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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 26th, 2001, 01:09 AM
jsea
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Default Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Call me picky if you want; but I hate the ice cream charge. And I want to voice my opinion on this message board because quite frankly it is a great way to prompt change. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities unbeknownst just a few years ago – and I plan to take full advantage.

The problem I have with charges for ice cream is the fact that our fare supposedly covers food. Last time I checked, ice cream was considered a food and not drink. In fact, the American Heritage Dictionary defines ice cream as “a smooth, sweet, cold food prepared from a frozen mixture of milk products and flavorings, containing a minimum of 10 percent milk fat and eaten as a snack or dessert.” I don't care if they serve premium ice cream or homemade; just don't charge for it.

And to those who are sick of hearing complaints about the charge for ice cream, to you I say don’t read posts with “ice cream” in the subject. But seriously, maybe why this subject keeps coming up is because new posters come to this board and care to voice their views just like everyone else. I think it is good to do so because hopefully Princess will get the point - and drop the charge.

I also don’t understand the extra charge for alternative restaurants. Why is there a charge if we are forgoing food at another location? It’s not as if we are eating twice as much. And I would think that most cruisers are certainly reasonable enough to tip when provided good service.

And for those who say ‘what do you expect when paying so little?’ I say I don't know about you, but I certainly have never cruised for under $1000 p/p because I am only able to cruise during peak times like Christmas and New Year’s. So when I am paying thousands for my once-a-year family vacation I expect a good value. We have been fortunate to sail on three New Year's cruises and can tell you that with each one (last voyage this past December) the fanfare has become less and less. Don't even think about seeing free champagne anymore, or crepes for that matter. It has become a nickel-and-dime industry, and if we want it to change we need to voice our concerns.

