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First time cruiser question!


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Hello everybody, Me and my wife just singed up to take our dream vacation around the Caribbean for 9 nights on the allure of the seas. Its our very delayed honeymoon :D.

Our big confusion is about gratuity.

Gratuity - We have heard differing things about gratuity, last thing we want to do is not tip the staff correctly. I have heard that gratuity is included in the ship fare, I have heard that Gratuity is added onto the end of the cruise, we also saw a pre paid gratuity option for $215~ dollars to add at booking. 
So my question is, have we already paid for gratuity by paying for the cruise?

If not, and we use the prepaid gratuity option, are we still expected to leave tips for our waiter/room staff?





 

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The gratuity is not included in the fare.  You have the option to prepay (which locks in the daily per person per day rate) or pay at the end of your cruise.  Gratuity is also added to drink purchases automatically I believe.  It is also customary to put "something extra" in a tip envelope when you leave.

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Hi BillyBob and welcome,

 

If you prepay gratuities you are not expected to tip further, everyone including the behind-the-scenes staff are compensated by your payment.

 

That said, if you give the bartenders a cash tip you may want to watch how strong they make the drinks.  Some will pour you doubles or triples without asking if you tip them.  

 

You can certainly give extra tips to anyone who goes out of their way, but it isn't expected.

 

Have a great time on your cruise,

Brad

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This is a copy and paste from one our current booking invoices. 
 

“A $14.50 per guest, per day gratuity will be automatically added to each guests SeaPass account on a daily basis to be shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes to enhance the cruise experience. Suite guests will see a $17.50 daily gratuity. Guests who prepaid gratuities prior to boarding their cruise will not see a daily charge onboard. An 18% gratuity is also automatically added to beverage, mini bar, spa, and salon”

 

You can prepay this or not.  If you don’t prepay, it will be added to your account and be due at the end of your cruise 

We don’t prepay, we just let it get charged to the credit card we have on file at the end of the cruise.   It accrues daily while onboard, and you can see it when you look at your portfolio.

In addition to the above daily gratuities that are added by Royal, we bring cash with us to tip our room steward and others who have provided exemplary service to us (ie. waiter, head waiter, etc). 
 

We don’t drink alcohol, so we don’t have too much interaction with bartenders, but if I still drank, I’d bring cash to tip them too. 
 

Any tipping over and above the daily gratuities added by Royal are optional. 
 

Technically , I believe you can have the included daily gratuities removed, but we would never consider doing so. 

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Great information thankyou everyone ? 
 
We was wondering how quickly the specialty dining restraunts get booked up for the 9 days. Weather its worth it or not to even book them. 


Apparently from people we know, the main dining room included with the ticket has amazing food but they havnt cruised for 15 years. Is it still great? or will we be looking for something a bit different after a few days do you think? 

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2 hours ago, RockerDom31 said:

Also…if you prepay gratuities, it locks in that daily charge rate.

+1

Gratuities rate can increase between booking and cruising. I don't understand folks that want to tip crew out individually. Many of the crew are behind the scenes and it is impossible to reward them. We make sure to reward someone that has been good to us, but a good review is worth more than any tip I could afford.  

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3 hours ago, Billybob1224 said:

Great information thankyou everyone ? 
 
We was wondering how quickly the specialty dining restraunts get booked up for the 9 days. Weather its worth it or not to even book them. 


Apparently from people we know, the main dining room included with the ticket has amazing food but they havnt cruised for 15 years. Is it still great? or will we be looking for something a bit different after a few days do you think? 

15 years ago the main dining room was wonderful.. Now in my opinion its not good.. But that is of course my opinion.. I think you should book some specialty restaurants to mix it up and that way you can decide for yourself what you like. Half the people on here will say its great and half will say its bad.. Its so subjective 

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7 hours ago, Billybob1224 said:

Great information thankyou everyone ? 
 
We was wondering how quickly the specialty dining restraunts get booked up for the 9 days. Weather its worth it or not to even book them. 


Apparently from people we know, the main dining room included with the ticket has amazing food but they havnt cruised for 15 years. Is it still great? or will we be looking for something a bit different after a few days do you think? 

Think of the Main dining room as really good catered food - like the best wedding food you ever had.  If you are a "foodie", then it probably won't measure up.  I think its great, but I have had better meals at really nice restaurants but those were cooked to order. 

I do enjoy not having to worry about the cost of ordering appetizers and dessert.  I also enjoy the interaction with the wait staff and like that they will learn our preferences as the week goes on.

