Want to avoid embarassment/frustration...
Hello fellow cruisers,
We are a family of 6 taking our first cruise on the Allure departing this June 5th. I'm curious about the various restaurants that charge a cover fee.
How do we know, as we are walking around the various areas on the ship, if a specific restaurant is included or if there is additional fee involved? Is there some sort of sign posted?
We are a family of 6, so we will need to keep the "extra" costs down. I would hate to go around with the kids and hubby and get excited about getting an ice-cream (or whatever) and then having them ask for payment. That could become a real downer for our trip. :roll:
Are any of the "specialty" restaurants worth the money for a "date night" with just me and the hubby?
Also, what kind of stuff is available for room service and is that included?
Any advice or comments are appreciated.
Only 98 days left...SO excited! :D
It will be clear what is charged extra for and what is included. Ice cream parlors (standalone) are extra I believe. But the ice cream machine in the WIndjammer is free provided that the restaurant is open. You can skip the pay food the whole cruise and still eat like a king. I went on RCCL's cheapest cruise last time and the food in the Windjammer was great, world food with no fear of using spices. The food in the formal dining room (included was also very good), but I have to say, sometimes the items in the dining room are also served on the buffet. (this may or may not be the case on a better cruise like yours). I usually ate at the buffet (small amount) with my son, then we would drop him off at the kids place and go to our formal dinner at 8:30 (another reason for second seating). If you want to have a private dinner, then perhaps it is worth it to pay for a date night. But my wife and I are always together and have few friends where we've moved to, so we asked for and are looking forward to a big table of strangers!
You can also look under the reservations section for your cruise (where you can sign up for beverage packages, shore excursions etc. since specialty restaurants prices and availability are listed there). Finding the freebies isn't difficult and even tho we are only two, I can see how easily a multiplier of 6 racks up the charges.
I will throw in one piece of advice as a T/A.....don't overlook the cost of gratuities. Even parties of 4 can easily forget how they those "recommended amounts" add up and I hate to see anything dampen a cruise!
Whoops, almost forgot my "best value" on the "Allure" was the Italian lunch at "Giovanni's Table" in Central Park. Portions may have been smaller but we both thought it was well worth the $10 cover (per person).
Keep in mind too, that any specialty restaurant you will have to make reservations in advance...You will have either traditional dinning or any time and your sign/sail card will have your either table number and the actual dinning room that you will need to use when going to dinner in the evening. You can always use the Windjammer as well at no extra charge and they don't require reservations.
Yes, someone mentioned the tips, for a party of 6 it will be up there, figure at least $10.00 per day, per person, but that figure may have gone up...Your travel agent should have the latest amount. If the kids drink a lot of soda, may-be purchasing a soda card may be cost effect, otherwise there is milk, and lemonaide, juice that doesn't cost extra and also some decent iced tea...If you are water drinkers, the tap water is perfectly fine, don't waste your $ on the bottled...
ok here is how u and kids can save money. There are ice tea/coffee machines(which are free), these machines are located at Wipe Out Cafe(behind the sports zone on deck 15. Wipe out cafe also has an ice cream machine; they serve burgers/dogs/pizza/taco bar(all this is free). There is also a ice cream machine located between the forward swimming pools. Solarium Bistro has a ice tea/coffee machine where u can fill up anytime. The Windjammer cafe also has the above mentioned beverage dispensers. At Sorrentos Pizza on Royal Promenade they have a coffee bar/ u can order your own pizza from Sorrentos. They also have pizza by the slice; but u can create your own: the pizza will be made for a family size or individual size. This is also free. Central Park Cafe on Deck 8 has free food; in additon to the coffee/ice tea bar. Any of the above venues have free refillable ice tea or coffee or water. You will have to pay for sodas. The Solarium Bistro at front of the ship and Windjammer also have flavored tea and lemonade machine. The Boardwalk Hot Dog Shack has free hot dogs; but so does Wipe Out Cafe. Rita's Cantina on the Boardwalk charges $7.95 per person to eat. You will get a lot of food at Rita's. Hope this helps.
If you haven't already done so, may I recommend this link, which is on RCI's website. The Onboard Experience section gives you the upcharge venues as well as every other piece of information you could need. Once the page finishes loading, you can click on the buttons along the bottom and they will tell you many details about every aspect of the ship. I read every single thing under every single button and now feel like somewhat of an expert on Allure, and I've never even cruised yet!
Under Food & Drink there is a link to all the 'specialty dining experiences' (read: stuff they charge you extra for!). Read all that, and you'll know almost everything you need to know!
My suggestions for saving $$ with a big family:
1) Eat only in 'included' venues.
2) Don't consume alcohol.
3) Don't gamble.
4) Don't pay for ship's photos.
5) Don't pay for excursions.
6) Don't shop in the ship shops. :D
7) Don't shop in port.
8 ) Don't go in the spa.
9) Don't check your email or make any phone calls.
10) Don't buy souveniers.
