Norwegian Cruise Line Sharply Raises Service Charges Again (Up to 25%)
For the second time in less than a year, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is increasing the cost of its onboard service charges (known by many as the daily gratuity). The new price increase takes effect starting January 2023. For many passengers, the price increase will be substantial.
In an update to NCL’s Frequently Asked Questions page, the cruise line now says starting January 1, 2023, daily service charges will move to:
- $25 per person, per day for those in The Haven and suites
- $20 per person, per day for Club Balcony Suites and other cabins
That represents a major increase over current rates, which were first put into place April 1, 2022. The current rates are set at:
- $20 per person, per day for those in The Haven and suites
- $18 per person, per day for those in Club Balcony Suites
- $16 per person, per day for all other cabins.
The cruise line does say that bookings made before 2023 that also pre-pay gratuities can still lock in the lower current prices.
You can see the change on the NCL website:
So how much more will some people pay? Take a couple traveling in a typical balcony stateroom. Currently, they would pay $16 per person each day in gratuities. A 7-day cruise would come out to $224 in service charges between them.
But after this increase, the new charge for that same room would be $20 per person each day. For the exact same cruise, they’d now see gratuity charges of $280 in total. That’s an increase of $56 or 25%.
While gratuity increases are common in cruising, they usually happen only occasionally. Having two bumps in one year is notable. As well, the increases are usually for smaller amounts of $1 or less. A move from $16 per day to $20 per day for most cabins pushes NCL’s daily charge to one of the highest in the industry.
For example, Royal Caribbean charges $16 per person, per day for most cabins on its ships. Carnival charges $14.50 per person, per day for most staterooms.
A Year of Price Moves From NCL
This bump in gratuities follows a number of recent changes from NCL that have led to higher costs for passengers. In October, it removed its “Corks & Caps” drink package from its website listing. This package was a lower-priced option that included only beer and wine.
And in September the cruise line increased the cost of its drink packages by $10 per person, per day to some of the highest rates in the industry. The basic drink package now starts at $109 per day if not bought as part of the line’s “Free at Sea” offer.
For NCL fans, the price of sailing looks to keep creeping higher.