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Celebrity Cruises removes gratuities from inclusive package and makes changes to Retreat

30 Aug 2023
Allie Hubers

Celebrity Cruises is making a significant change to its inclusive cruise package.


Celebrity Cruises announced upcoming changes to its popular All Included pricing packages. The cruise line also announced further pricing changes to guests booking suites in The Retreat, along with new booking options for AquaClass staterooms. Finally, changes were also announced for group bookings made with Celebrity Cruises. 

Starting in October 2023, Celebrity Cruises will eliminate prepaid gratuities from its All Included pricing packages.

Previously, the All Included packages included the Classic Drink Package, Basic Wi-Fi and prepaid gratuities. This change will go into effect for new bookings starting on October 4, 2023. 

Celebrity Cruise logo

Similar changes will go into effect for guests booking suites in suites-only area, The Retreat. The cruise line announced plans to remove not only gratuities, but also the onboard credit amenity for Retreat guests.

Additionally, changes were also announced by the cruise line for guests planning to book AquaClass staterooms. Guests no longer need to book All Included packages for AquaClass staterooms. Instead, AquaClass staterooms can be booked with a cruise only fare.

Finally, Celebrity announced changes to unnamed group bookings, which will now be priced using the All Included package and only include Basic Wi-Fi and Classic Drink Package. 

These changes come during a time where many cruise lines are reevaluating onboard benefits, cruise prices and amenities offered. 

All Included Removes Gratuities

The biggest change announced by Celebrity Cruises was the removal of prepaid gratuities from its inclusive packages. The cruise line announced that guests will now only receive two amenities for All Included packages: the Classic Drink Package and Basic Wi-Fi.

A similar change was also confirmed for suite guests staying in The Retreat. Celebrity Cruises announced in its press release that suite guests will now only receive Premium Wi-Fi and the Premium Drink Package in their package pricing. 

In discussion the change, Celebrity Cruises states that All Included will continue to offer these as the "most popular" amenities of the package. 

Celebrity Logo

For guests booking the All Included package with Celebrity Cruises, prepaid gratuities was previously included as one of the major benefits of booking the inclusive package. Retreat guests also received prepaid gratuities as an enhanced amenity of booking a suite. 

This means that gratuities will be charged separately for all guests, even those who choose to book an All Included package or suite in The Retreat. 

However, Celebrity Cruises confirms that guests will still receive significant savings with the updated pricing structure for All Included packages. The cruise line shared in its announcement that guests can save anywhere from $200 to $800 per person when compared to onboard prices for these amenities. 

It’s important to note that onboard prices are almost always inflated compared to pre-purchasing the same amenities. Therefore, clarifying that guests will save $200 to $800 in comparison to onboard prices is interesting. The savings from the All Included package would be more worthwhile when compared to the cruise only fare with drinks and internet added al-a-carte, which we breakdown later in the article. 

Gratuities can be prepaid or charged onboard daily for reservations made with All Included. The current daily gratuity rate for Inside, Ocean View, Veranda staterooms is $18.00. Concierge Class and AquaClass staterooms are charged $18.50 per day for each guest. Those saying in The Retreat will need to pay $23.00 per person, per day for all guests staying in the retreat. These gratuity rates were increased earlier this year from previous rates. 

For instance, a 7-night sailing will cost two guests anywhere from $252 to $322 for their sailing, based on stateroom category.

Onboard Credit Removed for Retreat Guests

The Retreat is a luxurious, premium suite experience offered on Celebrity’s cruise ships. The Retreat is considered an exclusive amenity with high-end accommodations, unparalleled service, lounge access, private sundecks, concierges, butlers and more. 

With Celebrity’s recently announced changes to their pricing structure, guests will no longer receive complimentary onboard credit when booking suites in The Retreat.

Previously, cruise fares for The Retreat included premium drinks, premium internet, prepaid gratuities and onboard credit for each guest. This onboard credit for Retreat guests is currently advertised as “Enjoy an onboard credit to spend any way you like. Maybe a spa treatment? Your choice".

The onboard credit for guests staying in The Retreat varied by length of sailing, but started at $100 per person for short itineraries and increased to $400 per person for 10+ night sailings. Essentially, this onboard credit used to equate to thousands of dollars in onboard credit for guests splurging to stay in The Retreat.  

Unfortunately, this is a double whammy for Retreat guests, which are also losing prepaid gratuities as part of the suite pricing. Now, Retreat guests will only receive Premium Drink Package and Premium Wi-Fi package. 

