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poormom 08-19-2012 06:56 AM

No more gratuity vouchers!
Just got back from another amazing week on the Oasis. There's not much that hasn't been said before about her...
But we did the prepaid gratuities, and they don't give out vouchers anymore. Now at first blush, that seemed great. I always hated ripping them apart and sorting them and handing them out. It also makes it so you can eat in a diferent venue on the last night without chasing down your dining room staff...but it also makes you feel obligated to tip more if you do go the last night.
Now our waiter wasn't bad, but he wasn't the usual outgoing, personable guy like I've had in the past. And we ate at Johnny Rockets one night and had a shore day that we just wanted a quick dinner. So I didn't feel like the standard amount had to be supplemented. But our tablemates paid theirs in cash and I felt terribly awkward not handing envelopes out.
I'm not saying it's a bad system, I'm sure not having to print and deliver them save the company time and money, so if that keeps something else from being cut, I'm all for it.
We had a great cruise. The weather couldn't have been more perfect.

In Nassau, we went to Blue Lagoon. It's beautiful there, but we just didn't have enough time. I still don't understand why the ship has such a short call there, we left at 2 pm.

I was really shocked to see how much St. Thomas has gotten run down, it used to be so beautiful We took a cab over to Coki beach. I have to say that they've done a great deal of work there. They have a brand new bath house with changing rooms and showers. There are stores in real buildings instead of rusted out ice cream trucks, and there weren't nearly as many hawkers on the beach as in the past. It was very crowded though, but there were 4 carnival ships in port with us.

In St. Maarten we went over to Orient beach.
What can I say. I'm a beach bum. Especially in the caribbean. I'm certainly glad to answer any questions about the ship or the ports if you have them!

Dave 08-19-2012 08:04 AM

I never liked the vouchers either since they did require some time separating them and so forth, and it made no sense when I did My Time Dining since the waiter I happened to have on the last night got the vouchers even though I may have had other waiters all week.

Did they still place tip envelopes in your cabin?

I don't know why RCI still does the cash tipping as their default method. Celebrity has gone to the automatic gratuities so why don't they standardize it for all of their brands?

MCPayne 08-19-2012 08:36 AM

Not sure why the time in Nassau was so short, either. However, the ship probably had to stop there because of the Jones Act. I think that essentially states that round trip cruises departing from a US Port must make a stop in "a nearby foreign port." St. Thomas and St. Maarten I think are part of the US Virgin Islands, so I'm not sure if either of those stops would satisfy that requirement.

poormom 08-19-2012 09:12 AM

They did provide envelopes. I also got a good laugh out of the fact that there was a case of crutches in the corner of our treatment room!!!
I'm sure all medical facilities probably order them that way, but all I could think was that the flow rider has generated business for the medical center!!!

Dave 08-19-2012 09:38 AM

Maybe they should use different colored envelopes for those who pre-paid. At least it would be a visual signal that the guest was not being a cheap skate by only putting $20 in the envelope.

I have zero interest in doing the Flow Rider, but I like to watch it, especially when the rider makes that one little slip that causes them to get slung back into the wall. Maybe they should hire doctors who specialize in orthopedics?

LisaP 08-19-2012 09:44 AM

MCPayne, the USVI (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix) are exempt from the Passenger Services Act and are treated as "nearby foreign ports" for purposes of the Act. Just one of many intricacies in this legislation...makes my head spin!

I, too, would feel awkward about not having envelopes to give to the crew. I can see how vouchers can be a pain, though. If RCI wants to give pax a choice (which I applaud, actually), perhaps there can be a box on the envelope to check if pax had pre-paid the gratuities. It's been a long time since I've cruised on RCi...maybe they do this already. I also like Dave's idea of the different colored envelopes. (Actually, that's a better idea as it would be more difficult to stiff the crew.)

Welcome back!

MCPayne 08-19-2012 05:08 PM

Thanks for that clarification, Lisa.

I also would feel awkward about not giving gratuity envelopes to the crew members at the end of my cruise. Those of us that are seasoned cruisers know that the gratuities are essentially the staff's salaries, as they work hard for very little money, and have little time off.

Svein 08-23-2012 08:14 PM

On our recent cruise on the Grandeur, they had just stopped the voucher system. As we really loved our waiter Sidney, we wanted to give him extra tip in cash on top of our pre paid gratuity. So we did and then he told us they all receive the pre paid tip automatically before the last night of the cruise :)

With regards to Daves flow rider fascination, we are going on the Liberty next summer and I am determined to have a go. Will keep you noticed on my need for orthopedics afterwards :)

Dave 08-24-2012 06:08 AM

I need to lose about 50 pounds before even attempting the flow rider.:rolleyes:

Jim1012 08-24-2012 10:30 AM

Agreed Dave-tho in my case, I'd also have to make sure my PPO Health Policy covered "Stupid Old Man on A Kid's Toy". I was also about to say that vouchers; how had can it be for the cruise line to keep printing something like this. You feed the info into a Bozo-Computer and it spits out the forms. However, then, I remembered that their computers (I was told) don't talk to each other, which is the excuse that was given to us TWICE in the past when MY Sea Pass card, and my WIFE'S card, did NOT have the same C&A level displayed. Since we have always gone together, and joined C&A at the same time, we both have the same Diamond status, but hers has always (in the past) been one level below my card. I'm giving them almost a year and a half to correct this, so next October, 2013, we'll see if Bozo-'Puter "A" is now talking to Bozo-'Puter "B". Anyhow, sorry about the topic change; I think that they should have SOME way of showing that you have prepaid gratuities, and have some sort of envelope to put extra cash in for those who go above and beyond. Many people (some Europeans I've heard) are not use to tipping, or it's not a custom, and this makes it a little easier for those passangers. The expense for the cruise line can't be so bad, compared to printing out the daily cruise compass sheets. Ramble Done.

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