Shortly after the new year, Royal Caribbean will again increase the automatic gratuities which it charges its passengers. Royal Caribbean will hike the automatic gratuities which it adds onto its guests’ accounts (by more than 7%) to $14.50 per person, per day. Passengers who stay in suites will pay even more, $17.50 per person, per day.

USA Today explains that a family of four will now pay more than $400 in automatic gratuities on a 7 night cruise which is one of the highest gratuities in the cruise business. 

The increase is the third in three years at the line. In early 2015, the Royal Caribbean’s gratuity fee Royal Caribbean Automatic Gratutieswas $12.

Like rival cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has been drastically increasing its automatic gratuities. USA Today says that Royal Caribbean’s gratuity charge has now jumped by nearly 21% since May 2015 (more than five times the rate of inflation). 

Cruise lines suggest that the extra gratuities go to the hard working crew members, but that’s hardly true. Crew members used to receive substantially more when passengers used to directly hand them money as tips. Cabin attendants and waiters have stated that the auto gratuities go to the cruise lines which take a cut and distribute some of the money to non-tip earning crew members. 

The Swiss TravelNews site rightly contends that "the passengers indirectly pay a massive wage component of these employees."

Royal Caribbean says that passengers can lower or remove the automatic gratuities by by visiting the Guest Services desk. Expect this to happen, as many passengers don’t like to pay gratuities when the service is average or to pay what the cruise lines should already be paying in wages. The same thing happened when Carnival hiked its auto gratuities. Carnival Hikes Pre-Paid Gratuities But Will Passengers Secretly Remove Tips?

We reported on a prior automatic gratuity increase in 2015 in Loyal to Royal? Expect to Pay Higher Gratuities! (And the Money’s Not for the Crew). Not coincidentally, CEO Richard Fain has RCL stock now worth over $110,000,000. 

Matt Hochberg’s Royal Caribbean Blog as the first to announce the gratuity increase. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

  • Fvcrew

    It’s true! Our salary are the gratuities ! Please pay it and don’t cut it of!

  • Terry Adamo

    This is so unfair to the crewmembers . Tip envelopes were great if the guest did the right thing but unfortunately some guests said they ran out iof money at the end of the cruise and the crew member got screwed. Some guests had the attitude that the crew member would never see them again and just stiffed the crew. Some guests are just cheap. What angers me the most is to see guests demanding extras all cruise and getting them with a smile and then leaving no tips at all. When you ask for extra, crew does it with a smile thinking there will be a bigger tip for all the extras and then being disappointed.
    When I was working I made a very good salary . At that time the recommended tip for the waiter and the cabin steward was three dollars a day giving them each $21 at the end of a seven day cruise . In those days I was able to change the $21 and give them $50 each . The busboys recommended tip was half that of the waiter and I gave the busboys $30 each but over the years I realize the busboy or as he is now called Assistan to the waiter worked just as hard as the waiter so I made sure they each got the same amount of gratuity Back then I would give the head waiter and the Maitre D $25 each and also depending upon if they were doing tons of special things for me without my asking I would give them more Same with the cabin steward I gave him 25 and I made sure that I left the same for the evening Stewart . In order to be able to afford to sail I factored in the gratuities prior to booking the cruise because if I didn’t have enough money to pay for the gratuities I waited until I did before I actually booked another cruise A few weeks before I boarded the ship I would go to the bank to take out a bunch of cash for spending money for the cruise In that envelope I would separate all of the tips by crewmember and put those in a separate compartment and sometimes already put them in envelopes and sealed it so that I would have them ready to distribute at the end of the sailing.
    Nowadays as most of cruise lines charge daily gratuities on to your cabin charges it does make it easier to budget but I still give extra because I don’t feel that the amount allocated per crew member is as much as they deserve.
    I recently got off of the regal princess and I stayed in the mini suite. So the gratuities charged to my cabin were for a higher rate but still not enough in my estimation I’m now living on Social Security but in addition to The gratuities that were charged to my cabin and based on the fact that every time dining gives you different waiters I went to my waiter in the traditional dining room where I ate most of my meals and made sure that I gave him an extra $20 the same with the busboy and the same with the cabin steward . Anyone else there that served me like the same bartender or the same waiter at any time dining I made sure they each got an extra five to $10 on the last night The Maitre D also got an envelope with $30 and had I known him from before and had the pleasure of sailing with I would’ve given him 50 because I think these amounts are fair. And before you go off half cocked screaming that you don’t have this kind of money to throw around just remember what I said before that when you’re planning the trip plan ahead and if you cannot afford to compensate All the special people that bend over backwards then wait until you can put that money aside before you book your trip . Regarding the statement a lot of people made by saying that perhaps the cruise lines should pay a higher salary to these people so that the guest don’t have to give them any tips or at the very least the minimal tip just remember that if you are on a land. Vacation or just by staying home or going to a restaurant a gratuity is 20 percent and if you ate three meals a day in a restaurant and spent an average of $60.00 a day in food costs your standard tip would be $12 of day. Multiply that by seven days for a weeks vacation that’s $84. In tips just for your waiter. When the cruise line charges you for your waiters tips they are not getting you nowhere near that amount of money but yet you don’t complain if you’re on land. Just remember to show your appreciation, There’s nothing wrong with a little kindness .

