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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America to Charge More for Tips

Do the waiters and cabin attendants on Norwegian Cruise Line ships deserve a 20% bigger tip?

Norwegian seems to think so. We have learned the mass-market line plans to raise the daily service charge it bills to passenger accounts from $10 to $12 per person, effective Jan. 1, 2009.

Word of the hike comes as another cruise line, Holland America, also prepares to increase its daily service charge, though by a more modest amount. Holland America spokesman Erik Elvejord says the rumors about a coming increase are true, and the line plans to raise its daily service charge from $10 to $11 per person, effective Oct. 1.

Norwegian's biggest rival, Carnival Cruise Lines, imposes a service charge of $10 per person, per day, and Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen tells USA TODAY he doesn't know of any plans to change it. Royal Caribbean's suggested gratuities (which passengers can prepay before they travel or hand out to crewmembers on board) are at $9.75 per person, per day for regular cabins ($12 for suites).

Princess Cruises raised its daily service charge earlier this year from $10 to $10.50 per person for regular cabins (from $10 to $11 for suites). Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson says the line doesn't have any plans for a further increase.

While the 20% hike in service charges at Norwegian Cruise Line seems steep, Norwegian spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews notes that the line hasn't raised its service charge since it introduced Freestyle Cruising in 2000.

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