Effective April 1, Norwegian Cruise Line is hiking the service charge tacked onto final bills by 3.6% to US$13.99 per person, per day for guests staying in most cabins. Passengers in suites will have to pay US$16.99 per person, per day (nearly 10% rise).
With the increase, a family of 4 in a standard cabin will pay US$391.72 in service charges on a typical 7-night cruise.
The hike comes in the wake of recent increases in service charges (also called gratuity charges) at several other major lines including Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess. Holland America and Royal Caribbean now add a US$13.50 per person, per day charge to passenger bills for most cabins. Carnival and Princess levy US$12.95 on most cabins.
Such fees have been growing in recent years at rates many times higher than inflation. As recently as February 2015, Norwegian was adding just US$12 in service charges to passenger bills. With the latest increase, service charges at the line will be up by nearly 17% in just over two years.
Some lines but not Norwegian allow passengers to lower or remove the service charge while on board vessels if they are unhappy with service.