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Old 07-09-2018, 07:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by patfan64 View Post
So I guess I'm looking for direction on things like tipping, shopping on board, shopping on the island and any other advice.

We have the bar package (not much good for me or my 15 year old) and the upscale restaurants. Do we tip the waiters/barstaff every time? What about our cabin attendant?

I probably will come up with more questions as we get closer.
Regarding tipping, many lines give you the option to tip in advance for all the various staff, dining room waiters, cabin cleaners, etc. Check if you prepaid. If you did, you're all set. But those tips are for the specific people assigned to you. So in the main dining hall, you'll have an assigned wait staff for the whole cruise, but if you go to the specialty restaurants, they don't get those tips, so you should tip them specifically. Keep in mind that cruise ship employees are not paid well and work almost exclusively for tips. Most bar drinks will come with a 15% tip already added. Double check the receipt before tipping further. We were a couple of days into our first cruise before we realized that. If you prepaid beverage tips, an option on RC packages, you don't have to add anything.

Also, for those who are drinking, if you order a mixed drink, the bar tender will go to the top shelf unless you specify what you want. A sneaky way to add a couple of dollars to the tab. Of course, since you have the drink package, go top end on everything.

There have been times when we had a bar attendant for an entire evening and appreciated some extra attention, so we added more at the end of the night. Cash tips are discouraged (at least on RC), but the staff will certainly be thrilled if you use cash. Last cruise, we had a great dining room waiter and we gave him a decent cash tip on the last night and I thought he was going to cry. You see, cruise employees have to put their tips (the ones you add to the receipt) into a pool and they will get most of it, but some is passed along to other employees. But the employee can pocket the cash.

Tipping is definitely the trickiest part of the cruise. Like anything else, the servers will learn quickly who are the generous tippers and the service will be very good.

Shopping on board will vary from ship to ship, line to line. We have found that the merchandise is mediocre quality and the prices not really a bargain, but mileage will vary. Ships are required to close shops when in most ports so they don't compete with the local merchants. Island shopping will also vary. The port will likely have shops. The Caribbean islands usually are filled with jewelry stores, artists, and other assorted varieties of stuff. Many of the vendors will bargain. Can't speak for Bermuda. The ship will likely have shopping experts who will hold short seminars on the ins and outs of the specific island.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:53 AM   #17
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I forgot to mention that Bermuda is one of the prettiest, flower-laden islands I've been to and is largely free of people bugging you.

When we were there, I took a cab to Elbo Beach and rented some nice chairs and an umbrella for the day. The water and sand on that day was about as nice as any I've ever seen. You can walk down past the hotel area to some cliffs with limestone caves which are really scenic.

I did this back in the day and it reminded me of backdrops for the SI swimsuit issue, so I stepped into a cave and dropped my suit and posed coquettishly for my wife with my ass hanging out and promptly forgot about it.

That is, I forgot about it until my Mother was flipping through the photos some months later and, to my embarassment, ran across that shot. She looked at it, paused for a long beat, and just kept flipping through without comment. She'd seen it before.

We also took a nice horse-drawn carriage ride through Georgetown at night. The horse's name was Goldfinger. It's funny the stuff that sticks in your memory year's later, but I really liked that island.

Years later, we were on another cruise headed for Bermuda, but due to high winds we were unable to squeeze through the narrow cliffs to get into port and had to skip the one-day stop, which was disappointing, but because of that we ended up running across a disabled sailboat that was competing in a solo ocean race and the Captain of that ship was very ill and had been floating for days with hypothermia waiting for somebody to respond to his S.O.S.

Then, like a dream, a giant, white cruise ship appears and organized a rescue. Our ship sent out a rescue tender while we all watched it unfold from our balconies.

The seas were rough and we got a little too close and then the mast of the sailboat smashed against some of the balconies and shattered, but, miraculously, nobody got hurt. It was sort of a shitshow, but they got the guy off the boat.

