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Old March 29th, 2006, 01:43 AM
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Default New Cruiser on Century questions?

As a wedding present, my wife and I received a 14 day Baltic cruise on the Century. Neither of us have been on a cruise before and are seeking some answers to some questions that aren’t listed on Celebrities website
1)What is normal tipping policy on a cruise?
2)If we decide to skip the regular dinning room for dinner is there an additional charge? Same goes for room service (if even offered)?
3)Charge for sodas and water or only booze?
4)Since we are in a concierge class room, what are the services rendered and do we only tip them when services are provided or mandatory regardless?
5)Do you have to pay for shore excursions or are there shuttles provided to see the towns on your own?
6)What is the best way to cover currency exchanges since some of the port cities do not use the Euro? (i.e. go to a bank ahead of time to get money specific currency, use the exchange on board, atm machines in specific cities)

As you can probably tell, we aren’t “well off? people and just want to know what to be financially prepared for. Awesome itinerary for our cruise, but want to make sure we can afford all the specifics in order to have a great time instead of worrying the whole time of what we will be billed on the last day. Obviously, we are also more interested in exploring the ports on our own vs. being tied down to a tour group.
Thanks for any insight you all may provide and soory for all the questions. Yes, I'm a newbie
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Old March 29th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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First of all, congrats on your new marriage, and what an incredible gift you received! I will let the experts here answer your questions because they really know their stuff. They are usually very quick to respond, and their info is more thorough and helpful than the Celebrity website. My hubby and I went on the Century last April, it was our first cruise.

Wow, are you going to have an amazing time!

I cant even describe how much fun a cruise is, or how well you are treated, or how good the food and service are. You really will feel like a celebrity by the time you leave the ship. Sorry, didnt answer your questions, but I had to share my excitement with you! Just know that this is a vacation of a lifetime and you are going to enjoy every minute of it!!!!!

Patty
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Old March 29th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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jaymumma,

As a wedding present, my wife and I...

Congratualations on your marriage, and best wishes to your bride!

1)What is normal tipping policy on a cruise?

Celebrity's current "guidelines" are as follows.

1. "Per Deim" Tips

>> Waiter: $3.50 per passenger per day

>> Assistant Waiter: $2.00 per passenger per day

>> Head Waiter: $0.75 per passenger per day

>> Cabin Steward and Assistant: $3.50 per passenger per day

>> Assistant Chief Housekeeper: $0.75 per passenger per day

>> Butler: $4.00 per passenger per day (applicable only to suites)

Note #1: Celebrity suggests tipping one half of the above amounts for each child under twelve and the amounts above for each child of age twelve or over.

Note #2: You can either tip in cash or submit a form to the Guest Relations Desk to have tips of at least the above amounts added to your shipboard account.

2. Bar and Wine Service: Gratuiety of 15% Automatically Added to Bill

3. Miscellaneous

>> Room Service: At your discrssion, but a tip upon delivery is customary

>> Casino Dealers: At your discression

>> Other Staff: At your discression, but only for services that are beyond the normal performance of their duties

4. Shore Excursions

>> Guide and Driver: $1.50 per passenger for 1/2 day tour or $3.00 per passenger for full day tour

Do NOT tip the ship's officers, as doing so would be exceedingly gauche.

I generally deviate from these guidelines somewhat.

>> 1. It's not customary to tip a person with whom you ordinarily do not interact. Thus, I see no justification for the line to that one tip the assistant chief housekeeper -- and I also am not aware of any other line that suggests a similar tip. You can tell, from the way that Celebrity's cruise directors push this tip in their disembarkation talks, that a LOT of other passengers also balk at it.

>> 2. Until reently, it was customary to tip the Maitre d' and the head waiters only if they performed special services, so the suggested tip to the head waiter is also questionable. Nonetheless, this person is very involved in service in the dining room so I do go along with it.

>> 3. I generally give the suggested amount to my cabin steward and a separate amount, following the same guidelines as for the assistant waiter ($2.00 per passenger per day) to the assistant cabin steward. AFAIK, Celebrity is the only major cruise line with assistant cabin stewards, but they work very hard so I think that they deserve the same consideration as an assistant waiter in the dining room.