Cruising has been my favorite way to travel, but in the past ten years I have seen the slow degradation of the cruise experience on Princess. Maybe it’s time I switched to Holland America.

~~~
jsea
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Old July 26th, 2001, 08:49 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Well... I think this post is probably appropriately named. And, the last line's promise... or threat, may well be Princess' gain and HAL's loss. (Just kidding... perhaps!)

Ernie
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Old July 26th, 2001, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I agree that some form of ice cream should be made available for
free on the ship (other than as solely a free desert choice). It could be softserve, homemade, etc. I doubt the ice cream in the Baked Alaskans is Hagen Daas, so surely they have some "less premium" alternatives available.

I also found the "Gratuities are at the patron's discretion" (or something similar) notice in the Pizza Parlors menu a bit much. Doesn't the gratuities added at the end of the cruise cover this? Are we now expected to tip per meal in some instances now?

Related to this, I think they should provide fountain soft drinks and at no charge. I don't understand why they don't, because fountain softdrinks are VERY cheap, unless it has to do with the sheer variety that is possible.

All in all, I still think it is a great value and will continue to cruise, but the "all inclusive" label is getting defined looser year after year it seems. This doesn't bother me terribly as long as I know upfront what is included and what isn't.
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Old July 26th, 2001, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Sorry, jsea, I disagree. This rates in the very same category as specialty coffees or tea and alcholic beverages. Not everyone partakes of these specialties. You don't have to buy it. Ice Cream is available for desert in the dining rooms. It is your choice. Celebrity did this on our very 1st. cruise on the Horizon. They took out the bar now, I understand. You know about the Hagen Daz charges, so you are prepared. This fee just like the fee for Sabatinni's is public knowledge and has been for quite awhile. Believe me, the very few flavors of Hagen Daz are not worth getting in an uproar about. They don't have Rum Raisin at the bar but do in the dining Room!
Bon Voyage
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Old July 26th, 2001, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

It sounds like a small thing, but I cruise with my almost-80 year old Dad and he LOVES his ice cream. We were on Dawn last year, and while she's my favorite ship, he was very disappointed not to be able to have his daily afternoon ice cream, as we were so used to on HAL. Certainly not that he couldn't "afford it", to him it was principle much as you seem to feel. We sail Princess, HAL and Celebrity, and while Celebrity has "free", he doesn't care much for it being only frozen yogurt as he prefers "real" ice cream. (Maybe that's because we're from the "dairy state" haha) When we were last on HAL for Alaska in 1999 he loved his afternoon trip to the ice cream bar. While it's not Hagen Daz, you have a choice of flavors every day and all the toppings you could hope for. You may want to try HAL sometime, in addition to the ice cream bar some other nice touches are the beautiful fowers everywhere, hot appetizers in lounges before dinner, free espresso, etc.
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Old July 26th, 2001, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I have no problem with the charge for the Hagen Daas on Princess, I don't indulge and if I want ice cream, will simply order it with a meal. Also, on several Princess ships I've been on, in the afternoon, there was an ice cream cart set up dispensing with no charge.

As for the charge for alternative restaurants, pizzeria 'tip' suggestion. The tips at the end of the cruise DO NOT cover this, you tip your regular waiter, busboy and cabin steward. Those working in the alternative restaurants do not wait tables in the regular dining room where the tips are given.
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Old July 26th, 2001, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I can understand some people getting upset because they feel it should be included.

But I do not let it bother me. I eat in the traditional dining room and avoid the alternative restaurants. I do not buy food on the ships. Simply put, I am one of those cruisers that avoid the extra charges.

Look at Celebrity, they are the only line that charge for their past passengers program(Captains Club.) They would never get $35 from me but many others feel free to donate.

Who was it that said, "there is a sucker born every minute?"
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Old July 26th, 2001, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Well it seems that all the cruiselines have to make money. Some charge a large per person per day fee and include everything, so if you are not a drinker you are paying for the other people that are.

It looks like the cruise lines are almost selling the cabin as a loss leader, or just break even and then try to raise revenue by charging for extras. You still get your basic meals but then they have the different eating venues where they charge stateside prices, it costs very little to run them, staff is there and the food is just prepared for the larder a different way, and of course the wine and sodas that they make a great deal out of. So now they are charging for quality icecream. Seems to me the best defense would be to refuse to purchase it, then they will either include it, but realize it will be factored into the basic cabin rate, so if you don't eat it you will be paying anyway, or they will discontinue the option if it is so important to you to have it you should purchase it..who knows what tomorrow will bring.

The problem that I see, is that slowly, step, by step, getting the cruising public used to accept one extra charge at a time the time will come where you will be charged extra at the table for the fancier food, lets say they will give two or three basic meals and if you want the fancy lobster, shrimp, veal, well there will be an extra charge. After getting used to that, it will be not an all you can eat, but the basic meal and if you want more y ou will pay extra..then we will say I remember when we could run the menu. Times change, you either pay up front all inclusive or pay as you go. The cruise lines are in it for the money, bottom line. It is the cruising public to say you have crossed the line and we will not accept this change, either by not paying extra leaving them holding..or having them find more efficient ways to turn the dollar.

I resent paying for the little extras, but I also find that I can live very well without them, When they change that I can't order what I want and how much I want, well then I would have to think this cruising adventure over.
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Old July 27th, 2001, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

jsea,

I happen to agree with most of what you say -- and I'm one of the company's shareholders, though my interest is not sufficient to hold much sway in management decisions.

I hope that you bothered to write about this in the comment section of your cruise evaluation form at the end of your cruise. I always do -- sometimes even attaching an extra sheet if I have more comments than I can write legibly in the space on the form. On Princess, the passengers' comments do get read by senior staff. If enough passengers start taking exception to the extra charge for ice cream and the extra charges for the specialty restaurants, these extra charges probably will disappear. Of course, it also would not hurt the cause to write a letter to the President of Princess Cruises stating your objections to these surcharges.

Of course, the best strategy is to avoid paying the objectionable surcharges at all. If the surcharges don't generate the intended revenue, they will go away.

About the only point where we diverge is that of shifting to another cruise line. I don't know how to say this gently, but you are seeing an industry-wide phenomenon. Some lines are adding surcharges in some places while others ad them in other places, but all except the very top luxury lines are adding them. Carnival Corporation -- the leading corner cutter in the industry -- now owns HAL, and the cutbacks were so sharp that last year half a dozen of HAL's senior executives resigned in protest. Sadly, no cruise line is as good as it once was.

Norm.
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Old July 28th, 2001, 02:24 AM
jsea
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Norm>

Yes, I did voice my opinion on the comment card, but have yet to write a letter to anyone at Princess.

And it's sad to say that I contributed to what I consider "nonsense" (or a money making scheme - but who can blame them) and bought the ice cream on a couple occasions during my last cruise. But if you want it and are by the pool it is SO convenient; and it's not as if the dining room is open at 3 in the afternoon.

Unfortunately I see what you are saying about all lines starting to add charges, and agree wholeheartedly that "no cruise line is as good as it once was."

Hmph.

