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Cozmic206

Service charge and gratuity

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My fiance and I are planning on taking a NCL cruise at the end of June. We noticed we can prepay the service charge but there is still a 20% gratuity added to our room for any bar charges and specialty restaurants. I'm just wondering on average what this bill looks like at the end of the trip. I would like to know how much extra cash we should plan on having for 2 people. Also is it better to tip cash rather then have the gratuities automatically added?

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if you have the drink package and/or the specialty restaurant package as part of the free at sea perk, that 20% covers the required gratuity. you do not need have to tip anything extra. extra tipping is optional

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As the gratuity is 20% of what you spend, it will very much depend on how much you drink (and to a lesser extent how much you spend in the speciality restaurants.

 

If you expect to drink more than a couple of drinks a day then it’s worth picking the beverage package as one of your promo offers. In that case (assuming you are in the US or another country which gets charged it), you will be charged this 20% along with your booking, so there will be nothing added to your account.

 

As for whether it just leave the DSC on your account or to remove it and pay cash, it is up to you. There are many hundreds of endless threads on here full of people arguing the same points over and over. Personally, I would rather just have an easy life and get on with enjoying my holiday, but many people prefer to waste endless hours fretting about all aspects of it.

 

 

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My fiance and I are planning on taking a NCL cruise at the end of June. We noticed we can prepay the service charge but there is still a 20% gratuity added to our room for any bar charges and specialty restaurants. I'm just wondering on average what this bill looks like at the end of the trip. I would like to know how much extra cash we should plan on having for 2 people. Also is it better to tip cash rather then have the gratuities automatically added?

So,,, let's separate two things. There is a Daily Service Charge of $14.50 per day per person that is added to your room bill. You can pre-pay that charge. If there is an issue with the service you receive on the ship, you can request, after the cruise, a refund of a portion of that DSC by contacting customer service.

 

There is also an automatic, non-alterable, 20% gratuity added to any bar bill or specialty dining bill. Many people get the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion so there are no charges on board (you will pay a flat gratuity of 20% of the retail cost of the package at time of booking).

 

Guests may provide additional (above 20%) cash gratuities if you choose.

 

If you pre-pay your Daily Service Charge, get the beverage package promotion (gratuity paid in advance), get the specialty dining promotion (gratuity paid in advance), then you could end up with a zero bill on the ship if you don't charge anything to your room.

 

Everything on the ship is charged to your onboard account. You clear your account with a credit card that you leave at check-in or cash paid in advance.

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So,,, let's separate two things. There is a Daily Service Charge of $14.50 per day per person that is added to your room bill. You can pre-pay that charge. If there is an issue with the service you receive on the ship, you can request, after the cruise, a refund of a portion of that DSC by contacting customer service.

 

There is also an automatic, non-alterable, 20% gratuity added to any bar bill or specialty dining bill. Many people get the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion so there are no charges on board (you will pay a flat gratuity of 20% of the retail cost of the package at time of booking).

 

Guests may provide additional (above 20%) cash gratuities if you choose.

 

If you pre-pay your Daily Service Charge, get the beverage package promotion (gratuity paid in advance), get the specialty dining promotion (gratuity paid in advance), then you could end up with a zero bill on the ship if you don't charge anything to your room.

 

Everything on the ship is charged to your onboard account. You clear your account with a credit card that you leave at check-in or cash paid in advance.

 

This is confusing to me as we did select the free at sea unlimited beverage package and also paid the prepaid service charge however it says the 20% gratuity is not included in the service charge. So you're saying it is? And if we have the unlimited drink package throughout the cruise we will not be charged gratuity?

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This is confusing to me as we did select the free at sea unlimited beverage package and also paid the prepaid service charge however it says the 20% gratuity is not included in the service charge. So you're saying it is? And if we have the unlimited drink package throughout the cruise we will not be charged gratuity?

 

 

 

The service charge on drinks is not optional and can not be done in cash. If you get the UBP with booking the service charge was added to your booking. If you have already paid, then this has been paid. No need to worry about it. If you order anything not included or over the $15 limit, they will add a gratuity onto that. No need for cash for this. It’s automatically added and must be paid via your onboard account. But for included drinks you won’t be charged anything extra.

 

 

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If you chose the UBP, Unlimited Beverage Package, then 20% was added you your cruise fare On your invoice, when booking, there is a Summery of Charges,

Total for guests, selected offers and total of charges.

