Jump to content
LGeastbay

Still have so many questions - from a Newbie

Recommended Posts

Ok, I've tried to do my homework.  I've read through the many postings and blogs, but I still have few questions.  I'm traveling solo with my two daughters on our very first cruise (Oasis on August 12th).  I left another question on the tween thread, but my other questions are more general:

1) We have the 5:30 dining time in the MDR - I've taken this to mean that we have a standing dinner reservation at that time.  But, we also signed up for the ultimate dining package.  Do we have to notify someone if we are not dining in the MDR?  Do we just not show up (which doesn't seem right)???  I just don't have a sense for the interplay of these two dining options. 

2) We want to experience both the MDR and the specialty restaurants. I got a really good deal on the ultimate dining package, so I bought that package so that we have options.  Are there particular days where the MDR is a must?  My girls are 12 and 9, are there specialty restaurants that we should avoid?  My kids are adventurous eaters and fairly well behaved. I ask this less from the perspective of what my kids will like (they'd eat sushi every meal if they could) and more as a courtesy for other diners who may want to dine in a kid free zone (or maybe that isn't an issue?), even if they are well behaved kids.

3) The fine print on the dining package says that you also get 20% off on the culinary activities.  I booked the cupcake class for us.  I assume that the 20% will be added later (along with the 50% discount from the adult price I paid on my kids' dining packages)?  And this will be in the form of an OBC or a refund to my card?

4) We reserved a Grand Suite and my research tells me that at some point the concierge will reach out to me...to introduce themselves?  Or is this a contact point that can be used to arrange additional reservations (like other specialty restaurants and Question #5 below)?

5) I've seen advice to use Labadee as a beach day and I'm going to take that advice.  I was going to reserve a cabana at Barefoot Beach.  Initially it showed up in the Cruise Planner as needing to be reserved once on ship.  Not it isn't showing up at all.  Does that mean they've all been booked?  If not, see Question #4.  And if I can still reserve, is the over the water one worth the extra cost?  If I can't reserve one there, should I reserve at another beach or still spend the day at BB, but without the cabana?

6) I never used the $100 OBC that I got with my booking.  In hindsight, I regret that because there are no other activities/packages that I want (other than the cabana).  Will I still be able to use that?  What can I use it for?  Gratuities?  The cabana?

7) I loved someone's advice re bringing $100 in singles for additional gratuities.  How would you breakdown the allocation of these (e.g., $W/drink; $X/meal; $Y/day to housekeeper; $Z/XX to concierge, etc.)?  

I'm sure that someone has asked these questions before and I'm sorry for being repetitive if so.  I just couldn't find them.  Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with someone who is perhaps to anal retentive for her own good!  My goal is to go on vacation and not have to worry about or figure out a single thing!

Thank you so much!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, LGeastbay said:

Do we have to notify someone if we are not dining in the MDR?  Do we just not show up (which doesn't seem right)??? 

You do not have to tell anyone if you do not plan to be there for dinner.  I certainly let my waiter know if I know for certain we wont be coming the next day, but there's absolutely no obligation on your part to inform the MDR that you will be dining elsewhere.

Just now, LGeastbay said:

Are there particular days where the MDR is a must?

I've always liked first formal night and "Italian night" themes. I know lots of folks like the second formal night since lobster is on the menu. It's a matter of personal preference.  

Just now, LGeastbay said:

My girls are 12 and 9, are there specialty restaurants that we should avoid?

Not at all.  It is really just a question of if your kids will find something to eat.  Children are welcome at the specialty restaurants too.

1 minute ago, LGeastbay said:

The fine print on the dining package says that you also get 20% off on the culinary activities.  I booked the cupcake class for us.  I assume that the 20% will be added later (along with the 50% discount from the adult price I paid on my kids' dining packages)?  And this will be in the form of an OBC or a refund to my card?

Assume nothing 😁I'd go to guest services onboard and ensure it gets applied. My guess if you did nothing is no discount will be applied.  

2 minutes ago, LGeastbay said:

We reserved a Grand Suite and my research tells me that at some point the concierge will reach out to me...to introduce themselves? 

Yes, about a week before your sailing expect an email.

2 minutes ago, LGeastbay said:

I've seen advice to use Labadee as a beach day and I'm going to take that advice.  I was going to reserve a cabana at Barefoot Beach.  Initially it showed up in the Cruise Planner as needing to be reserved once on ship.  Not it isn't showing up at all.  Does that mean they've all been booked?  If not, see Question #4.  And if I can still reserve, is the over the water one worth the extra cost?  If I can't reserve one there, should I reserve at another beach or still spend the day at BB, but without the cabana?

Cabanas at Barefoot Beach (the suites only beach) cannot be booked online.  When your concierge contacts you, they will inform you of the options to book and you can email them usually to book one.  You could also wait to book onboard, but you run the risk of them selling out.

