Are Cruise Lines Stepping Over The Line?

Posted on Posted in Travel News

If you are considering a career with a cruise line, you’re in good company. Cruise ship traffic continues to rise and employment opportunities remain quite good. Even in these days of economic turmoil so many people want a respite from their troubles and daily grind; a six-day cruise is one way they are finding temporary relief.

From the customer’s standpoint, taking a cruise isn’t always smooth sailing. Even the most opulent cruise line can run into problems with passengers getting sick or a trip cancelled due to bad weather. Some problems cannot be prevented, but a curious industry trend can be. What do I mean by this? It is those extra fees passengers sometimes incur when taking a cruise. Yes, an ugly trend is emerging in the cruise industry — charge your passengers various fees on top of their regular charges. Why would this concern you, the cruise line employee? Well, for one good reason: you could be in the firing line of a disgruntled passenger who wants you to explain their padded bill.

Thanks to an article appearing in the Kansas City Star (reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle) I have learned that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has a habit of padding customer’s bills. According to the article, extra fees including a daily $10 “service charge” is added to each bill, an amount that cannot be removed. Although the fee is used as way to tip employees, the cruise line passenger has no way of controlling disbursement. This means that if the person who turned your sheets daily did a good job, but the person serving your food has done a poor job, everyone shares equally. I’m not saying that tipping isn’t important, but if you read the article closely you will see that a “non-mandatory” fee is now mandatory. Besides, why should the person doing a good job get the same tip as the one who isn’t?

NCL isn’t the only cruise line tacking on fees. Princess, MCS Cruises, Carnival, Holland America, Cunard, and Costa Cruises all add on daily fees with Disney, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity leaving these fees up to the passengers. While it may sound like a good idea to ensure that cruise line help get their tips, there isn’t a guarantee that the monies will flow directly to the employees. In fact, in cases where a 15% bar fee is added to the bill, many bartenders are reporting that they never see any of that money.

Passengers shouldn’t be surprised that other fees are routinely added including fuel surcharges to cover the cost of higher fuel prices and mooring at foreign ports. Worse, many of the fees are per day and per person, extending even down to an infant whose food allotment would be brought onboard by the parents and whose use of most any other onboard services would be neglible.

So, are you still interested in a cruise line opportunity? Don’t let my fee revelation deter you, but please understand that some of the practices of your employer can leave a sour taste in the mouths of passengers. As long as you aren’t on the receiving end of someone’s wrath, then working on a cruise ship needn’t be an unpleasant experience.

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