Cruise Ship Room Service: An Update on What's Free & What's Not

by  Donna Tunney | Apr 24, 2015
Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises

For a lot of travelers, few things are as indulgent as ordering room service. Getting our favorite foods catered to us as we lounge about practically shouts "I'm on vacation!" and it's a luxury that we're used to paying small markups for. But did you know that on cruises, room service is largely free for all meals? A gratuity for the crew member who delivers the meal is suggested (though optional), of course, otherwise you only may have to pay additional when ordering during late-night hours.

That said, two major cruise lines have recently changed their room service policies. Here's the scoop:

Norwegian Cruise Line  previously offered free room delivery from 5 a.m. till midnight. Between midnight and 5 a.m., guests are charged $3.95, unless they're staying in the Haven luxury area. Now, the cruise line is testing an expanded 24/7 menu for its newest ships, the Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway , which are now charging $4.95 and $7.95 respectively per food order. The enhanced menu includes a larger selection overall, including breakfast items, though the line says that select individual items remain complimentary.

Days after Norwegian changed its policy, Carnival Cruise Line rolled out its own pilot program featuring new, premium room service items like sushi, chicken wings, and personal pizzas -- and began charging between $4 and $7, depending on the item. But Carnival, too, is maintaining several free items, such as hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The program began earlier this month aboard the Carnival Imagination, Carnival Conquest, and Carnival Pride, and passenger feedback will determine whether it expands to other ships. (While Norwegian hasn't explicitly said so, we expect this is the case for them, too.)

Meanwhile, competitor Royal Caribbean International is experimenting with fees on a limited range of foods, mostly from the menu at line's popular Michael's Genuine Pub. But the vast majority of Royal's room service menu items are still free for deliveries between 5 a.m. and midnight. After midnight, cruisers pay $3.95 per order, per a longstanding policy for this line.

Higher end cruise lines continue to provide complimentary room service meals 24 hours a day. These include Holland America Line, Celebrity, Princess, Disney, Silversea Cruises, Cunard, and Seabourn.

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