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Updated info on cruises?!

I know this isn’t a very active form, but thought I would post here just in case.

Looking for some uptodate info on cruising.

Are the fees in the taxes to cover the port charges or will those be added onto the end bill??

Are there taxes when your out at sea and if so, what is the normal average tax rate they charge?

Average price of drinks still in the $5-$7 range? Do they ever have a “happy” hour or deals on a drink of the day etc?

Compared to the AI’s, is the nightly entertainment better, and more specifically the disco or nightclubs after the shows?

This is going to be a first time cruise after 8 AI’s…so am a little worried there are going to be some big differences and alot of extra unexpected costs.

I’m not an active ‘cruiser’ but I can answer most of your questions.

All port charges and fees should be included in your bill prior to paying. Most internet companies show everything up front but a few have ‘fees’ that are tacked on just prior to billing. There should be no extra charges EXCEPT for gratuities unless you order drinks or have a shore excursion, etc.

Gratuities are almost always added on to your bill and not at your discretion. You can challenge the quality of your service and get a reduction, but that may take hours of waiting in line. Each line will have gratuity charges stipulated on their web site and should be considered mandatory - IMHO, just because it’s not easy to change.

Drinks are much more in the $10. range but some cruises will have a duty free store that sells booze (so I’ve been told) or your best bet is to smuggle a bottle on when you first board. Soft drinks are extra too. Most cruises will have soft drink cards that allow unlimited soft drinks for the cruise. A few are offering the same thing for wine, beer and some bar drinks. Very pricey though and only good if you drink a lot. Best bet is to head to a bar on a shore cruise and stock up - in your stomach.

Entertainment? I’ve seen some pretty good and bad stuff both on AI’s and cruises. Just depends what you want. On both our cruises, we found quiet piano bars that suited our tastes, something that is not easy to find at an AI.

Buffets are almost always far superior to AI’s, HOWEVER, most cruises now charge a fee for the upgraded dining areas, such as steak houses or Japanese. This is often $35 to $40 pp.

There are lots of sites dedicated to cruises. Best to check there. One i found that might be useful if you haven’t booked is Cruise Compete. After you sign-up, you post the cruise & date you are wanting and a dozen cruise agents post their best prices on the site for you to compare. None get your home email so it works well.

Bottom line to me is that a cruise is not as relaxing as a week at an AI. You always seem to be on the go. However, I just returned from 18 days in Italy and it was the most rewarding and least relaxing trip we’ve ever had. If you can combine a cruise with a week on the beach after, it’s a great deal.

Thanks for the info. I guess I will expect to be a littler busier, and defn going to be some extra expense’s, but I guess when its not all included, I have to expect that.

I am going to have to look into trying to bring some liquor on board. If normally I would drink 15-20 drinks a day/nite at a resort, that’s going to be close to $200/day for booze with tips automatically added in…wow!

And I don’t think I would pay close to $100 extra for a upgraded meal…but good to know the regular food will still be superior to the AI’s.

We used to love cruising but our last one left a bad taste in our mouths. We went, with a large family group, on a Millennium cruise to bring in 2000. The cruise departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico and right at the bottom of the ramp was a large duty free liquor store. It was busy with people buying booze to take on board. Just as in our room at the AI resort, we like to have some wine and hubby his single malt so that we can have pre-dinner drinks as we get ready for dinner. So, he picked up a bottle of scotch and I had a couple of bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne to start our voyage. As I said, we were with a family group of 26 but, when we got to the top of the ramp and went through security, our booze was confiscated (to be returned at the end of the trip…whoopee, thank you so very much >:() but the rest got theirs through. We were infuriated. The anger was mostly generated by the inconsistency of taking booze off passengers. My tip to you would be not to smuggle booze in your carry on but try and secure it in your checked luggage. Drinks on board, even 12 years ago, were bloody expensive and I doubt that’s changed. You’ll find tours off the ship expensive, also. We would hire a taxi and do our own tours. Good luck with your cruise and I hope you’ll let us know how things go for you. :slight_smile:

Ya, forgot to mention that you need to hide your bought booze very carefully. The scanning getting onto the ship is just like the airport. They concentrate on your body and your carry-on, not your checked bags. The same applies every time you return to the ship at a port. We met someone who had a hard leather case for his telephoto lens that exactly fit a 26er. Smart guy!!

We found the cheapest booze in Martinique - if you are stopping there.

If you go to St. Thomas or St. Martin, do NOT go into any jewellery shops. My wife did and she spent $$$$$$$$. Later appraisals back home proved she got great deals but I have heard of many that got ripped off.

