Norwegian is raising gratuities for the second time this year. The news was reported by Gene Sloan from USA TODAY. Beginning Aug 1, the company will start charging $13.50 per person for passengers in most cabins, and $15.50 for suite guests. The prior increase was on May 1, when the company raised the gratuity to $12.95.
Travelers who have already booked their cruise and prepay the gratuities are able to keep the old rate. The increase in itself is not irrational, however, what worries this editor is the constant increase of items across the cruise line. From tips, A la carte restaurant, room service charge, drinks and souvenirs. Everything seems to be going up. I am sure many will say that it is part of inflation and that is the way the economy works, but in my opinion they just seem to be nickel and diming in every twist and turn.
In addition to that, there one other thing that bothers me. I am well known in over tipping, so the increase itself does not bother me. What does bother me are the rumors that the employees do not receive the 100% of the gratuities charged. I have heard from several sources that cruise lines charge a handling fee. Now, I am not sure how much truth there is to that. But if it is true, the increase does pose some ethical questions.
I will continue to sail with NCL as it is one of my favorite lines, but I sure hope they settle down quickly and figure out a plan that works for us travelers as well as the company.