We have typically done 1 night in a specialty restaurant and do think they are a step up in food.  We are trying the 3 night package in a few weeks on Adventure and I am interested to see how we like it vs the main dining room.  I love good food, but honestly tend to choose casual/family style restaurants at home vs fine dining even though I could afford to eat at more expensive places.

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I would agree with the comparison of the main dining room to a really good catering hall. There are a couple of up-charge items you can order from there on any night — filet mignon, whole lobster (vs lobster tails, which is served as a regular entree choice on one night of the trip), maybe one other item. Those couple items will be cooked to order, but everything else is prepared in bulk.

I consider myself a foodie, and I’ve never had any real complaints with food from the MDR beyond the amount of salt they use. But I tend to eat with very little salt in my food at home, so I’m just used to that compared to what many restaurants would consider “normal”.

I’ve tried a few of the specialty restaurants, and I would say they’re usually on par with a premium chain restaurant on land. No question they’re really good, but still not up to the most amazing meals I’ve splurged on a few times.

Since you mentioned it’s your honeymoon, and you are considering making a specialty restaurant reservation, I’ll also mention Chef’s Table. It is 100% a splurge and indulgence, around $90 or $100 per person; but in addition to a really good 6-course meal, you’re served a different wine pairing with each course. The meal is limited to I think 12 or maybe 18 people per night, so it’s a very private and more-intimate experience socially as well; the chef comes out and talks about every course, and you have a private waiter (I believe one of the ship’s most senior wait staff) taking care of just your table and making the wine selections. If you and your bride would like that kind of thing as another special something for your special week, I can’t recommend it enough.

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Welcome to the boards! 

We always prepay our gratuities when we book. We always give our room steward an additional tip at the end of the cruise. My husband usually makes “friends” (?) with a pool bartender and gives an extra cash tip on the last day. We also will tip a bit extra in the specialty restaurants if our wait staff was exceptional. (Tip is included if you book a specialty dining plan). 

Specialty dining: we always do at least a 3 night plan. Our upcoming Symphony we are doing the ultimate because of the new restaurants: Hooked and Wonderland. We love Chops, Giovannis/Jamie’s. 

We are doing Alaska next May and probably won’t do specialty due to the port intensive itinerary. Might do one night in Chops. 

We also have a 12 night Holy Land/Greece and decided to do just a 3 night as again it’s port intensive and I’ve heard from several that you literally crawl back onboard, head straight to dining room, eat and fall into bed. 

Caribbean is a whole different vibe. Generally slow and relaxing. I suggest doing a 3 night your first time. This way you can experience both options. Make the reservations for sea days so your not rushed coming back onboard from port to get ready. 

I LOVE eating at Chops on Oasis class as you can sit outside in Central Park. 150 is also in Central Park and the most “gourmet.” 

Have fun! 
 

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We always carry a large number of $1s $5s and $10s for giving cash tips to waiters and bartenders.  The baggage handlers that take your bags when you arrive at the port are not paid by the cruise line.  They work off tips so I always give them at least $2 a bag.  There are also baggage handlers where you pick up your bags at the end of the cruise to go through customs.  These handlers have large carts to take your bags to the customs area.  It really makes things easier.  We usually have about 5 bags so we pay them about $15 or $20.

  If you fly in it can be arranged most of the time for the baggage to go directly to the airport.

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Like other's have stated you can prepay...I suggest this as it spreads the cost of your cruise out, resulting in not getting a huge bill at the end. Or you can pay at the end of the cruise, that way if you felt like the service was not up to par, you could refuse gratuity.  However, anything extra is entirely up to you. I manage a restaurant and I know what my staff goes through, so I always tip extra to the people I come in contact with who provide me quality service.

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On 5/31/2021 at 12:34 PM, MikeK said:

The baggage handlers that take your bags when you arrive at the port are not paid by the cruise line.  They work off tips so I always give them at least $2 a bag. 

They're not paid by the cruiselines, but they also don't just work off tips. In the US at least, they're usually employed by the port, are classified as longshoremen (same as those that load/unload cargo on passenger and cargo vessels), and are often part of the longshoreman union. Not saying they don't work hard, they absolutely do, but they also don't completely rely on tips like the restaurant workers making $2.13/hr. 

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17 minutes ago, Zacharius said:

They're not paid by the cruiselines, but they also don't just work off tips. In the US at least, they're usually employed by the port, are classified as longshoremen (same as those that load/unload cargo on passenger and cargo vessels), and are often part of the longshoreman union. Not saying they don't work hard, they absolutely do, but they also don't completely rely on tips like the restaurant workers making $2.13/hr. 

 

They're casual longshoremen, and with a union card, they can make a nice hourly rate.  Granted it's obviously not a 40 hour a week type job, but it's definitely not pennies.

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