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Old 05-22-2012, 09:49 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k374 View Post
how much extra over the cruise price would one need to allocate (EXCLUDING any onshore activities - purely tips/drinks/other onboard exp I don't know of etc.)... are waiters tipped on a per drink basis or daily basis?
My most recent experiences have been with Princess Cruises. So, what I'm talking about applies to them. You have to pay extra for soft and alcoholic drinks. We were able to buy a package deal, for something like $20-25 (I don't remember) for the soft drink drinkers, and with that, they could drink all they wanted. As you order drinks, you sign for them, and can add a tip at that time. Princess adds an amount (like $5.) per day for your room steward and for your dining room waiter, to your bill. You can reduce or increase that as you feel you need to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by k374 View Post
Is a Inside cabin all that bad? I am not the claustrophobic type. The window cabins on some cruises are about 30-40% extra, is it worth the cost?
I am a tad claustrophobic. But I'm also thrifty (okay, cheap). I would never pay extra for a window. I have had success (with Princess Cruises) of requesting an upgrade on the room, and received balcony rooms for the Inside price. It was nice having. But ... I found it just as pleasant to go out of my room and find an area to lounge in, when that was what I wanted to do. My cabin was for sleeping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by k374 View Post
How good/bad is the regular food? I know this is dependent on the cruise company but as a general rule.
I'm not a foodie, or particularly fussed about it, but I thought it was quite good. One thing we did enjoy, was being able to order something just to try it ... and order something else, if we didn't like it.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:34 AM
 
Location: southwest TN
8,224 posts, read 14,921,460 times
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I have found that the quality of cruise food has gone down in recent years - specifically since the addition of 3 things:

1. Coffee - there's a reason they have a specialty coffee place - to make money - and to encourage you to drink that coffee, they have made their own taste like - not coffee - flavorless brown liquid - sometimes so icky looking that adding cream just makes it look muddy and oily. So we bring our own, order a pot of tea and have coffee in our room. Melitta makes a great, inexpensive drip coffee filter holder.

2. Specialty restaurants where you pay extra - $10-$25 - The food is ok in either the main dining room(s) or buffet areas as opposed to 10ish years ago when it was really great. Now it's just ok.

I have lost weight on our last 5 cruises (and on 3 different cruiselines) because I wind up eating salad and cookies for 2 meals a day. Breakfasts are still good - although the scrambled eggs are generally not from fresh eggs.

3. Note that chocolate desserts are brown tasting. I don't know how they do it, but they turn a chocolate cake or chocolate frosting into no taste at all. Must be because of the specialty dessert places on ships (pay). Again, this is on 3 different lines.
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Out West
22,699 posts, read 16,808,575 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NY Annie View Post
I have found that the quality of cruise food has gone down in recent years - specifically since the addition of 3 things:

1. Coffee - there's a reason they have a specialty coffee place - to make money - and to encourage you to drink that coffee, they have made their own taste like - not coffee - flavorless brown liquid - sometimes so icky looking that adding cream just makes it look muddy and oily. So we bring our own, order a pot of tea and have coffee in our room. Melitta makes a great, inexpensive drip coffee filter holder.

2. Specialty restaurants where you pay extra - $10-$25 - The food is ok in either the main dining room(s) or buffet areas as opposed to 10ish years ago when it was really great. Now it's just ok.

I have lost weight on our last 5 cruises (and on 3 different cruiselines) because I wind up eating salad and cookies for 2 meals a day. Breakfasts are still good - although the scrambled eggs are generally not from fresh eggs.

3. Note that chocolate desserts are brown tasting. I don't know how they do it, but they turn a chocolate cake or chocolate frosting into no taste at all. Must be because of the specialty dessert places on ships (pay). Again, this is on 3 different lines.
I can only tell you what it was with the cruise lines I worked for...

The reason the food was more bland was because of the enormous amount of dietary restrictions of so many guests. It was unbelievable the flood of faxes and emails we would get from guests who could not have salt or peanuts or this spice or that spice or milk or sugar or....the list is endless.

So, to cater to all, they made the food more bland. The cruise lines I worked for, the food was still good. I did go on another cruise line, (because of massively reduced fare for those of us who worked within a various network), and the food on the competition's ship was...eh, not so good. It sounds bias but it really wasn't.

Some cruise lines still have good food, some...nothing to get excited about.
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:20 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,854 posts, read 20,157,720 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Three Wolves In Snow View Post
I can only tell you what it was with the cruise lines I worked for...

The reason the food was more bland was because of the enormous amount of dietary restrictions of so many guests. It was unbelievable the flood of faxes and emails we would get from guests who could not have salt or peanuts or this spice or that spice or milk or sugar or....the list is endless.

So, to cater to all, they made the food more bland. The cruise lines I worked for, the food was still good. I did go on another cruise line, (because of massively reduced fare for those of us who worked within a various network), and the food on the competition's ship was...eh, not so good. It sounds bias but it really wasn't.

