Just days after tremendous uproar over the possibility of a charge for pizza on Royal Caribbean International ships, sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises has been spotted charging for chocolate chip cookies.
Is this new fee a sign of extra charges soon to come to even more cruise ships, or is it a test to gauge guest reaction? The response to “cookiegate” is anything but positive.
Guests aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class Celebrity Equinox have reported a new $2 (USD) charge for chocolate chip cookies, with a 20% gratuity added to the cost – making each sweet treat $2.40.
This may not seem like a tremendous expense, but it is the principle of the new charge that is enraging cruise guests. Signage advertising the cookies reads: “Treat yourself to our warm, handcrafted Celebrity chocolate chip cookie!” with the fee detailed underneath.
While some guests may be accepting of a premium fee for a premium cookie, the thought of the added gratuity to have a crew member simply hand over the treat is even more distasteful to some travelers.
Guests onboard are also reporting that free cookies are no longer available at Cafe Al Bacio, the ship’s European-themed cafe that offers premium hot teas, coffees, French pastries, and other desserts, including authentic gelato and fresh fruit sorbets.
It is unknown whether or not free cookies are available at other venues, such as the Oceanview Cafe buffet, or how the quality may vary from the for-a-fee cookies.
Reactions to the news range from suspicion about the sign’s authenticity to outrage over what seems to be more nickel-and-diming of cruise ship passengers with ever-increasing fees for what used to be included in a cruise fare, particularly for a premium brand like Celebrity Cruises.
At this time, the charge appears to be limited to Celebrity Equinox, but could also be aboard other Celebrity Cruises ships in the coming weeks if the change is rolled out fleetwide.
It is equally possible, however, that the charge is simply a test run to see whether or not guests are willing to pay for cookies, and if so, how popular they may be.
It also could be that the for-charge cookies are simply a new, more gourmet offering, and are not displacing free cookies available in other venues at all.
Celebrity Equinox is currently homeported from Fort Lauderdale, sailing a variety of 6- and 8-night cruises that visit the Bahamas, Mexico, Grand Cayman, the Virgin Islands, and other amazing ports of call. In May 2024, the ship will set sail for Europe, offering Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona and Rome.
Frequent cruisers are speculating about what else cruise lines may consider charging for in the future. While it may seem silly, if a charge for cookies is accepted as normal, what about charges for…
Bread baskets in the main dining room
Poolside towels or towel exchanges
Self-serve ice cream
Stateroom ice buckets and ice
Admission for featured evening shows
The “cookiegate” uproar has the chocolate chips flying just days after Royal Caribbean International was blasted for the possibility of charging for pizza.
In that incident, a post-cruise survey was used to gauge the idea of a pizza fee, which was disputed to hotly that the cruise line’s CEO had to make a statement that Royal Caribbean would not be charging for pizza.
Both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are owned by the same parent company, Royal Caribbean Group, which also owns Silversea Cruises and parts of other cruise lines and related industries.
These fees – or even the possibility of fees – may be an indication of a trend toward charging more for what used to be included free on a cruise. The real question is what fees guests will accept and which they will not.
In the past couple of years, fees for room service as well as charges for extra entrees in the main dining rooms have become standard on different cruise lines. Will cookies be next?
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