Rocking the Boat: Carnival Cruise Line Sinks to Pocketing a Portion of Increased Automatic Gratuities Meant for Employees

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Next time you’re on a Carnival cruise, you’ll see an automatic 18% gratuity charge added to your drink tab for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, all beverage packages, and all a la carte dining.  This is another reason to be sure you check out Costco Travel cruise deals to see if you can save money on your booking! 

In the past, Carnival automatically added a 15% gratuity charge onto bar tabs, but they are upping it 3%, effective immediately.  The increase applies to all-inclusive packages, as well as all individual purchases.

Here’s the problem – the 3% increase will be split 50/50 with half going into a pool to fund Carnival employee expenses, such as uniforms for the staff and employee benefit programs and the other half will go to the the Carnival employee.  It’s disappointing that Carnival will recoup a general company expense (like employee uniforms) by passing it through as a gratuity. 

Effective Immediately, You’ll Pay an Automatic 18% Gratuity on All Beverages While Onboard a Carnival Cruise Ship.

Keep in mind, other cruise companies, including Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean also charge 18% gratuities.  However, it’s not clear if other companies also keep a portion of the tips in a company slush fund instead of paying it out to hard working staff.  

Will this change impact your decision to cruise with Carnival?  Let us know in the comments below!

Million Mile Secrets is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Patricia Hudson
1 year ago

Hopefully if we have already paid for our cruise it doesn’t apply to our trip

Keith
Reply to  Patricia Hudson
1 year ago

Hi Patricia – I have a friend sailing on a Carnival cruise right now and I asked her to check her bill. I’ll let you know! Although, I have a feeling it would be hard for them to charge some folks 15% and others 18%.

Josh Waitzman
1 year ago

This is complete $&@^$*(%(@; article!! I assure you as a 15 year Carnival employee, senior officer and current office associate that these claims are FALSE and every cent goes to the amazing crew that wholeheartedly deserve them. I challenge you to find any credible evidence of this ridiculousness.

Keith
Reply to  Josh Waitzman
1 year ago

Hi Josh – thank you for commenting. This has been widely reported on cruise websites with a picture of the direct letter sent to employees. If you’d like to send me an official letter from Carnival to Keith at millionmilesecrets dot com, I’d be happy to update or run a new post. Thanks!

Gary
1 year ago

I’m not sailing on Carnival until the staff get the full 18% that they well deserve.

Les
1 year ago

Hello….Viking Cruises? New customer here…

Greg
1 year ago

I will not cruise again with carnival until they reverse this policy.

Stuart Falk
1 year ago

Did you have the courtesy to ask a representative of Carnival Corp. to comment on this before you posted it? (Agree, though, that Costco Travel is all too often overlooked as due to the fact that their travel advisors are Costco employees with full benefits, rather than other agents working on commissions, in addition to offering good perks for their clients, their advice is more unbiased and not influenced by commission incentives offered by the cruise lines. (I only wish Costco added more small ship cruise lines to their offerings).

Keith
Reply to  Stuart Falk
1 year ago

Hi Stuart – we read the letter issued by a Carnival Senior Vice President direct to employees, which describes the increase and how the funds will be allocated.

Sam Witten
1 year ago

I’ve given up on cruises all inclusive is the way to go. Carnival seems to be nickle and dimeing,there guest with there drink packages,now they want to RIP off there on employees. What next? Time share the drinks?

Keith
Reply to  Sam Witten
1 year ago

Haven’t been on a cruise in a few years, but I think changes like this are disappointing to see for sure.

Ernest Littles
1 year ago

It’s so disgusting. They would increase gratuities 3%. Really, I’ve been on many cruises., and lately there becoming boring. My last 2 vacations were in Mexico, all inclusive excellent drinks, and much cheaper. Plus carnivals entertainment sucks.

Keith
Reply to  Ernest Littles
1 year ago

Yes, this is definitely a disappointing change. Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

All-Purpose Guru
1 year ago

Do Carnival employees have to purchase their own uniforms and such? If this “slush fund” is intended to defray normal employee costs it changes the character of what Carnival is trying to do substantially.

Also, if you pay your tips the “old fashioned way”, with good ol’ money, does Carnival skim off the top of that, too? In that case, they’d actually have to *ask* the employee to make a contribution– which they might actually *do*, I’ve seen other places have a voluntary contribution fund for exactly this reason.

Keith
Reply to  All-Purpose Guru
1 year ago

Apparently, employees get “free” uniforms. However, the letter issued to employees describing the increase in gratuities says 1.5% of the increase will go toward a fund that is used to pay for employee uniforms. Therefore, I wouldn’t really consider them free.