2)If we decide to skip the regular dinning room for dinner is there an additional charge? Same goes for room service (if even offered)?

Skipping dinner in the dining room is generally a mistake because the food in Celebrity's dining rooms is very good and the service is part of the ship's entertainment. Nonetheless, there are several alternatives.

>> If you want to eat early and light, the grill by the main pool serves burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc., until 6:00 PM.

>> Some Celebrity ships have a pizza and pasta bar that's open from lunchtime until 1:00 AM. On ships that have it, there's no additional charge to eat at the pizza and pasta bar.

>> All Celebrity ships offer "alternative casual dining" with full table service in the buffet area during the dinner hour. Reservations are recommended, and tehre's a charge of $3.50 per passenger, which is basically a gratuity for the servers.

>> In her upcoming refit, MV Century will get a very fancy specialty restuarant with tableside preparations of many items and synchronized service. This restaurant will have a service charge of $30.00 per passenger, which will include gratuities for its staff.

3)Charge for sodas and water or only booze?

Basicaly, you pay for any beverage that comes from a bar or from the Cova Cafe di Milano. The buffet area offers complimentary coffee, tea, and juices 24x7.

Bottled water is an extra charge, but you can refill the bottles yourself from the tap in your room -- and don't hesitate to do this! The tap water aboard ship, being distilled, is much purer than nearly all water that you get on land -- including most bottled water.

4)Since we are in a concierge class room, what are the services rendered and do we only tip them when services are provided or mandatory regardless?

I'm not aware of any additional services that would warrant tipping in concierge class.

5)Do you have to pay for shore excursions or are there shuttles provided to see the towns on your own?

Yes.

By way of amplification, "shore excursions" generally are organized tours or outings that have specific itineraries of their own. I highly recommend taking a shore excursion if you are visiting a locale for hte first time, for a couple of reasons.

>> 1. The guides on shore excursions generally describe the lay of the land, explain local customs that unsuspecting visitors often cross, and alert you to potential hazards during the course of the tour. The awareness that they provide could spare you a considerable amount of difficulty and embarrassment if you subsequently go into town on your own.

>> 2. European ports of call are very rich in historical and cultural attractions, including signficant art and architecture. Many of these attractions have long queues (often 2-3 hours) for admission, but shore excursions (and other organized tours) have reserved times so they skip the queues. As a result, you'll see a LOT more of the attractions in the ports of call by taking shore excursions, especially on a cruise in Europe.

To give you an idea how rich most European ports of call are, note that most of the tours leave the ship around 8:00 to 8:30 in the morning and return to the ship around 5:30 to 6:00 or so in the afternoon, with lunch included, simply becasue there is that much to take in!

That said, Celebrity generally also offers complimentary shuttles between the pier and the downtown area of a port of call in ports where they are not within a reaslonable walking distance of one another. In some ports, the pier is right next to the downtown area.

6)What is the best way to cover currency exchanges since some of the port cities do not use the Euro? (i.e. go to a bank ahead of time to get money specific currency, use the exchange on board, atm machines in specific cities)

It's generally best to make major purchases on credit cards and let your credit card company do the conversion. Most regular merchants welcome Visa and MasterCard for purchases over $20 or so.

For "pocket money," the best strategy is to convert about $100 per person to the currency of the port of embarkation before you leave the United States, then do subsequent conversoins aboard ship as the need arises. The equivalent of $100 per person in cash in the local currency is a good guideline, but convert currencies that you will no longer need to the currency of the next port of call on a rolling basis, augmenting them with greenbacks when necessary.

As you can probably tell, we aren’t “well off? people and just want to know what to be financially prepared for.

Fair enough. That being the case, though, it might be a while before you have a chance to return to Europe so you might as well plan to do it right. There are plenty of ways to control costs without depriving yourselves of the best that the ports of call have to offer -- limit what you buy to bring back, stay out of the casino and the bingo games, avoid spa treatments, and drink sodas rather than alcoholic beverages in the lounges.

Obviously, we are also more interested in exploring the ports on our own vs. being tied down to a tour group.

