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Cerulean January 23rd, 2011 08:38 PM

First Time Cruise. Any Advice?
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.

Kuki January 24th, 2011 01:20 AM

Many newer ships have alternate restaurants which have a surcharge. Monarch does , so both dining room and buffet offer food that is included in your fare.

What you might spend extra is the toughest question. Alcoholic drinks are extra, as are sodas. So, it all depends on what you're going to drink. Same goes for sovenirs.

As for Jamaica, you can certainly bargain, and bargain hard for any purchases. The vendors expect it, and enjoy the game as much as you might.

As a general rule I would count on an extra $100 per person, per day in expenses over and above your cruise fare, and cost of any shore excursions you may want to do.

sergej January 24th, 2011 04:23 AM

>>Bit anxious is all.
take it easy.

I spend app 10-25 USD a day on Epic.

Dont' play in Casino - they would win even if you smoke
a fat stinking cigarette there.

Dont' buy any souvenirs - there is a lot of that unnesesarry
stuff there.

Normally there is no ship models at all - I would like to get it too.

tips are automatically added ,

read your travell prospect once more - there is a lot info that you don' t really
need too.

ruthlessboss January 24th, 2011 05:32 AM

You can have a good time with free on board things to do. Except for specialty restaurants, the buffet and main dining room are included in the cost. For formal night, just bring a nice outfit, the food will be great, and for the memory, get your pictures done (at extra cost, but not obligated to buy). Shows are free. The daily tipping is automatic on your bill, $10 or $12 a day, it's split amongst cabin attendants as well as many behind the scene workers. The alcoholic drinks are about $8 each, only non carbonated beverages are free. Excursions on the shore are offered at a cost,but often can be booked from local vendors cheaper than booking on board,( but if you are late getting back on board, the ship will leave without you.)

Trip January 24th, 2011 08:54 AM

Pictures on board are pricey...don't go overboard..wait till the end of the week, and pick the best one...

Your bar tab automatically includes a tip.. some newbies forget that...

Bring a power strip, for your electronics...

Enjoy your vacation!

felix_the_cat January 24th, 2011 09:47 AM

Correction - RCL does not automatically add you gratuities unless you are using MTD. A bit of erroneous info here.

I think $100 per person per day is way high for spends.

You are going primarily to the Bahamas. You can grab a cab and go over to Atlantis. You can get some much cheaper excursions just down from the ship when you get off. You can do swimming with the dolphins ($$) and a bit of souviner (sp) in the straw market or on the main street.

Drinks are pricey but the grats for them are included in the price. You can't take any liquor or wine onboard an RCL ship I'm afraid.

The main dining room and buffet are included in the price you paid, so, unless you want to try the pay restaurant, you won't have extra charges for dining.

Pictures run around $20 a picture, so think carefully before buying. One from formal night is nice especially since it's your first cruise.

Donna January 24th, 2011 09:58 AM

Just remember to keep good track of all your shipboard charges, they add up quickly...Good idea to have some kind of budget for all your spending, gambling, excursions and shopping. I always put aside the $ for tips and then there is no worrying about getting that together....

Have a Ball!

Cerulean January 24th, 2011 06:40 PM

Thanks for the info it's really helpful. Also, sorry I didn't post to the right board. Earlier today I came back, saw the boards lower down, and started browsing them lightly. Still, helpful to have reassurance in my own post. :)

I wasn't planning on gambling, it doesn't really interest me, I was just including it as an example of one of those things I know costs extra.

I'm also not actually going to Jamaica, but I've been there, and was wondering if Nassau is the same, like in this straw market I hear about.

And what's this about pictures? I have my own camera, is it not allowed, or do they just try and push a professional picture on you to buy?

Trip January 24th, 2011 07:01 PM

You can pose as you board the ship, and, get off the ship in ports, at dinner and around the ship there are back drops for you to pose....all these will be up inthe gallery for you to choose from, at a price.

You can take pictures all over, and, everbody is doing the same:) say cheese!

Have a ball!

carolynswift October 15th, 2012 03:53 AM

Its great to hear that you are going for a cruise for the first time. I think that you will really enjoy yourself. I remember my first time I was scared but it turned out well. Have a nice trip!!

_________________***Edited to remove commercial reference***

PAOL August 5th, 2013 09:11 PM

We are flying in to Seattle early and can not board the cruise ship until 12ish. Is there any good way to store luggage while waiting to board the cruise ship so we can walk around Pikes market?

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