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Old 02-19-2008, 03:11 AM
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Hi, we are new to the forum and have just booked our first ever cruise.

19 days aboard the Carnival Spirit. 7 Days Glacier Bay & 12 Days Hawaii...from Vancouver. Sep 17 - Oct 6, 2008.

We are very much looking forward to it but have a few queries.

Firstly, is the Sign & Sail card the same as the Fun Card?

Our cruise booking includes all taxes & gratuities. What do we need to allow for in extra costs? Have read that we dont have to tip further if we dont want to.

Also have read that room service is complimentary but we have to tip waiter. This rooms service, is this outside of the 3 meals per day? Sre drinks included with meals or separate?

Shore excursions: There a few shore excursions we would like to do. Should we book now so that we do not miss out? Have read that cruises have been altered whereby it has impeded on shore excursions.

Thanks in advance
Col & Sue
Australia
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:13 AM
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Well, Welcome to both Cruise-chat and cruising!!

You will have a wonderful time. Yes, tips are all included except for a dollar or two (depending on how much you order) for room service.

Have some ones on you when you reach the dock, because the porters handling your bags will want a $1 a bag tip.

You said gratuities were included...so I am assuming that you prepaid your cabin steward and dining staff tips.

When you check in, you will be given a Sail and Sign Card. This will be your room key and your charge card for the cruise. Anything you purchase onboard will run though this card. You will need it and a picture ID to get on and off the ship. We use a driver's license for our picture id.

Things we usually charge to our Sail and Sign are pictures, drinks, soveniers etc. You can also charge your Shore Excursions (if you go through the ship).

Cash is used for gambling of course. But other than that, the ole Sail and Sign (or Drink and Sink as we used to call it in the old days) will handle everything else.

There will be door hangers in your room that allow you to order a continental breakfast and have it delivered at the time you select. Just be sure to mark everything you will need. If you are ordering coffee and want cream...you will need to mark cream as well. There will also be a room service menu in the Green Directory in your cabin.

Eating is pretty much a 24 hour event on a cruise. You can go to the formal dining room to have breakfast, order room service OR grab breakfast on Lido at the buffet. Then grab some pizza 10 minutes later. For lunch there is a buffet, a deli, hamburger and hotdogs, formal dining room, room service OR pizza.
Lido buffet usually runs several hours in the morning for breakfast, several hours during the day for lunch and several hours in the evening for dinner. (for those who don't want to go to the formal dining room)

Drinks that are included are coffee and ice tea (24 hours a day on Lido). Juices are also included as well as lemonade.

Some ships offer sushi in the evening which is free but they charge for the sauki (sp) because it is alcohol.

Soda and bottle water they charge for.

The only other food onboard that will cost extra is a coffee and dessert shop (specialities cakes and ice cream) that you will see on the Promenade. Again, you simply charge it to your Sail and Sign. However, if you are into espressos and cappicinos...you can get them for FREE in the formal dining room with breakfast,lunch and dinner!!

You will find free ice cream on the Lido deck. (soft serve) Anything on Lido (food wise) is included in your cruise cost.

When you walk onto the ship and they want to stick a foo foo drink in your hand (drink of the day) remember that they do charge for those.

Also, the soda and water in your cabin (or the goodies in the fridge) cost as well. We bring our own. We just pick up a couple of 12 packs when we land at the airport before we board the ship. We just carry them on...no problem.

We also bring water and soda from the ports when we run low. There is no problem doing this.

The biggest treat usually missed by new cruisers is the Spa. They are concerned that if they step into the Spa, it will cost them something. The only time you are "charged" is if a human being is involved. (massages, manicures, yoga classes etc). However, the sauna, steam room and gym are all free. Women enter on one side...Men enter on the other. There are changing rooms, showers etc that are all free. You simply hand them your Sail and Sign card to hold in exchange for a locker key. When you are done with the locker, return the key and get your Sail and Sign card back.

If you have any specific concerns or questions, that is what we are here for. Please do not hesitate to ask. No question is silly or unimportant...if it is something you want to know.

I would also suggest that you check out CruiseCritic.com Their Roll Call section. Go under your ship's name and date of sailing and you can get to know folks from all over the world BEFORE you even step onboard the ship.