Unfortunately, if you're going to do all that, you might as well add: 11) Don't cruise! to that list, because if you're going to not do all the rest, it doesn't sound like much fun. What I've done as a single mom planning on taking three kids on this floating fun-fest is to pick a few special things that we want to do and plan for them in my budget. You've got far less time than I do, because we're not going until May 2012, but you need to decide exactly what you want your experience to be on the ship. You've got three choices: bare bones, carefully cautious, or delightfully decadent.
You may not be the slightest bit interested, but here's my complete budget for the trip as I've figured it so far, including everything except the cost of our passports:
Fare- $3196 (4 ppl, Interior cabin)
Air- $1009 (estimated using comparable dates for 2011 on SpiritAir)
Pre-cruise hotel- no more than $125 (I hope)
Family meal, fast food or grocery store, one night pre-cruise- $30
Shuttle tips or cab- $20
Soda to attempt to carry on- $15
Ship's photos- one boarding, one character dining, one formal night (I don't know how much these are)$50-$75 total?
Samba Grill- 4 @ $25 = $100
Rita's Fiesta- 1 @ $20
Giovanni's (lunch)- 1 @ $10
Cupcake class- 1 @ $22, 1 @ $15=$37
Cupcakes- 1 @ $2.50 pp/per 5 days = $50
Starbucks- $20 (only one kid and I like Sb so we'll probably just go there once or twice)
Spa- Thermal suite, and Swedish massage or relaxation acupuncture, with tips - $200
Excursions - $250 total (haven't picked these yet, but if we do book any, they will be the cheapest ones)
"Umbrella drinks," AKA "Mama drinks" (2-3 most days, one person- app. $125)
Internet time- $25
Formal night hair styling services- $150
Gratuities- at least $280 ($10 pp/per day)
Entire Trip- GRAND TOTAL: $5987!!! :shock:
Lord have mercy, anyone know where I can sell a kidney or a pancreas?
Anyway, you will have a great time, because Allure is just awesome like that, and I'm pretty sure I could be stowed away in a rolled up carpet in the cargo hold and I'd still have a good time on that big ol' boat! Besides, you'll be with your beloved family and you'll be together, having a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, and it will be great!
Best of luck. Looking forward to your review!
PS- Forgot to mention that since they only serve Coke products on the ship as far as soda is concerned, I'm going to a) try to carry on a couple 6-packs of Dr. Pepper, and 2) make them get by with the included tea, lemonade and juice for a week. They'll live, even if we don't get onboard with our DrP. Also, most of the onboard expenses I listed are for one person- Me! There is not much they want to do that costs extra, and since I'm bankrolling this party, I'm splurging on ME, darn it! So if I had a significant other going on the trip, I would definitely pay the upcharge for a special night out with no kiddies.
If nobody's told you about it before, Rita's Fiesta would be a good idea for that- it's a specialty dining experience- $20 per person and it includes food and three, count 'em = 3 bar beverages at Rita's Cantina. At first it was only one night per cruise, but it's been popular, so I think they've added nights, and it's been said that it is a lot of fun. Like a little party. It's a lot less formal and fancy than 150 Central Park or Chops, Portofino or Giovanni's Table. (Do they even have Portofino on Allure?) If you are big wine drinkers, a special splurge for you and hubby's date night would be Chef's Table. $75 pp very exclusive multi-course dinner with wine pairings. This close to your date, it may be booked, but you could try it.
if u go to Rita's Cantina; they give u a lot of food. My wife and I shared Chicken Fajitas and it could have fed three people.
Wow, this is great information (and also quite fun and amusing to read)! Thank you so much for taking the time to type all of this up! I love your suggestions. I'm considering the date night, but can't find "Chef's Table" and not sure why?? Is this also called 150 Central Park? We live in Wine Country (Sonoma County in Cali), so YES we are big wine drinkers - that sounds like a great idea!
One of my biggest concerns is just walking through the ship, everyone hungry and finding a restaurant, not knowing if it's included, standing in line and waiting (as everyone gets crankier), and then having them charge us. Is there some kind of signage in front of the restaurants? I'm not going to be carrying around a list that tells me which ones are included, but maybe I just need to memorize them now. We have 6 of us in 3 balcony rooms because it surprisingly really wasn't that much more than cramming all of us in 2 interior rooms, so there is less money for "added" stuff.
I love your tips! Thank you so much!!!
When you first get on the ship, take a walk and find the main dinning rooms and the buffet, then you will know where to go for dinner. The buffet will be open for lunch as you board. Your sign and sail card will have the dinning room you will be assigned to.
You're very welcome! I enjoy writing and trying to squeeze a little humor in there, so I'm glad it worked!
ETA: Don't worry about wandering the ship with your little ravenous wolverines and not knowing which places are for a fee or not... if you select a traditional dining time, you'll know where to go when it's mealtime. But beyond that, it's pretty easy. There are a few that are complimentary, breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack. Then there are one or two that are comp, breakfast/lunch/snack, with upcharge for dinner. There is one that is comp breakfast, upcharge for lunch and dinner. (Johnny Rockets).
