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Freestyle: Good or Bad?

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fuzzlekins

Guest
#21
Wow, more great info! I have to say though that I'm becoming concerned about all the extras, particularly the tipping. When we first started thinking about a cruise, we assumed it was all-inclusive (like a Sandals would be), but it's clearly not. In fact, I find some of the cruise ads to be misleading in this way. When we went to Sandals Montego Bay, all-inclusive really meant all-inclusive. We tipped no one (it was not even allowed, which is the way it should be IMO) and paid for nothing after we arrived. It was wonderful to not even have to carry a wallet much less be concerned with how much to tip. As I read more about cruising, I started to get a hint of the reality. Now that we've booked our cruise and I've continued reading up, I'm becoming somewhat irritated with what I'm learning. I like for things to be black and white when it comes to what I'm paying for. Give me a precise and itemized listing of what I'm paying for and what's not included and I'm happy. But that's not what I'm seeing from the cruise line or anywhere else. My understanding was that tipping was automatically added on at the end of the cruise at a rate of $10/pp/day. But then I read yesterday that room service tips are separate and customary. Now I'm reading that some or most people leave tips in the dining rooms too?? And I thought the excursions were the ridiculously expensive part of the trip! Considering what my husband and I typically spend on food on vacation (w/ tips) and what we tip the maid service, I felt that $20/day was reasonable and most importantly adequate ... and we're generally 20% tippers (or close to it depending upon service). I planned on $1/bag for the porter before we board, $1-2/guide for the excursions (per NCL's recommendation), and the automatic $20/day tip. Now I've revised my expectation to include a couple dollars per use for room service (if we use it). Is it safe to say this is it or do I now need to add on tips on top of tips for the wait staff, etc.? Help!! I want to be clear on this and I don't want to be cheap or unfair, but I also want an easy, relaxing, reasonably priced vacation.

Thanks for your input!
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#22
I trhink it's important to remember all this tipping in obtional and I beleive you paid quite a bit more for Sandles, am I correct? Reason you paid more, the tips were worked in. As for tipping for room service you may not even use it or not much. About the only real extra we see after the $10 per day is in the specialty restaurants and not everyone does that. Of course you can skip the alternative dining and eat all your meals in the standard dining rooms or buffets. Lots of people do this, most of us just like to try one or more of the other options, but don t feel your cruise won't be any fun if you choose to eat all your meals in the no extra pay restaurants. Have fun and don't worry about all this. Life is too short. What's another $50 a person in the relm of things? NMNita
 
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tokathy

Guest
#23
Fuzzlekins,
Sorry, I didn't mean to give you more travel anxiety with all my information/opinions on the Dawn.
But I just wanted to give you my feelings and take on a few different aspects of this cruise. The Dawn was our first "free-style" and it was quite a different experience. While we enjoy the traditional cruise method very much, we found we like both styles for different reasons. I guess it depends on what type of vacation experience you are looking for. Free style was nice in that you could eat when, where and with whom you wanted and not have to dress up (My other half hates to wear a jacket & tie)....it may sound trivial, but I found having to plan ahead for dinner and make reservations a nusiance. (If you didn't reserve early for the specialty restaurants all the better dining times were gone and unless you were a suite passenger you could not reserve more than a day ahead) There were several dining options that did not require a reservation, but for what I felt was the better quality food and service you needed to go to the reservations only extra fee restaurants. If I were taveling with a group I might go free-style again, but otherwise I'd choose traditional, as we found we were eating at the same time as we would be for late seating traditional dining anyway. I did miss the friendships made at the traditional dinner seatings and having the same servers that know your preferences.......In my opinion, if you are looking for a casual unstructured experience then free style might be the right choice for you, but I feel you sacrifice quality in many areas for that freedom.
As far as extra money needed for the "unknown" (drinks, excursions, etc) can run into quite a bit and cruising is different from the all inclusives in that respect. We only used room service once daily at the most and tipped around $2 for each delivery. It is not necessary to tip extra anywhere above the tips that are automatically added to your bill. (Unless you are in a suite and then you need to tip your Butler & Concierge) But some of the staff will go "above & beyond" trying to please you in which case an extra gratuity would be appropriate. But I don't think the extra funds needed for the unexpected would be that much. But if your Travel Agent didn't advise you about the extras (tipping, drinks, excursions, etc) that are part of the cruise experience they aren't doing their job and shame on them!