Happy Cruising!!!
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:14 AM
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Welcome to Cruise Chat and congratulations on booking your first cruise. That's quite a long one for your first one! I was on a short 3day cruise on the Spirit in 2003. It is a nice ship. Your Sail and Sign card is the size of a credit card. It is your key to the cabin, and your onboard identification. It will have your name on the card, a portfolio number, your table number, ships name and date of sailing. The card is used for any onboard purchases, and it is your identification for getting off and on the ship. The Sail and Sign card is associated with the credit card you give the cruise line to set up your onboard account. You can also set up your onboard account with a cash deposit but credit card is highly recommended and preferred. All your onboard purchases will be on the Sail and Sign. The Purser's desk can give you a total at any time so you can track your spendings. At the end of the cruise you will get your final total delivered to your room. If everything is in order you don't need to do anything, the bill will be charged to your credit card used to set up your account. The types of things you will charge to your Sail and Sign are alcohol drinks and soda (which a 15% gratuity is automatically added). Any personal purchases such as gift shop, spa treatments, photos, and shore excursions. All meals are included on the cruise. Coffee, tea, milk, and juice are included in the main dining room and buffet area. If ordered at a bar then there is a charge. The Spirit does have a speciality restaurant which is reservation only. It is a small intimate restaurant and it has a surcharge to eat there. There also is a Patisserie on the ship and specialty coffees and desserts there have a nominal fee.
You can order room service at any time. There is no charge. It is customary to give them a tip at your discretion. $2-$5. You will also want to tip the baggage people at the pier when you check in. Carnival automatically charges service gratuities to your onboard account. Since you have pre-paid your gratuities for the service people (waiter, assistant waiter, cabin steward)be sure they don't charge you again. I would carry your cruise invoice with you to show you already pre-paid incase there is any question. You may also give these people extra in an evelope at the end of the cruise if you really enjoyed their service. They do work very hard. It is also customary to tip the person in the spa is you should get a spa treatment.
If you see a shore excursion that is really interesting to you I would go ahead and book it before the cruise. Many popular excursions fill up fast. Particularly in Alaska and Luau's in Hawaii. If the ship has an itinerary change your money would be refunded. You also can make changes once onboard as long as it's 24hours before the tour.
I'm not sure what you mean by Fun card. Prior to your cruise you will go to Carnival's website and complete your "Fun Pass". That is all the information they need for immigration, and this is where you will give them your credit card to set up your Sail and Sign.
Each day of the cruise you will get a "Carnival Capers" delivered to your room. It tells you all the activities planned for the day and at what time, and what location. It will tell you the hours of all the dining places, lounges and bars. Take a highlighter to mark all the things you want to do. Each day there will be a "Fun Ship" special drink of the day. You can purchase it with or without their souvenir cup. They like to push the souvenir cup but it's cheaper without the cup, just ask. You can also purchase a soda package if you drink a lot of soda. If you purchase a soda package you get a sticker on your Sail and Sign card and just show that at the bars for a fountain soda.
I hope all this helps. Any questinos just ask. I have a question for you based on your signature. We're you at Langley AFB?
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:38 PM
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Thanks for the very prompt & very informative replies. Greatly appreciated.

Sorry it was the Fun Pass we meant....but everything explained brilliantly so all sorted.

Thanks again & we cant wait til Sept.

Yep a big cruise first up, but was a great deal and if you gonna go half way round the world for a cruise you gotta make the most of it lol

Col & Sue
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:32 PM
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Gratuities are normally bill to your sign and sail card at the rate of $10.00 a day per person. I might be wrong but they are not normally included with a normal booking. They work hard for there money we usually tip extra.
I would book your excursions asap. Tour guides usually get a tip also.

BTW welcome to Cruise Chat, sounds like a great cruise.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:22 PM
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Thanks Gary......

Love your cruise pics

Col & Sue
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by gdjoslin:
Gratuities are normally bill to your sign and sail card at the rate of $10.00 a day per person. I might be wrong but they are not normally included with a normal booking. They work hard for there money we usually tip extra.
I would book your excursions asap. Tour guides usually get a tip also.

BTW welcome to Cruise Chat, sounds like a great cruise.
That is a great point about the tips. From the way the OP talked...I was assuming it was a package deal with prepaid tips.



To the OP:
IF your tips are prepaid, they will not show up on your Sail and Sign card. But you have to ASK to have your TIPS prepaid. They are not prepaid automatically.

Usually cruisers do the Automatic Tips where they are added to your Sail and Sign card on the first day at the rate of $10.00 per person per day. If you are cruising on a "package" that says gratituties are included....you may want to check and make sure they are not just talked about luggage and transportation etc.
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Old 02-20-2008, 02:11 PM
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hi, in australia, the package was sold with pre-paid grats included- its working out at 264.00 aud per person for the cruise duration - which works out at approx 10 usd per day. This covers the basic tipping that is normally charged on the ship- anything else purchase with the sail and sign ( I like the drink and sink idea) will be charge and additional 15 % service fee.
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Old 02-21-2008, 01:10 AM
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Thanks dizzy. Is all making sense now.

Bring on September

Col & Sue
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Old 02-21-2008, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by dizzybelle:
hi, in australia, the package was sold with pre-paid grats included- its working out at 264.00 aud per person for the cruise duration - which works out at approx 10 usd per day. This covers the basic tipping that is normally charged on the ship- anything else purchase with the sail and sign ( I like the drink and sink idea) will be charge and additional 15 % service fee.
Just wanted to make a clarification. Not everything purchased will be charged a 15% gratuity. The Duty Free Shops and Shore Excursions don't incur these charges. It is beverages that are not included that they charge the gratuity.

Dwayne
 
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