Again, you will be much better off taking organized shore excursions in European ports of call due to the long queues at many attractions. Most of the tours in Europe include lunch in a local restaurant and some time for shopping or independent exploration in an area where you will be safe. I realize that this means budgeting about $300 per day in port for shore excursions and souvenirs, but you probably would spend about as much between taxis and admissions and not see as much if you try to do it on your own.

Thanks for any insight you all may provide and soory for all the questions. Yes, I'm a newbie

The only additional detail that I would mention is that Celebrity Cruises is very much an "upscale" line with a fairly "upscale" cadre of passengers. The "suggested" dress in the cruise literature tends to be the minimum of what nearly all passengers actually wear rather than a maximum, and it's expected in all of the evening areas -- so don't go with the intent of "dressing down" after dinner on the "formal" and "informal" evenings. A DARK business suit -- and I emphasize the DARK -- is acceptable on formal evenings, if you own one. Likewise, your wife could wear her prom dress or a dress that she wore as a bride's maid at a friend's wedding on the formal nights. I mention this so you can plan accordingly and avoid a situation in your wife spends your whole cruise bidget on fancy clothes that she did not bring, as you watch in horror....

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:18 PM
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Default New Cruiser on Century questions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
jaymumma,

As a wedding present, my wife and I...

Congratulations on your marriage, and best wishes to your bride!
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17

2. Bar and Wine Service: Gratuity of 15% Automatically Added to Bill
So you pay 15% on top of whatever the drinks cost, assuming mixed drinks and other misc. liquor is NOT cheap?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
Skipping dinner in the dining room is generally a mistake because the food in Celebrity's dining rooms is very good and the service is part of the ship's entertainment. Nonetheless, there are several alternatives.

>> If you want to eat early and light, the grill by the main pool serves burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc., until 6:00 PM.

>> Some Celebrity ships have a pizza and pasta bar that's open from lunchtime until 1:00 AM. On ships that have it, there's no additional charge to eat at the pizza and pasta bar.

>> All Celebrity ships offer "alternative casual dining" with full table service in the buffet area during the dinner hour. Reservations are recommended, and there’s a charge of $3.50 per passenger, which is basically a gratuity for the servers.

>> In her upcoming refit, MV Century will get a very fancy specialty restaurant with tableside preparations of many items and synchronized service. This restaurant will have a service charge of $30.00 per passenger, which will include gratuities for its staff.
Well sometimes spending a day out walking around and such, I know there will be times we won't want to dress up and sit down for a long dinner. Have no doubts that the dinners will be fabulous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
Basically, you pay for any beverage that comes from a bar or from the Cova Cafe di Milano. The buffet area offers complimentary coffee, tea, and juices 24x7.

Bottled water is an extra charge, but you can refill the bottles yourself from the tap in your room -- and don't hesitate to do this! The tap water aboard ship, being distilled, is much purer than nearly all water that you get on land -- including most bottled water.
Ok, so no soda stations to get drinks? We aren't real "drinkers" to begin with but coffee, juice, and water is very acceptable if soda is only available at the bar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
5)Do you have to pay for shore excursions or are there shuttles provided to see the towns on your own?

Yes.

By way of amplification, "shore excursions" generally are organized tours or outings that have specific itineraries of their own. I highly recommend taking a shore excursion if you are visiting a locale for the first time, for a couple of reasons.

>> 1. The guides on shore excursions generally describe the lay of the land, explain local customs that unsuspecting visitors often cross, and alert you to potential hazards during the course of the tour. The awareness that they provide could spare you a considerable amount of difficulty and embarrassment if you subsequently go into town on your own.

>> 2. European ports of call are very rich in historical and cultural attractions, including significant art and architecture. Many of these attractions have long queues (often 2-3 hours) for admission, but shore excursions (and other organized tours) have reserved times so they skip the queues. As a result, you'll see a LOT more of the attractions in the ports of call by taking shore excursions, especially on a cruise in Europe.

To give you an idea how rich most European ports of call are, note that most of the tours leave the ship around 8:00 to 8:30 in the morning and return to the ship around 5:30 to 6:00 or so in the afternoon, with lunch included, simply because there is that much to take in!

