This cruise line is now charging $5 for a once-free peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich delivered to your cabin on Carnival Cruise Line? It'll cost you five bucks.
The cruise line introduced a new room service menu, posted on Facebook by company ambassador John Heald, which went into effect Oct. 1. Previously, continental breakfast and select salads, sandwiches and desserts were complimentary when ordered between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Now, only continental breakfast is free.
Salads now cost $4 to $5 (with additional fees for adding proteins), sandwiches $5 to $7 (including the aforementioned PB&J) and dessert $3 to $5. The previously extra-fee snacks, such as chicken tenders and pan pizza, now cost $6 to $8 ($1 to $2 more than they did before).
That means if you come back late from an excursion and want to order lunch to your room, it'll cost you around $15 for a Caesar salad, grilled Reuben with curly fries and a fudgy brownie.
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Why the change? "One of the reasons we are implementing these nominal fees is because of food waste," Heald posted on his Facebook account Sept. 28. "I know regardless of what I say that there will be a few who will say 'shut up Heald this is all about profit.'
"Let me assure that many cruisers would order multiple sandwiches and food items and end up leaving 70% or more uneaten. We have all seen those plates outside cabin doors."
Carnival Cruise Line's official statement matches what Heald said. "Updating our room service menu to expand options on an a la carte basis, while maintaining a complimentary breakfast offering each morning, is consistent with trends across the industry and provides us opportunities to continue to work toward meeting our various sustainability goals — including food waste, water and energy reduction — while still giving our guests the option of 24/7 room service if they so choose," a spokesperson told TPG in an email.
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Heald goes on to remind cruisers that Carnival's complimentary Deli venue, located on cruise ship pool decks, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. should vacationers be willing to leave their room to get a bite to eat. Other complimentary and casual Carnival venues include Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina for Mexican, Pizza Pirate and the buffet; hours vary by venue.
The problem for cruisers is that sometimes the type of food you desire is not available at the hour you want to eat it. You can't get a Greek salad at the deli, nor a PB&J. As a mom, I can tell you that not all ships put out peanut butter and jelly on the buffet after breakfast. Complimentary room service is also a huge help to parents with small kids; sometimes, the baby is sleeping or your toddler is having a meltdown, and it's so much easier to have food delivered than to try to send someone out to bring plates of food back for everyone.
Related: The ultimate guide to cruise ship food and dining
Unfortunately for budget travelers, room service fees are becoming more common. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have long charged a delivery fee for room service orders. For example, Royal Caribbean charges $7.95 plus an 18% gratuity for room service orders, but you can order as much food as you'd like for that price. Norwegian charges $9.95 plus a 20% gratuity.
With Carnival moving to an a la carte model versus a delivery charge, its price for a room service meal for multiple people is now higher than that of its competitors.
Unsurprisingly, Carnival fans are not happy. Despite Heald touting "definitely upgraded sandwiches," a reader on Facebook responded that "these look to be the same sandwiches and desserts we use [sic] to get for free, and they were mediocre."
Related: What not to eat on a cruise
Another reader mentioned some unintended consequences of this move: "Just got off a cruise and the lines for pizza and sandwiches were sooo long."
And while in most cases, cruisers can either afford the fees or can seek out food at one of the ship's many eateries, longtime cruisers see the change as chipping away at all the things they loved about vacationing on a cruise ship.
"This breaks my heart," one person commented on Heald's Facebook page. "One by one, Carnival is taking away the little things that made cruising so special.... We would order in a couple of sandwiches and a piece of cake and look at the PRINTED schedule and decide what to do the next day. God, I miss cruising like that."
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