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ScottL

Hello! and an introduction!

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Hello everyone!

Brand new to these boards and still a relative newbie to cruising.  My parents talked my wife and I into sailing on a Carnival Cruise back in January.  We had a good time but my youngest son wasn't feeling well during most of the trip and my wife tended to get a little overwhelmed by the crowds.  We decided it was time for another vacation and, even though another cruise wasn't the top on her list, we did agree that it's the best value and most relaxing thing we could do.....so a couple months ago we booked a 7-day cruise on Allure in September.  It's just me and my wife this time, so we're really starting to get excited about it!

I recently found Matt's videos, which are a Godsend for people like us and I've become addicted to watching them every day.  I've still got a couple of lingering questions and wasn't sure where to ask them, but I just found this board and it looks like everyone here is really friendly/helpful, so I'm going to try my luck here with some of you cruise veterans! 🙂

First question:  We booked the cruise with a military discount.  I understand that at some point they need to see my DD-214 but I can't remember if it was required at purchase time (we paid the whole cruise fare up front when we booked) or if I will need to bring it with me on the trip.  I can't find anything in my paperwork saying I provided it or if it is needed so I was wondering if anyone can help me.  Will I need to bring my military documentation with us on the trip or can I leave it at my house?  (p.s.  I provided my DD-214 to the DMV and also have my veteran status on my driver's license...is this acceptable proof?)

Second Question:  Tipping the Cabin Steward.  I know tipping can be controversial but these are new services to us and I have no idea how this stuff works.  We're doing a 7-day, Easter Caribbean cruise in September, we've got the deluxe beverage package and all gratuities included in everything we've bought.  Obviously I always pay above and beyond for exceptional service but I'm looking for kind of the acceptable starting point for tipping cabin stewards at the end of a cruise....can anyone give me some advice?

 

Thanks in advance!

Scott

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Hello and welcome to the boards! Please let me be the first to say thank you for your service!  

1.  I am going to tell you what I was told, I do not receive a military discount but I do receive a Fire/EMS discount from time to time.  As long as you have an ID on you that should be all that you need.  I was even told that they rarely even ask for the proof once you get onboard, but you do need to have it in case you are asked.  I keep an ID card in my wallet and was told that would suffice if asked.  

 

2.  I will say that depending on what we book and the job done we give them about $50 in addition to the prepaid gratuities, we may give more depending on the service as well as how many we have in the cabin.  I know that there are some that I know of that give several hundred at the end, it is a personal thing! I know that there have been times that we have received service WELL above what we are used to, and have given more.  I hope that you have a wonderful cruise! 

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Welcome.

Not sure about the Military question... sorry. 

 

As far as tipping goes. If you have pre-paid your grats, you are good to go, and anything beyond that is completely up to you and the level of service you feel you have received.

Same for if you have not pre-paid your daily tips. I have always kept the daily grats on my account at a minimum. On 6 cruises I have left additional cash tips on 3 of them. Some to our room steward, some to specific bar tenders, etc. Those extra tips have varied from $20 to $50 per person. So its really up to you. Don't sweat it too much. You will learn real quick which staff are going above and beyond, and which ones are just going through the motions. 

Cheers

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I cruised on a military discount fare in 2009. I brought a copy of my DD-214 with me, but, I was never asked to present it. Even so, the Veterans designation on your driver's license should suffice if asked.

I was simply given the discount when I booked on the website. Didn't save too much  $$$ though.

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1 hour ago, ScottL said:

Tipping the Cabin Steward.  I know tipping can be controversial but these are new services to us and I have no idea how this stuff works.  We're doing a 7-day, Easter Caribbean cruise in September, we've got the deluxe beverage package and all gratuities included in everything we've bought.  Obviously I always pay above and beyond for exceptional service but I'm looking for kind of the acceptable starting point for tipping cabin stewards at the end of a cruise....can anyone give me some advice?

Your automatic gratuity that you either pre-pay before your cruise or pay each night of the cruise automatically handles the gratuity for your room attendant.

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Awesome, thank you all so much for the quick replies!  I'll probably bring the DD-214 just to be safe but that's what I was thinking.  As for the tipping that sounds great.  I plan to tip waiters/bartenders/etc throughout the cruise when I get good service but the Cabin Steward just had me puzzled.  

We're pretty low maintenance (not sure if we'll have any special requests and I know they'll make sure our room is taken care of for the duration) so I want to make sure I'm tipping appropriately and bring enough money to do so.

Anyways, you guys are great (and Matt is the best for all he does to support the cruising community!) so I hope to become a lot more active as time goes on.  Now all I gotta do is convince my wife that our last (first) cruise wasn't "normal" and hope that she loves this cruise as much as everyone says we will!

