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  1. The gratuity that you pre pay is split up for all the workers. You can leave what ever you want for room attendants. Their tip is included in the pre paid tips. But some people leave a little extra if they ask the room stewards for extra stuff. Remember, anything that you buy onboard has the gratuity added and that also goes to the workers.
  2. Last year on Allure of the Seas we ate at Chops instead of the MDR one night. Earlier that same day my wife was leaving the spa and overheard a women talking to a friend about her dinner the night before at Chops. She said that it was the worse meal she had ever had. She told her friend that the meal was so bad that she demanded her money back. I guess we should have taken the hint. That night at Chops my wife and I both got the rib eye. We weren't expecting Ruth Chris or Morton's but we were expecting a steak better than the Outback. My steak was cooked properly but the meat was tough and without flavor. Which to me shows that they don't use a very good grade of steak. My wife had to send her steak back and they still didn't get it right so she passed on having them prepare another so I wouldn't have to wait on her. We didn't finish our sides nor our apps because nothing tasted good! It was just a bad meal that would have been better and half the price at Outback or Texas Roadhouse.
  3. As others have said, look in your daily cruise compass when you're on board your ship. The compass will have a list of all the restaurants that serve food and the times that they open and close. If you see a dollar sign($) beside the name of the restaurant that means it's an extra cost to eat there. If you don't see a dollar sign then it's complimentary(no extra cost).
  4. As many others have said, "taste is very subjective". Our first cruise on Royal was our cruise on Allure last March. And we thought the MDR on Allure was heads and shoulders above all of our Carnival cruises MDR. There were some misses but still, quality of food in the MDR on Allure was much better than ANY Carnival cruise ship. In our opinion. We also ate at the speciality restaurant Chops on our Allure cruise. In our opinion, that meal at Chops was worse than any meal we had that week in the MDR. We both agreed that we've had better steaks at Outback steakhouse. Even the sides were terrible. I don't think we finished any of our dishes. before we went we knew we couldn't compare Chops to a Land based top of the line steakhouse. We were just hoping to get a meal better that your "low cost steakhouse". We didn't.
  5. Since you said this will be your first cruise let me give you a few tips. 1. You don't have to do excursions or stay the whole day in port. If you've never been to an island you can simply get off the ship and walk around the nearby area for a couple of hours. 2. Docking in a port you've never been to is a good way to see if it's someplace you would like to visit for a land vacation. 3. The southern Caribbean islands are visited often by cruise ships. The ABC islands get far less cruise ship visits. My wife and I would choose option 1. We have never been to the ABC islands. And St Maarten is our favorite port.
  6. As others have said, there's a beach in town near the port. It can get pretty crowded if there's a lot of ships in port. But the good thing is thatit's very close and you can get some good deals on beach loungers from some of the restaurants on the beach. The Lazy Lizard beach bar had a deal for 2 beach loungers with umbrella, 5 beers, and free WiFi for $25.
  7. Since we mainly fly Southwest(no baggage fee for 2 checked bags), we always fly into FLL for Miami cruises. And we always use SAS transportation($15pp each way). They pick you up in a 15 passenger van but they only pick up and transport to FLL. It usually takes us 30-45 minutes depending on how many they have to pick up.
  8. We recently took our first cruise on an Oasis class ship(Allure). We had also read passengers posts where they said 7 days was not enough time to see everything. By day 3 my wife and I had explored and seen everything on the ship we wanted to see(we had 2 sea days in a row). So we weren't really sure what kept others from not seeing everything. Perhaps they meant they couldn't see and do everything in 7 days. It would be hard to do all the activities and see all the shows. Most of the activities are on 5 or 6 floors out of 17 for the entire ship. As for the ports. We like port heavy cruises. For us, a cruise is the opportunity to sail away to a different island at every port stop. So we always get off the ship and at least walk around, sightsee, shop, try a local beer or drink and usually eat a bite. We'll never forget the time we stopped in St Kitts and they were having some kind picnic/celebration in the park that was just a couple of blocks from the cruise port. There was a parade, kids, families, locals selling grilled foods, fresh fruit drinks, crafts. It was just like what you would expect to see in any small American town. But it was all about the people of St Kitts, a Caribbean island. If we would have stayed on the ship we would have missed it. If you haven't traveled a lot, I encourage you to get off the ship and have a look around for at least an hour or two. And maybe even pick up a sovereign so you can always have a memory of your visit. My wife has collected a refrigerator full of magnets from each of the ports we've visited over the years. I always try a local beer and I try to buy a bottle of hot sauce. You can always stay on the ship if you want. But you're going to be on there for days anyway. Why not get off at port?
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