It turned out that the guy was OK, and, ironically, both he and the Captain of our ship came from the same very small town in England but had never met.
So, we were pissed to miss Bermuda, but got some unique drama to make it better. Also, I learned that his sailboat, which was worth at least half a million, was scuttled on purpose because it would be a hazard to navigation.
Itís funny what jogs the memory until you start reading other peoples accounts. Iíd completely forgotten the still active horse drawn carriages.

Our plan was daily Vespa rentals to travel the island. The morning we set out there was a rumbling around port. A motorist had collided with a horse drawn carriage. Perished. My wife and I looked at each other and without a word I think assessed her potential Vespa abilities and came to a unified decision - 1 scooter, 2 helmets. She knows her strengths & weaknesses.

I remember pulling into that port on a pristine morning. I thought the crew was gonna have to hang over the sides and butter the boat. Canít imagine it in a storm.

I remember a boat excursion around the island pointing out historical features and prominent things. Ross Perot was in his heyday and they pointed out a beautiful yellow expanse right on the water. Absolutely gorgeous.

981A5CED-5099-46C4-9E14-359769A72150.jpeg



The flowers. Lack of poverty. Cleanliness(shop owners and homes out spraying down the sidewalks and/or sweeping first thing every morning. Itís by far the overall best island experience weíve had.
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:08 AM   #18
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Itís funny what jogs the memory until you start reading other peoples accounts. Iíd completely forgotten the still active horse drawn carriages.

Our plan was daily Vespa rentals to travel the island. The morning we set out there was a rumbling around port. A motorist had collided with a horse drawn carriage. Perished. My wife and I looked at each other and without a word I think assessed her potential Vespa abilities and came to a unified decision - 1 scooter, 2 helmets. She knows her strengths & weaknesses.

I remember pulling into that port on a pristine morning. I thought the crew was gonna have to hang over the sides and butter the boat. Canít imagine it in a storm.

I remember a boat excursion around the island pointing out historical features and prominent things. Ross Perot was in his heyday and they pointed out a beautiful yellow expanse right on the water. Absolutely gorgeous.

Attachment 101646



The flowers. Lack of poverty. Cleanliness(shop owners and homes out spraying down the sidewalks and/or sweeping first thing every morning. Itís by far the overall best island experience weíve had.
Those Bermuda scooters are death traps. One memory that sticks out 36 years later was the shuttle ride from the airport. We were in the front seat on a very narrow windy road. The shuttle came up on a couple of scooters and got so close we could not see them from our seat. We decided then to not go near one of those. We also heard of some serious injuries to tourists riding them.

Damn, I may have to go book a trip (budget be damned), this is bringing back some great memories.
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:13 AM   #19
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Those Bermuda scooters are death traps. One memory that sticks out 36 years later was the shuttle ride from the airport. We were in the front seat on a very narrow windy road. The shuttle came up on a couple of scooters and got so close we could not see them from our seat. We decided then to not go near one of those. We also heard of some serious injuries to tourists riding them.

Damn, I may have to go book a trip (budget be damned), this is bringing back some great memories.
I know huh.

Like you, went on the honeymoon. Loved all of it. No reason to not have been back by now. Life gets in the way.
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:54 AM   #20
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Our own version was from a cruise in '13. The ship was on it's way back to Ft. Lauderdale sailing between Cuba and the Keys. Suddenly, ship alarms go off, the captain comes on the speaker saying some code words, ship personnel go sprinting for the starboard side of the ship. The ship comes to a grinding halt and does a complete 180. We figured someone had fallen overboard. But when we went to check, we found that there was a small raft with Cubans trying to make there way to Florida. They declined assistance and the ship went on it's way, but the captain announced that the Coast Guard had been notified. Below is a picture my wife took.

.
scary stuff, you wonder what became of them.
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Old 07-09-2018, 11:56 AM   #21
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So I guess I'm looking for direction on things like tipping, shopping on board, shopping on the island and any other advice.

We have the bar package (not much good for me or my 15 year old) and the upscale restaurants. Do we tip the waiters/barstaff every time? What about our cabin attendant?

I probably will come up with more questions as we get closer.
On shopping, Bermuda is really expensive, which most other island destinations are not. They have great and high-end stuff, but it's more expensive than the US, in general.

