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Very first cruise booked July 5th - 12th Norwegian Fjords. Can some experienced users give me an idea if i'm ready or not?


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Hey everyone.  

Just signed up as i was shocked to learn about Gratuity being charged daily so hopefully i get a reply on another thread for that. 

Anyway I've booked a cruise for the Norwegian Fjords for July 5th to 12th. We've paid for everything during booking but skipped the drinks packages etc... as there's only 2 days on the ship while the rest is spent on land. We're planning on bringing a few cans of coke with us but have some cash for a few "fancy" drinks in the evening. We're not heavy drinkers so the drinks package seemed expensive to what we would consume.  

We've booked two excursions in Norway that my wife just couldn't pass up. We booked these independently which i hope is not an issue.  We've budgeted for lunch in the towns each day along with a little extra for souvenirs. We've also budgeted around £400 to spend onboard.  

Are we severely under budgeted?  

The only thing we really wish to visit on the ship is Wonderland for the dining experience otherwise we're going to be spending our time at the buffet unless there's other restaurants included within the original price. We were planning to tip in person but it seems that's charged daily rather than per.  

Just for a 2 person getaway without the kids for the first time in 15 years which doubles up as a very very late honeymoon. Should we have planned a little more?  

This cruise will be our very first and we got it for a great price which is why we snapped it up. If we enjoy this cruise we're planning to do a 2 week Spain-Miami cruise in 2026 so could anyone give us any tips on what to expect, should be dig deep and find a little more cash or visit the bank of mum/dad last minute?  

I'm blind and uncoordinated going in to this and i'm starting to panic a little.  

Also what sort of dress code are we looking at? I've packed casual shirts, jeans, cargo/chino shorts, black trousers/shoes/white shirt/tie for formal events and a few swimwear options along with a jumper/coat just to be safe. The wife has packed summer dresses, trainers, formal dress and heels etc... along with full bathing suit.  

Obviously Passport is packed and so is my wallet with ID. We're not bringing cash as my bank works through Europe without issues and i'll be able to withdraw cash in Norway if required with a 3% fee which is not too bad. From my understanding everything is charged to your room key which is linked to my bank card so cash onboard is not required correct?  

Sorry if these questions have been asked millions of times before. I did try to scroll through the forums but was unable to find answers.

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1 minute ago, Plasticbrain said:

Hello! Just wanted to wish you a great cruise, and to let you know that I have a post under excursions with general advice about Norway (I am Norwegian) hope that can help. For the other questions, I will let others answer, since I am doing my first ever cruise in July myself.

Hey, Thank you for the reply. 

I will definitely take a look at your general advice about Norway.

As for excursions my wife booked a 5 hour tour to explore Waterfalls of Hardangerfjord? along with a zipline and cycle day in Flám which looks really fun. Other than that we're going to be exploring the towns and local shops.  

I hope you also have a wonderful cruise. Good luck.

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Which ship? Anthem?

For dining on the ship, ones included in the windjammer buffet, main dining rooms (you should pick your dining time). cafe 270,  sorrentos, doghouse. If you haven't done so download the Royal Caribbean app, that'll show you the included ones.

Have you done your checking yet? The app you can use it for online checkin. On the day of embarkation you can use it to do the online muster

£400 to spend onboard, I guess depends on the person. For my wife and myself that is plenty, we usually get a few drinks a day, play bingo, grab lunch at Johnny Rockets once and by a few tshirts and things

Dress code is mostly casual (shorts tshirt), some people dress business casual for the main dining room. You should be fine there.

Everything onboard goes on your seapass card.

Seeing you have booked excursions outside of royal, make sure you back one the ship at the specified departure time, the ship won't wait if your late. Also the you should follow is ship time, not local time. Whatever the time is on the ship, that's what you use. On your cell phone disable the auto time change and set you clock to the ship time. We always tried to by back on a the ship at least an hour early

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1 hour ago, MrTrendizzle said:

We're planning on bringing a few cans of coke with us but have some cash for a few "fancy" drinks in the evening.

FYI: Drinks are not paid for by using cash. They are purchased using a credit card linked to your SeaPass card and an automatic gratuity is charged for each purchase.