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40 minutes ago, ScottL said:

Awesome, thank you all so much for the quick replies!  I'll probably bring the DD-214 just to be safe but that's what I was thinking.  As for the tipping that sounds great.  I plan to tip waiters/bartenders/etc throughout the cruise when I get good service but the Cabin Steward just had me puzzled.  

We're pretty low maintenance (not sure if we'll have any special requests and I know they'll make sure our room is taken care of for the duration) so I want to make sure I'm tipping appropriately and bring enough money to do so.

Anyways, you guys are great (and Matt is the best for all he does to support the cruising community!) so I hope to become a lot more active as time goes on.  Now all I gotta do is convince my wife that our last (first) cruise wasn't "normal" and hope that she loves this cruise as much as everyone says we will!

Just to clarify, the standard gratuities are figured at 18%, so people who are accustomed to tipping 20% for extra service would tip more, as would people who receive special services.  You decide the % that is right, but tips are a major source of income for the crew.  Also, Royal has a breakout of the daily gratuity, and guest services can give you a business card that shows how much goes to the stateroom/suite attendant or to the wait staff.  Based on those amounts, you can calculate the assumed value of the food you eat using 18%.  If you eat more, you'll want to tip more, for example.   Different countries have different customs -- Australia and NZ tip less given their culture and value added taxes, etc.

You shouldn't feel uncomfortable whatever you decide, you should just enjoy your cruise.

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9 hours ago, ScottL said:

We booked the cruise with a military discount.

Welcome to the blog, Scott and thank you for your military service.

You are fortunate, indeed to have received a military discount from Royal Caribbean.  They are, unfortunately, very rare. It’s one of the few disappointing things about Royal Caribbean. 

In all of our years of cruising, We have only received a military discount once and that was on Carnival, years ago.  They required that I fax the “proof” to them when I booked. I really have no idea how Royal handles it but I would certainly take either the 214 with me or a military ID or something. No sense in having utter chaos ensue at the port by not having some kind of paperwork with you, just in case.

As far as tipping goes, it’s completely a personal choice.  You are already tipping the room attendant by virtue of your daily gratuity so an additional tip, should you choose to give one, would be on top of that.  We always tip our attendant extra but it is not required or even expected, from my experience.

I’m happy to hear that your somewhat disappointing first cruise hasn’t spoiled you from the chance to try again.  You certainly picked a great ship.  Allure is a beauty.  If your wife is uncomfortable in crowds I will offer a suggestion regarding the muster drill.  That is the one and only time I ever feel crowded on a ship - any ship.  

Let’s say the muster drill is at 4:30.  At around 4:00, go to your muster station and find the person who is scanning Seapass cards and have that person scan both of your cards.  Then tell that person that your wife is claustrophobic and that you are going inside to have a seat.  Go to one of the bar areas (but not at the bar itself) and have a seat. That is where people who are in wheelchairs or have other physical limitations will sit through the drill.  If anyone says that you must go to your muster station, just tell them that your cards have already been scanned and that you are going to sit where you are for the muster drill. You will find others will come and sit there as well.  One of the staff will perform the life jacket demonstration for those of you who are seated inside.  Then...once the drill concludes and everyone begins to surge towards the elevators, just remain seated and enjoy your seat for a while longer until the crowds clear out.  Not only will you avoid the mass of humanity but you get to sit down in the cool bar area while everyone else is cued up outside.  Of course, on Allure your muster station might be inside anyway but you can avoid the crowds by being elsewhere.

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I recall when I booked with Royal Caribbean through my Travel agent she requested a copy of my DD 214 and sent it them.  I guess they must have it on file now, but they haven't asked for proof since that first cruise, besides didn't really notice a difference in price. 

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2 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Let’s say the muster drill is at 4:30.  At around 4:00, go to your muster station and find the person who is scanning Seapass cards and have that person scan both of your cards.  Then tell that person that your wife is claustrophobic and that you are going inside to have a seat.  Go to one of the bar areas (but not at the bar itself) and have a seat. That is where people who are in wheelchairs or have other physical limitations will sit through the drill.  If anyone says that you must go to your muster station, just tell them that your cards have already been scanned and that you are going to sit where you are for the muster drill. You will find others will come and sit there as well.  One of the staff will perform the life jacket demonstration for those of you who are seated inside.  Then...once the drill concludes and everyone begins to surge towards the elevators, just remain seated and enjoy your seat for a while longer until the crowds clear out.  Not only will you avoid the mass of humanity but you get to sit down in the cool bar area while everyone else is cued up outside.  Of course, on Allure your muster station might be inside anyway but you can avoid the crowds by being elsewhere.

