Loyal to Royal?
Expect to pay more in gratuities.
Effective June 1st for all sailings departing on or after July 1st, the new gratuities charged by Royal Caribbean to its passengers will be $12.95 per day, per guest in standard accommodations, and $15.95 per day, per guest in suites.
There seems to be a trend across the cruise industry to nickel & dime the customers. NCL, for example, just started charging a room service fee.
NCL's CEO Del Rio said this while reporting on last quarter: "... we have looked across the fleet to identify areas where marginal changes that are commensurate with market conditions can be implemented to improve performance.
A few examples include a 6.7% average increase in beverage prices, the introduction of a nominal room service fee and lower costs from renegotiated shore excursion agreements. To put into perspective how these small changes can add up quickly, every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line."
Royal Caribbean's increased gratuities is designed to increase profits and put more money in the executives pockets.
What RCCL is not telling you: not all the gratuities go to the hard-working crew members.
Royal Caribbean, like Carnival and NCL, has been diverting tips from the crew into revenue ever since it began the pre-paid gratuities. Remember when you used to hand your cabin steward cash at the end of the cruise? Most cruise lines stopped that practice in order to grab a good chuck of the money intended for the crew for themselves.
Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean do a poor job taking care of their crew members. You see evidence of it everywhere. Carnival canceled the meager retirement plan for its crew a couple of years ago. NCL is charging for room service and is charging higher prices for drinks and excursions but there's no indication that it will pass any more money along to the crew. The crew members' benefits have been cut and they are still working insane hours every day.
I have never heard of any cruise line making changes designed to benefit the crew in the last decade.
Some passengers say they are fed up and will no longer be loyal to their favorite cruise line. So the "Loyal to Royals" will switch to NCL, and the "Loyal to Norwegians" will switch to Carnival and so forth and so on. Around and around the guests will spin as the cruise lines suck up their nickels and dimes while the cruise executives pocket millions and millions without a thought of their hard-working crew.
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May 15, 2015 Update: USA TODAY's Cruise Log says that "with the increase, a family of four will pay more than $350 in service charges on a typical seven-night cruise -- one of the highest levies in the business."