(In case you are not aware as a new cruiser, the SeaPass is your "key to everything", it's your room key, your card to make onboard purchases, and your "I.D." to get on and off the ship)

Also, your post sounds like you're a bit overwhelmed. RELAX! It's a vacation! You are going to have a great time and what you've shared of your itinerary sounds amazing. And don't sweat the dress codes too much, they are merely suggestions these days.

One more thing, Welcome to the boards! Poke around and search these message boards and you'll find a lot of great tips, tricks, and advice.

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52 minutes ago, tjcruisers said:

Which ship? Anthem?

For dining on the ship, ones included in the windjammer buffet, main dining rooms (you should pick your dining time). cafe 270,  sorrentos, doghouse. If you haven't done so download the Royal Caribbean app, that'll show you the included ones.

Have you done your checking yet? The app you can use it for online checkin. On the day of embarkation you can use it to do the online muster

£400 to spend onboard, I guess depends on the person. For my wife and myself that is plenty, we usually get a few drinks a day, play bingo, grab lunch at Johnny Rockets once and by a few tshirts and things

Dress code is mostly casual (shorts tshirt), some people dress business casual for the main dining room. You should be fine there.

Everything onboard goes on your seapass card.

Seeing you have booked excursions outside of royal, make sure you back one the ship at the specified departure time, the ship won't wait if your late. Also the you should follow is ship time, not local time. Whatever the time is on the ship, that's what you use. On your cell phone disable the auto time change and set you clock to the ship time. We always tried to by back on a the ship at least an hour early

That is correct. Anthem of the Sea's will be the ship.
Ow there's more than i thought. I was under the assumption that there was the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner while there's a single restaurant that would be included while the others were pay for per meal.

That's a relief. I was panicking over extra costs hidden after the booking. Bingo does sound like a great idea so we may have to look for that. Dusting off the bingo dabbers as we speak.  

Timing for the excursions??? I'm not 100% it says online we arrive at midnight and leave at 8pm. The excursion is timed for 10-3.30 which i assume is local time. I again assumed both times listed would be universal and not say American time zone vs Norwegian time zone. The excursion does specifically state pick up from the Anthem of the Sea's port and dropped off at the same location so i should be ok. I'll get the wife to double check after work.  

Thank you for the great reply.

43 minutes ago, SPS said:

FYI: Drinks are not paid for by using cash. They are purchased using a credit card linked to your SeaPass card and an automatic gratuity is charged for each purchase.

(In case you are not aware as a new cruiser, the SeaPass is your "key to everything", it's your room key, your card to make onboard purchases, and your "I.D." to get on and off the ship)

Also, your post sounds like you're a bit overwhelmed. RELAX! It's a vacation! You are going to have a great time and what you've shared of your itinerary sounds amazing. And don't sweat the dress codes too much, they are merely suggestions these days.

One more thing, Welcome to the boards! Poke around and search these message boards and you'll find a lot of great tips, tricks, and advice.

Thank you. I thought that was the case with everything onboard the ship. Paying the automatic gratuity is not a problem but i did read there's an $18 (£15) daily charge per person which i wasnt sure about if that's to cover the gratuity on everything or if it's extra.  

Thank you once again. I'm sure i'll be ok. Just having a pre-cruise panic to make sure everything goes smoothly.

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First off, you're going to have an amazing time!

You can bring a 12-pack of cans/bottles of soda and two bottles of wine/champagne aboard with you so long as they are in your carry-on luggage (not your checked bags). Ask your cabin attendant for a bottle opener, wine glasses, and ice - he or she will be happy to keep you well-stocked. You should also have a small fridge in your cabin to keep the pop cold. 

I don't think you're under-budgeted and as others have noted, everything goes on to your SeaPass card (linked to a credit card) anyway. You can see a rolling total that will update daily via the app on your phone. I have found a $1 or two for your bar tenders and other direct-connect staff (room attendant, waiters) is always welcome. 

The only thing I'd suggest is take a good long look at everything you have packed. Depending on how far you have to bring or check luggage, it may be worth your while to carry fewer clothes and use the ship's $35 "wash and fold" option halfway through. Also, I usually wear chinos and a collared shirt for Formal Night and no one blinks. It's a blast to dress up but we live in the US Midwest so anything I pack I have to carry a long way.... also your cabin will have a drying line in the shower and I rinse out socks/underwear if we are on a long cruise. The sink and the shower gel work like a charm. I even had to wash a pair of jeans out once and it worked surprisingly well. I pack planning to buy a souvenir t-shirt or two, which also reduces what I carry. 