~~~
jsea
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Old July 28th, 2001, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I agree with all, I do not purchase the ice cream. Each time I pass the station, I loudly say, I'll wait for dinner. I am not being cheap, but when all inclusive, I take them at their word. As far as changing to HAL, do you want to double tip?? I take them at their word as all included too, but from what I hear, the Cruise Directors on their ships preach TIP, TIP& TIP. No cruise line is perfect. So just go and enjoy and do your own thing. But as said by others, use your comment cards and write letters, that is the only way they learn that you are unhappy about something.

Helen
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Old July 28th, 2001, 02:26 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Where did you ever hear that HAL included gratuities... which is what you seem to be saying? HAL has a no tipping REQUIRED policy, NOT a no tipping policy... by which they mean that they do no place envelopes in your room, addressed to Waiter, etc., they do not print recommended tipping amounts and they do not add a gratuity to drinks purchased. In fact, most guests on board HAL vessels tip in the same manner as they would on other lines. One just has to find one's own envelopes. Most good travel agents will disabuse their first time HAL clients of such misconceptions before the clients book.

If some feel that the Cruise Lines have changed, then so too have the passengers. There was a time when we would not hear all this nickle and dime grousing about minutiae. How someone can spend several thousand dollars or so on a cruise and then endlessly complain in a public forum of a charge for an ice cream, or drag six packs of soda on board is just beyond me. I fear the lower pricing and rapid growth of the Industry is more and more attracting people one would not have expected to find on board a cruise ship in the past. One can only hope that, as time goes by, there will be a raising of standards and that the cruise lines will not go the way of the airlines... inviting the "great unwashed" on board with the attendant loss of any semblance of civility on their vessels... as we now see in the air.
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Old July 28th, 2001, 06:54 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

What is HAL?
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Old July 28th, 2001, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I, perhaps oddly, don't really object to the reservations/surcharge alternate dining rooms. To offer the choice of a Five Star dining experience to those who want to pay the extra is fine, as long as the regular/price included dining venues are kept at a reasonable Four Star standard.

However, the site of a Haagen Daas hawkers stand on a supposedly premium brand cruise line is a TOTAL joke. This is a supposed to be a luxurious cruise ship, not a strip mall!!
I don't know that it's wise to speak of the "loss of semblence of civility" when it's the cruise lines leading the way cheapening the ambience of the product they offer by placing shopping mall kiosks onboard.
To my eye, this cheapens the cruise experience far more than someone wearing blue jeans to dinner.

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Kuki
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Old July 28th, 2001, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Kuki,

I, perhaps oddly, don't really object to the reservations/surcharge alternate dining rooms. To offer the choice of a Five Star dining experience to those who want to pay the extra is fine, as long as the regular/price included dining venues are kept at a reasonable Four Star standard.

With due respect, I have to disagree completely on this point. The premium cruise lines like Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America all advertise that their main dining rooms are "five star" restaurants. If so, there ought not be any room at the top for a "premium" dining experience at a "reservations only" alternative restaurant. If there is, the lines are guilty of false advertising and ought to be held to account for it.

Your comments about Haagen Daaz hawkers are right on. MV Royal Princess, has an mobile ice cream cart that lives in the Lido Cafe but that gets rolled out to the pool area when the ship is in warmer climes -- and the ice cream (gelato -- a better quality than Haagen Daaz!) and toppings are free!

Norm.
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Old July 28th, 2001, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Ernie,

Your explanation also is what I have consistently heard about Holland America Lines' tipping policy. In fact, the "No Tipping Required" line consistently draws negative comments in cruise guidebooks.

Norm.
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Old July 28th, 2001, 10:55 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Ernie,

If some feel that the Cruise Lines have changed, then so too have the passengers. There was a time when we would not hear all this nickle and dime grousing about minutiae. How someone can spend several thousand dollars or so on a cruise and then endlessly complain in a public forum of a charge for an ice cream, or drag six packs of soda on board is just beyond me. I fear the lower pricing and rapid growth of the Industry is more and more attracting people one would not have expected to find on board a cruise ship in the past. One can only hope that, as time goes by, there will be a raising of standards and that the cruise lines will not go the way of the airlines... inviting the "great unwashed" on board with the attendant loss of any semblance of civility on their vessels... as we now see in the air.

In the past, one did not hear grousing about "nickel and dime" charges because such charges did not exist. Rather, "all inclusive" meant just that.

