Passengers sailing Royal Caribbean will see gratuity charges rise 12.5% for most cabins — or $2 per person, per day — starting November 11, 2023.
It’s been a seemingly annual tradition for many cruise lines to bump up the price of onboard gratuities. Now, Royal Caribbean is getting in on the action for 2023. In a change noted on their website, Royal Caribbean says the price of the daily service gratuity charge is increasing to $18.00 for most cabins. It will be raised to $20.50 for passengers in suites:
“As of November 11, 2023, the automatic service gratuity of $18.00 USD per person, per day for guests in non-suites staterooms and Junior Suite, or $20.50 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.”
The increase goes from a previous level of $16.00 per person, per day for most cabins, or a 12.5% hike. For those staying in suites, the previous level was $18.50 per person, per day, meaning a 10.8% 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 $252 for the trip. That compares to a previous $224.
This charge is collected by the cruise line and distributed to service members of the staff, including room stewards, dining room waiters, and more.
Passengers who have prepaid gratuities will still lock in the lower rate before November 11. So if you have a cruise coming up and want to save money, be sure to pay these charges ahead of time.
Gratuities Have Jumped Recently
If you feel like these charges have jumped considerably recently, it’s not your imagination.
Royal Caribbean last increased the gratuity charge on September 7, 2022. At that time, the charge increased from $14.50 to $16.00 per person, per day for most cabins and from $17.50 to $18.50 for suites.
In other words, since September 2022 — just over 14 months ago — the charge has moved from $14.50 per day to $18.00 per day for most cabins. That’s an increase of $3.50 per day, or 24%.
Before that, however, the last increase we tracked was in 2018.
This move by Royal Caribbean isn’t a surprise. Since the return to sailing major lines — including competitors Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line — have made similar moves. In fact, Norwegian now charges $20 per person, per day for most rooms and $25 per person, per day for higher-end cabins.
Meanwhile, the industry continues to roar back with cruise lines now seeing occupancy rates above 100%.
In other words, even with the higher cost, it’s unlikely that Royal Caribbean is going to have trouble filling ships.