We are treating ourselves to a luxe cruise and have decided upon Crystal (over Silver Seas) based upon the itnerary and everything we have read on this forum. You all do such an excellent job of providing quality info.
Taking Crystal is a stretch financially for us, but we are celebrating a special occassion. Anywhere I could save some money along the way would be helpful. Also I need to feel as though I always do my "due dilignece research" resulting in getting the best DEAL!
One agency is offering me a value-added package consisting of $300pp on board credit and pre-paid gratuities.
My questions to you:
1. Is this a good deal
2. Does prepaid grats apply only to steward and wait staff or does it also cover grats at bar, specialty restaurants, etc...In other words, are ALL grats inclusive
3.Pre-paid means I do not incur those costs
Any additional discount opportunities you can think of?...i.e First time cruisers? I also read about reeiving sponsorship from a Crystal cruiser booked on your same sailing which could afford you ship credit. Is that true or urban legend? If true, could you elaborate?
I suppose we could cruise on a less expensive line, but we really would like to sail Crystal.
Any info and cost-saving tips would be appreciated!!!
Snailmailfla you are in for a wonderful cruise on Crystal! It's often been compared to a floating Ritz Carlton!
Re: money saving tips:
1. The money for your tips is deposited into your on board account. It is based on suggested tip amounts for your stewardess, waiter and assistant waiter. Additional tips are at your discretion and these include tips for additional dining room staff, Lido deck waiters, bar staff,etc. You also have the opportunity to have the tips deducted from your account or you may give envelopes directly to the crew member you wish to thank.
2. It's possible to save money on drinks on Crystal. There are at least two cocktail parties that you will be invited to on formal nights where the drinks are free and no tip is expected. You will be offered wine or champagne, but you may request any other drink you wish. There are often other parties to which you may be invited, and again the drinks are free.
3. Coffee specialty drinks are free in The Bistro, unlike many other ships.
4. Shore excursions can be pricey, but if you do some research you may find there are perfectly acceptable and safe alternatives: a walking tour on your own, visiting a local beach, etc.
5. There are no charges for food at any time on Crystal, and soft drinks, coffee and tea are always free.
You may find some other ideas by posting on cruisecritic.com on the Crystal Board.
Crystal is always a wonderful experience. Pre=paid tips , plus cruise credit.. .. .. is a great deal!
Crystal Mermaid is right on all counts. On my first 2 Crystal cruises, I never realized that drinks, other than wine or champagne, ordered during the cocktail parties, were free. Now,....I always go to the bar and get a Bacaraiz martini. MMMmmmmm... I think it is on their martini menu.
Also, as a red wine lover, I do not like spending 7, or 8,...or $10, or more, for a glass of wine with dinner, each night. So, I bring my own box of FINE red wine. Every night before dinner, I pour myself a glass of wine in my cabin, and proceed to the dinner table. Or sometimes I stop by the Crystal cove bar to chat a bit. The staff seemed happy that I was drinking something. The most difficult part of this process was getting the room stewerdess to supply me with red wine glasses,.. ... one new glass for each day. There are 2 white wine glasses in the room, and they get replaced, but no red wine glasses. Maybe due to the larger size, red wine glasses in the cabin, seemed scarce.
My female companion was alergic to wine, so she made herself a mixed drink with the vodka she brought on board. Of course, mixers are provided, so, it was easy to do. We entered the dining room with our drinks in hand.
All right,...I have opened myself up. Let me hear it. I am cheap,...and it is a bit obtuse to do this. Ha, .. well,.. I like doing this, and it is easy. When I walk in the dining room, they think I am bringing in a drink from the bar!
I plan to cruise again,....and this money saved, helps me to go again.
The tips, for the specialty eateries, will come out of your shipboard account. So,...SnailMail,.... you are all set for that too! I tend to be a bit generous here, giving a bit more than the suggested amount. The wait staff usually works quite hard, and I find myself wanting to give them a little more.
Geesh,...I wonder how many boxes of wine I will need to bring with me for that world cruise I plan to take some day......... (:>
The gratuities that are paid for do not include the automatic 15% added to your bar tabs. They also do no include tips of a discretionary nature such as the pool deck stewards, who are wonderful, the maitre'd or head waiter. As for the alternate restaurants, there is a "fee" attached to eating there, which is now $8 per person. This is a gratuity for those waiters who only work in those restaurants and don't receive any other kind of tip. Those tips could come out of your shipboard account, only if you don't go over that amount with other things you purchase on board.
You will not have a room steward, but a stewardess. Crystal hires women for those jobs. Those hard working ladies will also bring your room service orders, and it's customary to give them a couple of dollars each time they bring you food.
There are two parties on board where the drinks are free. Those are the Welcome Aboard Party and the Farewell Party. If you were a Crystal Society member, that would have been a third party, but you'll only get an invitation to that one once you go on your next Crystal cruise.
I would have to disagree with the Spa comments. We have used the spa on every cruise and have been very pleased. Yes, they're not cheap, but they charge the same prices as on every cruise line, even RCCI and Celebrity. We like to book our spa trips during port days, as you can get some very good prices. The massages, facials and other treatments we've had on Crystal ships have been been wonderful. Plus, their spas are beautiful.
The one spa we greatly dislike is the Canyon Ranch spa on Cunard. Talk about overpriced and poor service. We booked two treatments on two separate days, and each time when we showed up for our appointments, with our reservation card in hand, they claimed we didn't have an appointment so we either had to wait for a long time, or had to leave because everything was booked. This happened to us on two of our cruises on the QM2.