Norwegian Cruise Line Raises Its Daily Service Charge

by Janis on February 12, 2015

NCL Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that the company is adjusting its daily service charges for cruise guests for all sailings that begin on March 1, 2015 or later.

The cruise line is raising its daily service charge from $12 per day for all guests three years of age and older, to the new rates below that are based on your stateroom category:

  • $12.95 per guest per day for any category up to a Mini-Suite stateroom.
  • $14.95 per guest per day for any suite category.

The cruise line announced that guests who have previously booked or plan to book a cruise that sails after March 1, 2015, can choose to pre – pay their service charges at the current rate by February 28, 2015. Guests with existing cruise reservations who have already pre – paid their service charges at the current rate will not be affected.

Norwegian’s daily service charges, which were last adjusted in 2009, make it easy for guests to provide gratuities to key cruise staff including their room steward, restaurant servers and behind – the – scenes support staff. Guests who are sailing in Suite categories also receive the services of a concierge, butler and dedicated wait staff.

We wonder if this announcement from NCL will trigger other cruise lines to follow suit in raising their gratuities?

Perhaps, but maybe not so fast. NCL, with its “Freestyle Cruising” where you tend to move to different dining venues frequently, has been a pioneer in the “auto-tipping” arena.  If fact, the line does not even call tipping “gratuities” but rather a “daily service charge,” and makes it extremely difficult for guests to remove the charges from their bill.

Other cruise lines use auto gratuities for guest convenience, but still allow guests to remove them and tip in cash to who they see fit.

We don’t have an issue with auto gratuities, and often see that as the “base” level, with extra cash tips to those who go above and beyond for us.

We wonder, however, in the NCL “service charge” scheme, how much of that money does or does not really go directly to the crew in the customer-facing positions?

What do you think about service charges and NCL’s increase announcement? Please share in comments below. 

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