Enjoy!

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Be aware that Royal will put a $99 hold on your bank card (or credit card) and as you make onboard purchases you may face additional pending charges.  These pending charges can take up to 4 weeks to drop off.    If having pending charges is going to mess you up you can try the cash route and put cash on your account at guest services.  One thing I learned with this-you must go get your unused cash as -and I hadn’t thought at the time- there’s no where to credit that cash to! -my son was prevented from disembarking because he had unused cash on his account! 
 

you can take 2 bottles of wine onboard.
When I sailed from England to NJ we purchased in Portugal  and security was not done by Royal-no one seemed to care we carried on wine. Ironically I wasn’t  looking to drink it onboard as we were bringing it home to family.  Your port stop and experience may vary but they typically confiscate alcohol at the visited ports , label with your cabin # and you get it delivered to your stateroom on the last evening. 

if you are definitely booking your Spain transatlantic and the sailing is already out you can book at next cruise and get onboard credit for that sailing, or you can purchase an open booking at next cruise and book within 60 days and get the onboard credit applied to your account.  Usually it’s a reduced deposit of $100 per person (instead of $250 per person ( unless you are booking a suite-it’s higher) if you purchase a next cruise open reservation and do not book within 60 days your reduced deposit is still valid for one year from your open reservation booking date you just don’t get onboard credit. 
 

for cabin location I recommend booking near aft (midship) elevators -usually that is near the windjammer and main dining room when you exit the elevators you won’t have far to walk.

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@MrTrendizzle Did you book your cruise in the UK? We done Norway in May on Anthem, booked being resident in the UK and the gratuities were automatically included in our final price. I’d double check your booking and see if this is the case, it’s usually rolled up in UK cruise fares. 
 

edit:-

I booked through Sea Scanner for the best price at the time. Just checked my invoice, and said prepaid gratuities were part of it. However I’ve just done a few mock bookings on the RC website and can’t see it mentioned anywhere. Only “taxes and fees”. 
 

I am keeping my fingers crossed you’ve paid them already and not realised!

 

Also, Anthem was an amazing trip. It was our first cruise also. Highly recommend the solarium at night! So peaceful!! The ship was full but there was so much to do, everyone was spread out. The pool areas were lovely. Norway was beyond stunning. We were in awe constantly. I can’t comment on drink budgets as we opted for the DBP. We are DESPERATE to go on another cruise holiday and this is in spite of me ending up with quite severe motion sickness. 

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You have already made the best decision, which is to do some research before taking your first cruise!  

I would try to read as much as possible so that you get the general idea of how things work on a cruise.  

I think your basic budget will work fine with minimal drinks and add on's.  People definitely spend more, but it will always be your choice.  You will be offered upsells for specialty dining, drink packages, etc - all you have to do is politely say no and it is no big deal.

Dress code will be all over the place.  You will see people very dressed up, and you will see people very dressed down.  Do what you are comfortable with.  I will suggest that it can be a good time to have a nice professional photo taken on formal night if you want.  

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I will be on this same cruise! Perhaps our paths will cross. Excellent advice given here, @MrTrendizzle- you came to the right place! 400 is plenty- that is my onboard spend w 2 teens in tow (excluding my secret trips to the casino 🫢).

All of our excursions are with 3rd party (thanks @FionaMG  and @Plasticbrain for showing me the way!). I wouldn't worry about that. 

We go to the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch and the main dining room for dinner. Bring something to stash some late night snacks in for your room- I bring ziplock bags. And be sure to take advantage of breakfast/coffee and tea room service each morning (it's free!). Evening room service is OK, but I find it takes forever and arrives cold. May just be my luck 😀

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@Riley Thank you for the tip. I was thinking of bringing a backpack for the days out in Norway so i'll stash a small fridge pack of coke for the wife and I to enjoy during the cruise.