That said, Celebrity generally also offers complimentary shuttles between the pier and the downtown area of a port of call in ports where they are not within a reasonable walking distance of one another. In some ports, the pier is right next to the downtown area.
I knew we would have to pay for the excursions just wasn't sure on if there was a shuttle service. Never really thought of ports like Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, etc. of being dangerous cities that I would need to rely on being more in a "group" to feel safe. We are mostly going to look at architecture vs. museums (with the exception of the Hermitage in St Petersburg) so waiting in queues wasn't really in our future. Please correct me if these Baltic/Scandinavia cities are not safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
6)What is the best way to cover currency exchanges since some of the port cities do not use the Euro? (i.e. go to a bank ahead of time to get money specific currency, use the exchange on board, atm machines in specific cities)

It's generally best to make major purchases on credit cards and let your credit card company do the conversion. Most regular merchants welcome Visa and MasterCard for purchases over $20 or so.

For "pocket money," the best strategy is to convert about $100 per person to the currency of the port of embarkation before you leave the United States, then do subsequent conversions aboard ship as the need arises. The equivalent of $100 per person in cash in the local currency is a good guideline, but convert currencies that you will no longer need to the currency of the next port of call on a rolling basis, augmenting them with greenbacks when necessary.
GREAT SUGGESTION!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
Fair enough. That being the case, though, it might be a while before you have a chance to return to Europe so you might as well plan to do it right. There are plenty of ways to control costs without depriving yourselves of the best that the ports of call have to offer -- limit what you buy to bring back, stay out of the casino and the bingo games, avoid spa treatments, and drink sodas rather than alcoholic beverages in the lounges.
As stated before, is the bar the only place to get sodas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
The only additional detail that I would mention is that Celebrity Cruises is very much an "upscale" line with a fairly "upscale" cadre of passengers. The "suggested" dress in the cruise literature tends to be the minimum of what nearly all passengers actually wear rather than a maximum, and it's expected in all of the evening areas -- so don't go with the intent of "dressing down" after dinner on the "formal" and "informal" evenings. A DARK business suit -- and I emphasize the DARK -- is acceptable on formal evenings, if you own one. Likewise, your wife could wear her prom dress or a dress that she wore as a bride's maid at a friend's wedding on the formal nights. I mention this so you can plan accordingly and avoid a situation in your wife spends your whole cruise budget on fancy clothes that she did not bring, as you watch in horror....
yeah, originally we were looking at Princess and NCL that had a little more "laid back" atmosphere, but we received the Celebrity cruise instead. Excellent gift and appears A LOT nicer than the other two we were originally looking at. Clothes are definitely covered so showing up out of place because of our attire has no bearing. Thank god, because my wife really knows how to shop Just didn't want to get nickeled and dimed and every opportunity just to have a good time. Celebrity does appear to be more geared towards a higher class of people, but by no means are we white trash either.
Thanks so much for you insight, because obviously you know A LOT more than we do at this point.
Looking forward to the cruise
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Old March 29th, 2006, 08:48 PM
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jaymumma,

So you pay 15% on top of whatever the drinks cost, assuming mixed drinks and other misc. liquor is NOT cheap?

That's right -- but you don't leave cash tips, as you would in a bar or lounge ashore.

Ok, so no soda stations to get drinks? We aren't real "drinkers" to begin with but coffee, juice, and water is very acceptable if soda is only available at the bar

Celebrity offers a soda package, whereby you get unlimited sodas from all bars for the duration of hte cruise for $10 per person per day. If you drink a lot of soda, it's quite reasonable.

I knew we would have to pay for the excursions just wasn't sure on if there was a shuttle service. Never really thought of ports like Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, etc. of being dangerous cities that I would need to rely on being more in a "group" to feel safe. We are mostly going to look at architecture vs. museums (with the exception of the Hermitage in St Petersburg) so waiting in queues wasn't really in our future. Please correct me if these Baltic/Scandinavia cities are not safe.

The downtowns of Oslo and Copenhagen seemed pretty safe when I was there in 2001, but I don't know of any major cities anywhere that don't have some neighborhoods with significant drug and crime problems.

I was using "museums" as an example, but there are invariably queues at royal palaces and other places of architectural significance, too. Also, the places of architectural signficance are not necessarily either in the downtown area or near the pier. You may spend a fortune on taxis getting to and from some of them.