And yes, in my experience the cabanas are worth every penny.  The over the water cabanas have the most privacy and best view.  The only downside is there is usually a steep entrance to the ocean, so if you have mobility issues or young kids, not a good idea.

4 minutes ago, LGeastbay said:

Will I still be able to use that?  What can I use it for?  Gratuities?  The cabana?

Yes you can use OBC for anything you spend onboard.  Rest assured, it is VERY easy to spend $100 OBC...you will have no trouble.

4 minutes ago, LGeastbay said:

I loved someone's advice re bringing $100 in singles for additional gratuities.  How would you breakdown the allocation of these (e.g., $W/drink; $X/meal; $Y/day to housekeeper; $Z/XX to concierge, etc.)?  

Hard question to answer, since it really depends on your experience and whatnot.  The automatic gratuity is certainly sufficient for what you get.  Sometimes the crew goes above and beyond what they should be doing and some guests elect to give them extra.  It is all completely up to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt answered everything but adding my two cents:

If you've got well behaved children - don't hesitate to take them to any of the dining areas, especially if they'd enjoy it. I say this as a child free cruiser. If people want child free areas they should book vacations accordingly or use the areas specifically for adults. Our large group used the adult pool (16+) for the duration of our trip. The four year old who traveled with us would walk a few steps to the child pool on the other side with an adult.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are in a GS on Oasis you must try Coastal Kitchen! That is the dining room dedicated to GS and higher. Forget the MDR for this cruise lol. Take advantage of your suite benefits. If there is something that you are dying to try from the MDR menu, just have them deliver it to your stateroom or CK, another perk of Sky class. Here is the concierge letter that you will receive...it is very similar. Also, @bellemicheis sailing Oasis in a few days. Stay tuned for a report from her in the live blog section. 

"Dear Suites Guests, 
Its is our  pleasure to welcome you onboard the beautiful Harmony of the Seas We are honored that you have selected Royal Caribbean International for your cruise vacation. 

We are Jeremias and Cheker, your onboard Concierges. We are available to assist you throughout your cruise vacation from 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm daily in the Suite Lounge on Deck 17 Aft.                                                                               
As a Sky Suite guest, you are offered exclusive amenities and services not available to other guests onboard. 

For your convenience, here is a brief summary of our services: 
·  Use of the Suite Lounge located on deck 17 aft. 
·  A la Carte breakfast in Coastal Kitchen, Check the Daily Compass for the opening hours, (No reservation required) 
·  Continental Breakfast serve in the lounge. Same hours than the Coastal Kitchen. 
·  A la carte lunch from 12.00 to 1:30 pm daily  in Coastal Kitchen, Deck 17, (No reservations required) 
·  Dinner served in Coastal Kitchen from 06:00 pm to 09:30 pm, Deck 17, (Reservations required) 
·  Bar service is available from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm in the Suite Lounge, serving a wide array of beverages for purchase. 
·  Hors d'oeuvres, petit fours and complimentary bar setup with a selection of wine, spirits, beer and soft drinks every evening from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. 
·  Spa bathrobes for use onboard and upgraded bathroom amenities
 
·  Exclusive Reception for Suite guests with Senior Officers. (Invitation will be sent to your suite). 
·  In Suite Dining. Full Dining Room menu privilege through Room Service, available when the Dining Room is open (For menus, please refer to your stateroom television). 
·  Priority reservations for any of our specialty restaurants, onboard activities, Shore Excursions, and Vitality Spa services. 
·  Private sun deck with loungers and cabanas on deck 17 forward.
 
·  Show Reservations are not required for all Sky Suite guests . Please show your Sea Pass card at the entrance 20 minutes prior to show time as booked seats will be given away 10 minutes prior to show time. For Comedy show tickets, please see your Concierge or reserve now through the Royal IQ App. 
·  Limited VIP seats for the shows in Royal Theater (First 2 rows center, Deck 5), Studio B (Three front rows on left hand side pavilion) and Aqua Theater (first 2 rows from the top). Please show your Sea Pass card at the entrance 20 minutes prior to show time as booked seats will be given away 10 minutes prior to show time.
 
·  Priority departure. Please ask your Concierges for more details. 

SPECIAL NOTE: 
As a special VIP guest, we are pleased to offer you access to the Barefoot Beach Club & Cabanas, a private beach on Labadee. Located on Barefoot Bay, this exclusive experience is only available to our Sky Class  suite guests – Simply show your Seapass card to the Island Concierge at the entrance. Each person will be give a wrist band for the day access. 

The Barefoot Beach Club & Cabanas offers complimentary non-motorized water sports equipment (floating mats & snorkeling equipment) in addition to an upgraded lunch menu and service from Suite Beach Attendants. 

For the ultimate way to relax in luxury, why not reserve one of the cabanas (with additional cost) for the day? Featuring beautiful views and dedicated Cabana Attendant service, the  cabanas at Barefoot Beach Club are a not to be missed experience. Reservations are limited so please contact your Concierge for more details. 