Some cruise lines still have good food, some...nothing to get excited about.
That's sad that the food has to be made bland just to satisfy some guests .... They should just have a section of the buffet that's geared towards them and have everything else marketed for the majority. Then again, if you work for a line that caters mostly to older folks, then I guess dietary restrictions may be the norm for most guests ...
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Whittier, CA
494 posts, read 1,603,713 times
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great advice in this thread!
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:45 AM
 
8,184 posts, read 11,902,987 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Three Wolves In Snow View Post
I did go on another cruise line, (because of massively reduced fare for those of us who worked within a various network), and the food on the competition's ship was...eh, not so good. It sounds bias but it really wasn't.

Some cruise lines still have good food, some...nothing to get excited about.
As someone who allegedly worked in the business, you should know better than to judge an entire cruise line by your experience on just one cruise on one ship. There's a reason that restaurant critics go to the same restaurant several times before writing a review of it.

As an example, I took a 30-day cruise around South America on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas in January of last year. It was my first cruise on RCL in almost 20 years so I didn't know what to expect in the way of cuisine. (I chose the cruise based on the itinerary, not RCL's reputation.) Well, the dining room food was just as you described: bland to a fault and below average quality in most respects. The deserts were the worst and were barely edible. I actually lost a couple of pounds by the end of the month.

However, I was not willing to condemn an entire cruise line based on one experience, so in October of last year, my wife and I took a 14-day transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to New Orleans on Mariner's sister ship, Voyager of the Seas. Once again, we chose the cruise for the itinerary. However this time, the food exceeded our expectations. It was tasty and seasoned well. I wouldn't call it 5-star or gourmet cuisine, but one can't expect as much on a mass market cruise line when the dining room has to feed 3000+ passengers a night.

One cruise line, two similar ships, but two vastly different experiences.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,926 posts, read 83,566,150 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k374 View Post
I have never taken a cruise ever but I am thinking about taking the plunge soon enough. Questions -

how much extra over the cruise price would one need to allocate (EXCLUDING any onshore activities - purely tips/drinks/other onboard exp I don't know of etc.)... are waiters tipped on a per drink basis or daily basis?

Is a Inside cabin all that bad? I am not the claustrophobic type. The window cabins on some cruises are about 30-40% extra, is it worth the cost?

How good/bad is the regular food? I know this is dependent on the cruise company but as a general rule.
As someone who has cruised over 25 times I think I can safely answer most of your questions;

1-inside cabin, for your first cruise and nothing to compare it with, an inside should be fine. Some people always stay in them, we have twice. To be honest we would not do it again, but that is only cause we know the differences.

2-most cruise lines today have added service charges instead of the Old tipping policy, some will allow you to choose which you prefer...They are becoming few and far between, especially if you decide to opt for what is known as open dining. If there is a service charge it will run from about $10 a day to about $13 per person. The highest is Disney. Most are about $11 to $12 a day. drinks will have an automatice 15% added to your bill on every drink. The cost of drinks, if you are talking alcohol will run from about $4.50 for a beer to as much as $10 for some martinis and specialty drinks. Soem lines will allow you to bring your liquor on for consumption in your cabin. This is becoming less and less an option. How much you spend will depend on your drinking habits.

3-food is very subjective. There are 2 or 3 lines that are known for having outstanding food, the rest vary. Even those known for top quality do not please everyone palit. We have friends who just got off a Disney cruise, he didn't like the food. His idea of a good dinner is a piece of beef, canned green beans and maybe a green salad with almost nothing on it. Basically, food has done south on cruise lines in the past 5 years but it is still decent to very good. You wil always find something you like.

You asked how much to allocate excluding drinks. shore excurtions etc. That is up to you, but figure your main expense other than what you have mentioned will be tipping, plus a few other things: unless you spend a lot of time on spa treatments or in the casino, there is very little extra, other than tips. We do most of our tours privately and figure including drinks and tips we spend about $75 or less a person daily. this also includes eating in specialty dining rooms a douple of times. On a week long cruise our cabin bill is usually under $1000.00.

Hope this helps you some anyway.

bTW,to those who are suggesting ways to smuggle booze on ships, if that is what you want to do, fine, but I don't think the OP asked that question.

Last edited by nmnita; 06-26-2012 at 08:04 AM..
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,926 posts, read 83,566,150 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talloolla View Post
Check out Cruise Critic. It is a site about all cruises and has a forum dedicated to each cruise line. You can learn a lot about what to expect from them.

