Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have increased their daily onboard gratuity charges by about 7%.
Celebrity has added $1 per person per day to gratuity rates for each of its three cabin categories, lifting rates to $14.50 in standard accommodation, $15 for Concierge Class and Aqua Class cabins and $18 for suites.
Royal Caribbean’s gratuity rate for standard accommodation is the same as Celebrity’s and varies slightly for other cabin categories.
The sister brands confirmed the approximately 7% rises within days of each other after Christmas.
Celebrity’s gratuity fee has risen by almost 12% since June 2016, while Royal Caribbean’s has gone up by nearly 21% since May 2015.
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean’s gratuity fees are among the highest in the sector, alongside those for Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Carnival.
Cruise lines, such as NCL, either include gratuities in the overall fare, or have a ‘no tipping’ policy, such as Saga Cruises and Marella Cruises.
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean passengers are free to adjust the gratuity fee, which is discretionary, once onboard their ship.
Carol Kirkham, of Preston‑based agency Kirkham Travel, said: “[Celebrity’s gratuity charge] has gone up quite a lot but my clients like the brand.”
However, Denise Hodgson, partner at Travel the World2, branded the recent gratuity price hikes as “ridiculous”.
Samantha Wilkinson, a cruise specialist at Delmar World Travel, said: “I don’t think it will make too much of a difference even though the increase is on the high side.”
Ben Bouldin, associate vice‑president of Royal Caribbean International and managing director for the UK and Ireland, said the increase recognised the “outstanding service” of staff and would ensure the line could continue to provide the “best service in the industry”.
A Celebrity spokesperson said: “The adjustment recognises the exceptional work by our onboard staff and crew.”
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