Get Ready for Increased Cruise Service Charges in the New Year

Two more cruise lines will be increasing their gratuity rates in the new year. Norwegian Cruise Line in January, and Holland America in February.

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At least two cruise lines will be implementing gratuity increases in the new year to offset the rising inflation rates that have impacted crew members worldwide. Although the increases are relatively minimal, they will be a factor that guests will need to consider when sailing in 2023. 

The two cruise lines that have announced increases are Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, while Princess Cruises implemented a gratuity hike last week. Other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean International and Disney Cruise Line, increased their gratuity rates earlier this year, although more increases could still be coming from them.

Norwegian Cruise Line First Cruise Line to Implement a Gratuity Increase in 2023

Norwegian Cruise Line will be the first cruise line to implement a gratuity increase, with the new rates taking effect on January 1, 2023. 

Effective January 1, 2023, guests booking the highest level of accommodations, The Haven and Suite cabins, will now be charged $25 per person per day in gratuities, an increase of $5 from the previous rate of $20. 

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock

Club Balcony suite guests and all other guests will be charged $20 per person per day in gratuities, an increase of $2 for Club Balcony suite guests and $4 for all other cabin categories. 

There is still time to book a cruise under the old pricing, as these increases only apply to bookings made on or after January 1, 2023. For any bookings made before this date but sailing after January 1, guests can still pay the previous gratuity rates as long as they have pre-paid their gratuities. Any gratuities paid onboard will be charged at the new rates from January 1. 

Holland America Line Gratuities to Increase on February 1

From February 1, 2023, Holland America Line will also increase its gratuity rates. The price hike will not be as expensive as the one onboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ships, as Holland America is increasing gratuities by $0,50 for all cabin categories.

Anyone staying in the regular balcony, oceanview, and interior cabins will be charged $16 per person per day, while those guests staying in suite cabins will be charged $17.50 per person per day.

Holland America Line
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

The Crew Appreciation Charge, as Holland America calls the gratuity charges, is paid to crew members and represents an integral part of their compensation. However, an additional 18% Service Charge is also automatically applied to all beverage purchases, bar retail items, specialty restaurant cover charges, and all premium A La Carte menu Items. 

Other Cruise Lines Have Already Implemented Gratuity Increases

Finally, Princess Cruises implemented a gratuity increase on December 14, 2023. Those staying in Interior, Oceanview, and Balcony now pay $16 per person per day. Guests pay $17 per guest per day if they stay in a Mini-Suite or Club Class. Those who book a suite pay $18 per guest per day. 

Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean International increased its gratuity rates. The daily rate for staterooms is $16.00 per person. For suites, the daily rate is $18.50 per person. The increase went into effect on September 7, 2022.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

Another cruise line that increased its rates this year is Disney Cruise Line. The cruise line now charges $14.50 (USD) for most staterooms, and $15.50 per passenger, per day for concierge staterooms and suites.

Why Don’t Cruise Lines Just Pay More Salary?

The increase in gratuity payments has many wondering why this comes on the guest’s plate. Surely the cruise lines could pay their crew a fair salary? Well, yes and no. 

First, the gratuity charges are only for some of the crew onboard. Typically, this money goes to waiters, servers, bartenders, cabin stewards, laundry stewards, and, sometimes, kitchen staff. For example, those that work in engine rooms and on the bridge are paid a standard, often unionized, wage.

If the cruise lines paid regular salaries to those that are now gratuity-dependent, it would mean a considerable increase in cruise fares. It could also mean that crew members would be paid less than they are now. There are cruise lines that do not charge gratuities; some examples include Seabourn and Viking. 

It’s worth noting that these gratuity increases are not unexpected, as many crew members have voiced the opinion that the inflation increases have severely impacted them and their families, forcing the cruise lines to take action. We’ll likely see more cruise lines follow suit in the coming months.

If you’re planning to take a cruise in the near future, it’s important to factor in these gratuity increases when budgeting for your trip. While the additional cost may be annoying, remember that the gratuities you pay go directly to those who make your cruise experience truly memorable.

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