RCI Raises “Mandatory” Daily Tips Fee by 12% – How Much Longer Until This Impacts Your Cruise Choice?

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Once again we have another cruise line, in this case RCI or Royal Caribbean International, raising the mandatory daily tips fee by $2 from $16 a day to soon $18 per day. That is a 12%+ jump in this fee that you either have to prepay or it will be billed to you onboard the last day of your cruise.

As CruiseHive points out in this post:

Carnival Cruise Line, for example, charges service gratuities of $16 per person, per day in standard staterooms and $18 per person, per day in suites, while Norwegian Cruise Line charges $20 for the highest suite levels, $18 for mid-level suites, and $16 for all other stateroom types (all rates per person, per day).

a bowl of money in a bowl

So some may argue that RCI is just keeping up with what the other cruise lines are doing and after all this tip is for those who are providing you outstanding service and normally would not get tips from you (as an example drink packages have their own built in tips amount to reward bar staff). However I have been told flat out by some who have spent years onboard that I should always request this fee back and only tip those who I want.

Either way you fall on this issue it is starting to get really expensive as part of your cruise package. For two people in a cabin you are now paying at least $36 per day before you leave your room. $360 on a ten day cruise could pay for a number of shore excursions or even maybe the cost of your flight to get to the ship.

I think at a cap of $20 per person per day this is still a tolerable fee but it is starting to get to the maximum level. At some level someone, especially someone who is say a first time cruiser, may say when I add this to the cruise fare and all the port fees and taxes included, it is just that much too much and I will choose another vacations for my family.

And I think that is my point – the cruise lines have to understand that endless raising of this fee will at some point have an impact on bookings.

a group of wrapped chocolates with blue ribbons

For me I still follow my advice of bringing gift bags or chocolates for my room steward (and butler if I have one) as well as some of the staff that are going to be serving me on a daily basis and give them a tip (with a personal card) on day one. I mean, I am going to tip them extra anyway so why not do it right away vs. the last day of the cruise when I am saying good-bye.

I would love your thoughts on this topic. Do you feel the daily tip fee is getting out of control? Is there a point where it impacts your choice of taking a cruise vs. say an all-inclusive vacation? Let us know! – René

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René de Lambert
René de Lamberthttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I just wonder about the cruise lines paying the employees tips in general. What portion of the tip actually goes to the employee? With 2500 passengers onboard and 1000 crew, about 700 of that crew are service people. Is that about right? At $16 per day per person (average), it come out to $400,000 per cruise or $571 per employee. 3 cruises per month comes to $1,700 per employee. Most of these crew members work 12-14 hours per day or more. They don’t have anything else to do so the cruise lines keep them busy. Most of these service employees come from countries that average two to three thousand per year as a salary. No wonder many of these workers stay with the job even though they have families. Am I close about this information? I know you don’t get them to talk about their pay. This is not including what salary the cruise line might give them in addition. It’s a hard life, but rewarding considering what they can make back home. We always tip our room steward and mostly our wait staff if we get to have them often. We don’t drink, but I do get a soda package and will tip favorite drink tenders.

    • @Campuscoll – The tips are not shared across all the crew. Only those who interact with you get them like the main dining room folks and your room cabin attendant is also included. Laundry and say maintenance staff do not get anything from the daily tips fee.

      • That would make them recipients of a lot of money. The cruise line must keep most of the tips if indeed only those folks who interact with the passengers. That means the cruise consultants, cruise desk people, photographers, entertainment staff, and several other departments get tips?

        • @Campuscoll – No. Some of the ones you mentioned are basically sales based and make more if you buy stuff. Entertainment staff are on contract different from other crew and are often better paid and have better cabins and such. Others onboard are simply salary and that is it.

  2. The cruise lines are trying to keep the advertised daily fares as low as possible (during a period of significant inflation in both goods and services) purely for marketing purposes and this is one way to do it. They can get away with it because on most lines they have tiered gratuities based on level of cabin/suite. This keeps gratuities from qualifying as a “junk fee” like resort fees at hotels where it’s generally the same amount charged to every room but only appears at the end of the booking process. Unfortunately, some cruisers will try and cut or skip paying these altogether if they’re able and that only hurts the crew members.

    It’s important to take these into account when budgeting for the overall cost of your cruise as they most certainly add up.

  3. As a RCCL Diamond Plus member, I’ve had it with them! They just keep raising prices and tips while reducing the Diamond Plus and C & A benefits. I have one more cruise booked with them, then that’s it. I’ll go with Celebrity & Princess from now on.

  4. Just got off a ten day cruise and the mandatory tip we were charged was$460. plus anywhere you bought a drink the 20% We also gave $$$ tips to our butler and housekeeping person.

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