Booked on a Carnival sailing this year? Brace yourself for higher daily fees.
Effective Sept. 1, the company is hiking the gratuity for staff it automatically tacks onto final bills by nearly 8% to $12.95 per person, per day for passengers staying in most cabins. Passengers in suites will pay $13.95 per person, per day.
With the increase, a family of four will pay more than $360 in automatic gratuities on a typical seven-night cruise.
Carnival's new gratuity charge will surpass the levy at sister brand Holland America ($12.50) and match the fee at Princess Cruises ($12.95). It will remain below the service charges at rivals Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ($13.50).
Carnival last raised gratuity charges in October 2014. The nearly 8% hike in Carnival's gratuity is far higher than the rate of inflation in the USA since October 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index has risen just 0.3% over the same period.
The practice of automatically adding gratuities to passenger bills is at a crossroads in the industry. A growing number of upscale ocean lines including Azamara, Crystal, Seabourn, Regent and SeaDream have eliminated added service charges and automatic gratuities entirely, and the practice also is disappearing at some river cruise companies. River lines Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic Cruises are among those that now include gratuities for crew members in the base fare.
Carnival says customers with existing cruise reservations for later this year can lock in the current, lower gratuity rates by pre-paying them before Monday. Passengers also can adjust the amount of daily gratuity posted to their accounts while on ships by visiting the Guest Services desk. While automatically added, the gratuity is just a suggested amount, the line says.
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