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Norwegian Gratuities Claim Change

In all our cruises, the attention of crew members has been such that we’ve never felt inclined to protest paying the accepted daily gratuities charged to our account. We’ve seen passengers who have, because they felt attention from room stewards or waiters was below the accepted standard.

As you know, daily gratuities are about $12 per person, per day.

The process for removing gratuities from your account is done at the Guest Relations Desk before disembarking.

Now, Norwegian is making it less likely you’ll do that.

Passengers on Norwegian ships will only be able to recover the “daily service charge” by contacting Guest Relations Services after they’ve returned home. The cruise line isn’t saying so, but passengers who have debated this charge as they disembark are usually in for a long, er…conversation, which doesn’t help preventing line-ups in the ship’s lobby.

Less likely to make a claim?

Really, are you going to feel more inclined to start making phone calls to track down Guest Relations once you’re back home?

In the news…

• Anthem of the Seas latest Royalk Caribbean ship to get Dreamworks
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• Steel cutting begins for the Bliss, Norwegian's new ship in 2017

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Emerald Princess
14 nights
April 2, 2016
Fort Lauderdale, Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Bilbao, Paris, London
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $85

Norwegian Gratuities On the Rise


If you’re booked to take a Norwegian cruise on a ship that leaves after Saturday, prepare for a little inflation.

Starting Sunday on all sailings, Norwegian’s daily gratuity charges are going up to $12.95 per person ($14.95 if you’re cruising in a suite) and applies even if your cruise is already booked. The increase is less than a buck a day (95 cents) and it’s this cruise line’s first such increase since 2009.

Where does that leave Norwegian in an industry where gratuities are sometimes one of life’s little surprises, except for seasoned cruisers?

Celebrity charges $12 a day, and $15.50 in suites. Carnival also charges $12 and breaks it down for you: $3.90 for stateroom crew, $6.10 for dining room crew and $2 for crew members in the galley, guest services, entertainment. Princess, from the Carnival family, charges $11.50 as does Cunard, another Carnival sibling. Disney does it a little differently, suggesting amounts and breaking them down by length of cruise but in the end — whether it’s three days, four days or seven days — the suggested daily gratuity is $12.

So Norwegian appears to be the first of the mainstream lines to bump it up. There is one break for Norwegian passengers already booked: It stays at $12 if you pre-pay your tips.

Gratuities are always discretionary, but who wants to be the person arguing with the guest services people about why they shouldn’t pay what is already charged to your room?

Today at portsandbows.com: Princess plans for Europe 2016

Carnival Magic
7 nights
April 12, 2015
Galveston (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61

It's About 'Gratuities' on Cruise Ships…

The problem with tipping is tipping. When does it start and when does it end. On cruise ships, sometimes you never know. On almost all cruises, you pay "gratuities" up front. End of story? Not necessarily.

On almost all cruises, there's the suggestion that you can tip room stewards, servers, bartenders, spa specialists…something a little extra if you think it's deserved. It's always nice to get permission to do that, but we've also been on cruises where it's more than a hint. Envelopes for you to leave for each of the people who served you — empty until you put something in them.

Princess Cruises just had a taste of how passengers feel about surprise tips, although it wasn't called that.

On the Regal Princess, reportedly without notice, a surcharge of $3 was added to all room service deliveries. A few earfuls later, the cruise line canceled the surcharge, telling one unhappy passenger it was a trial on the Regal Princess.

What do some of the other lines do?

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian add a fee if you order room service between midnight and 5 a.m., and Norwegian charges for pizza delivery.

Holland America's room service is complimentary, 24 hours.

So is Carnival's.

Passengers expect tipping to be covered once they pay gratuities up front. Gratuities are gratuities, right.

Unless you want to give something extra…

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
October 5, 2014
Galveston (return): RoatanBelizeCozumel
Inside: $453
Cost per day: $64

Reasons for Cruising's Extra Costs

Sometimes, it gets a little wearying to hear cruise passengers complain about having to pay for soda pop. In all the years we've been on cruise ships, that's always been the case so in the end, there are only three words to say:

Deal with it.

Besides alcohol, charging passengers for pop may have been the first "extra source" of income for cruise lines. Like everybody else, we were shocked at the tactic the first time we went cruising. Over time, we have come to understand, because generally cruise lines have kept the cost of cruising in line, while searching for other ways to make a buck. That is, after all, what business is all about, isn't it? Is it just a coincidence that fares have stayed affordable as cruise lines have added extra cost options.

And one more thing:

For people who think cruising should be an all-inclusive experience, because that's what it's always been, here's a few things to remember:

1. You don't have to pay for the pop…don't drink it.

2. You don't have to pay for booze…don't drink.

3. You don't have to pay to dine at a specialty restaurant…there are always enough eateries included.

4. You don't have to go on a shore excursion…you can just be a passenger.

5. You don't have to pay for souvenir photos…take your own, or go home without them.

The fact is, you do have a choice. If you want to pay your cruise fare (plus gratuities and taxes) and nothing else, you do have that option.

Diamond Princess
16 nights
September 22, 2012
Anchorage, Sapporo, Aomori, Vladivostok, Shanghai, Dallan, Beijing
Inside: $898
Cost per day: $56

Tipping on Cruise Ships, Part 2

We’re really not obsessed with this subject but it does warrant another comment, even though yesterday’s blog was all about P&O’s new policy. This time, Carnival’s in the news.

This isn’t a big deal, at least in our world, but some of you may be happy to hear that the maitre d’ on Carnival ships is no longer part of the tipping community. You don’t need to tip the maitre d’…you don’t have to watch videos about tipping the maitre d’…you don’t have to worry about getting an envelope implying that you should tip the maitre d’.

But you still can, of course.

Obviously, Carnival was getting some heat about that implication. Since the people wearing that nameplate and title are happy about the change, Carnival has clearly given them something to feel happy about it.

Like tips.

Carnival Spirit
9 nights
March 2, 2012
San Diego (return) to Cabo San Lucas
Inside $539

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