(2:35 p.m. EST) -- Effective this month, Norwegian Cruise Lines has raised the gratuity on its drinks and specialty dining packages.
Previously, passengers paid an automatic gratuity of 18 percent on the Ultimate Beverage and Specialty Dining packages. The new gratuity, effective December 1, is 20 percent. These gratuities are added automatically to your bill, even if you are getting the packages as a value-added perk.
The raise in gratuity comes after Norwegian raised its Ultimate Beverage Package price in October nearly 13 percent. The cost of drinks is now well over $100 per person per day, at US$106.80. The package includes unlimited fountain soda, spirits, draft and bottled beer, wines by the glass and cocktails up to US$15, plus a 20 percent discount on bottles of wine (bottled water and specialty coffee drinks are not included).
The Specialty Dining package allows diners to eat outside the main dining room for free on a varying amount of nights during a weeklong cruise. With the gratuity increase, a three-meal package will work out to US$82.80 per person (if bought online in advance; prices can be more when bought onboard).
On Cruise Critic forums, members debated the changes. "Wasn't that long ago when it was just 15 percent...and then only on bar service," said SeaShark. Noted CI66774: "20% tip is pretty customary these days unless the service was sub par."
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor