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Old November 20th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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Default On Board Costs

What are the additional costs like when on board a cruise? Amongst other additional costs, how much more expensive are alcoholic beverages than they would be in a restaurant on the mainland? Is there any additional costs that are significantly overpriced?

P.S. This is the first cruise for my wife and I, so we're trying to get an idea of what we're in for.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: On Board Costs

mcgarnagle87,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
What are the additional costs like when on board a cruise? Amongst other additional costs, how much more expensive are alcoholic beverages than they would be in a restaurant on the mainland? Is there any additional costs that are significantly overpriced?

P.S. This is the first cruise for my wife and I, so we're trying to get an idea of what we're in for.
Okay, here goes.

Gratuities

The biggest fixed onboard expense is gratuities for your waitstaff in the main dining room and your cabin attendants. The current customary amounts, across all cruise lines, are as follows.

>> Head Waiter ("Assisant Maitre d'Hotel" on Celebrity): $0.75 per person per day.

>> Waiter: $3.50 per person per day

>> Assistant Waiter: $2.00 per person per day

>> Cabin Steward: $3.50 per person per day

>> Butler (Suites Only): $4.00 per person per day

It's appropriate to increase these amounts, within reason, if the recipients provide special services beyond their normal duties or if their service is truly extraordinary.

Unlike other cruise lines, Celebrity assigns an assistant cabin steward to each block of cabins, whom I tip the same amount as an assistant waiter even though Celebrity does not suggest tipping this person. The assistant cabin stewards really do work pretty hard.

Celebrity also "suggests" a gratuity of $0.50 per person per day for the Assistant Chief Housekeeper, but I don't see any justification whatsoever for this "suggestion." Such a tip is NOT customary in the industry, and few passengers ever encounter this person during the cruise.

Beverages

The prices of bar beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are similar to most "upscale" bars in North America. Note that bar beverages generally include sodas and juices. (Juices are included at breakfast.)

You can buy a "soda sticker" to apply to your "SeaPass" card that entitles the holder to complimentary fountain sodas for the duration of the cruise. IIRC, it costs $5.00 per remaining night of the cruise so those who will drink more than two sodas per day will come out ahead with the sticker.

The price of premium coffees, teas, espressos, cappuccinos, etc., at the "Cova Cafe di Milano" coffee bar is quite steep, but the buffet restaurant offers complementary coffee, tea, milk, and skim milk at all times ("24x7").

The charge for beverages will include a standard gratuity of 15%, as is customary in the industry. Celebrity now prints a line for an additional gratuity on the charge slip, which strikes me as pretty obnoxious. You can just "X" it out before signing the slip.

Shops

The shops onboard generally sell merchandise of decent quality for about the price of similar quality ashore. I have found the selection of merchandise to be uneven from ship to ship in spite of the fact that the same company operates the shops aboard all of Celebrity's vessels.

Personal Services

The prices of personal services such as hairdressing, manicures and pedicures, spa treatments, and acupuncture treatments are pretty similar to what you would pay at a comparable "upscale" facility or resort ashore. The respective facilities automatically add the customary gratuity to the stated rate, in keeping with the custom of the cruise industry.

The ship's medical center will charge all services to your "SeaPass" account. If you have insurance that covers the cost of medical services, you have to get the paperwork and submit it yourself for reimbursement. The prices for medical services seem to be fair.

Shore Excursions

Most shore excursions represent reasonable value. They typically are slightly more expensive than similar tours purchased ashore, but the cruise line has vetted the operators for safety and security and has verified that the descriptions are accurate. The ship's shore excursion staff also monitor the status of the ship's excursions, and the ship will either delay sailing until they return or make alternate arrangements to get passengers back aboard if the shore excursions encounter delays. Also, in the ship's shore excursions have first priority for use of the available tenders in all tender ports. If you go ashore on your own, (1) you might have to await a tender with available seats to go ashore and (2) you bear the responsibility to get to the next port of call to rejoin the ship and the cost of alternate transporation, lodging, and meals ashore until you do so if you don't return aboard before the ship sails.

I strongly recommend taking shore excursions (1) in any port of call that you don't know very well, especially if you don't speak the local language, and (2) in any port of call where you want to visit an attraction that is not right in the port city. The guides on most shore excursions make a point of explaining enough about local customs so one can avoid difficult or embarrassing situations. They will direct you to areas that are safe if you elect to stay "in town" rather than returning to the ship at the end of the excursion.

Gambling

The casino will gladly accept your donations. So will the Bingo games.

BTW, on Celebrity, you can buy chips on your SeaPass card at the window in the casino without paying a surcharge or interest. If you find that your cash is running low, buy some chips and then cash them in. (In practice, the window usually issues cash and tells you to buy the chips at the table of your choice.)

Miscellaneous

Some cruise lines also charge for optional enrichment classes, advanced fitness programs, or other special programs. On Celebrity, you'll find such charges for the wine tasting and wine pairing seminars and perhaps for some of the computer classes.

Internet access is pretty steep aboard ship due to the cost of satellite communications. Celebrity charges a base rate of $0.67 per minute, though you can buy packages of minutes, usable in multiple sessions, at lower rates. The lower rate continues through the end of the session in which the package expires. If you must respond to e-mail while you are aboard ship, compose your replies off line to minimize your expense.

And finally, Celebrity's photo studios have become a royal rip-off, selling what's basically a 5x7 print of a digital photograph for $14.95. If you want pictures, use your own camera instead.

With a bit of common sense, you can have a great time with minimal expense.

Have a fantastic cruise!

Norm.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 08:31 PM
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Excellent post Rev. The only thing I think you missed (unless I just skipped over it) is the specialty restaurants on some ships. I believe these all charge a $30 cover charge.

I'm partial to Belvedere vodka--on my last cruise I was thrilled to see their Belvedere martinis were less expensive than at my favorite bars here at home.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 09:13 PM
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txsloth,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Excellent post Rev. The only thing I think you missed (unless I just skipped over it) is the specialty restaurants on some ships. I believe these all charge a $30 cover charge.
Thanks for your kind words.

And you are half correct. Here's the complete addition.

Special Dining

Celebrity offers two dining options with extra charges.

>> The charge for Celebrity's specialty restaurants is $30.00 per person (plus the meal that one is not eating in the main dining room). These restaruants offer a very "upscale" dining experience with many elaborate tableside preparations and waitstaff who look like they belong in Guy Buffet's "Les Garcons" paintings.

>> Celebrity also offers "Alternative Casual Dining" for $2.00 per person. Although held in the buffet restaurant, "Alternative Casual Dining" features full table service a menu that is not the same as the menu in the main dining room. On "Formal" and "Informal" evenings, the evening dress code is optional in the "Alternative Casual Dining" area.

Those opting for "Alternative Casual Dining" on "Formal" or "Informal" evenings should be aware that Celebrity offers very little in the way of "Alternative Casual Entertainment" and that the evening dress code applies everywhere else throughout the ship including the Celebrity Theater, the casino, and all of the ship's lounges.

Norm.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 08:29 PM
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It blows my mind when I see so many people on these boards that take their personal time to give such indepth help to other cruisers. CruiseMates is something everyone should know about! Keep up the good work.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:04 PM
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[quote="Rev22:17"]txsloth,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Special Dining

Celebrity offers two dining options with extra charges.

>> The charge for Celebrity's specialty restaurants is $30.00 per person (plus the meal that one is not eating in the main dining room). These restaruants offer a very "upscale" dining experience with many elaborate tableside preparations and waitstaff who look like they belong in Guy Buffet's "Les Garcons" paintings.

>> Celebrity also offers "Alternative Casual Dining" for $2.00 per person. Although held in the buffet restaurant, "Alternative Casual Dining" features full table service a menu that is not the same as the menu in the main dining room. On "Formal" and "Informal" evenings, the evening dress code is optional in the "Alternative Casual Dining" area.

Those opting for "Alternative Casual Dining" on "Formal" or "Informal" evenings should be aware that Celebrity offers very little in the way of "Alternative Casual Entertainment" and that the evening dress code applies everywhere else throughout the ship including the Celebrity Theater, the casino, and all of the ship's lounges.

Norm.
Thanks for info. The Celebrity web site states "Evening dress codes apply to both main restaurant dining as well as specialty restaurant dining*.

The specific language suggests that there is flexibility as to evening dress in areas other than the main and specialty restaurant.
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Old November 23rd, 2007, 06:11 PM
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Coco Creek,

Quote:
Thanks for info. The Celebrity web site states "Evening dress codes apply to both main restaurant dining as well as specialty restaurant dining*.

The specific language suggests that there is flexibility as to evening dress in areas other than the main and specialty restaurant.
Unfortunately, both Celebrity's web site and Celebrity's precruise information booklet are riddled with errors and imprecise information -- and you have found a example which illustrates the point very well. The policy published in Celebrity Today (the daily bulletin) aboard ship, which is what actually governs, is this: "The prescribed evening dress applies throughout the ship, except in designated casual areas." The "designated casual areas" include the buffet restaurant located abaft the main pool area, which offers "Alternative Casual Dining" (reservations strongly recommended) rather than a dinner buffet but also offers a sushi bar and a pizza and pasta bar on a walk-in basis, the open deck abaft the buffet restaurant the pool areas, and the spa areas. Most of Celebrity's ships have a bar and live music somewhere in this area (on the open deck abaft the buffet restaurant on the ships of Millennium class and under the Magrodome, which is functionally an extension of the buffet restaurant, aboard MV Galaxy and MV Mercury), but that's about it for "Alternative Casual Entertainment." The cruise director during my cruise aboard MV Galaxy last January said that Celebrity was installing new lighting and sound systems and would introduce cabaret shows in the night clubs as "Alternative Casual Entertainment" in February, but it apparently never gained traction because there were no cabaret shows in the night club aboard the same ship during my cruise earlier this month.

Norm.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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[quote="Rev22:17"]Coco Creek,

Quote:
Unfortunately, both Celebrity's web site and Celebrity's precruise information booklet are riddled with errors and imprecise information -- and you have found a example which illustrates the point very well. The policy published in Celebrity Today (the daily bulletin) aboard ship, which is what actually governs, is this: "The prescribed evening dress applies throughout the ship, except in designated casual areas." The "designated casual areas" include the buffet restaurant located abaft the main pool area, which offers "Alternative Casual Dining" (reservations strongly recommended) rather than a dinner buffet but also offers a sushi bar and a pizza and pasta bar on a walk-in basis, the open deck abaft the buffet restaurant the pool areas, and the spa areas. Most of Celebrity's ships have a bar and live music somewhere in this area (on the open deck abaft the buffet restaurant on the ships of Millennium class and under the Magrodome, which is functionally an extension of the buffet restaurant, aboard MV Galaxy and MV Mercury), but that's about it for "Alternative Casual Entertainment." The cruise director during my cruise aboard MV Galaxy last January said that Celebrity was installing new lighting and sound systems and would introduce cabaret shows in the night clubs as "Alternative Casual Entertainment" in February, but it apparently never gained traction because there were no cabaret shows in the night club aboard the same ship during my cruise earlier this month.

Norm.
Why would a daily bulletin on the ship be the controllling authority. As a trained lawyer, who teachers law courses for a profession, I am familiar with cases that have held companies to the representations and standards made on a company sponsored web site.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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Are you going to sue Celebrity over their dress code? You might have a point then. But if you just want to find out what everyone else will be doing on a daily basis, might just want to use common sense and follow the daily bulletin.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txsloth
Are you going to sue Celebrity over their dress code? You might have a point then. But if you just want to find out what everyone else will be doing on a daily basis, might just want to use common sense and follow the daily bulletin.
No lawsuits necessary. And I am going to wear a suit on formal night and wear a jacket and tie on informal nights to dinner. But I am also going to feel free to relax as the night goes on and probably take off the tie.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Coco Creek,

Quote:
Why would a daily bulletin on the ship be the controllling authority. As a trained lawyer, who teachers law courses for a profession, I am familiar with cases that have held companies to the representations and standards made on a company sponsored web site.
Hmmm....

What is the legal standing of established social etiquette?

From a standpoint of social etiquette, the host of each evening on a cruise is the master of the vessel. As the host, he has the right to prescribe proper attire, and he does so through the daily bulletin. Social etiquette dictates that all guests must conform to what he prescribes, even if it's different from what they expected.

And from a legal perspective, you are missing one very significant detail. Due to issues of potential liability (which, as a lawyer, you undoubtedly understand very well so I won't bother to elaborate) in the event of a sinking or some other major casualty, each cruise ship actually belongs to a separate corporation with enough outside investors to meet the legal test of independence from the cruise line's corporation and the corporations of the other ships that the cruise line markets, and the ship's officers' contracts actually are with the ship's corporation rather than with the cruise line. The ship's corporation probably has not approved the cruise line corporation's marketing materials, and thus is not legally bound by them. Rather, it is bound only by the terms of the contract of charter that gives the cruise line corporation the exclusive right to market the scheduled cruise.

And as to how a court would treat a lawsuit based on representations of expected dress codes on the Celebrity Cruises web site, what tangible harm would you have you suffered, for which you could be entitled to damages, if the ship actually enforces a dress standard that differs from the representations on the cruise line's web site during your cruise? Realistically, would it be worth your while to bring suit, bearing in mind that your passage contract requires you to file the suit in a court of law located in Miami, Florida? And that's assuming that you can get around the vanilla wording in your Contract of Passage, to which you consented, at least implicitly, when you booked the cruise, which says that the cruise line can change anything and everything with no notice....

So good luck with the lawsuit!

Norm.
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