Agree with steffie, we use a cab or just walk for most ports. Tip, walk around town and wait until most people have left the ship, then negotiate a deal with cabs that have either returned or didn’t get fares. We often got the price cut in half.

You’ll find that on-board is a constant sales pitch for art, shore excursions, photos, and a big push to only buy from stores that the cruise company support. I treat all that like street vendors - no speak - no hear.

Ok…thks for the tips and info.

So booze wrapped up in my checked luggage, and hire own cabs and tours!!

Oops, forgot another thing. Pack a windbreaker. Most ships have glass walls keeping you warm but the constant breeze plus the speed of the ship often makes the outdoor areas chilly in the winter.

Also, many people bypass the formal nights so don’t feel you have to take formal wear unless you enjoy that aspect. Not that you want to look like a slob but tuxes are not common like they used to be and we say many without even jackets on formal night.

[quote=@dax]
Also, many people bypass the formal nights so don’t feel you have to take formal wear unless you enjoy that aspect. Not that you want to look like a slob but tuxes are not common like they used to be and we say many without even jackets on formal night.[/quote]

We need a “pouty face” emoticon ;)…that was one of my favourite aspects of cruising - getting to dress up :smiley: Showing up without a jacket on formal night…now that’s just a bit too casual, imo. Why bother having a formal night if people just show up wearing the same old same old casual clothing ??? Oh well, to each their own. I guess, like anything, it all depends on the cruise line you book with as to what the expectations are going to be.

Yeah…I wasn’t planning on doing the formal thing…last suit I wore was for a funeral years ago and no longer would fit.

Seeing as a suit or a tux would cost me more $ than the cruise, I don’t think I will be participating.

I am guessing there must be other options to eat for those that don’t want to attend the event?!

Yes, there are always other options. Some people actually prefer the buffet to the dining room, regardless of dress code. One big reason my wife refuses to go on a cruise now is that she has no desire to spend the $$$ for new clothing, just for the cruise. Since it’s ‘our’ money, can’t say i blame her.

Most cruises are acknowledging that more & more people do not want to dress up as much. They want to relax and be themselves. Sometimes that can be a bit much to bear. lol You probably will find a dress code similar to most AI’s a la cartes.

I bought a new ‘casket’ suit this year since the one I bought 10 years ago would not fit me. Now that i think about it, that was really dumb since I want a closed casket. hmmmm… off topic again.

Cruise was great!! My information was based on my RCI cruise.

Drinks were $7-$9, but bought a AI pass for $55 day. Great investment! ;D

Buffet’s were almost as good as the sit down service, just not as formal.

Formal nite I did not attend, but was told by others that it was a real mix of outfits.

Brought a bottle of rum on no problem in my checked in luggage. And from talking with others, seems like alot of us did.

Taxes and all included in base price. Just gratuities added to pretty much everything else on boat at 15%.

Entertainment was a step up from the AI resorts for the most part from what I saw.

Glad you enjoyed it. I always found food, service & entertainment a few steps up from AI resorts (especially Cuba). $55./day for drinks is serious $$$. I think I’d buy a flask and fill it with rum :o

Did you find the cruise relaxing? I’ve only been on 2 and found they were fun, but always came home more tired than when I left. :frowning:

Really enjoyed it. Was on the go a fair bit, but last 2 days were more relaxing so that helped.

I thought the $55/day was great. Figured it would have cost me about $750 for the booize I drank if not for the cards…lol.

Defn looking to do this again. If I didn’t already have Cuba booked for April, I would be cruising. Will be trying a longer one next time I think.

I’ve heard about you Eastern drinkers. :o :o

Bookings seem to have taken a hit after the Carnival Toilet Trip last week. Every destination goes through those things and i try to take advantage whenever I can. Waiting for a flight sale to Mexico this fall. Maybe take a side trip to see Dave after. ;D

Honestly dax, you really should! I’ve met Dave and hosted him at our house as an overnight guest. Totally charming guy, great guest, and not at all like his internet persona. I’m asking you to trust me on that! :slight_smile:

So glad to hear you enjoyed your cruise monctonguy. A lot of people we know swear by cruising but it’s not something I’d do again even though the food is so superior to all inclusive fare. I’ll qualify my statement by also saying that we’ve tired of the all-inclusive gig as well.

Thankfully when it comes to vacation options, there is something for everyone and every budget.

Poor Dave just needs a hug. :-*
Maybe all that hot weather is getting to him. I always wondered if you spent the whole year in a warm climate if you would lose the appreciation for warm weather. Nothing nicer than departing the airport in a snowstorm heading to the Caribbean. That’s the plane heading there, not the snow. ::slight_smile: