Carnival-Owned Cruise Line Increases Gratuities for Guests

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Holland America Line has sent notices to travel agents and made changes to its website confirming increases of the crew appreciation automatic gratuity rate for all voyages beginning on or after February 14, 2024. The cruise line last changed gratuity rates on February 1, 2023.

While this may or may not indicate an annual increase trend, it is sure to be the first of several major cruise lines to make such increases in the months to come.

Holland America Line Increasing Crew Gratuities

Effective from Wednesday, February 14, 2024, guests sailing with Holland America Line will have a higher crew appreciation service charge no matter what type of cabin they are staying in.

Updates to the cruise line’s website, as well as notices sent to travel agents, have confirmed the change as well as the new gratuity amounts.

“Crew Appreciation is a daily (adjustable) amount added to your onboard account and pooled in order to recognize the many team members throughout our fleet who contribute to the guest experience,” the website notice reads. “As of January 15, 2024, the daily Crew Appreciation charge is $17.00 per guest per day for non-suite stateroom guests and $19.00 per guest per day for suite guests.”

It must be noted that the date the rates will actually increase is from February 14, 2024; sailings booked prior to January 15, 2024 will remain at the current, lower gratuity rate.

Previously, the rate was $16 for non-suite staterooms and $17.50 for suites, a rate that had been in effect from February 1, 2023. This new increase is 6% for non-suites and 8% for suites from the most recent rate.

Holland America Line Ships in Victoria, British Columbia
Holland America Line Ships in Victoria, British Columbia (Photo Credit: The Bold Bureau / Shutterstock)

When compared to the gratuity rates from January 2023, however, the difference is even more extreme – non-suite gratuities were $15.50 and suites were $17.00 at that time, making the increase in just over one year (with two separate gratuity adjustments) 9% and 11% for non-suites and suites, respectively.

Holland America Line does note that “the charges are subject to change without notice,” as is standard with any pricing structure. It should also be noted that these rates are per passenger, per day.

At this time, the 18% service charge added to beverage purchases, specialty restaurant charges, and spa or salon services remains unchanged.

Gratuity “Wars”

When one cruise line institutes a gratuity increase, other lines often follow suit, especially within the same family of cruise lines. As Holland America Line is owned by Carnival Corporation & plc, it is possible that similar rate increases may be forthcoming for Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, and other cruise lines owned by Carnival.

Carnival-Owned Cruise Ships
Carnival-Owned Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock)

At the moment, service gratuities for other lines are as follows:

  • Carnival Cruise Line – $16 for standard staterooms, $18 for suites
  • Princess Cruises – $16 for standard staterooms, $17 for mini-suites and Reserve Collection, $18 for suites
  • Royal Caribbean International – $18 for non-suites and Junior Suites, $20.50 for suites
  • Celebrity Cruises – $18 for standard staterooms, $18.50 for Concierge and AquaClass, $23 for The Retreat
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – $20 for standard staterooms, $25 for suites and The Haven
  • Disney Cruise Line – $14.50 for standard staterooms, $15.50 for concierge staterooms and suites

This puts Holland America Line’s increase well above the gratuity rates for other Carnival-owned lines, but still below the rates posted for other major cruise lines. What surprises many cruise travelers is the comparatively low rate for Disney Cruise Line’s suggested gratuities, but it should also be noted that Disney Cruise Line’s overall pricing can be significantly higher than similar lines.

Seeing these service gratuity charges side-by-side it is easy to note that increases are likely coming for other Carnival-owned cruise lines in the near future. Whether or not other cruise lines will also raise service charge rates will be subject to individual line’s policies, financial considerations, and overall decision-making.

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