My girlfriend and I are going on a cruise for the first time on the Monarch of the Seas, this Spring Break. The ship departs on Feb. 28th, for a 4-night cruise around the Bahamas. I've done a little browsing around the web, but I figured it might be better just to ask outright if any experienced cruisers have any advice. We're both your typical college students, so we're hoping to be as cost effective as possible, as well.
A few things I've been wondering...
How much to realistically allot for "other" costs, not included in the price. What restaurants aren't included, any activities, tips, etc... I can't seem to find a list anywhere of what's included. Is it just the buffet? Are all the named restaurants extra? And how "required" is tip. Yes we plan on tipping, we're not that big of cheapskates, but the site seemed to make it seem like it's mandatory, and I'd like to actually see the service first...
I know the casino and spa are extra too, but I assume they're is plenty of do that's included in cost right? Anybody know in particular?
What about souvenirs and such? Like I said, we're not looking to spend much extra, but I was hoping they'd have a model of the ship (I'm big into architecture and design, and the sheer scale and design of the ships themselves intrigues me). They ship also stops, and we might pick up some island goodies. Do they haggle like in Jamaica, or is what the shops list final?
Anything to know about formal night? Any extra things to bring in particular? Maybe some handy life-hacks?
Thanks in advance, and sorry for the wall of text. Bit anxious is all.