AquaClass Reservation Changes

One of Celebrity’s most popular stateroom offerings is its wellness-focused AquaClass cabins. These wellness-enhanced cabins receive upgraded amenities, such as exclusive access to the Blu restaurant and thermal suite. Guests also receive a spa concierge, complimentary fitness pass, in-room bottled water service each day, healthy options for room service and a yoga mat to use daily. 

Along with other previously announced changes, Celebrity has announced that AquaClass staterooms will soon be available to book with a cruise only fare. 

Previously, there was no option for guests to book an AquaClass cabin with a cruise only fare. Guests who book AquaClass staterooms were required to book the All Included pricing package when making a reservation, which included the aforementioned internet, drinks and tips.

Now, guests can opt to book an AquaClass cabin with a cruise only fare. It should be noted that guests will still have the option to book the All Included package with its new pricing structure, including only the Classic Drink Package and Basic Wi-Fi. 

This can be perceived as a more positive change, as it allows guests to still receive the benefits of an AquaClass cabin without being automatically up-charged for the All Included pricing. For instance, if an AquaClass guest only needs an internet package and wants to forgo the cost of a drink package, the cruise only fare could be a better option. This guest could book the cruise only fare for AquaClass and simply purchase internet separately, which saves money in the end. 

In general, this change also appears to align better with the goals of the wellness-focused AquaClass stateroom category. According to Celebrity Cruises, wellness is fundamental to the cruise line’s philosophy, which is at the heart of the AquaClass stateroom category. Therefore, forcing some health-conscious guests to book a drink package (one that might not be wanted or even used) does not seem to align with the goals of AquaClass staterooms. Giving the option to book cruise only fares appears to provide more flexibility for guests booking their cruise vacation. 

Group booking changes

travel agent

One final change announced by Celebrity Cruises involves unnamed group bookings, which mainly impacts travel agents and guests who book with travel agents. 

Starting on October 4, 2023, the cruise line states that newly created groups will include the updated All Included offerings of the most popular amenities: the Classic Drink Package and Basic Wi-Fi. 

Celebrity Cruises announced that until October 31, 2023, existing groups will be eligible for the original three amenities (Drinks, Wi-Fi and Tips) provided that the space within the existing group is named by October 31, 2023. 

Starting November 1, 2023 and onward, the cruise line states that existing unnamed groups will be converted to Celebrity’s newly-announced All Included package, which only includes the Classic Drink Package and Basic Wi-Fi. 

Celebrity Cruises states that existing named groups will keep their current pricing and amenities. Effectively, travel agents can continue to sell group space onboard Celebrity Cruises, but gratuities will now be taken out of those bookings made after October 4, 2023. 

How much does All Included save now?

Removal of the gratuities from All Included is the biggest change from Celebrity' recent announcement. The inclusive package approach from the cruise line is one way that premium-line Celebrity differentiates itself from sister-brand Royal Caribbean. Guests who plan to pay for internet and drinks during their Celebrity cruise can currently save hundreds of dollars when booking the All Included package.

For example, I have a 7-night Norway Fjord sailing for June 2023 onboard Celebrity Apex. We booked this as a cruise only fare in a Deluxe Veranda stateroom, but we currently have the option to add drinks, prepaid gratuities and Internet in the cruise planner. 

I did a mock booking for the same stateroom category onboard this exact sailing to compare the All Included price to a cruise only fare with drinks and internet added a-la-carte. The cruise only fare totaled $4,691 while the All Included total for the same stateroom was $6,026. This is a difference of $1,335 and currently includes the Classic Drink Package, Basic Internet and prepaid gratuities. 

In the cruise planner, I can book the Classic Drink Package for $993 and internet for two devices at $653 while the prepaid gratuity total was $252. When purchasing these amenities a-la-carte, the total is $1,898. 

Therefore, by purchasing the All Included package, the current savings would be $563 for my sailing. However, this is only worthwhile if you actually plan to purchase the same package for internet and drinks. Since we receive Elite benefits with happy hour each evening, we have decided we do not need the drinks package. As such, it did not make sense for us to book the All Included price.

But, this is still significant savings compared to booking the cruise only rate and purchasing drinks and internet a-la-carte.

I will be interested to see how the pricing changes in October for my sailing; most importantly, will the All Included price drop since gratuities are no longer included? My intuition says no, but I am eager to track the pricing once the changes go into effect. 

Allie Hubers has been cruising since she was a tiny toddler. What started as a yearly vacation with family quickly turned into a passion for travel, cruising and adventure. Allie's been on nearly 30 cruises all over the world. She even studied abroad on Semester at Sea, sailing the world on a ship while taking courses for college and visiting 4 continents.

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