I've just signed up for my first cruise to the Southern Carribean in April on Celebrity and I was hoping to get some clarification on a few cost questions. First, I don't need an alcohol package but it's likely I'll be getting a drink or 2 so I'm confused on how you pay for them. Is it billed to you at the end of the cruise or do we pay cash for those seperately? What about the tip? Second, on shore excursions, if I book them now when do I have to pay for them? Before I cruise or is that on the bill at the end too?
Welcome to cruise-chat. Drinks you purchase in the bars onboard ship will be charged to a shipboard account that is established when you board. You'll be issued a credit-card sized card that serves as your cabin key as well as your charge card for onboard purchases. When you order a drink, the bartender will take your card, and swipe it for the amount of the drink plus a 15% gratuity. You'll receive a bill at the end of the cruise for all of your purchases (bars, photos from the photo shop, gift shop, etc.). So, no need to pay cash each time... actually, it won't even be accepted.
As for shore excursions, you pay for each excursion when you book it... so, if you pre-reserve now, you'll have to have your credit card handy. (This is a very good question as the procedure can vary from one cruise line to another.)
It is common for excursions to not be available on-line until 3 months or less from your cruise. You can find out by accessing your booking at Celebrity's website and see if they are open yet.
Depending on where you are going on your cruise, I usually recommend first timers book tours with the cruise line. However, many ports are quite safe and easy to get around in and you can often find cheaper tours privately. It depends on your comfort level. A cruise ship will wait for passengers if their ship-sponsored tour is late returning. If you book your own private tours the ship won't know where you are if you are late, and they will leave port without you.
Booking earlier is better, especially for the more popular excursions. Some things do sell out.
Hi marykay25, welcome to Cruise-Chat. We just returned from the Celebrity Solstice. The drink packages are not worth purchasing, very restrictive. My husband bought the alcohol package for $360 and I bought the frozen drink package for $154. My hubby ordered a martini at the martini bar and they charged him even though he had the sticker. They said it was because they use the large glasses at the martini bar. No one tells you that until after you order. Then he had a beer for lunch one day, that too was not covered, you had to purchase a beer package. Again, they didn't tell us that when we purchased the packages. My advice, is to just purchase them as you go, it is a LOT less expensive that way.
The tours we took through the ship were great, especially the Tiki Hut snorkel in St. Maarten. I usually won't book a snorkel trip in St. Maarten because the snorkeling isn't that good. However, the Tiki Hut was well worth the price. Great snorkeling, fantastic operators, good equipment, good facilities. The biggest plus was you could stay as long as you wanted. Then they'd take you to town or back to the ship free of charge.
We booked our excursions on-line before we sailed. The tickets were waiting in our cabin when we boarded. It was nice to have everything paid for before we left. Of course, we spent extra on board, but the majority was covered.