The cruise industry has been expanding rapidly in recent years, offering a whole host of cruise opportunities. While there is something for everyone, a luxury experience tends to remain the central theme for most cruises.
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It’s no surprise, then, that many holidaymakers spend months, if not years, saving up for their dream escape.
However, it seems that even once the holiday bill has been paid, passengers could have yet more cash deducted from their accounts.
In fact, cruise experts estimate cruisers could be seeing anywhere between £9 ($12 USD) and £11 ($14 USD) charged to their accounts every day, but why is this?
Well, it comes in the form of cruise gratuities.
According to cruise experts and Youtube creators Ben and David, these are a necessary cost which benefits the hardworking crew.
In a recent Youtube video, Ben explains: “Gratuities is an automatic tip or what we would say is a service charge that’s charged to your account every single day.
“So it’s a set fee per person per day that is automatically added to your account.
“In addition to the automatic daily charges, you’ll find an 18 to 20 percent gratuity on things like drinks packages, meal packages, speciality restaurants, the spa or if you buy drinks without a drinks package you’ll pay that gratuity per drink.”
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Unlike regular tips, these fees are automatically deducted from your account.
David adds: “On average gratuity costs around $14 US per person per day but this can vary depending on the cruise line and the type of cabin that you’re in.
“Somewhere between $12 and $14 per person. Suites and cabins above the suite category are usually more expensive than a regular balcony cabin.
“But as you can imagine this can add up, particularly if you are a family. Say you are a family of four with two adults and two children, that’s going to cost you around $500 for a week’s cruise.”
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As you might expect, many budget-conscious cruisers aren’t too keen on having this money come out of their accounts, especially if they don’t know where the money is going.
Although some cruise lines make it their duty to inform passengers exactly how gratuities are broken down, it remains a grey area for others.
David explains: “Each cruise line differs in this respect but its usually split between the crew. Things like room attendants, dining staff, wait staff and people behind the scenes.
“Dining staff usually get the biggest chunk of this, but there are some grey areas around this because we don’t know whether or not cruise lines take a cut of this so we don’t know exactly what proportion is going to each person and how much the cruise line, if any, are taking off the tip.
“But the crew work incredibly hard with ridiculous hours.
“You’re talking 15+ hours a day, barely any breaks, seven days a week for months on end and cruise passengers are really demanding so it is a really tough job to be crew on a ship.”
It is also thought that gratuities can actually make up wages which are traditionally low on some cruise lines or for some workers.
Cruise Critic explains: “Most cruise lines are based in the US, where the crew members’ pay structure is based on tips – whether you like it or not.
“If you refuse to tip on principle, you are impacting the salaries of the people who have served you well onboard.”
This is why the cruise experts say passengers should not remove gratuities, even if they have a negative experience on board.
Instead, they recommend speaking up about a negative experience and allowing the cruise staff to make up for any bad service.
“At least give them the opportunity to make it back up to you and have your voice heard as well,” says David.
“By just removing your tip you’re not actually saying there’s an issue and that means they can’t resolve it for future cruises as well.”
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