A maximum of 6 guests may have access to your Cabana. Please provide the names of any guests that will be joining you to the Concierge. These names will be added to the Barefoot Beach guest list.
 

<mime-attachment.gif>
  
Cabana Entrance 

  If you are interested in renting any of the Cabanas, please let me know via e-mail, as soon as possible, to avoid any disappointment as they are sold out very fast. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  You do need to check out the Coastal Kitchen and the Suite lounge(next to the Coastal Kitchen)  We were on the Oasis last month and used to Coastal Kitchen just about every meal.  Our room was a loft suite so it was just around the corner and was very convenient.   We made reservations in the CK the first day before the ship left the pier.  Your will need your sea pass card to get in and also that is where you can meet up with the concierge,  they have a desk to the right when you walk through the door into the suite lounge.  The CK and the suite lounge are one big room with entrances on either side.  Remember to take advantage of the special seating for suite guests at all the shows (except the comedy zone)  They also open up the suite area in the shows about 10 min before the shows start for anyone to take the empty seats so get there at least 20 min before the show especially the Aqua Theater show.  When you get to the pier have your paperwork ready to show and watch for the suite lines so you will be checked through much quicker.  Dont be shy about asking RC guides about the suite lines when you are checking in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I brought a wad of $1 bills for tips, and ended up bringing most of them home. I gave a few out here and there, especially to the bartenders. But for the staff that really went out of there way for me, I didn't think that was enough, and I gave them larger amounts, so the fives and tens that I had came in very handy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add a few things as most have been answered. 

If you have the 5:30 traditional dining but will use specialty restaurants most nights, I would ask to switch to My Time Dining.  You certainly don't have to do this and not show up but as the 5:30 seating typically has a wait list, it would be nice.  With My Time Dining, you can show up in the MDR if you want but if I had the ultimate package I would only go to specialty restaurants.

If I chose to tip extra, I tip at the end.  Since you will be at different restaurants, you could leave extra tip money as you desire each night.  It is not necessary to tip every bartender, etc.  However, if one pays special attention to us, they may get a few dollars extra towards the end of the cruise.  While money is nice, the best thing you could do for a favorite waiter or bartender is to get their name and give them a special "shout out" in any surveys or comment cards. Those positive comments can help their career.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has been covered many times before but I'll say it again.  Yes, there is an automatic 18% added to your bar bill and you don't have to tip extra.  BUT, in my experience, if you leave an extra $1 on your bar bill (usually just via your charge) your bartender will remember that and will wait on you faster (or, if you don't tip extra, totally ignore you) in the future.  This is especially true at the pool bars where it can be very crowded.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a thought from my head  - I never tipped the pool bar waiters/bartenders extra - only because they never gave me a receipt (drink package?). The pool bar waiters got to know me the first day and would look for me every day after. I got amazing service without ever tipping extra. I did mean to because I appreciated their service but I forgot (they were too good serving me, 😉 ).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has been said many times, but definitely check out the Costal Kitchen! Much better than the main dining room, and we ate there most of the time on our B2B on Allure in a grand suite. Didn't even go into the MDR except for meeting for a insider tour!

That letter is very helpful, and like others said, you will get it about 1 week before the set sail date. The grand suite is great, and will be sailing in one in 2 days! I will do a tour of the one on Symphony (which I assume would be about the same as the one on Oasis) on Periscope (@CraftyCat05) and will review it, CK, and all of the other Sky Class perks on my live blog! Feel free to check it out.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all!!!  I had no idea how much there was to know until I started to look for information - I guess that's why they say ignorance is bliss!  What a truly great community.  I really appreciate you all taking the time to answer my many many questions.  Looking forward to our trip in 13 days!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, LGeastbay said:

Thank you all!!!  I had no idea how much there was to know until I started to look for information - I guess that's why they say ignorance is bliss!  What a truly great community.  I really appreciate you all taking the time to answer my many many questions.  Looking forward to our trip in 13 days!

@bellemiche is live blogging here this week.  She's posting menus from CK and sky class benefits.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely do the coastal kitchen.  Your children should do just fine in any of the specialty restaurants.   As far as tipping we give the room attendant and 1 or 2 bartenders that we know we will frequent a nice first day gratuity.  As well as the standard gratuity.  We started that on our first cruise many years ago and that has proved to be very beneficial in having extra great service as well as making new friends.  But that is just us.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@LGeastbay.  Great questions. 

Do we have to notify someone if we are not dining in the MDR?  Do we just not show up (which doesn'tseem right)???  I just don't have a sense for the interplay of these two dining options. 

We had an early MDR traditional time when we first booked our cruise and forgot about it.   On the first afternoon, MDR called me to see if we would be using our table in order to sit "my time dining" Cruisers.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...