Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced an increase to its service charge it levies on each passenger – for the second time in five months.

In March it raised the charge from $12 (£7.70) per person per day to $12.95 (£8.30) per person per day, with suite guests charged $14.95 (£9.60) per person per day. This increase was the first made since 2009.

Just five months later and effective from 1 August the cruise line is hiking the charges once again. Most guests will now be expected to pay $13.50 (£8.60) per person per day while suite guests will be expected to pay $15.50 (£9.90) per person per day.

This news comes soon after NCL announced it was changing the pricing model of some speciality restaurants from a cover charge to à la carte, potentially increasing costs for many diners. In April the line also announced that room service on-board Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway for guests other than those in Haven or Suite grade accommodation would incur a convenience charge of up to $7.95 (£5.10) per order. Understandably, some guests have expressed concern over ever-increasing charges and on-board fees.

The company says: “Norwegian’s discretionary daily service charges make it easy for guests to provide gratuities to key on-board staff who provide superior guest service during the cruise, including their room steward, restaurant servers and behind-the-scenes support staff.  Guests who are sailing in suite categories also receive the services of a concierge, butler and dedicated wait staff.”

NCL states that the service charge (for guests aged 3 years and older) is discretionary although their website calls it a “fixed service charge”. The policy reads: “The reason there’s a fixed service charge is an important one: Our crew (as are the crew from other lines) is encouraged to work together as a team. Staff members including restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and behind-the-scenes support staff are compensated by a combination of salary and incentive programmes that your service charge supports.”

Guests have reported that while it is possible to get the charge altered on-board it can sometimes be very difficult to achieve.

NCL has advised that guests who book by 31 July 2015 will have an option to prepay their service charges at the current rate.

(Photo credit to Norwegian Cruise Line)