Royal Caribbean Increasing Automatic Gratuities (Again)

December 27, 2017.

Last week the Royal Caribbean International websites in the U.K. and Asia detailed an increase in daily gratuities that was coming on January 2.  This was reported in several cruise blogs,  which caused the U.S. based headquarters for the company to say they hadn’t announced anything.  Then came yesterday (Tuesday, December 26) when the cruise line indeed announced the rate increase.  This happens quite often with Royal Caribbean, where the non-U.S. websites post changes to policies before corporate is ready to spring the news.  Seems like they need to revisit their internal change management procedures, especially the part about controlling the release of information.

Anyway, come January 2 the daily gratuities charged will increase by $1 per person per day.  Junior Suites, balconies, oceanview, and inside cabins will pay $14.50, and those in Grand Suites and higher will see the lofty sum of $17.50 per person, per day.  The increase makes Royal Caribbean’s automatic gratuities the highest among mass market cruise lines.  For example, for standard cabins Carnival adds $12.95 per person, per day, Princess Cruises $13.50, and Norwegian Cruise Line  $13.99.

I received an email from Royal Caribbean detailing the change, and it used some curious reasoning for the increase:

“Royal Caribbean is constantly reviewing our competitive environment and this adjustment positions us in-line with our competitors. The additional gratuity collected will be disbursed to our onboard crew.”

So let me see if I understand this correctly.  Royal Caribbean is saying that having the highest gratuities makes them more competitive?

As always, guests can pre-pay gratuities for existing bookings prior to January 1 and get the old price.  And once aboard the ship you can also go to Guest Relations and change or remove them entirely.

Granted this is not a tremendous increase, but these incremental things tend to add up over time.  This is the third increase in three years at Royal Caribbean, and as reported by USA Today “With the coming increase, the line’s gratuity fee will have jumped by nearly 21% since May 2015. That’s more than five times the rate of inflation in the USA over the same period. ”

At Cruising.News we never support stiffing the hard working crews on cruise ships.  But constant increases in the gratuities automatically added to your account “as a convenience” can adversely affect the crew’s income as more and more people say “enough!” and remove the gratuities entirely.