One of the big appeals of cruising has always been that you pay one fare and your cabin, food, entertainment, and more is all included in the price. No need to keep pulling out your wallet or purse every time you want to have dinner or see a show.
Unfortunately, experienced cruisers know that those days are long over. These days, while there is still plenty included in your fare, cruise lines have seemingly made it a mission to get you to spend more while on the ship.
Take dinner for instance. Today most major ships have free options, but also a number of specialty restaurants. Unless you want to eat the buffet or main dining room, you’re going to have to shell out more to eat at many of the restaurants on the ship.
Is Room Service Free on a Cruise?
One other free perk that seems to be going away rapidly is room service. Years ago, room service was a freebie on a cruise. You could order yourself a snack — whether it was the middle of the day or the middle of the night — and not have to worry about the cost.
Those days are over. Today cruise lines almost always charge for the service, but there are some different pricing schemes and price rules depending on which line you sail. Here’s what you can expect on your cruise…
Carnival Room Service Charges
Carnival recently created waves with an announced change to its room service menu. The company said it would begin charging for all items on its menu, except for continental breakfast. Customer response was so negative that the cruise line pulled back the change, leaving things how they were for now.
That means as of now, you’ll pay for some items while others are free. On the free side, you have things like simple salads and sandwiches, as well as a few desserts — if ordered during the day (from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). If you want something more than a salad or sandwich, such as an order of fries, pizza, chicken tenders, cheese steak, or wings, it will cost you between $2-5 each.
Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the entire menu is charged by the item. You’ll find things like a turkey wrap for $5, a banana split for $4, a quesadilla for $5, and a Greek salad for $3. In other words, a full meal served after 10 p.m. can add up to about $10 or so.
Royal Caribbean Room Service Charges
Want a simple breakfast while on a Royal Caribbean ship? You can have a continental breakfast of cereal and pastries for free. Beyond that there is a $7.95 fee for any other room service items plus 18% gratuity.
On the menu there are full American breakfast options (bacon, eggs, sausage, etc.), as well as a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, nachos, fries, desserts, and more. Again, this is all a $7.95 service fee, and that is for your entire order. So if you order a side of fries, it’s $7.95. If you order the entire menu, it’s the same cost.
Disney Room Service Charges
As you may expect from a cruise line that’s known universally for a high level of service, room service is complimentary on Disney cruises, with round-the-clock ordering available. The menu is full of items that both parents and kids will like, including salads and soups, burgers, wings, mac-and-cheese, pizza, sandwiches, and even key lime pie for dessert.
There are some items for sale on the room service menu, but it’s drinks and candies/snacks. The bulk of the menu is free of charge.
Princess Room Service Charges
Although part of the Carnival family of cruise lines, Princess offers a different take on room service than its sister line. Namely, room service on the ship is complimentary.
In addition to breakfast, there are soups and salads, sandwiches, hot meals like lasagna, burgers, flan, cookies, and chocolate cake. There is also pizza available, but it has a small $3 charge.
Beverages and party offerings like veggie trays and chocolate strawberries are an additional charge.
Norwegian Room Service Charges
Norwegian is another cruise line that has taken to charging a flat fee for room service. Outside of continental breakfast options, there is a $9.95 fee per room service order. (This price was raised from $7.95 in 2020.)
The menu is traditional room service fare, with favorites like Cobb salad, fruit plates, burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. There is also a number of entrees like roasted chicken, salmon, steak, and desserts like cheesecake and chocolate cake. There are also heartier breakfast options like omelets and french toast that will incur the $9.95 fee.
Celebrity Room Service Charges
Celebrity, a more luxury-focused cruise line, has several different options for room service charges, depending on your tastes and what you want to eat.
First, there is a large selection of breakfast items (including everything from eggs to pancakes to french toast to bacon) that are free of charge. There are also some premium breakfast items like steak and eggs that have a charge.
Beyond that, there is a traditional room service menu with shrimp cocktails, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and desserts that is available for free. However, ordering between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. leads to a $4.95 service charge that covers your order.
Finally, Celebrity has a premium menu for in-room dining that includes more expensive items like ribeye steak, filet mignon, cheese platters, crab cakes, and caviar. These menu items are prices a la carte, but expect to spend between $11-20 each.
Cruise Room Service FAQ
Are beverages free with room service?
If you order drinks other than what’s free in the dining room (water, tea, lemonade), then expect to pay bar menu prices. So if you get a beer or a soda, you’ll pay extra. One thing to keep in mind is that drink packages typically don’t cover the cost of room service or mini-bar drinks. Even with the package you’ll have to pay extra for a cocktail, beer, soda, or wine ordered through room service.
How can I avoid being charged for room service?
Depending on the cruise line, there are some ways that you can avoid being charged. For instance, some lines only have a charge on late-night orders, or only for certain items on the menu. In this case, you can simply avoid ordering these items or ordering at certain times to avoid the room service charge.
As well, some cruise lines wave the room service charge for guests staying in suites.
How much food can I order?
That’s up to you! Maybe you and your traveling partners want to pig out and eat a three-course meal in your cabin. Or maybe you just want an order of french fries to satisfy a craving. You can order as much or as little as you want. However, we suggest ordering all you want — but eating all you order. There’s no sense in being wasteful.
Does the flat fee apply to each dish or the total order?
On cruise lines that have flat fees for orders, that fee is for the entire room service order. For instance, on a line with a $7.95 fee, that applies whether you order three entrees or if you only order a piece of chocolate cake.
Do I tip for room service orders?
Unlike many other services on the ship, gratuity is not included on room service orders. It’s recommended that you tip a few bucks cash ($3-$5) per order to your server.