On today’s cruise ships, added fees are appearing in venues where nary an extra nickel or dime was once extracted. Bars serve up-charge sliders. Buffets levy nominal fees for fondue and crab. A public (cruise ship) lawn turns into pricey village green. Even waiting in line has gotten more expensive. (Base cruise fares, as readers frequently point out, have not.)
It’s not just cruising, of course. The travel industry has gone a la carte.
A prime example of the new normal: Regular Cruise Critic contributor and publisher of Cruise Business Review, Teijo Niemela, sent us the above pic of Jewel of the Seas‘ main dining room menu. The menu suggests passengers celebrate their cravings by purchasing a $15 filet or $37.50 surf ‘n’ turf. Now, these options aren’t new. Royal’s MDR’s have offered a la carte steaks since 2008. But a few months ago, surf joined turf, and more recently, prices were hiked.
(Note: A fee-free surf ‘n’ turf variant — petit filet and baked jumbo shrimp — does still appear on Royal’s MDR menu.)
We’re not sure why a 15 percent auto-gratuity is attached to a main dining room food item — does the waiter bow and wave enthusiastically while shouting “bon appetit!” for those who order the up-charge option? That auto-tax is typically reserved for cocktails. We’ve asked Royal Caribbean for clarification.
Given cruise lines’ penchant for flattering one another, few would be surprised to see other lines adding extra cost specialty items to MDRs, those long-time bastions of “free” food.
Is that kosher? What do you think of the bevvy of new for-fee options in main dining rooms, buffets and bars? Do they represent intriguing new options — emphasis on optional — or are they a sign of something more worrying? Weigh in below.
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