On board, there are always ridiculous art saless, which I never understood, as in why the fuck would anybody want to drag a painting around or ship it and the main gift shops will always do a big sale before the cruise is over so wait if you see something you want. In general, you aren't likely to encounter any massive bargains, but the ladies will tend to shop due to boredom and captivity, or at least mine does.

If you have a regular waiter or waitress then you will tip them the last day and the Maitre D will suddenly turn on the charm to you near the end of the cruise because he wants one too. There will be literature on board that will suggest the recommended tip for everybody, so you won't be going in blind, but these folks make so little salary that you will probably want to tip them well if they are nice and helpful in between running themselves ragged. It depends on the line how they treat their crew. Princess was miserable to them. It is a pretty hard life, so you tend to feel sympathetic if they treat you well. Beware the sob stories and photos of their kids. It's a time-worn technique to soften you up, but it still works for us.

Tipping on a cruise ship is usually a lot less than you might think and a lot of lines still provide excellent service.

My recommendation is to stiff the maitre D and take care of your regulars. Most of them are assholes.
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:13 PM   #22
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scary stuff, you wonder what became of them.
Assume they refused help cause they have to get boots on the ground to establish the right to argue their cause for staying.. Never do that from the cruise ship. ;shrug:
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:24 PM   #23
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Assume they refused help cause they have to get boots on the ground to establish the right to argue their cause for staying.. Never do that from the cruise ship.
Although you may be trying to , that is the truth. Once discovered, their lives became even more difficult. They were not happy to be discovered and tried to wave the ship off.

They were left in a no win situation. The CG was waiting for them, going back to Cuba would likely end with them in a jail cell. And if they had accepted aid from the ship, they would have been promptly put in the brig to keep them away from passengers, rightfully so, and would have been detained immediately upon docking.

But the craziness is being in the middle of the ocean, we counted 20 people on the raft, and just believing that they will make it alive to the other shore 50 miles away.
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:25 PM   #24
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Random Cruise True Story:

So, we are in Cozumel and signed up for a snorkeling trip on a big catamaran, which included an open bar after we got out of the water.

The snorkeling was good and the rum punch was yes-I'm-actually-doing-the-macarena strong. A great time. Then, having some time to kill before we sailed a group of us hit Carlos and Charlie's -- a notorious party bar chain.

When we got in there I discovered that the nubile waitresses were encouraging the consumption of tequila by blowing whistles in my face while twisting my nipples. Being a polite person and wishing to avoid an international incident, I relented and proceeded to get so inebriated that I bypassed "witty and charming II" and went straight into "bulletproof".

So, staggering back along the long pier I was informed that that evening was "Formal Night" meaning that I had to don a tuxedo, which had slipped my mind.

At dinner, I ended up wiping my face with the tablecloth after confusing it with my napkin and actually fell asleep sitting upright, much to the amusement of my companions (minus my wife) and somehow managed to pose for my formal portrait with a perfectly sober-looking beaming smile on my face. The one thing my wife was happy about.

One thing about cruising is that I sleep exceptionally well due to the motion of the ocean and 10 hours later I came down to have breakfast feeling great and got to hear of the many horrowshows I pulled the previous day and night of which I was not aware. For that epic drunk I was awarded the prestigious "Dumbass Award" which earned me a plastic statue of a donkey.

Crusing can be fun.
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:35 PM   #25
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Random Cruise True Story:

So, we are in Cozumel and signed up for a snorkeling tip on a big catamaran, which included an open bar after we got out of the water.

The snorkeling was good and the rum punch was yes-I'm-actually-doing-the-macarena strong. A great time. Then, having some time to kill before we sailed a group of us hit Carlos and Charlie's -- a notorious party bar chain.

When we got in there I discovered that the nubile waitresses were encouraging the consumption of tequila by blowing whistles in my face while twisting my nipples. Being a polite person and wishing to avoid an international incident, I relented and proceeded to get so inebriated that I bypassed "witty and charming II" and went straight into "bulletproof".