There are several tours in most of these cities, so you can choose the tour that best matches your interest. I do think that you will see more on a tour than by going ashore on your own, though, and what you spend will be much more predictable -- a definite virtue if you are on a tight budget.

As stated before, is the bar the only place to get sodas?

There are bars all over the ship, but they are the only places to get sodas.

yeah, originally we were looking at Princess and NCL that had a little more "laid back" atmosphere, but we received the Celebrity cruise instead. Excellent gift and appears A LOT nicer than the other two we were originally looking at.

Princess WAS a fabulous product back in the late 1990's. In fact, my first thirteen vacation cruises were with Princess, but I foudn the some of the changes starting in 2001 or so to be frustrating. I decided to try another line in 2003, landed on Celebrity, and have been quite satisfied. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Clothes are definitely covered so showing up out of place because of our attire has no bearing.

Good. I just figured that it would be best to mention the issue because some people wrongly assume that all cruise lines are alike. In fact, the differences are like night and day in some areas.

Thank god, because my wife really knows how to shop

Egad! In that case, you better budget an additional $250 per day for your wife's shopping expeditions -- and that's if you take a tours in each port of call. Add another $500 for any port of call where you don't take a tour. She's bound to find fabulous deals on furnishings for your new home -- and much of it may be on articles that are not readily available here in the States. The tours will restrict her time for shopping while the ship is in port to an hour or two each afternoon.

I actually met a gentleman on one cruise whose explanation of what happened in a port of call was quite simple. His wife went shopping for whatever time the ship spent in port. His job was to carry the credit cards and the purchases. IIRC, he said that they brought two empty suitcases on each cruise to take home her purchases.

As to the shipboard shops, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that they carry merchandise of good quality. The bad news is that it is not cheap. Realistically, the prices are reasonable for the quality of merchandise that they sell.

Just didn't want to get nickeled and dimed and every opportunity just to have a good time.

All of the major cruise lines have become very proficient at creating opportunities for you to part with your money. Nonetheless, you really can have a whale of a good time without taking advantage of those opportunities.

Celebrity does appear to be more geared towards a higher class of people, but by no means are we white trash either.

I sensed that. In fact, that's why I suggested that your wife would buy appropriate attire if she discovered that she brouht the wrong things....

Thanks so much for you insight, because obviously you know A LOT more than we do at this point.

You're welcome.

We all had a first time, so we appreciate how helpful the voice of experience can be. I can tell you from personal experience that cruise numer twenty is not exactly the same as cruise numbr one -- but I'm really still a beginner, too. In 2001, I had the privilege of meeting Joe and Lorraine Artz on a cruise to "Scandanavia and Western Eruope"aboard MV Royal Princess. Joe and Lorraine were on their two hundred eighth Princess cruise, and they had taken over one huncred twenty-five cruises on otehr lines before they decided that they liked that ship the best. Alas, Joe is now cruisign the great seas above that await the rest of us.

I'll tell you about one more great deal. The parent company of Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL), offers a "shareholder benefit" in the form of a shipboard credit to any holder of one hundred (100) shares of the company's common stock who takes a cruise on either of the company's lines (Royal Caribbean International is the other). Shares held in a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or an IRA, qualify if you are the benefical owner. The amount of the credit depends upon the length of the cruise, but it would be $250 on your cruise of fourteen nights. Further, you can receive the credit on as many cruises as you take and it's fully combinable with any other offer or deal that you receive. You just have to submit proof of actual or beneficial ownership of the shares with the required informatoin about your booking (http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_...nefit_2005.pdf) to receive the credit. The credit will appear on your shipboard account a few days into the cruise, but your travel agent can verify it a couple weeks after you submit the paperwork. The company has renewed this offer annually for several years now, so I expect that they will do so again.

Looking forward to the cruise

Yes, your itinerary looks really exciting. Enjoy!

Norm.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 09:19 PM
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Default New Cruiser on Century questions?

Thanks Norm,
You are a wealth of great information
Jay
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Old March 29th, 2006, 09:41 PM
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Jay,

Thanks Norm,

You're quite welcome!

You are a wealth of great information

Well, I'm always glad to be more of an asset than the first 3/5 of one....

Have a great evening!

Norm.
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