Celebrity Cruises has quietly updated the Gratuity Program page of its Frequently Asked Questions with increased rates to begin as of Tuesday, July 11, 2023.
The automatic gratuities for all staterooms will be increased, which marks the second increase in less than a year. Prior to these recent increases, gratuities aboard Celebrity Cruises had remained constant since November 2020.
Gratuity Rates Going Up
Celebrity Cruises will be raising automatic gratuity rates for all staterooms for every sailing that departs on or after July 11, 2023. All rates are per person, per day, vary depending on the type of stateroom, and are listed in US dollars (USD).
The increased rates will be $18 for inside, ocean view, and veranda staterooms; $18.50 for Concierge Class and AquaClass staterooms; and $23 for guests in The Retreat.
Confirmed bookings at the cruise line’s “All Included” or “Always Included” rates that already have paid for gratuities in those packages will not have any increase, regardless of sailing date, but the new gratuity rates will apply for all new bookings.
Previous rates were $17.50, $18, and $21 for the respective stateroom categories. This new increase represents a change of just roughly 3% for inside, ocean view, veranda, Concierge, and AquaClass staterooms, but is a more significant 9.5% increase for staterooms in The Retreat.
Gratuities are automatically added to guests’ SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Should travelers encounter a problem or prefer to pay in cash and wish to adjust their gratuities, they can do so onboard at the Guest Relations desk.
Second Increase in Less Than a Year
These new increases are the second time Celebrity Cruises has raised gratuity rates in just nine months. The rates were increased in mid-October 2022, at that time raising up from $15.50 for standard staterooms, $16 for Concierge Class and AquaClass, and $19 for The Retreat.
This means that in less than a year, gratuities have risen more than 16% for standard rooms, 15% for Concierge and AquaClass, and 21% for The Retreat.
All cruise lines have been raising gratuity rates in the past year, but the greater frequency of increases is concerning and puts an added financial burden on travelers who have budgeted carefully for a vacation only to find higher than expected onboard expenses, including gratuities.
The increase may not be much, but when added to other increases associated with a cruise vacation – airfare, port parking fees, shore tours, port taxes, etc. – it can be significant.
Of course, if guests pre-pay their gratuities, they are not usually subjected to the higher rates, regardless of when those rates are increased compared to the sailing date of the cruise.
Celebrity Cruises does have a note on the bottom of their Gratuity Program FAQ that states, “Gratuity amounts are subject to change” – a note that first appeared only after the October 2022 increase.
Related Cruise Lines – Are Increases to Come?
Celebrity Cruises is part of the Royal Caribbean Group, which also includes Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises. At this time, neither of those related cruise lines have indicated any gratuity increase, but such changes may be coming.
Royal Caribbean International last increased gratuity rates in September 2022, while Silversea Cruises already includes gratuity rates in the base fare and no additional charges are added to guests’ accounts during sailing.
Furthermore, once one cruise line raises gratuities, other lines generally follow suit within the next few months, even from different corporations.
It is likely that travelers may see gratuity rate increases from Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and others later this year.