@Pattycruise That's good to know about the pending hold on funds. We're not 100% yet on the Spain transatlantic. This cruise will be our first so aslong as everything goes smoothly i might stop by and take a look at the bookings. Ideally i would be looking at 2026 which gives us enough time to save up for the entire round trip... Altho i have a friend in Ohio which has just done a Mexican cruise so a bit of a bank loan and we may double up for a 3 week trip if that's possible.

@dougalsgirlI'll have to check out the invoice. From memory i think it stated taxes and fee's... I'll have to dig through my paperwork and suitcase to find it out.
Is the solarium the indoor pool? I remember looking at pictures of a pool within a giant glass enclosure which would be amazing at night under the stars.
How was the ship during sailing? The last time i was on a boat it was a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo which was rather rough. I wasn't ill but i definitely wasn't feeling amazing during the night with the engines shaking our cabin and the ferry rocking back and forth quite severely.

@wordell1 I think i should've started my research a little earlier but i'm slowly getting an understanding. I'me sure i'm just over thinking things tho.
As this is our first cruise booked last minute, it gave us little time to save/prepare. I've taken a look and budgeted what i think to be enough for all of the trip with a little excess so a few drinks and the one dining experience is covered. I've Googled a few things and got "rough" prices so i believe i'm ok in that regard now. Next time i'll definitely budget a little more as to have a bit of fun in the Casino or enjoy a few more dinners with the wife. Other than that i'm so excited to finally have an amazing time away without the kids.

@TessFromFlorida That would be amazing. Luckily my mother is looking after our 4 kids while we're away. I would dread to think of the costs they could ring up. I would like to visit the casino, I've never been before so would be an experience.
 

Finally i'd like to thank everyone for the warm welcome and all the advice/tips i've been given. You have all been amazing. Thank you so much. I look forward to cruising for the first time and many more times in the future.

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Congratulations, this is a very nice cruise.

In the price you pay, there are accommodation, transportation, meals, shows, facilities... At the time of booking, the agency or Royal offered pre-payment of service fees (gratuities). These are staff tips. It’s a package per day and per person. Check if you have already paid. Otherwise they will be charged directly to the cabin account.
For drinks, water and coffee are available everywhere. For other drinks, possibility to buy a package or by the glass (4$+18% for softs, 7/8$+18% for mocktails and 15$+18% for cocktails).
It all depends on whether you drink a lot or a little. 
All your expenses will be put on the cabin. You can follow your account on the app or on the TV of your cabin.

For meals, no obligation to pay extra for a themed restaurant. You have the choice with the restaurants included in the formula (table or buffet). 
For excursions, those of Royal are to take when there is a special offer or when you want to let go. External excavations are cheaper. In Norway, the local agencies are very organized and depend on the arrival and departure times of the ships.
For money, you can pay quite easily in euros and dollars (even if it is not the local currency) and the credit card is accepted everywhere.

On the ship you have indoor pool, no problem.

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@MrTrendizzle The solarium is right at the front of the ship and is adult only. It goes from the front, solariums indoor pool, outdoor pool. When our kids were in the nursery/teen club we were able to take advantage and it was lovely. If you haven’t already, there’s a great tour of the ship on youtube on RCB, and there are lots of vloggers who have videos of on Anthem in Norway. I’d highly recommend. 
 

I think I may be a particularly sensitive motion sickness person, everyone we’re spoke to believed it to be an extremely smooth sailing. No one else seemed to be suffering like me. When in fjords it was extremely calm and peaceful. It was a trip of a lifetime. You are going to have a ball!!

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On 6/20/2024 at 3:46 PM, MrTrendizzle said:

 

Timing for the excursions??? I'm not 100% it says online we arrive at midnight and leave at 8pm. The excursion is timed for 10-3.30 which i assume is local time. I again assumed both times listed would be universal and not say American time zone vs Norwegian time zone. The excursion does specifically state pick up from the Anthem of the Sea's port and dropped off at the same location so i should be ok. I'll get the wife to double check after work.  

 

We just sailed on Anthem in May to the Norwegian fjords - it was a fabulous sailing. Great choice!

