The entire gratuity per diem is starting to cause me concern about the damage to cruising that they may ultimately cause. The trend across all of the popular lines of late has been to hike the gratuity fee to offset labor costs. Keeping wages where they are helps keep the base cost of a cruise within reach of most middle-class families. But, continuously raising the gratuity levy as a way to improve crew compensation is simply burying the real cost of the cruise in a rather deceptive manner.
Yep, I get it.
Cruise lines must remain competitively priced because the number of vacation options available to consumers is continually expanding (including non-cruise vacations). But the problem is, this practice adds another couple hundred dollars to the final bill (per stateroom). I can't help but think that there are more than a few people who will take the one-and-done approach to cruise vacations because of the actual sticker shock of the final bill.
This hike in gratuities also impacts the type of cabin one decides to book. The cabin class of mini suite is becoming a less attractive option. When we take longer cruises, the mini suite has been great. We spend more time in our cabin than in years past and mini suites give just enough extra room to not feel so hemmed in. On PCL, these cabins are not considered actual suites and occupants do not enjoy any of the advertised perks associated with booking a full suite. The problem is, the gratuity amount charged to these cabins is set at the suite rate. It's rather sneaky of PCL, an example of having-their-cake-and-eating-it-too mentality. In any event, as gratuity levies continue to rise, we have begun factoring that amount into our decision and hope that others do the same. On our last cruise, the OBC we had served to offset the gratuity levy. If the cruise lines think OBC is going to toward more extravagant onboard purchases/spending, they have another thing coming. It's really turning into a shell game of sorts.