Cruise Ship Gratuities Increase by 70%. What about the crew members salaries?

Dec 25, 2017

Royal Caribbean has announced its annual raise of automatic gratuities for the crew. Starting January 2, 2018, guests in regular staterooms will pay a $14.50 per guest per day service charge and $17.50 for guests in Grand Suite and above. That is one dollar raise from the previous service charge, which means one dollar extra for the crew. That is one dollar extra for the crew in theory. Reality is something different. I did some research on the internet and made a spreadsheet of Royal Caribbean gratuities rise by year and found out that they have increased the amount drastically in the past seven years. According to the spreadsheet of guests gratuities, the salaries of the crew members working in Housekeeping and Restaurant staff have increased by almost 70% since 2010. But this is not the case.

Royal Caribbean gratuities
year Regular staterooms Suites
2010 $9.75 $9.75
July 1, 2011 $11.65 $11.65
2012 $11.65 $11.65
March 1, 2013 $12.00 $14.25
2014 $12.00 $14.25
July 1, 2015 $12.95 $15.95
May 01, 2016 $13.50 $16.50
December 22, 2017 $14.50 $17.50

Why doesn’t the increase of the gratuities reflect on the crew paychecks?

Back in 2012 cruise lines decided to change the spread of gratuities and instead of dividing the amount between the waiter, assistant waiter, housekeeper and assistant housekeeper, they added other crew in the gratuities policy. Previously these other crew members were paid by the company, not from the guest's gratuities. Now I have to mention that not only Royal Caribbean but all the major cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines etc. have raised the gratuities and adapted the new model of gratuities.

To make matters more complicated they made payment model which depends on crew comments sales and other performances which all reflects of the final payment of each crew member. If you ask any crewmember working in the housekeeping or dining room they will tell you that they made more money prior to 2012. Now they say the money they earn is less. So why is that? Someone will say they take the money from the crew to build new ships but this is only speculation. The fact is that they simply included all the crew from Housekeeping, F&B Department and Hotel Department with the guests’ gratuities.