Everyone has their own individual likes but I personally would not go on a cruise for more then a few days unless I had a balcony. I like the extra spacious feeling it gave the room as well as the option for some great sea air. I find most cruises to be a lot of hustle and bustle so I do enjoy some room time.
Once you choose what trip you might want to make, you can go to the cruises website and do a virtual tour of the ship and see what excursions are available. Although I am not sure if they all publish the cost of them online.
We never had any complaints about the food in the main dining rooms as as mention above, you can order as much as you want. The buffets get a little messy - especially the breakfast buffet. I think most lines now have a few upscale restaurants that you must pay an additional fee to eat in. The bar drinks are costly and mixed drinks often watered down so we stick to wine or beer when having a drink. Hope this helps.
Cruisecritc is the perfedt place to go for all kinds of answers. I just hate to see people put too much into the reviews. Other than that I totally agree with you.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,926 posts, read 83,566,150 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Some of the above are wrong answers depending on the cruise line you are talking about. Some lines are all inclusive where you don't pay extra for drinks, including most alcohol. Some give free soft drinks and specialty coffees and only charge for alcohol. Some give free soft drinks and juice, but not specialty coffees.

Some don't have a suggested daily gratuity scheme, tips are included. Others bill the suggested daily tips directly to your on board account. Some give you the suggested daily amount but leave it up to you to handle it.

Some cruise lines are known for exceptional dining, some are known for basically offering someplace between cafeteria and banquet type food.

Some ships don't have balconies at all, some don't have inside cabins at all.

Some don't charge extra for the upscale/alternative restaurants, some have a fee that can top $75 per person.

The big question--what is your budget and where would you like to cruise to?
you are right, some are all inclusive, but the average poster here, cruising for the first time is thinking mass marketed lines, not luxury lines. The only all inclusives are the upscale ones. As for a fee for specialty dining rooms, I would like to know what lines charge $75 a person? I have cruised on all mass marketed lines and have never spent anything close to $75 a person. Again, you are talking apples and oranges.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:53 PM
 
Location: Cheswolde
1,977 posts, read 5,996,585 times
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Default You can do it cheaply

We are lucky to be in a position to spend two months a year cruising. We can do it, aside from being comfortable, because:
-- We are constantly looking for special deals. For instance, you can find incredible bargains, if you are flexible enough to buy trans-Atlantic repositioning cruises after the final payment deadline.
-- Having tested alternatives -- but never a suite -- we have come to the conclusion that the most cost-effective cabin is a cheap inside. Anything beyond that seldom offers much value. For example, it would be nice to have a balcony in Hawaii but the fact is that the voyage from San Diego to Hawaii and back is so cold, one seldom uses the balcony. So, we can easily go to the deck.
-- We study deck plans to make sure that our basic cabin is well-positioned (and not under a kitchen where pots and pans are handled 24 /7), and as big as possible (the category J, on the Main deck of HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam or Noordam, is a good example of a big inside; Carnival insides are also large). We like cabins on lower levels because they are less likely to cause sea-sickness. They are also often easier for entering and exiting at port or tender stops.
-- We travel at times when no one else wants to (before or after Thanksgiving, Christmas) and don't believe the tribal thinking about certain cruise lines being noticeably inferior -- Carnival, Norwegian, and Costa, for example.
-- We like the ship as a cocoon. But we are not bothered if we have foreign fellow passengers and hear foreign languages.
-- We believe that if a costly airfare is involved, then a long cruise must justify it.
-- We own stock in Carnival and get a stockholder's credit each time we cruise on its Carnival, HAL, Princess, Costa etc. ships.
-- Having had our troubles with demon rum, we don't drink at sea or on the shore. (My wife may have an occassional whiskey sour or pina colada). Keeps our expenses down. We don't buy trinkets or ship photos.
-- We have come to believe that in most cases speciality restaurants add no value to cruising. For that reason, we are happy with whatever comes with the basic package.
-- We seldom have serious meals ashore. How would we know what is a good restaurant in Venice, an expensive city? We don't. A ship's food is just fine by us.
-- We have been on more than 15 cruises. We will be spending the month of November on the Costa Victoria, cruising from Shanghai to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapora, Bangkok etc. Our pp. cost in an inside cabin will be $55 a day for lodgings, food and travel of a very long itinerary. Can't beat that, even though the airfare to get there is high. Actually, not that bad -- less than $1,500 pp. (BTW, our Carnival stockholders' benefit reduces our per cabin cost by $500).
-- We have taken excursions but never one arranged by the ship because better alternatives exist. On our forthcoming Asia trip we will break this rule because Costa offers the easiest and most cost-effective way to get to Saigon and back during a short port stay.
In brief: All depends on you. We have never had a bad cruise.
Do we spend money on cruises? Sure. For instance, on the forthcoming Asia cruise we will arrive in Shanghai early and spend three nights in a well-priced executive-level riverview room at the Broadway Mansions, where the $137 per night price includes breakfast, free internet and the use of the executive lounge (2 p.m.- 9 p.m.) with free snacks and soft drinks. Similarly, we'll book a good hotel during our overnight stay in Thailand. We view those as good uses of money.

Last edited by barante; 06-26-2012 at 08:23 PM..
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