In a move that Cruzely warned about just days ago, the price of another item is going up for your next cruise. Carnival now says that the price of its CHEERS! drink package and the daily service gratuities are going up, effective May 1.
CHEERS! Sees Higher Prices
The CHEERS! package is the popular all-inclusive beverage deal onboard the ships. Purchasing the package gives you your choice of most beverages — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — on the ship while you sail. Pay one set daily fee and you can just head to the bar when you’re ready for a drink.
Previously that package saw pricing of $51.95 if bought before the cruise on trips of five days or longer. Pre-purchased packages were $54.95 per day for 3-4 day cruises.
If waiting until on the ship to purchase, the price was $56.95 per day for five-day or longer trips and $59.95 for shorter cruises. (All prices also have an 18% service charge tacked on per day.)
Starting in May, Carnival bumps up that price:
“Effective May 1, 2022, the pre-cruise price will be $59.95 USD, per person, per day plus 18% service charge and the onboard price will be $64.95 per person, per day plus 18% service charge for all cruise departures.”
This increase is a considerable hike. For trips of five days or longer, the price increase is $8 per day, or more than 15%. For those who waited to buy until they were onboard, the increase is also $8, for an increase of 14%.
The increases are slightly less if you are taking a shorter cruise, as there is now no price difference mentioned between shorter cruises and longer trips:
In dollar terms, a person who buys the drink package ahead of time for a 7-day cruise would pay $429.11 in total under the old price (including the 18% gratuity charge). The new price after May 1 will cost $495.19 — about $66 more. The cost would be even higher if waiting until on the ship to purchase.
It is worth noting that even at the new prices, the drink packages are still less than what’s seen from rivals like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.
In addition to the CHEERS! package, Carnival is also raising the price of its Bottomless Bubbles soda program.
Those prices are increasing from $5.95 to $6.95 per day for children (plus an $18% gratuity) and moving from $8.50 per day to $9.50 per day for adults.
Service Gratuities Rising Too
These aren’t the only charges that Carnival is bumping up. The price of service gratuities — the extra fee that goes to the room steward and dining staff — is also rising.
There, the cruise line is moving the charge from $13.99 to $14.50 per person, per day for most rooms, effective May 1. That’s an increase of about 3.5% and will take the total service charges from $97.93 per person to $101.50 for a week-long cruise.
The price for those staying in suites is also rising. If staying in one of these rooms, your daily charge is moving from $15.99 to $16.50 per person, per day.
At these levels, Carnival is near what other cruise lines charge, but still lower. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line just raised their daily service charge for most rooms to $16 per day for most staterooms. Those staying in suites now pay $20 per day.
Price Increases Aren’t a Surprise
As mentioned earlier, the fact that Carnival is raising prices isn’t a complete surprise. We outlined how higher pricing on cruises was likely as the lines face higher costs, hope to improve their balance sheets following the pause in sailing, and passengers spend more than they did before the pandemic.
For example, even though cruising isn’t back to full speed yet, Carnival said that it just had its busiest week for bookings in its entire history. In other words, there seems to be room to push prices higher onboard.
In fact, during the most recent quarterly update call for investors, Carnival Corporation Chief Financial Officer David Bernstein put things bluntly:
“People want to cruise. We have a great product. We’re still a good value compared to land-based alternatives, although we’re trying to make it a bit less of a value as we move forward and to raise price as [Carnival Corporation CEO] Arnold [Donald] indicated,” Bernstein said.
That certainly sounds like the increase on the CHEERS! package and gratuities may not be the last price bumps seen from the cruise line.