I note you have a tour booked 10-3.30 with the ship arriving at midnight. I don't want to throw a spanner in the works but I believe the ship will be arriving at midday, not midnight. I just checked Royal's website for this cruise and on Day 3 it arrives at 11.59AM (leaving at 7pm). Arrival/departure times can change a bit but it would be very unusual for a ship to be scheduled to arrive in port at midnight. I would recommend double-checking that sooner rather than later.

Anthem is a great ship. A random tip for embarkation day; check out Cafe 270 for lunch rather than the Windjammer. It is a lot quieter and they have the kummelwreck sandwich (roast beef in a roll - delicious!) salads, wraps etc. The Windjammer can be a bit of a bun fight on embarkation day so we always try to find somewhere more relaxed and Cafe 270 is our go to for Quantum class ships.

You will have an amazing time!

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You mentioned Wonderland as an interest - it is cheaper to book specialty restaurants before the cruise on the web site than waiting to book onboard the ship.  By the time you check-out and pay online the extra gratuity will be included so no need for extra charge or cash onboard.

Time - probably not an issue ion the initial Norwegian sailing but transatlantic was mentioned.  There is a concept called “ship time” which means the time on the ship doesn’t always match local time of a port.  This can be important when getting on and off a ship.  Just synch your watch and phone with the clocks onboard and you won’t have an issue.

Have a great time.  Cruising gets in your blood.

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5 hours ago, Justcruz said:

We just sailed on Anthem in May to the Norwegian fjords - it was a fabulous sailing. Great choice!

I note you have a tour booked 10-3.30 with the ship arriving at midnight. I don't want to throw a spanner in the works but I believe the ship will be arriving at midday, not midnight. I just checked Royal's website for this cruise and on Day 3 it arrives at 11.59AM (leaving at 7pm). Arrival/departure times can change a bit but it would be very unusual for a ship to be scheduled to arrive in port at midnight. I would recommend double-checking that sooner rather than later.

Anthem is a great ship. A random tip for embarkation day; check out Cafe 270 for lunch rather than the Windjammer. It is a lot quieter and they have the kummelwreck sandwich (roast beef in a roll - delicious!) salads, wraps etc. The Windjammer can be a bit of a bun fight on embarkation day so we always try to find somewhere more relaxed and Cafe 270 is our go to for Quantum class ships.

You will have an amazing time!

I have to thank you immensely. I completely miss read the time completely. Luckily i can cancel at anytime up until the day before the excursion. I will get that modified right now.

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21 hours ago, Doug_Texas said:

You mentioned Wonderland as an interest - it is cheaper to book specialty restaurants before the cruise on the web site than waiting to book onboard the ship.  By the time you check-out and pay online the extra gratuity will be included so no need for extra charge or cash onboard.

Time - probably not an issue ion the initial Norwegian sailing but transatlantic was mentioned.  There is a concept called “ship time” which means the time on the ship doesn’t always match local time of a port.  This can be important when getting on and off a ship.  Just synch your watch and phone with the clocks onboard and you won’t have an issue.

Have a great time.  Cruising gets in your blood.

Sorry for the late reply.  

May i ask if Wonderland is a pay per experience as in a flat cost no matter the order or is it like any restaurant where you pay for the meal you order? I'm a little confused on how to pay before the cruise? I was assuming each set menu option would vary in cost unless i can book a specific set menu?  

I think i have everything sorted now and i'm less worried about the trip now. I've also packed both EU and US plug adapters so i should be covered there.  

@Matt I've been watching your videos with the wife and she's really excited. Those videos are really informative and i can't tell you how much they have helped with most of our questions along with all the replies i've received here. This community is really amazing. I'm so glad i've found this place.  

I've got a very under used Go-Pro with a nice clamp which i'm planning on attaching to our balcony to timelapse the entire trip (4k60Mbps - Interval 10 seconds for 16 minute playback at 60fps) I've bought a 20ft USB cable which i hope is long enough. I do hope i'm allowed to do this otherwise the tripod will be packed.

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7 minutes ago, MrTrendizzle said:

May i ask if Wonderland is a pay per experience as in a flat cost no matter the order or is it like any restaurant where you pay for the meal you order?

At Wonderland you pay a cover charge and all food is included.  Drinks are the only thing that you would pay for additional. 

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4 hours ago, AshleyDillo said:

At Wonderland you pay a cover charge and all food is included.  Drinks are the only thing that you would pay for additional. 