Oh, another $$ saving tip: if you want to try one of the fancy restaurants, do it during lunch. The menu is more limited but will still be as good, and the fee is lower than it is for dinner, generally.
OH- also, some of the fancier restaurants welcome children "before 7 pm" so if you have kids younger than 13, that is something to consider.
Here, I'll just type up what I wrote down for myself: (probably not complete, and a couple of these may be on other ships only)
150 Central Park- $35, 6-10 pm
Chops- $25 6-10pm
Giovannis Table- Lunch: 11:30-3:30 $10, Dinner: 6-10 $15
Izumi- Lunch: 12-1:30 (select days) Ala Carte menu w/ $3 cover; Dinner- 6-10 pm, $5 cover
Character breakfast- included, 8:00am three days, MDR
Mystery Dinner Theater- $49.50
Cupcake Decorating classes- $22 Adult, $15 kid (Cupcakes- $2.50)
Portofino- $20-25 6-10 pm
Samba Grill- $25 6-10 pm
Solarium Bistro- Comp. Buffet: Breakfast & Lunch, Dinner 6-10pm- $15
Donut Shop- included/comp.
Boardwalk Dog House- hot dogs, comp.
Cafe Promenade- Included/comp.
Ice Cream parlor- menu pricing- 12:00- 10:00 pm
Johnny Rockets- comp. breakfast. Lunch and Dinner 11:30- midnite? $4.95
Park Cafe- Comp. Breakfast, lunch, snacks
Ritas- 11a-1a $7.95
Rita's Fiesta- $20 (food and alcohol) $10 (food and non alcohol)
Sorrento's Pizza- comp.
Vitality Cafe- ala carte menu pricing
Windjammer- Continental Breakfast 6:30-7:30, Full buffet breakfast 7:30-10:30, lunch 12-2, Dinner 6-9
Wipeout Cafe- comp. (Ice cream machine somewhere around here, comp.)
I'm sure I missed some, like I just remembered Vintages Wine and Tapas, and also I think most of the bars serve snackies too.
I promise I'm only suffering from the tiniest Hermione Granger complex. I just like to know things, and I like to share! :) Hope I don't annoy or offend! PS-You should totally go to Theme Park Review and read their photo review! It's a-maz-ing!
Forgot Starbucks! Same prices and menu as on land.
I was just on the Oasis a couple weeks ago and was told both ships are the same. One way to keep expenses down I would say just skip the soda card. I know my grandson wouldn't of not missed it. You can walk into the Windjammer restaurant any time and grab a glass of juices or flavored water. I suppose tea and lemonade. I took one back to the room every day. We paid the $45.00 extra for the soda cards which were a waste of money. My husband figured it up and what pop we got we could of charged it and saved money.
We never bought any of the pictures they take of you all throughout the trip. We had over 400 pictures on our camera so why pay them $$$$.
Wait till the end of the trip to buy t-shirts they reduce them the last couple of days. Believe me they never run out.
They have a really cool video game room. How you save there I have no idea. Give your kids a limit . Once that runs out that is it. Good luck. My grandson would have a hard time budgeting in there. Maybe they will love the water over being in there.
There is no need to take your kids to all the special restaurants. Most of the time they would stick their nose up at the food in there and waste it. Plenty of free food all over the ship. They will find it. I walked in to restaruants and ask if there is an extra charge right up front. One that made me mad was Johnny Rockets after a certain time of day they charge you. I never
made it down there for free breakfast. We were just too tired to get up early to make it in time. Believe me we never starved.
there is so much to do and see all throughout the day no one will be bored.
One thing I did learn is the kids didn't like kids camp. I met a family after we got off the cruise who had a seven year old and an eight year old with them. The kids said no one spoke english in their day care camp. So the other kids never played with them. And they really didn't want to play with each other. Just a heads up and something to think about.
All the American kids are in school so that might of been the problem then maybe not when you go on the trip. The camp is not free.
If you have teenagers they will love the top deck with the flow riders. And it is a roit just to watch them ride it.
Have fun. It only takes a day to figure out the location of everything. And find all the free food. I guess you could say free. (what is included with your cruise package.)
Wait a minute, I remember the kids camp (adventure ocean) being included, the only saving grace to paying for a third person in the same cabin! They charge for it now? When my son was six, he had a blast in kids camp and never wanted to leave. I'm sure he'll still love it now at six years old.
Here's a document that shows all of the food venues and whether they are complimentary or pay.
Enjoy your cruise...I can't wait for mine!!!
Let's go back to the kids camp onboard. Where does it say on royal's website or other places, that you pay for adventure ocean? I do know that you pay for after hours sitting; but not to attend the camp. I also know u pay for lunch oneday, when they cater it so the kids get to stay in adventure ocean. Please explain where this is listed. Thanks.
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