email read.
Prior to the change, gratuity rates are $13.99 per day for standard staterooms, and $15.99 for suites. Both rates are changing by just $.51 per person, per day, an increase of 4% for standard staterooms, and 3% for suites.
Passengers may lock in the current gratuity rate if they choose to pre-pay gratuities prior to boarding, regardless of when their cruise sets sail. If the gratuities are pre-paid, no further gratuity charge would be added to guests Sail & Sign accounts during their cruise, other than for services purchased during the sailing, such as the automatic 18% gratuity added to all drink purchases.
Other Prices to Increase
These increases, however, are not the only rising costs guests will soon see on Carnival cruises.
The email concluded by saying, “Although we’ve done our best to minimize the impact of rising costs, we will be implementing nominal changes to some of our onboard services while still providing you the best vacation value, on land or at sea.”
That notation was followed by encouragement for guests to pre-purchase additional services and lock in current rates before prices increase. Drink packages, WiFi access, and specialty dining were all listed with “up to” savings, though actual new prices were not immediately detailed.
Drink Package Pricing to Go Up for All Cruises
While Carnival Cruise Line has not been explicit in listing the new prices for onboard packages and services, deeper investigation on the cruise line’s help webpage does reveal details.
For cruises that still depart in April, the Cheers! beverage package, which includes a wide variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, is priced at $51.95 per person per day for sailings 5 days and longer, and $54.95 for sailings of 3-4 days, but only if the package is pre-paid. The onboard rate is currently $56.95 per person per day for longer sailings, and $59.95 for 3-4 day cruises.
Effective May 1, 2022, the Cheers! package price will rise to $59.95 per person per day when purchased before sailing, and $64.95 per person per day when purchased onboard. There will no longer be separate pricing based on cruise length.
These new prices are a roughly 15% price increase.
The cruise line’s Bottomless Bubbles package, which only covers fountain sodas and juices, is currently $5.95 per person per day for guests 17 years old and younger, and $8.50 per person per day for guests 18 years and older.
On May 1, those prices will increase to $6.95 and $9.50, respectively, an increase of 11%.
Both Cheers! and Bottomless Bubbles will continue to add the 18% built-in gratuity to the package pricing, which is not reflected in the daily package rate.
No price increases have been announced for individual drinks purchased without a beverage package, but it is likely those onboard prices may also rise somewhat in the coming weeks.
Specialty Dining Prices Increasing
While Carnival Cruise Line does offer many included dining options, from the elegance of the main dining rooms to the casual vibe of the Lido buffet to fun options such as Guy’s Burger Joint, the Blue Iguana Cantina, Swirls ice cream, 24-hour pizzerias, and more, many cruise passengers enjoy the curated menus and elevated dining experiences at specialty restaurants.
As of May 1, prices at many of the most popular specialty restaurants will also increase as follows:
- Steakhouse / Fahrenheit 555 increasing from $38 to $42 per person (+10%)
- Steakhouse Selections in main dining rooms increasing from $20 to $23 (+15%)
- Cucina del Capitano increasing from $15 to $18 per person (+17%)
- Bonsai Teppanyaki increasing from $32 to $35 per person (+9%)
- JiJi’s Asian Kitchen increasing from $15 to $18 per person (+17%)
- Rudi’s Seagrill increasing from $38 to $42 for adults and $12 to $13 for kids (+11%/+8%)
- Green Eggs and Ham event breakfast increasing from $6 to $7 (+16%)
- Chef’s Table premium dining experience increasing from $80 to $99 per person (+24%)
No announcements have been made for increased prices for other dining options, such as a-la-carte offerings at cafes, celebration cakes, or sweets and treats from the cruise line’s Cherry On Top stores, but those, too, could see increases soon.
WiFi Package Pricing Hikes
Carnival Cruise Line offers a variety of WiFi packages to suit different travelers’ connectivity needs. The “Social” package permits guests to access social media websites and related apps, as well as airline websites, while the “Value” internet access plan includes everything from the Social package plus email, news, entertainment, sports, weather, and banking sites, but without streaming services.
Prices for these internet plans vary based on cruise length and when the plan is purchased. The Social plan, when purchased before the cruise, is $6.80 per day, or $10 per day when purchased onboard.
The Value plan, which also has faster speeds than the Social plan, starts at $10.20 per day when pre-purchased or $13 per day onboard. A 24-hour Value plan is also available starting at $17 per 24-hour period.
As of May 1, these internet prices will also go up, with the Social plan increasing to $8.50 per day when pre-purchased (+25%), and the Value plan increasing to $11.05 when pre-purchased (+8%). There is no information yet available about whether or not onboard pricing will change, or by how much if it is increased.
The fastest, most all-inclusive internet plan, the “Premium” plan, is priced at $13.60 per day, and is not anticipated to increase at this time.
What This Means for Cruise Budgets
Cruises have long been recognized as a budget-friendly option for vacation travel, but as prices rise for different onboard services, cruise passengers may find themselves with more unexpected expenses for their getaways than they may have anticipated.
The best way to save is to carefully consider what packages and services are necessary and offer the best value, and to pre-pay packages when possible to lock in the best savings.
Note: All prices quoted are subject to change without notice, and are listed as values in U.S. dollars (USD).