Yes, it’s happening again.  Norwegian Cruise Lines just announced it will raise daily gratuities this spring.  It may seem like Norwegian raised its daily gratuities not too long ago.  Oh wait!  They did.

You know the pattern.  When one cruise line raises their daily gratuity, all the others seem to do the same.  Carnival, Holland America and Royal Caribbean announced they are raising, or already raised the daily fees, too.

Norwegian Cruise Line raises gratuities on Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway in New York City Harbor.

What exactly is an onboard service charge

Call it what you will.  “Automatic gratuities” is used quite a bit.  So is “Daily Service Fee.”  Norwegian Cruise Line calls theirs a “Daily Service Charge.”  According to Norwegian, their crew is “encouraged to work together as a team.”  The staff, ranging from complimentary restaurants, stateroom stewards and other behind the scenes staff (think laundry) receive a mix of salary and incentive programs that is reliant on funding from the daily service charge.

Norwegian daily service charges

If you made your booking before April 1, 2019 and you want to prepay your service charges before your sail date, you will save a few dollars.  If you’re a family of four, it’s worth considering.

For all ships excluding the all-inclusive Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun:

  • $17.50 USD per person per day for The Haven, Concierge and Suites;
  • $14.50 USD per person per day for all other stateroom types

For Norwegian Sky All-Inclusive and Norwegian Sun All-Inclusive

  • $23 USD per person per day for Suites;
  • $20 USD per person per day for all other stateroom types

If you make your booking on or after April 1, 2019 or for sailings April 1, 2019 and beyond if service charges were not prepaid:

For all ships excluding all-inclusive Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun

  • $18 USD per person per day for The Haven, Concierge and Suites
  • $15 USD per person per day for all other stateroom types

For Norwegian Sky All-Inclusive and Norwegian Sun All-Inclusive

  • $23.50 USD per person per day for Suites
  • $20.50 USD per person per day for all other stateroom types

On Norwegian’s Hawai’i cruises, there’s an additional 14.275% pre-paid service charge GET tax.

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Read next: The Ultimate Cruise Line Gratuities Guide 2019

Does everyone pay the gratuities?

Guests three years and older will pay the service charge.

If you want to prepay

If you’d like to get this out of the way, let your travel agent know to add it in to your cruise reservation.  You will then pay it along with your final payment.  If you’ve already made the final payment, it can still be added in and paid for at the same time.  Your daily gratuities can be added in up to 24 hours before your cruise departure day.   Sometimes it’s simply nice to get this last expense out of the way and not have to budget for it at the end of your cruise.

And don’t worry.  If you have to cancel your cruise (with or without travel insurance) you’ll still get 100% of the service charges refunded.

Making adjustments when you’re onboard

Norwegian would, of course, prefer you not to make negative adjustments to your daily service charges.  Their first recourse is to address any of the issues you might have about service.  And they encourage you to head to the Front Desk and try to work out the problem.  But if this doesn’t help, then the ship will allow you to adjust the charges.

Finally, let me add that we all have our opinions on cruise line gratuities…I mean service charges.  While Norwegian’s daily service charge is only a $.50 increase, it all adds up to the cost of your cruise.

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Sometimes, if you add up all your onboard expenses, from specialty dining and beverages to shore excursions and even laundry, you may be closer to affording an all-inclusive cruise line than you think.

Keep in mind that onboard entertainment options, variety of dining venues even shore excursions selections won’t be as extravagant or diverse as you’d find on the cruise lines that charge a daily service fee.  All-inclusive cruise ships that roll the daily service fee into the cost of the cruise fare are smaller ships, both in size and number of passengers.  There just isn’t room for 17 specialty restaurants or 2,001 lounges.

So just get ready for what seems like a yearly, across-the-board increase of daily service fees.  Whether it’s Norwegian Cruise Line gratuities going up again or any of the others, it’s going to happen.  Maybe try to think of it as a cost of living increase.  Small ship content divider

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