Post Edited (07-18-03 14:18)
 
F

fuzzlekins

Guest
#24
Thanks again for the all the good info! I'm feeling a wee bit better now.:) I'm a bit of a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to vacations, so we didn't go through a travel agent, I booked online. But I did do a lot of research before booking. At any rate, I feel better knowing that the extra tipping is just in the restaurants with a cover because we weren't planning to eat in those anyway. As for Sandals and the comparison to a cruise ... it's hard to say. Our trip to Sandals cost somewhere around $3400 for two I think (it's been awhile), but it included airfare for two on Air Jamaica. The brochure price for our cruise is about $3700 for two (excluding taxes, tips, etc.) but no one pays brochure price of course. I felt that we got a very good deal on this cruise at $1560 for two (incl. taxes and port charges) for an oceanview room, so I really can't compare. I'm sure that we'll enjoy both though. My point is just that I prefer it to be all-inclusive or not, but not in between. I wish that the cruise lines would change the way they charge. It just makes life easier and there's no question that way. Oh well, still excited about our first cruise experience!:)
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#25
some cruiselines do have all inclusive, like Radisson, but the price is much higher. It all comes out the same. You pay more for all inclusive and by the way, apparently Radisson is a wonderful cruise experience with outstanding service, but of course it is easier to know exactly what your price will be ahead of time. The disadvantage with all inclusive is the price includes things that some will not use, such as liquor. Those who do not drink ofter complain they are paying the same as someone who starts the morning with a BLoody Mary and never quits all day. Other items included sometimes are not part of everyone's daily adventures. Guess it's all in what we want and expect. Happy cruisin..............

Nita
 
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Sestra

Guest
#26
I agree, cruising has become quite inexpensive but it seems the Lines are nickel and diming us to death. I remember when sodas were free for the asking. However the good thing is you pay only for what you use.
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#27
you pay for only what you use; sodas used to be free but then again, 20 years ago we cruised the first time: budget line, basic outside cabin and still paid only a few $$ less then now. The one thing that has sky rocketed, which we can't control is port charges. WOW, of course when you do an all inclusive you pay a departure tax from the country you are visiting which is not the case on a cruise ship. It all works out to be about the same. I just like the idea of visiting lots of places in one week. NMNIta
 
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tokathy

Guest
#28
You really can't beat unpacking once and going to so many different places......if you don't drink a lot of alcohol or soft drinks and stick with the free ice tea, and other beverages that are offered free at all meals you will be keeping your costs down and cruising will turn out to be a much cheaper than some inclusives. The others are right, my first cruise was in 1978 and it cost over $800 pp for 7 days New York to Bermuda...cruise prices haven't gone up as much as some other things.......so if the cruise lines charge extra for certain things you have the choice to spend or not......I'd rather choose what extras to buy than be charged more upfront for items that I'm not interested in.......but again, just my opinion............
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#29
tokathy, agree 100%. Twice we have done the all inclusive routine. Once a budget one in Cancun at the last minute; rooms wonderful, staff nice and pool nice. It ended there. The food was average at best and the liquor rot gut quality. As we do enjoy a nip or two or several it is a mericle we came back with our stomachs still in place. We were also paying for trips they made to night clubs etc we didn't take as we had kids with us. An example of paying for what we didn't get. The second time the resort was in Jamaca, very top quality and top of the line everything. We did get out money's worth cause of the nanny everyday and again had grand kids with us. We also enjoyed the top quality booze, but the food still was not up to ship quality. If I did not drink and did not want to take the excursions I would be less than thrilled with the prices they charged. All inclusives are convenient, but I don't mind the cruise handling. It is still pretty much all inclusive with exception of liquor, tips and the occasional trip to spa or pay restaurants. As you stated you do not have to spend an extra penny if you choose not to.

NIta
 
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kimmy

Guest
#30
Unless they have changed, Radisson serves free wines (their choice) with lunch and dinner and also provides liquor and mixes in the cabins. We paid for our own drinks in the lounges throughout the day and evening and wine with dinner when we wanted to choose. So, not fully inclusive, even at that price but still a top notch experience.
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#31
Kimmy, you have been lucky to have cruised on such a variety of lines, from close to the top down to mid of the road. Do you have a favorite or are you like so many of us, a cruise is what you make it and each is a new experience. As for Radisson, I think I was pretty much generalizing from what many friends have told me. We haven't cruised on the line. Mostly we have done the mass market lines: Celebrity, NCL, RCL, Costa, Carnival, etc.

NIta
 
K

kimmy

Guest
#32
Nita,

Yes, I am lucky to have had the opportunity to have cruised so often. I took my first at 9 years old and haven't stopped since! I worked in Miami for 2 cruise lines and also as a TA for 17 years (part-time, sold cruises) so have always taken advantage of the opportunity to travel.

