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Mike_

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Mike_ last won the day on February 10 2016

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About Mike_

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    Philadelphia, PA
  1. Thar she blows! My wife and I have been wanting and waiting to go on Freedom for many years, but the heavens never quite aligned for us. Last week we were in San Juan leaving on an NCL cruise and as I took our traditional "first drink" photo, what photobombs me? Freedom! I have been chasing that elusive whale for many a voyage, and finally I have come in contact with her. I checked your "Events" page and saw that you had an upcoming cruise aboard her, so threw my harpoon and I am booking. See you soon! Mike_
  2. I noticed that the reviews were missing this week, which I assumed they removed to kill any "negative" reviews that were present. Hey, I'm a negative thinker. Instead I used cruisecritic and tripadvisor to zero in on good vs bad. Mike
  3. I leave the auto gratuities in place, because I think Royal has a better idea of how tips are distributed and who they should go to then I do. There is some percentage of how it's distributed that I saw on their tv channel. It's split with your steward and dining staff I think... and one other. I also tip my steward in cash, and my wait staff additionally on the last day/night of the cruise, not of these people provide extremely personal service to me, and it feels right to me. My first steward also told me he only gets paid for the rooms that are full... so if he has 12 rooms assigned, and only 10 are filled, then he's losing money. They work awlful hours too; my stewards always look like they never sleep a straight 8 hours. And my assistant waiter for dinner, was handing out juice at breakfast! P.S. I heard they pool their tips anyway, so even if you hand a direct cash tip, it goes into the pool. If they don't hand money to the pool they can be terminated for hiding money. That was on a Podcast interview... so not sure if that's the same on all cruise lines, but if it is, you're not gaining anything by removing the tips if you are just going to hand out the same exact money anyway. e.g. $12.95 x 2 x 7 days or however long your cruise is. I think... :)
  4. I don't have any problem washing my hands or using sanitizer. I wash my hand in the bathroom, I use the hand towel to open doors, I sanitize into a dining area, leaving a dining area, and sometimes when moving into a new location. It does not feel like an inconvenience to me at all, it's about keeping the ship and it's passengers as healthy as possible. If you think about it, in the buffet everyone is handling the same serving utensils. Wait staff are picking up glasses, cleaning dishes, bringing you drinks. It's general health and welfare. We all get shots and inoculations to ensure a healthier populace, same goes for washing hands. But the song gets stuck in my head!!!!!!!
  5. Oh my god, this song is sooooo stuck in my head still!
  6. ..and, any day on a cruise is a day not at work. ;) I'd take a cruise just about anywhere, from anywhere, anytime. I like them that much. :)
  7. I am not so sure of tipping either... at least my views are changing. On day one when we meet the attendant I introduce myself, ask for the extras I will need, such as extra pillows, ice in ice bucket, extra towels, etc. Then, when the cruise completes, I tip at the end. If he was great, and the room was exceptionally clean I will tip. I don't want to tip early because I don't want the attendant to think that's all they get, or that since they were tipped they can forget about me either. I have never had bad service, but I have had "great" service, and there is a difference. I changed my tipping procedures because I heard some things since my first cruise. On one podcast, not RCB, I heard the attendant, nor anyone on the ship, does not get to keep their tips. They are pooled amongst everyone, servers, on the cruise, and the employee can be terminated if they are found to hide their tips. This makes sense, as not every server has equal chances of tips. e.g bartenders and wait staff have best chances. Also, I heard from a steward, that they only get paid if the rooms are full. So for example, if only 10 rooms of his 12 assigned are full, he only gets paid from those full rooms. Also, the tips that we are charged on tip of our bills are supposed to be the "tip". I admit that $25 per day for room and waitress seems small, all your drinks include a tip charge. I also heard the best thing you can do for a staff member is to remember their name. Then when you complete the end of cruise critique, mention the great ones who served you in that critique. Their names are ver hard though, so I may ask to take photo instead... but that feels really creepy too. My two cents. Mike_
  8. On NCL they gave seasick meds out for free at Guest Services. I called down, they asked some questions, and went and retrieved it. I also heard you can ask your cabin steward and they will leave it in the room. They ask questions about allergies, pregnancy, etc. On RCCL, I do not know if they give it out for free, but I can't imagine why they would be different. I do not use them, so I can't speak to their effectiveness.
  9. Elle, I have found personally that I do not beat the cruise ships on drink packages. The package for two can cost me $800 for two people, and I usually end up spending under $500 on a 7-8 day cruise, and that's with $1 tip for each drink. If the cruise is port intensive, more than 3 in a 7-8 day cruise, I loose. I end up on an excursion, walking around town, drinking some in town, etc. If your not on the ship you are not drinking for free; except in Labadee where your drink package is extended to the island. I prefer better beers or foreign types, and they are cheaper than domestic on cruise ships. Guineess is $4 vs Bid light is $6.50. My wife drinks less than me, so you used to have to get the package for everyone in the stateroom; I don't think this is the case anymore. If it is, you loose. I just did a cruise with unlimited drink packages, and after three-four days of drink I was exhausted and had to take a liver nap. If my liver is napping, I loose. It's also hard to drink a lot of the fruity or creamier drinks, too filling. They are the more expensive drinks. e.g. $12+. Once on a RCL cruise I was able to buy five Coronas and a cooler full of ice with a bottle opener for $25. They brought the whole thing to me with a cup of limes. However, if you had the drink package they would only bring one beer at a time. So that is a pain as well. The good thing is you can have a mimosa for breakfast, wine at dinner, etc. and know ahead of time what your total costs are. However, there is always a special drink each day that is discounted, etc. so there are ways of saving and making your booze dollar go further. My first two cruises I paid cash, and beat the packages. The last cruise it was included as an incentive, I drank a lot, but I still don't think I beat them; I might have broke even. Good luck. Mike_
  10. Looks like fun! Free drinks? Did someone say free drinks? I think I heard free drinks. Who said free drinks?
  11. Well, I finally booked all the entertainment venues. I have not booked any excursions, but I am interested in doing something in Jamaica or Cozumel; not sure what yet. We decided to fly into Ft. Lauderdale two days early too, since it's a Sunday departure. So I plan on enjoying a few relaxing days before the party starts! Good luck to all, I am excited for vacation, and meeting everyone. Toot, toot! Mike_
  12. Okay, we're under 50 days until this group cruise and I am starting to get excited! The holidays are over, and I have not been on a ship in three months, and my palms are getting sweaty... Who is in on this cruise? What plans are you making? What excursions are interesting? Has anyone prebooked anything on the cruise yet, such as water theater show? I've never been to Jamaica or Haiti, so they are new ports to me. I was so excited, I booked another cruise in September. Ugh, this podcast/blog is supposed to be helping quench my addiction... I don't think it's helping. Good luck to all, fair winds and following seas! Mike_
  13. Matt, My initial feeling is that the smaller ships it feels like the center of the ships are where everything happens, and the elevators are located there. However, on these big ones the elevators are severely forward or aft, which always makes for a long walk. And, they appear less intimate. Just a feeling. Thanks, Mike_
  14. I feel like the Freedom of the Seas continually comes up in Podcast and comments as being a special ship... am I crazy or is it regarded as such? I am looking for future bookings and was thinking of giving this ship a try. Thanks, Mike_
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