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    Carnival the latest to increase service charges and gratuities


    Planning a Carnival sailing for December or beyond? Get ready for higher daily fees.

    Effective Dec. 1, the company is hiking the gratuity for staff it automatically tacks onto final bills by about 8 percent to $13.99 per person, per day, for passengers staying in most cabins. Passengers in suites will pay $15.99 per person, per day – an increase of nearly 15 percent from current rates. With the increase, a family of four in a standard cabin will pay nearly $400 in automatic gratuities on a typical seven-night cruise.

    Carnival revealed plans for the increase Thursday in an email to passengers booked on upcoming trips. Carnival's new gratuity charge will surpass the levy at sister brand Princess Cruises ($13.50) but remain below the fees at rival brands Royal Caribbean ($14.50) and Norwegian Cruise Line ($14.50).

    There was a time when the most exciting thing on the top deck of a cruise ship was a small pool. Or maybe a shuffleboard court. But those days are long gone. In recent years, cruise lines such as Carnival have been loading the top decks of their ships with ever more elaborate fun zones.

    Another sister line to Carnival, Holland America, just recently increased its fees to $14.50 for standard cabins. 

    Carnival last raised gratuity charges in September 2016. The 8 percent hike in Carnival's gratuity is higher than the rate of inflation in the USA over the same period. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index has risen 4.6 percent since September 2016.

    The practice of automatically adding gratuities to passenger bills is at a crossroads in the industry. A growing number of upscale ocean lines including Azamara, Crystal, Seabourn, Regent and SeaDream have eliminated added service charges and automatic gratuities entirely, and the practice also is disappearing at some river cruise companies. River lines Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic Cruises are among those that now include gratuities for crew members in the base fare.

    Carnival says customers with existing cruise reservations for December and beyond can lock in the current, lower gratuity rates by pre-paying them before Dec. 1. Passengers also can adjust the amount of daily gratuity posted to their accounts while on ships by visiting the Guest Services desk. While automatically added, the gratuity is just a suggested amount, the line says.

    By Gene Sloan, USA Today
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com

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