So, If you chose dinner promo, and or drink promo, 20% of package value is added under service charges.

DSC is separate and added daily pp on room folio. The total for your cruise may be listed and the option to pre-pay that separate charge in on My NCL.

When you pay for you cruise, gratuities for packages are already included. DSC is not.

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The service charge on drinks is not optional and can not be done in cash. If you get the UBP with booking the service charge was added to your booking. If you have already paid, then this has been paid. No need to worry about it. If you order anything not included or over the $15 limit, they will add a gratuity onto that. No need for cash for this. It’s automatically added and must be paid via your onboard account. But for included drinks you won’t be charged anything extra.

 

 

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Thanks! This gives me relief. I was thinking on top of the booking price we would have to dish out a bunch of extra money for gratuity as well. So my next question is, we booked the unlimited beverage package as well as specialty dining package. Aside from on shore excursions and miscellaneous purchases, are there any extra fees I should plan for?

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Thanks! This gives me relief. I was thinking on top of the booking price we would have to dish out a bunch of extra money for gratuity as well. So my next question is, we booked the unlimited beverage package as well as specialty dining package. Aside from on shore excursions and miscellaneous purchases, are there any extra fees I should plan for?

The only thing to watch is that the UDP DOES NOT include the mini bar in the room. So if you drink from it, you'll be charged for the item plus a 20% service charge.

 

BTW...for NCL regulars....is the mini bar stocked when you arrive or only when you ask? ON RCL the fridge is empty and only filled with mini bar items upon request.

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This is confusing to me as we did select the free at sea unlimited beverage package and also paid the prepaid service charge however it says the 20% gratuity is not included in the service charge. So you're saying it is? And if we have the unlimited drink package throughout the cruise we will not be charged gratuity?

 

Here's a breakdown of different charges:

 

  • Cruise fare based upon cabin you selected
  • Port charges and government taxes
  • Cost of Beverage Package plus 20% Gratuity
  • Cost of Specialty Dining Package plus 20% Gratuity
  • Daily Service Charge of $14.50

Now, if you booked during a promotion that includes a freebie, it sounds like you selected the beverage package. While the base price of the beverage package is free with the promotion, the 20% Gratuity associated with the beverage package is not. So this 20% is added to your amount due.

 

 

It doesn't sound like you received the Specialty Dining package as a freebie. You could purchase it in advance and be charged the package price, plus 20% for the gratuity.

 

 

You did mention that you pre-paid the daily service charge. Had you not, it would have appeared on your on-board room account.

 

 

With the UBP, drinks up to $15 are included. Show your card when you order, and you're all set. The staff knows that you've already paid a gratuity when you purchased the package.

 

 

Let's say that you see a $20 glass of wine that you really want to try. The UBP will cover $15 and you will receive a check to sign for $5 plus $1.00 for the 20% Gratuity and Beverage Service Charge.

 

 

What I say next is simply to make you aware of an issue so you can decide what you would like to do. The waitstaff will NOT expect any further gratuity since it's paid. However, if you are on a large ship which may have a large number of passengers with the UDP, you may notice that SOME will give the server and extra cash tip, usually a dollar. That's completely optional but can go a long way if you frequent the same bar regularly and it gets busy.

 

 

If you have viewed your ship's specialty restaurants and think you might want to try two or three, then the specialty dining package may be something to consider. It can be pre-purchased and it's base price will be marked up 20% for the Gratuity and Specialty Dining Service Charge.

 

 

If you visit the spa for a treatment. The cost of the treatment will have a 20% Gratuity and Spa Service Charged added.

 

Hope that helps.

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Here's a breakdown of different charges:

 

  • Cruise fare based upon cabin you selected
  • Port charges and government taxes
  • Cost of Beverage Package plus 20% Gratuity
  • Cost of Specialty Dining Package plus 20% Gratuity
  • Daily Service Charge of $14.50

Now, if you booked during a promotion that includes a freebie, it sounds like you selected the beverage package. While the base price of the beverage package is free with the promotion, the 20% Gratuity associated with the beverage package is not. So this 20% is added to your amount due.

 

 

It doesn't sound like you received the Specialty Dining package as a freebie. You could purchase it in advance and be charged the package price, plus 20% for the gratuity.

 

 

You did mention that you pre-paid the daily service charge. Had you not, it would have appeared on your on-board room account.

 

 

With the UBP, drinks up to $15 are included. Show your card when you order, and you're all set. The staff knows that you've already paid a gratuity when you purchased the package.