Ahh that makes sense. I saw while doing some research last year the cost was around $60+tips. I'll definitely be looking online to get that booked asap. Thank you.

2 hours ago, Jamesszy94 said:

Welcome to the forum! Hope you enjoy your very first cruise! I was going to ask what cabin category you booked, but I'm going to assume you booked a balcony because of your post above stating about mounting the GoPro

Thank you for the warm welcome. Everyone here has been super helpful and nice.  

Yeah we booked a balcony. We took a ferry to France recently and spent most of our time on deck looking out in to the open ocean so felt this might be better than an inside cabin.

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On 6/22/2024 at 6:13 AM, Justcruz said:

A random tip for embarkation day; check out Cafe 270 for lunch rather than the Windjammer.

I'd like to add that on Quantum class ships, Cafe Two70 has been our preferred location to get breakfast, too! Quiet, MUCH less crowded, and the specialty coffees are right there, too. (Plus, adult coffees are an option!)

The staff is always quite helpful there to provide my wife with gluten free options for toast and bagels.

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@MrTrendizzle Definitely book Wonderland ahead of time to 1.) Save some money over the onboard prices, 2.) To lock in a reservation for the time and day that works best for you, and 3.) It's a terrific experience and the presentation of the food is amazing. (Order "The World" for dessert!)

Also, I'm glad that we've all been able to give you some helpful advice. I think you're both going to have a great time.

A word of warning, though. You might get hooked and before you know it, you'll be making reservations for multiple cruises! 😆

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We just got off the Anthem for the 14Jun-21Jun.  Couple things i would mention, for what it's worth. 

The weather was very cool overall with a fair amount of rain, so I recommend planning for potential cool/wet weather.  It might be warmer/drier in July, but something to consider.

The specialty restaurants were pushing hard to generate sales.  On several occasions, waiters approached with 50% off per person offers to Chop's (which we did), but I suspect they were offering them for the other restaurants.  I bet if you went to a restaurant and asked about it, they might go for it.

If you have not already done so and you have a smart phone, I recommend putting the Royal Caribbean app on it for use during the trip.  You can also use it now to preview things like entertainment and dining (main dining room menus should be present to preview, but they are subject to change).

If you plan on seeing shows, Spectra's Cabaret requires a reservation.  The other two shows, (The Gift and We Will Rock You) do not require reservations.

 

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Regarding gratuities: you can prepay them through the website or your TA.  If prepaid gratuities will not appear on your final bill.  You can go to Gues Services after boarding and have them remove automatic daily gratuities.  You should tip the staff appropriately as they work diligently to make your cruise enjoyable.  You can tip as you go, usually in USD, or Euros, or local currency.  Have a great cruise.

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I’m also going on that cruise. This will be the cruise where we hit diamond status (80 nights) on RC and no double points all hard earned. The weather in Norway is showing in the 10 day forecast at 16c or 60F and raining. Keep a eye on it.

We did this cruise last year and in Olden the day before the tour guide said it was 20F cooler and raining the day before. You may get some sunbathing days but probably not. Remember Norway is on the same latitude as Alaska. But its a wonderful cruise the scenery and people are lovely. 

Where are you coming from? 

 

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On 6/26/2024 at 7:43 PM, Morganno said:

I’m also going on that cruise. This will be the cruise where we hit diamond status (80 nights) on RC and no double points all hard earned. The weather in Norway is showing in the 10 day forecast at 16c or 60F and raining. Keep a eye on it.

We did this cruise last year and in Olden the day before the tour guide said it was 20F cooler and raining the day before. You may get some sunbathing days but probably not. Remember Norway is on the same latitude as Alaska. But its a wonderful cruise the scenery and people are lovely. 

Where are you coming from? 

 

I'm from the UK (West midlands). I'm catching the train down to Southampton Central £127 for the wife and I return which is the same price as parking minus the fuel. Just means a 5am start 🥱 My wife has been keeping an eye on the weather around Norway and like you said it seems to be cold and wet altho Belgium on the return is set to be a tad warm.  

We have a couple of American friends flying out to meet us at the port for the cruise also. They're more experienced travellers but due to time difference's it's sometimes hard to find time to talk and ask all my questions.

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