Thank you so much for this tip! Our kids will be with us for the first time on Liberty in a couple weeks (I think we get on the day you get off), and my daughter is Autistic. I hope if we're not inside that we can do this if she becomes overwhelmed. 

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I have heard that if you contact them prior to boarding, the staff will make accommodations for your daughter.  Also, I'm not sure of her age, but I know the Adventure Ocean staff are trained in working with children on the spectrum as well.  There's an organization out there called Autism on the Seas (https://autismontheseas.com/) that has lots of information, even if you don't use their services.  Good luck!

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Welcome, Scott!

Thank you both for your service, as it's as much our spouses as us when we're in the military!

 

I haven't ever received the military discount, but I have a thought - if you don't ordinarily carry your DD-214 with you, 

why not just take a picture of it with your phone?  Surely that will be enough proof?

 

Regardless - I hope you guys have a wonderful cruise!  

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Ya know, @Floski that's not a bad idea.  I"m sure with a picture of the DD-214 plus the veteran status on my license I should be able to convince them it's legit.  But I guess it's much ado about nothing, it's really not that hard to pack it and throw it in the cabin safe for a week.

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@ScottL, welcome to the forums!

Just a suggestion. The county where I live provides us with veterans I.D. cards. It has our picture, name and address, branch of service, birth date, discharge date and county seal. The DD214 has so much other personal data that I'd either want to cross out or not carry with me. Plus thankfully, so many places now offer military discounts and it's so easy to just show this card.

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1 hour ago, Boston Babe said:

Welcome @ScottL!!  There is such a wealth of information on this blog, I suspect you and your wife after your Allure cruise, will continue to check in here!

You got that right!  The information is wonderful and the people in this community are even better.  I'm sure this will be the 2nd of many more cruises to come, but even if it is not I plan to become a regular fixture on these boards moving forward.  Either I can always learn new stuff about cruising or maybe one day (when I'm a grizzled old veteran cruiser) I'll be able to share some advice with other newbies like me 🙂

And if neither of those work I can always just live vicariously through everyone else's excitement!

 

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The people at the port who check you in aren't employees of the cruise line.  Verifying your Veterans status won't be part of the check-in process.  I can't imagine they would ask for it once you are on the ship, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.  

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Hello and welcome!   This spot is a wealth of great information!

in regard to your tipping question, I’d suggest you bring with you several singles, fives, and maybe a couple of tens.   I’m not going to argue the philosophy or etiquette of gratuity as it can get contentious and that isn’t my intent here.  But, if you are like many, you’ll want to have a few dollars available to quickly pass to the porters that handle your luggage.   While you have prepaid the standard 18%, that is money divided up amongst the service staff, some of whom you don’t see.   Right now, you may not be thinking of a scenario where your cabin steward goes above and beyond, but I’d guess you’d rather be prepared if you discover they have.  (For example, if someone unfortunately gets sick and they are heavily cleaning up, or they bring a much-needed fan and have it set up for you on the second day because you didn’t realize it would be something you need.).  Anything can happen, and if you want to give him an extra $20, you want to be sure you have it.    Same is true if you plan to eat in the MDR.   On our June cruise on Navigator, our assistant waiter made our vacation.  He had such a great personality and made such a connection with our pre-teen dancers at our table, that dinner was a significant highlight to our vacation.   He deserved more than whatever fraction of our daily gratuity provided him.

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4 hours ago, Bbjunkie said:

Right now, you may not be thinking of a scenario where your cabin steward goes above and beyond, but I’d guess you’d rather be prepared if you discover they have

For our last cruise I was very impressed with the cabin steward.  She seemed to be a magic fairy that was never in the way and had everything we asked for without any delay, like wine glasses, etc.  She was exceptional and I felt deserved more than a minimum.    We didn't ask for a lot but for everything we did, she was on it. 

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  I qualify for both military and law enforcement discounts but have never received either one.  Like WaaayTooo says they are very rare.  As far as the tips go I take a large amount of ones, fives and tens with me for tipping cash.  I have my doubts how much the waiter at the bar sees of the extra money you might add to your receipt.  I used to tip the head waiter and room steward up front with extra money and I believe i received a bump in service.  Then  one cruise I gave the head waiter a $50 dollar bill the first night.  The next night she was not there and I was introduced to my new head waiter.  The assistant waiter said she was going to be escorted off the ship at the next port stop.  They wouldn't tell me what she did but I'm sure they would have been in trouble for even telling me she was booted.  Lesson learned.   I now give extra tips in smaller increments as the cruise goes on.  Relax and don't try and do too much.  Remember your on vacation.  

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