You're absolutely right about the change in the consist of passengers, though. As recently as ten years ago, cruising remained the exclusive province of the upper middle class and the wealthy -- with an occasional middle class couple celebrating a major (i. e. 40th or 50th) wedding anniversary in a way that was certain to be a "once in a lifetime" experience. Today, cruising has become very affordable -- certainly a lot less expensive than a comparable stay at Disney World -- and thus is very accessible to the middle class. If cruise lines wish to fill ships, they need to attract all comers. Fortunately, the economies of scale do allow cruise ships to operate profitably at present fares. Nonetheless, I would much rather pay an extra $50 per passenger and get rid of the "nickel and dime" fees.

Norm.
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Old July 28th, 2001, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

I just learned something. You can teach an old dog(female) new tricks!!!.

I WAS under the impression that tipping was included in the price on HAL.

Now I know this is not a topic under thisdiscussion but tipping is not required on any of the cruise lines, if it were required it would be a fee that you would have to pay like the port charges. They would say X amount is added as a service fee. hmmm that indeed is sneaky.
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Old July 29th, 2001, 10:13 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Sorry you put us in the "GREAT UNWASHED" group. We have been on 23 cruises since 1980, one booked in Oct. and another in Jan. We have traveled all over the world so money isn't the issue.
We are not talking about nickle and diming it. All included means all included. I just read about Carnival charging $20. per person for a better meal, better service, and nicer dining area. I thought all that was included too. It is not just ice cream, it is about the cruise lines charging for things. Years ago they didn't. It won't be long and they will charge for the entertainment or entrance to the swiming pool etc. That is the only point I am trying to make. Most of the passengers are the same type of people.
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Old July 29th, 2001, 12:47 PM
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Default Holland America Line (n/m)

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Old July 29th, 2001, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Sorry, I did not mean to suggest you were part of the "great unwashed". I may have phrased it clumsily but I meant it to be generic in a way. However, I know of no cruise line in the Premium Brands that advertises "all inclusive", in the sense that we find the term used at some land resorts. There have always been extra charges for drinks, sodas, wine, sundries, etc. One has a choice of drinking no wine with dinner, a low priced wine, a fine Barolo at $40 to $50... or so, or higher. It is a matter of choice. I guess I still cannot understand the carping about the charge for a certain brand of Ice Cream. How about the drinks served around the pool? As for the premium, extra charge dining rooms... again... I cannot understand the problem. Most of these restaurants are provisioned separately and can offer food choices that cannot be prepared in the large galleys serving huge numbers at a time. I think it is great that the choice is offered... and the success of these operations proves the point. We'll see more and more of this type of dining option. If I had my choice, I would prefer to see ships go the route of the QE2, where one dines in a different restaurant grade depending on the level/cost of the cabin. The whole ship is open to everyone,,, it is NOT a "class" system. It makes eminent sense. Why should someone paying 3 or 4 thousand dollars per person for 6 nights eat the same food as someone paying half that. We see it on airlines all the time. Internationally, there is a great difference between the food served in the back, in Business Class and in First Class. It is, in fact a selling point. I think in time we'll see that more and more on cruise ships too.

This is all very complicated. The Industry is growing by leaps and bounds and is still only a tiny percentage of the total money spend for leisure travel. With the rate of new builds barely keeping up the growth of first time cruisers, one can expect continued growth of the Industry. Like all works in progress, we'll see lots of disagreements and different approaches to on board practices. It will be interesting to watch as the Industry develops, over time.

Ernie
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Old July 29th, 2001, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense





reality check time....

you are about to go on the best vacation you can imagine...
you will be waited on hand and foot for 7 days....
you will see sights that are amazingly beautifull, water of a color blue that is hard to describe...
on a vessel that cost 400 million dollars to build....

and were talking about the price of ice cream?

accentuaaaaaaaaate the positive

eliminaaaaaaaate the nagative

john
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Old July 29th, 2001, 08:13 PM
jsea
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Default Everything isn't perfect...

john,

CruiseMates (or other message boards and websites for that matter) was not created so that everyone could regale each other with their picture-perfect cruise stories and experiences. This is the real world where people have quips, complaints, praise and other items to detail. Yes, we must always keep in mind how fortunate we are to be taking a cruise and doing the incredible things we do, but there is also a place to voice the negative, or what WE feel is negative.

