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Royal Caribbean raises tipping guidelines

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
Royal Caribbean says the revised tipping guidelines are more in line with those of its competitors.
Royal Caribbean says the revised tipping guidelines are more in line with those of its competitors.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Royal Caribbean raises suggested daily tipping amounts for waiters, housekeeping staff
  • Revised guidelines apply to new reservations made for sailings on or after July 1
  • Company says revised suggestions are its first gratuity adjustment in 13 years
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(CNN) -- You might want to budget a little bit more for your next Royal Caribbean vacation.

The cruise line announced Thursday that it is raising its suggested daily tipping amounts for waiters and housekeeping staff.

"This is Royal Caribbean's first gratuity adjustment in 13 years, and puts our suggestions in line with our competitors," the company said in a statement.

The revised guidelines apply to new reservations made for sailings on or after July 1.

Royal Caribbean currently recommends that each guest tip a waiter $3.50 per day, but that amount would go up to $3.75 under the new guidelines: a 7 percent raise.

The current $3.50 per day per guest tipping recommendation for housekeeping staff goes up to $5 under the new guidelines: a 42 percent raise.

There are also recommendations for assistant waiters, head waiters and suite housekeeping staff.

As always, Royal Caribbean says, tipping is "voluntary and at the discretion of each guest." (The company does automatically add a 15 percent gratuity to a passenger's bar bill or wine check when they are served.)

Reaction to the changes was mixed on CruiseCritic.com.

"It's the first increase in 13 years. Personally I don't see a problem. We usually give more when warranted," one poster wrote.

But another member who said she always pays the suggested tipping amount urged Royal Caribbean to step up and pay its employees more.

"If they want to give them a raise, give them a raise and pass it on to us in the price of the cruise. That's fine. But raising the 'suggested' tipping amount? Come on," the poster wrote.

Cruise lines have varied approaches to tipping.

Carnival, for example, automatically charges guests' accounts with tips for dining and stateroom staff, a total of $10 a day per passenger. At their discretion, travelers can adjust the gratuities while on board, but tips are considered undisputed after they disembark the ship, Carnival says on its website.

Norwegian Cruise Line says staff members "are permitted to accept cash gratuities entirely at the discretion of our guests." But it also bills each passenger (except those younger than 3) a $12 per day service charge, which supports staff "salary and incentive programs."

In addition, the company recommends a 15 percent gratuity for guests buying bar drinks and an 18 percent gratuity for passengers purchasing spa treatments.