MIAMI - Several
travel agents last week urged Norwegian Cruise Line to add its
daily $10 per-person service charge to the cruise price up front
instead of adding the nonnegotiable fee to customers' onboard
accounts at the end of the cruise.
service charge will replace NCL's automated gratuities charge on
passengers' onboard bills next May; it's already in place on the
line's NCL America ships, including the Pride of Aloha.
between the service charge and the current gratuities charge is
that passengers will not be able to remove the charge - except
under extenuating circumstances.
But some agents
say the mandatory fee is deceptive.
"If you can't
reverse it out of your onboard account, then just charge up front,"
said Kristopher Krenz, at Pak-n-Go Cruises and Tours in Brick, N.J.
"I think it would work in NCL's favor."
Edgar Wood, an
outside agent with Plaza Travel in San Diego, agreed, saying NCL
should "raise the price of the cruise and keep the tipping policy
NCL has said that
including the service charge in the ticket price would make the
sailings look more expensive and, therefore, less
ticket price is nonadjustable, and the service charge could be
adjusted "if we feel the passenger did not get the service [he or
she] deserved and addressed it with us early enough in the cruise,"
In a statement
e-mailed to TravelWeekly.com, NCL said, "We believe it is fair and
equitable that all passengers pay a daily charge for the service
"If the service
is terrible ... then we want to hear about it immediately and have
a chance to rectify the problem. If the passenger prefers not to
tip at all, we do not believe that is fair for the other 95% of the
passengers to be subsidizing that approach," NCL added.
last week were confused about whether the new policy covered tips;
NCL executives said tipping is not expected beyond the $10 fee,
whether it's called a gratuity or a service charge.
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].