So, staggering back along the long pier I was informed that that evening was "Formal Night" meaning that I had to don a tuxedo, which had slipped my mind.

At dinner, I ended up wiping my face with the tablecloth after confusing it with my napkin and actually fell asleep sitting upright, much to the amusement of my companions (minus my wife) and somehow managed to pose for my formal portrait with a perfectly sober-looking beaming smile on my face. The one thing my wife was happy about.

One thing about cruising is that I sleep exceptionally well due to the motion of the ocean and 10 hours later I came down to have breakfast feeling great and got to hear of the many horrowshows I pulled the previous day and night of which I was not aware. For that epic drunk I was awarded the prestigious "Dumbass Award" which earned me a plastic statue of a donkey.

Crusing can be fun.


Cozumel is nuts (been 4 times). We have a picture of my wife donning a balloon crown that I am under penalty of death to never reveal to anyone outside of our house.

If you have not had at least one of those stories, you haven't cruised properly.

I have another story from Jamaica that I am not allowed to tell in detail, but suffice to say that we should have gone straight to the infirmary when we got back (assisted by crew) and we're damned lucky we didn't croak from alcohol poisoning. All due to a combination of those "Macarena" punches as you so brilliantly alluded to, and a coconut drink at a local beach side cabana that was many shots of pure alcohol (pretty sure it was homemade moonshine) and a spritz of coconut juice. We missed an entire day of cruising.

Fortunately, it was a day at sea.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:30 PM   #26
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:52 AM   #27
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So i didn't realize that we had to make reservations for dinner at the upscale restaurants. Impossible to get all six of us at the same time. I made reservations at different times and I am hoping they can hook us up when we get there.

Good cruise story:

I last cruised on RC Monarch of the Seas back in 2000. Did the Caribbean. My brother got married on St. John.

My new sister in law's brother was probably 20 years old and had a friend with him for the cruise. He decided he wanted to try the local weed so we set out to make a purchase on Antigua.

After procuring a bag, a commotion arose and I was sure that the cops were going to bust them. We ran to the dock like our lives depended on it (and they very well might have.) We never looked back and I still have no idea what the commotion was about.

Pretty scary stuff.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:08 AM   #28
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So i didn't realize that we had to make reservations for dinner at the upscale restaurants. Impossible to get all six of us at the same time. I made reservations at different times and I am hoping they can hook us up when we get there.

Good cruise story:

I last cruised on RC Monarch of the Seas back in 2000. Did the Caribbean. My brother got married on St. John.

My new sister in law's brother was probably 20 years old and had a friend with him for the cruise. He decided he wanted to try the local weed so we set out to make a purchase on Antigua.

After procuring a bag, a commotion arose and I was sure that the cops were going to bust them. We ran to the dock like our lives depended on it (and they very well might have.) We never looked back and I still have no idea what the commotion was about.

Pretty scary stuff.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:38 AM   #29
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I remember pulling into that port on a pristine morning. I thought the crew was gonna have to hang over the sides and butter the boat. Canít imagine it in a storm.
That is quite an entrance, as you said. You have to know what you're doing to get one of those monstrosities through the cliffs.

You reminded me that just off the coast of St. Thomas there is a really nice lighthouse on a small rocky island that is 100 feet from sea level at the top. Our tour guide told us of a bad hurricane that once hit that area and a huge wave crashed over the whole thing while the lighthouse keeper was in there tending to the lamp. Caved the windows in and everything, but he survived.

As the story goes, the next day he hopped in a boat with all his stuff, abandoned his post and never looked back.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:08 AM   #30
mooseontheloose
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mooseontheloose is still looking for a lifemooseontheloose is still looking for a life
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Looked into cruises a few times but just can't convince myself it's worth it. Partly because I'm nowhere near a port so there's an extra expense for getting to/from the port.

I'm in my early 30s and still typically do 'backpacking' style trips using hostels (private rooms) or AirBnB (entire houses). Have a hard time convincing myself to spend more for a similar experience. Next year is either Belize in Feb or Europe in May.

But cruises do have a certain appeal. Maybe next warm weather trip I'll look into it again.
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