I have never been on a cruise before, and me and my husband are sailing out of Baltimore.
WE have choices to book everything with Air Transit OR we can just book the Cruise and we take care of air/hotel/transfers. What do you suggest?
Also, we have choices to prepay our gratuities or pay each day via envelopes? What do you suggest on this one as well?
Any suggestions greatly appreciated. WE are sailing on the Grandeur of the Sea Ship, Western Caribbean.
Thanks for any replys!
I only can give you an advice for the gratuities.
Normally you give them at the end of a cruise in envelopes, which are delivered to your stateroom. Or you can fill in a form, so the cruise line book a special amount (about 11 $ per day and person) from your onboard credit, which you have to pay at the end of the cruise contant or from your creditcard.
Some people prefer giving tips half the way from the cruise, when they want to give some people a reward for their good service.
But it is your decision. We prefer the envelopes and we decide, which people get the gratuity and how much.
Anyway, enjoy your first cruise and as most of the people here on this board you will never do something else for vacation.
I always suggest that you book your own air, transfers and hotel. Plan to arrive a day before the cruise departs and be sure to purchase third party travel insurance. Find a local cruise specialist to handle all of this for you and that way, if anything goes wrong while traveling, one call to your travel agent can start corrective efforts in motion.
The Grandeur is a GREAT choice for your first cruise. Also, If you want really good service during the cruise. Go to the Purser's desk and get gratuity envelopes on the first or second night and then give your room steward, waiter, assistant waiter and assistant Maite d' thier full gratuities in person on the second night of the cruise thanking them in advance for the great service they are going to give you. Tom Milano always tells them that it is a "down payment" on the great service implying that there may be more coming at the end of the cruise if they really go out of their way to please.
Have a great first cruise! Let us know how it went.
Hello Molly, wow are you all in for a great time! Once you have cruised you will be planning your next one for sure! These kind of boards are great to find out information on cruising this one is a fantastic one and people here are really friendly and helpful.Be sure to ask lots of questions so that you can make a great vacation even greater! I agree to book your cruise throught a travel agent so that in the event that you would need help of any kind then you have someone that you could call that would help you.
We give the room stewart, waiter etc a tip right from the start, not in the envolepe provided but just a tip and tell them that there will be more, this is just a start if midway in the week they are really great we give them alittle more, then more at the end. Some will deserve more and some will not we never give less than what is ask by the cruise line but do give more. I know that some will say that if they do not give good service then do not give them the recomended amount but we just can not do that. So far with all of our cruises we have never had anyone that we felt that did not deserve the amount that is recomended. We usually go down a day ahead of time and stay in Miami (never cruised out of any other port)this makes life much easier we think. And you get on the ship early too. That way you can feel like you almost get an extra day. Have a great cruise, when will you be sailing?
So much to learn, so little time - until September 30.
If you are flying, ALWAYS arrive at your departure port a day early! If you book airfare independently from your cruise line, you will be able to select the airline, departure date and time, and seat selection. The last time we booked through RCL, we arrived a day early, they put us up in a hotel, (which was OK), but we had to scratch and fight to even sit together!
I agree with the previous posts about (partial) pre-tipping. We have never received such personal, attentive service as when we gave our room steward, head waiter and assistant waiter a small token when we first met them. We used the ship envelopes/stationery you find in your stateroom, wrote them a brief thank-you note for their service, and put $15-$20 in each envelope. Make sure you are happy with your dining table assignment before you (privately) give the tips to your waitstaff. Then if service meets your expectations, you will find further tipping suggestions in your daily planner on board.
Be sure to study the Ports of Call forum on this site; it has outstanding suggestions on what to do in your ports - we have learned so much from the experienced cruisers here.
(formerly from OC, MD)
Rhapsody - W. Caribbean - 2004; Rhapsody - W. Caribbean - 2005; Sovereign - Bahamas - 2005; Enchantment - Canada/NE - 2005; Rhapsody - W. Caribbean - 2006: Vision - Alaska - 2006
Navigator - E. Caribbean - 11/2006
Vision - West Coast Repo - 4/2007
Grandeur - Canada/N.E. - 9/2007
Voyager of the Seas -"R"W. Caribbean - 1/2008
Here is what I do. I find a bar on the ship that I feel comfortable in and also a bar tender that is friendly and outgoing. I then immediately tip them $20. My drinks from that point forwartd are terrific. If they take care of those sitting with me, I tip them another $20 the first time they do it. It works great, I am sure my total bill is less in the end.
If you don't drink, well this probably wouldn't be very good advice. Enjoy!
All of these suggestions are terrific. Is there such thing as buying a drink package where wine and cocktails are free???
Also, the promotion that we booked under, it said the room was "on guarantee", what does this mean? My travel agent is new, this is her first time booking a cruise. What she said it meant was, that we are guaranteed a room, most likely interior at a low level. However, if they start to sell out a little, then we might get put higher and with an oceanview. Either way she wasn't sure, and when I went online to register, I think I'm on level 2 :-( What should I do about this?
Mollie, the "guarantee" means you paid for a certain minimum style of cabin, but that if the sailing is not sold out, you have a chance to be upgraded. In most cases, if you paid for an inside cabin, the best you can get is an inside cabin on a higher deck, or in a better location on the ship. If you paid for an outside cabin, you will get an outside cabin, and so on. You are guaranteed a cabin, however, as your TA said.
Guarantees are a great way to save money on a cruise cabin. Many people like to book this way, or to book the minimum categories, as they spend most of their time outside the cabin anyway, enjoying all the activities onboard and ashore in the ports. If you find you don't like the cabin you are in, you can request an upgrade when you arrive, but you will probably have to pay additional money if so.
Deck 2 is a lower deck on the ship, which will be less susceptible to motion - a good thing. It may, depending on where you are located on the ship front to back, result in some engine vibration in the cabin, but think of it as lulling you to sleep!