How the cost of gratuities just keeps going up


Princess Cruises has announced its second increase in gratuities this year.

Guests in interior, oceanview and balcony staterooms face a rise in their daily gratuity payment from US$12.95 to US$13.50 per person, including children. The daily gratuity for passengers booked in a mini-suite or suite is also rising to US$14.50 or US$15.50 respectively.

The cruise line’s last increase in gratuities, effective in January this year, saw the daily per-person payment increase from US$11.50 for interior, oceanview and balcony cabins, and from US$12 for mini-suites and suites. In other words, passengers cruising with Princess have seen a daily increase of US$2 to US$3.50 just this year.

This latest increase is effective from December 15, but passengers already booked with Princess Cruises can prepay their gratuities at the present rate until November 15. As always, the payment can also be made using onboard credit, and Princess Cruises do sometimes offer free gratuities as part of their popular ‘3 for free’ sales.

On Princess ships, the gratuities are actually a ‘suggested’ amount. They are charged automatically at the above rates, but passengers can adjust the amount they pay – or eliminate the charge altogether – with the onboard purser. The gratuities are split among ship staff, except for casino and spa staff, and an extra 15 per cent gratuity is also added to bar purchases.

In an email to passengers, Princess Cruises said that “the gratuity rate increase is comparable to cruise industry standards and underlines our commitment toward our crew for the excellent service they provide our guests.”

Travellers have seen similar increases this year from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

Carnival Cruise Line automatically charges daily gratuities of US$12.95 per person in standard accommodations or US$13.95 for suite passengers.

Royal Caribbean International’s daily gratuities per person are now automatically charged at US$12.95 for standard accommodations and US$15.95 for suite passengers.

Celebrity Cruises’ gratuities now stand at a daily per-passenger US$13.50 in standard acommodations, US$14.00 in Concierge Class or AquaClass, and US$17 for suite passengers.

In contrast, P&O Cruises in Australia do not add gratuities onto accounts automatically, leaving it up to the individual passengers to tip staff with cash as they go, or to use their onboard accounts to do so.