One of Britain’s largest cruise lines will raise stipulated gratuity by 17% next month. Travelers on a 2-week cruise will be billed for almost GBP 100 per person, unless they ask for the service charge to be removed.
P&O Cruises wrote to passengers booked for sailings departing March 23 onwards to say they had recently made a small change to their Service Reward Programme and the amount changes for each passenger (over 12 years of age) to GBP 7 per day.
The charge increases by GBP 1 from the current GBP 6.
Many cruise companies apply gratuities or service charges to guests’ onboard accounts. However, such fees must be optional in order not to infringe UK pricing rules.
The only indication in the letter of P&O Cruises that the charge isn't mandatory is the sentence:
“If you wish to vary the amount or let us know about the service please contact reception onboard.”
According to a spokesperson for the cruise line, the service charge was reviewed periodically and was given directly to reward the cabin stewards, waiters and other staff onboard for the service they provide to passengers.
“It is a discretionary charge.”