October 9, 2018.
Holland America Line is increasing the automatic gratuity fees effective for sailings that depart on or after December 1, 2018. This was quietly announced in an update to the cruise line’s website FAQ for Hotel Service Charge. The increase is $1.00 per person/per day.
The current rate, which was set in May 2017 – a little over 18 months ago – is $13.50 per guest per day for non-suite staterooms and $15.00 per guest per day for suites.
After December 1, 2018, the rates will be $14.50 for non-suites and $16.00 for suites.
Curiously, the FAQ has an asterisk denoting that the rates can change at any time without notice.
Holland America is not unique in having more frequent gratuity increases. All of the mainstream cruise lines have been doing it for the past few years.
I’ll go on record again and say it’s time to end this shell game and roll these service charges into the basic cruise fare.
March 18, 2017.
Over the past two days, word spread across social media about Norwegian Cruise Line raising their onboard service charges, as booked guests started receiving e-mails from their agents alerting them to this. Yesterday the cruise line made an official announcement and updated their website service charge page.
The New Charges
For those in standard cabins up to mini-suites, the fee is going from $13.50 to $13.99 per person/per day. If you are in a suite the charge will increase from $15.50 to $16.99 per person/per day. The new rates take effect April 1, but if you book by March 31 and pre-pay the service charge you get the old rate.
But Wait, There’s More!
You see, the prices listed above do not include the Norwegian Sky. The Sky provides all-inclusive bar sales in the basic cruise fare, so this ship will have higher service charges. Norwegian said the reason for this is “to better address the demands of the enormously successful all-inclusive product aboard Norwegian Sky.” Well, if they say so.
The new fee for the Sky will be $18.99 per person per day for standard cabins up to mini-suites and $21.99 per person per day for the full suites.
To summarize, if you cruise on the Norwegian Sky you pay $5 per person more each day than on the company’s other ships.
Also, the state of Hawaii needs to get their cut too, so for sailings on Pride Of America your service charges have an additional 4.275% tacked on for the “General Excise Tax” which is a state law. This tax is not a new thing.
In addition to the cruise service charge, the bar and spa staff, and the specialty dining venues, also add 18% to the bill each time you use their services.