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Norwegian and Carnival test the waters with room service fees

Two cruise lines begin charging guests for room service on selected ships as part of a pilot program

Are airline-style fees coming to cruising? Carnival Cruise Line will charge $4 to $7 for room service on items such as pizza, chicken wings, fried shrimp and sushi.

It's part of a pilot program that will start Sunday on three Carnival ships: Imagination, Conquest and Pride, according to an announcement Wednesday.

Last week Norwegian Cruise Line's Getaway and Breakaway began a similar test program.

It offers 24-hour room service with a charge of $7.95 for each order placed. The fee doesn't apply to passengers in the Haven or in suites; no fees are being charged on other ships in the fleet.

The pilot program includes an expanded menu for room service, for example, adding hot breakfast items.

Both cruise lines emphasized in statements that passengers still have plenty of complimentary food choices aboard their ships. Still, the debut of fees on cruise ships, even as a test, could be a sign of more nickel-and-diming to come.

“From a business perspective, it seems to me that the cruise lines, especially the big ships, are failing to get cruise fares high enough," Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic’s editor in chief, said on its website. "They’re having to find other sources of revenue.”

Cruise Critic reports that a thread with comments about Norwegian's room service fees fills 91 pages -- and counting.

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