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February 2013
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Royal Caribbean Finally Moving To ‘Automatic’ Gratuities

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February 17, 2013.

While competing cruise lines, and even sister brands such as Celebrity, had crew gratuities automatically charged to guest accounts for some time, Royal Caribbean International resisted the trend and was steadfast in using the traditional system of real cash in envelopes. Alternately, guests could charge tips to their account and get vouchers but they still had to place the vouchers in envelopes and chase down crew members to reward them. The only exception was when the booking included pre-paid tips such as when you selected the My Time Dining option. This will all change effective March 1, 2013, when Royal Caribbean finally transitions to automatic tipping which really is the ‘new’ normal among mainstream and some premium lines.

Starting March 1, guests will be charged $12 per person/per day ($14.25 for guests in Grand Suite and higher accommodations) which will cover Dining Services Staff, Stateroom Attendants and Other Housekeeping Services Personnel. Note the wording used, which implies the fee covers all dining services and not just the main dining room staff, and similarly it covers all housekeeping personnel and not just your stateroom attendant. In other words, there is no need to pay any cash tips anymore unless you feel some more is warranted. As always, the bar staff still gets their 15% from bar sales.

Cruisereviews applauds this decision since it simplifies what we viewed as a tedious exercise. Our experience, on other cruise lines using automatic tips as well as on Royal Caribbean when using the previous pre-paid gratuity option, is that service has never suffered and the view that the staff won’t work as hard if they know they are getting tipped anyway is unfounded.

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