  • Rich

    For $400 I would be happy to make my own bed and tidy my room etc. I have always cancelled auto grats and just paid personally on merit as there is no way to confirm what the crew receive.

  • David Wharton

    I have cruised several times and I always endeavour to decently tip all crew members who deal with me on a regular basis. I have problems with paying an automatic gratuity due to the fact that I am not 100% sure that it is going to the people who deserve it. I feel that the crew members should be paid decent wages, and tips should be a bonus for going the extra mile and making peoples cruises memorable. How on earth a CEO or anyone in head office, does that is beyond me.

  • Bijendra aswal

    It is always tricky passenger dont want to pay full gratuity but want cheaper cruises while cruise companies want to make money on the name of gratuity to pay salaries of almost all the crew cruising has become so competitive that companies still make good money but it is crew salary going down and down

  • Neal Foore

    I like the automatic tipping. I always over tip anyway. I am probably never returning to RCL. I am taking a cruise this coming Sunday. They have lost me because I always get the all you can drink package. They are forcing my roomate to buy the same package and he doesn’t drink alcohol. So I don’t think I’ll be returning to RCL.

  • Blh1369

    On a recent cruise a waiter was telling us about the auto tipping and that it took money away from the waiters, he said the salary employees that get to negotiate their weekly salary like cooks and managers get their cuts first and then the waiters and assistants get theirs. While the logic of suspending the auto gratuities seems noble, just think if half the guests did that then the salary employees get paid and then the waiters get to split whats left which would not be very much. Every person that cancels the auto tips just hurts the ones who need it. The cooks and managers are going to get paid their negotiated salary out of the tips and the waiters, asst waiters and room stewards get to split whats left.

  • Love2cruise

    I pre pay my tips. I also take a few cards and leave a little extra as well. At this point if the cruise line continues to increase the tips I will just keep paying the pre pay and stop leaving the extra.
    I hate to sound like a prude, but The additional tips will stop.
    I know they work long hours. I work many hour to pay for my cruise as well. I have work overtime to paid for my vacation all year long. I know they have to put up with a lot. I have to do the same as well for my work.
    I know I’m going to get rude comments back. I feel the cruise line should pay there employees more.

  • Don Sayman

    we do not mind paying the auto-tips as long as the money goes to the crew only.. if we find out a single penny goes to the company it will be over.. we will stop the auto and give directly to the people…..we cruise once a month (12 per year) and know a lot of crew. will find out… in Florida 100 miles from terminal….

  • Mrcolr

    Gratuities are for services rendered. Rendered to me. Background employees are just that employees of Royal Caribbean and deserved to be paid by Royal Caribbean. Auto Gratuities are a mask for Royal to not provide correct/fair wages. They used to be billed as a convenience to the cruiser. For some who choose, sure, that is up to them to utilizes that option. It is no longer billed as a convenience according to their site as it is not for convenience sake, just to mask Royal not giving them correct and fair wages. They now state it as auto gratuities “helps streamline the recognition process”. perhaps Royal is the one that needs to “streamline the recognition process” by actually paying their employees correctly and not expect to receive gratuities as a part of the employees actual paycheck.

  • kellerfam

    We just returned from our first cruise ever and it was on RCLL. We were notified a month before the sailing date that the pre-paid gratuities were increasing by $1.00 per person per day. We were a family of 6 so this added up. We were told we could pre-pay at the old rate up until the day of the cruise. When I tried to pre-pay a few days before I was told it was too late. So, when we got on the ship I asked to opt-out of the gratuities and pay them in cash on my own. This is a valid option. I do not trust RC or any other cruise line to pay the individuals that are giving me good service. I don’t believe I should have to pay, or subsidize the salaries of the cooks, managers etc. Tips are for the service professionals like waiters and room attendants. I was generous with my tips to those that gave us good service all week. I believe that they got more money from me than they would have if I had pre-paid. I will continue to do this in the future and not feel one bit guilty about it.