In a significant change to its cruise fare structure, sailings departing from Australia and New Zealand on Royal Caribbean and its premium sister brand Celebrity Cruises will from early next year have gratuities for stateroom / suite attendants and dining room wait staff built into the fare paid by guests.
The move sees the company adapt to the lack of tipping culture in Australia and New Zealand with the move taking effect for new bookings made from 12 December 2016, for cruises sailing from 15 January 2017 and thereafter. The cruise brands say guests will see no change to the currently published cruise prices at any point of sale, from its website, advertising and call centre.
The change will also apply for bookings made from this date through external retailers such as travel agents and other booking companies.
Travellers will still be able to reward their stateroom attendants and dining staff with additional tips for superior service at their own discretion. The pricing change applies only to gratuities, with other onboard purchases such as drinks, spa treatments, in-room and other specialty dining, shore excursions, casino expenses and other items bought during the cruise remaining optional and charged to passenger accounts as normal.
For Celebrity Cruises specifically, the change to the pricing structure means prepaid gratuities will no longer be an option for guests to select as part of its ‘Go Big, Go Better, Go Best’ tiered fare system.
The line has not indicated whether it will replace this option with something else in order to retain four perks for applicable guests to choose from. The other three options are USD$150 onboard credit, a Classic or Premium Beverage Package for two or free internet for two.