 

 

Let's say that you see a $20 glass of wine that you really want to try. The UBP will cover $15 and you will receive a check to sign for $5 plus $1.00 for the 20% Gratuity and Beverage Service Charge.

 

 

What I say next is simply to make you aware of an issue so you can decide what you would like to do. The waitstaff will NOT expect any further gratuity since it's paid. However, if you are on a large ship which may have a large number of passengers with the UDP, you may notice that SOME will give the server and extra cash tip, usually a dollar. That's completely optional but can go a long way if you frequent the same bar regularly and it gets busy.

 

 

If you have viewed your ship's specialty restaurants and think you might want to try two or three, then the specialty dining package may be something to consider. It can be pre-purchased and it's base price will be marked up 20% for the Gratuity and Specialty Dining Service Charge.

 

 

If you visit the spa for a treatment. The cost of the treatment will have a 20% Gratuity and Spa Service Charged added.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Thanks! This was very helpful. We did get both the beverage and specialty dining as part of our 2 free perks. Now I'm super excited knowing that the gratuity is included in our boooinb fee. Thanks to everyone who took time to explain this to me! Last cruise I took was when I was 14 and of course my parents took care of everything so this is a new experience :D:D 😁

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One other thing Cozmic206. If you get any drinks onboard before the ship leaves port, or before it gets into international waters, you will be charged the state tax on the drink. Many times it is less than a dollar per drink, but it is an added charge.

 

You can tell when you are in international waters, it is when the casino opens.

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One other thing Cozmic206. If you get any drinks onboard before the ship leaves port, or before it gets into international waters, you will be charged the state tax on the drink. Many times it is less than a dollar per drink, but it is an added charge.

 

You can tell when you are in international waters, it is when the casino opens.

 

monl765: Good catch!

 

Reminds me of a cruise last year where I had a drink at the bar right outside the main dining room which hadn't quite opened yet on embarkation day.

 

A few days later, when I was reviewing my room account I saw a charge for $74. What???!!! At Guest Services they were able to provide me with a copy of the check which showed my name and room number. But it also said "Not-swiped" and there wasn't a signature. Whew!

 

Cozmic206, Not sure how it happened, but mistakes like that, though rare, are easily corrected if you bring it to their attention. Just periodically check your account, which can be viewed on your cabin TV.

 

Also, if you're on a mega-ship, show reservations can be critical. I got shut out of one the the two shows, as it was sold out. I learned after the fact that I could have arrived as a "stand-by" and probably gotten a seat. But if you like to schedule and structure your itinerary, then make them in advance.

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Cozmic-

I like to pay a little bit on my NCL account in each week leading up to our cruise, including prepaying DSC, any ship excursions booked (rarely), spa (once), and specialty dining above/beyond promo package. That way when I disembark last day, I have a $0 balance due.

Also, I usually pre-purchase OBC=on board credit --> prior to embarkation day. My room account actually begins with a credit balance for incidentals (photos, room service, gift shop, classes, etc.). They mail you a check if you don't spend all your (refundable) OBC and disembark with a credit balance .

If you do your research carefully (as you are now), there will be no surprises.

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This is confusing to me as we did select the free at sea unlimited beverage package and also paid the prepaid service charge however it says the 20% gratuity is not included in the service charge. So you're saying it is? And if we have the unlimited drink package throughout the cruise we will not be charged gratuity?

ok, I know it can be complicated but just look at it this way. If you have the unlimited drink package and the dining package all your gratuities and your DSC will be charged before you even get on the ship. The bar tip charge is a flat amount regardless if you have 3 drinks a day or 30. It is like an AI resort. You will only pay for things on the ship you choose to pay for, like excursions, spa treatments, gambling etc.

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The only thing to watch is that the UDP DOES NOT include the mini bar in the room. So if you drink from it, you'll be charged for the item plus a 20% service charge.

 

BTW...for NCL regulars....is the mini bar stocked when you arrive or only when you ask? ON RCL the fridge is empty and only filled with mini bar items upon request.

The mini bar is fully stocked on embarkation. No RCL-like request form.

 

This is only partially correct.

 

UDP is the Ultimate DINING plan. The UBP is BEVERAGE.

 

The UBP does not include Ice Bars, room service, package sales, bottled water, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated super premium brands (subject to change), bottled wine, mini bar purchases, fresh squeezed juices, Lavazza coffee beverages, wine dispenser, energy drinks or vending machines.

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