So I do take your comments to heart, but also realize that I do not spend time reading these pages to have everyone tell me that their air, room, dining experience, and cruise was perfect.

~~~
jsea
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Old July 29th, 2001, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Ernie,

There seem to be two major disconnects in your reasoning.

>> The cruise lines themselves have positioned their product as a "one class" offering, and have advertised their main dining rooms as "five star" restaurants -- a term which clearly means "the very best cuisine and service" in the restaurant business. Princess and Royal Caribbean International additionally advertise that their ships are members of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a cullinary society whose members supposedly are the "creme de la creme" of the restaurant indusrty. Once you say that the main dining room is in such a category how can you then say that something else is even better? There's no more room at the top of the scale if the claim about the main dining room is true.

If a specialty restaurant offers an alternative cuisine, that's fine -- but it really ought not have an extra charge.

>> As far as other surcharges are concerned, the objection seems to be to surcharges on items that are customarily included on other lines and even on other vessels of the same line. Ice cream on deck is customarily included in the fare. If Princess wishes to charge for Haagen Daaz (which, BTW, is not exactly the best quality of ice cream), that's fine -- but also offer a "standard" ice cream, or soft serve, or whatever, for free, as is customary in the industry.

And before somebody blasts me for saying that Haagen Daaz is an inferior grade of ice cream, you can tell a quality ice cream by observing what happens when it melts. A quality ice cream will remain creamy, whereas an inferior ice cream will turn to a much less viscous liquid. Haagen Daaz, unfortunately, does the latter -- which indictes that its cream content is very low.

Norm.
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Old July 29th, 2001, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Well... in point of fact, the Chefs are members of the Chaines... not the Dining Rooms or restaurants. Can you not concede that there is a difference between the cuisine that can be offered in a catering situation, preparing food for hundreds and hundreds at one time... and what can be done for a smaller number? The cuisine offered in the main dining rooms of the premium brands ships is generally excellent. But, Lutece, they are not! (Nor do they pretend to be, nor do most well traveled folk expect them to be). It the line can offer a higher level of cuisine, with separate provisioning, offering selections that simply cannot be prepared for large numbers, why not. And, there is not one of them making a dime from these undertakings, by the way. They generally do not come close to covering their costs. We can all chose to dine at finer restaurants on land... I'm not sure why we should not have the opportunity to do so at sea. Why try to drag us all down to some common denominator at sea? If one is happy dining in the main restaurants, so be it.

Again, and for the last time, I cannot understand all the grousing about charges for Ice Cream (be it good or not) or alternative, upscale dining venues. I don't think one can compare the value received for $$$ on most cruise lines/ships in these days with too many other vaction options. Cruising remains a great "bang" for the buck. Don't buy the ice cream and don't eat in the alternative dining venues and you'll get the best vacation "bang" for your buck. And, allow those of us who would wish to enjoy a different and more costly dining experience at sea the option of doing so.
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Old July 30th, 2001, 11:21 AM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Holland America Line - check them out....
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Old July 30th, 2001, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Ernie, you have stated your position very well and have in fact caused me to re-think my objection to being charged for alternative dining and ice cream. You are right - why should the option not be there for those who want it! We are not all alike and should not have to fit any one persons mold of the perfect cruiser. The cruise lines are not all alike and should not have to fit a mold either!
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Old July 30th, 2001, 01:20 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Except there is no other option juliejoe. Yes, maybe in the dining room, but that's during fixed dining hours. What about at three in the afternoon when you are swimming or lounging by the pool? They have you caught. Either pay $2 - 4 for HD ice cream or wait until at least 5 o'clock for dinner. No thank you Princess.

~~~
jsea
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Old July 30th, 2001, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Speaking of dining - there are usually alternatives available 24/7 which are included in the price of the cruise. I am sure real ice cream fans (my husband included) object to the charge for ice cream, which as you say has no option available. It seems these may be two separate issues.

Just as fine dining fans deserve the option to pay for premium food/service, ice cream fans deserve to have the option of free ice cream.

Maybe there is a compromise here?
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Old July 30th, 2001, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Ice Cream Charges & Other Such Nonsense

Sorry, Helen, On our 4 HAL cruises I've never heard a cruise director even mention tips. We tip as we would on any cruise. You must ask for tip envelopes at the desk. No charge for ice cream and no charge for the alternative restuarant.
Of course we love Princess too. Great food, service, entertainment, cabins.
And we love cruising. If we can just get more people to cruise, maybe we can keep those number crunching CPA's from coming up with another scheme to make a buck.
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