Royal Caribbean Raises Cruise Tipping Guidelines

Royal Caribbean says it is raising its suggested crew gratuities by nearly $2 per passenger, per day. Since most cruise passengers follow the tipping guidelines, that amounts to an increase $13.30 per person - or $53.20 for a family of four - for a seven-day cruise.

The recommended gratuities cover dining room and housekeeping staff. The change basically amounts to a raise for crew.

Under the new guidelines, which take effect July 1, guests in standard cabins would pay $11.65, up from $9.75; guests in suites would pay $13.90, up from $12.

The cruise line says the increase is its "first gratuities guideline adjustment in 13 years."

"This adjustment is the result of a long period of consideration and assessment that places the cruise line's recommendations in line with its competitors," Royal Caribbean says in a prepared statement.

Top competitor Carnival Cruise Lines suggests gratuities of $10 per person, per day. Other lines recommend as much as $12 per day, plus an extra tip for the butler in top suites.

The gratuities are at the discretion of guests – you can raise them up or down as you see fit.

The majority of passengers pay "at or above" the recommended levels, says Royal Caribbean spokesman Harry Liu. Guests can prepay the tips before the cruise, pay by credit card during the cruise or pay cash at the end of the cruise, he adds.

For those who book Royal Caribbean's My Time Dining open-seating meal plan, gratuities are automatically added to accounts, but passengers have the option of going to guest services on their ship to have the amount changed.

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