I have 36 cruises on RCI to date (94 total) and they are my all around favorite. I am an active person and likes lots of sports options and their ShipShape program is really good. I also love to dance and the nightlife is consistently good. I travel solo fairly often so a friendly environment is important to me.

There are only a few cruises that were really awful and those ships are retired now: Veracruz and Dolphin come to mind.

Carnival is one line I will not sail again, ever. Just not for me.

Celebrity is really nice for a low key cruise but I often get bored on their sea days and at night as the options are limited. But their ships are lovely and the service very good.

Radisson was wonderful in the Med but so expensive I could not afford it now.

NCL is also a good value for the money, especially on the newer ships. Their staff on the Sun is particularly terrific.

My next 3 cruises are booked on RCI and I love to have them to look forward to!

I am booked on a 2 night Costa cruise in Nov. but am hesitant as I know they are owned by Carnival so may not go.

My wish list includes a cruise through French Polynesia and also a12-14 day European cruise. I also would like to visit Russia.

Have a great day and "see you" on the boards!

kimmy
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#33
Kimmy, and I thought I cruised alot. Background not as extensive as yours but a little similar. No, I haven't worked for a cruise line but might as well work for NCL. They get mostly positive responces and praise from me and they get the good PR free. Obviously it's our favorite, again, mainly the newer ships. I worked for a major hotel chain for 12 years thus much of our travel has been land based, both daughters involved with airlines and I spent 2 years as a part time (sure it was part time, too busy of an office) mostly selling cruises and Vegas. We have cruised on 7 lines and the only one I wouldn't do again is not defunk. It was Chambris or whatever! Like you, I am not a Carnival lover, but think they have their place. Probably would not do Princess. It's a personal thing. People gripe about customer service on every line, while an agent I had so many problems with them that I just will not sail them. I had everything from wine not arriving in my guest rooms or at the table and having Princess as much as call me crazy to their loosing a request for a balcony room and causing the cliant to be put at the bottom of the list and many other things. Guess we will both be traveling til they carry us off in the big box.

Nita
 
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tokathy

Guest
#34
Glad to see you more experienced cruisers feel the same way about Carnival as I do. I thought it was me.............If you had to chose "free-style" or "traditional" what would it be?
 
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newmexicoNita

Guest
#35
freestyle, that's one of the reasons we love NCL so much. We have had really good luck with her prior to free style, then along comes freestyle. Have you heard yet, Norway is out until at least spring. D@#$it!!!!!! Nita
 
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kimmy

Guest
#36
For me, it would be traditional dining as a rule with the option of specialty restaurants. I enjoyed Freestyle but it is not my preference. On my last 7 day on the Sun, I never had dinner in the main restaurants but always ended up in the sushi bar or tapas bar. I like open seating for breakfast and lunch but still enjoy late seating, assigned tables at dinner.
 
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tokathy

Guest
#37
Kimmy.....I too enjoy the traditional with optional specialty restaurants.....in all your vast cruise experience what is your favorite cruise line and top few ships?

Kathy
 
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kimmy

Guest
#38
Kathy,

I really like RCI the best overall. I enjoy their shipshape program and the wide variety of nightlife.

Favorite ships so far would be RCI's Majesty, Monarch, Enchantment, Rhapsody. Cannot wait for the Serenade in September as I am certain I will love it! I am not a megaship person; I like my ships in the 70,000-90,000 GRT range. Voyager and Adventure were nice but twice was enough.

I think Celebrity has beautiful ships and great service but they are too low key for me.

Radisson was a wonderful experience in the Med. Top notch across the board.

You could not pay me to take another Carnival cruise and HAL caters to a more senior crowd. May try Princess again some day but am happy with RCI.


kimmy
 
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tokathy

Guest
#39
Kimmy,

Thanks for the great info....we did Monarch once and while everything was great the cabin sizes turned me off and I've been leaning toward Celebrity lately (Especially those aft cabins on the M class ships with the huge verandahs).....we are a couple in our 50's so the low key aspect is fine for us.....I love their lack of PA announcements......How are the 70,000-90,000 range RCI ship's cabin sizes and layouts?

Kathy
 
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loved_m

Guest
#40
Kimmy,

I'm not inclined to disagree with you, but I was curious, what specifically about Carnival displeased you? I'm going on the Norwegian Dawn in September but have only been on a couple cruises so far... I've never liked the look of Carnival but wasn't sure why- just my gut instinct I guess-

Thanks,

Love



Post Edited (07-24-03 19:06)