Since cruises returned to sailing, they’ve seen passengers eager to spend onboard, with all the major lines report increases in spending on the ship.
In response, many lines have increased the prices charged for many things onboard. This includes Carnival increasing gratuity and drink package prices, and Norwegian Cruise Line also raising the price of their daily service charge.
Now, Royal Caribbean is getting in on the action. In a change noted on their website, Royal Caribbean says the price of the daily service gratuity charge is increasing to $16.00 for most cabins. It will be up to $18.50 for passengers in suites:
“As of September 7th, 2022, the automatic service gratuity of $16.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms, or $18.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Suites, will be applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis. The gratuity applies to individual guests of all ages and stateroom categories.”
- Royal Caribbean website
This charge is collected by the cruise line and distributed to service members of the staff, including room stewards, dining room waiters, and more.
The increase goes from a previous level of $14.50 per person per day for most cabins, or a 10% hike. For those staying in suites, the previous level was $17.50 per person, per day, or a 6% increase.
In total terms, for a couple staying in a balcony cabin for a 7-day cruise, the total cost of gratuities will now run $224 for the trip. That compares to a previous $203.
Several Cruise Lines Increasing Gratuities in Recent Months
This move by Royal Caribbean isn’t a surprise. As mentioned, other major lines — including competitors Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line — have made similar moves in recent months.
And while occupancy levels across the fleet aren’t quite back to levels seen before the pandemic, they are rising quickly. Many cruises to the Caribbean, for example, have been completely full with levels above 100%
As well, beginning in early September the cruise line is also opening up cruises to unvaccinated adult passengers. This removes a hurdle to a large pool of passengers that had otherwise been restricted from sailing.
In other words, even with the higher cost, it’s unlikely that Royal Caribbean is going to have trouble filling ships.
By our tracking, the last increase in gratuity charges for the cruise line was in January 2018 — more than four years ago. At that time, the gratuity charge increased from $13.50 per day to $14.50 for most cabins. Suites saw their charge bumped from $16.50 per day to $17.50.