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robbie21

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About robbie21

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Washington State
  • Interests
    photography, fly fishing, wine
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Star Clippers; Oceania

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  1. Keith, as an individual your approach carries little risk. So, more power to you and good luck. For a larger organization such as a cruise line or a restaurant chain (or a hospital where I have experience) it only takes one self righteous jerk to sic the feds on you. That can be very costly and disruptive. Read that as potential fines and mandatory training for all employees. You should note that the likely abusers on Oceania or other cruise lines are likely to be better educated and experienced in getting away with this scam than some that you encounter in the grocery store. They might even be attorneys.😬 The law needs to be fixed Robbie
  2. There are two components of the market - fresh food and tourist trinkets. The food, particularly fish booths start very early and sell out early. Often before noon. The rest of the stuff is generally available all day but individual vendors may close early when customers are thin or when they have something else to do 😉. So, yes, Saturday afternoons can be pretty thin. The food (veggies and fish) are very interesting but go early if you want to see it at its best. The rest of the stuff tends to be overpriced and not very authentic IMHO. Better deals and often better stuff on the outer islands.
  3. You don't even need the fake vests or papers. Just lie if challenged. If questioned beyond the legal two questions you can file a complaint with the federal justice department (easily done on line). The subsequent investigation can be a huge pain in the ass for the company accused, And, believe me, these self-centered abusers are quite willing to do just that.
  4. As indicated above the law is actually very clear. And, of course, it is clearly an invitation to abuse. The cruise industry (and the airlines, grocery stores and doctors offices) can do nothing but ask the two questions stated above. Even if it is obvious that the person is lying the law prohibits them from asking the questions that would catch the lie. The only fix to this mess is a revision of the law. Unfortunately, repeated efforts to get congress to fix this situation have not gotten their interest. Sadly, they have other priorities 🙁
  5. We were the couple in this group that bought the laundry package. We did not compare the costs because PG does not price out the laundry orders when you have the package and I was unwilling to do the math. We used it a lot, maybe a bit more than actually needed but it was prepaid. We are comfortable that we got our money's worth. Same day service and excellent pressing. Note that we had substantially less luggage than our travel companions. We travel with a 24inch suitcase and a backpack/carryon each.. One of our friends had 2 28 inchers plus a lot of carry on. Also we needed clean laundry for an additional 5 days of travel after we returned to the states. You pay your money and take your choice 🙂
  6. The "bin ends" list is on a separate page of the wine list folder. Ordered individually. Sometimes a good value. There is also the offer, usually upon boarding, of the 7 bottle package of "discontinued" wines at $47+ per bottle. Rarely a value. Two different deals - hence the confusion.
  7. To answer part of your specific question - they generally have a fair selection of pinot grigio, sav blanc and chardonnay from California and, lately, Chile. Sav Blanc from NZ and Chile. Decent wines that you might see in supermarkets, noting spectacular. Assuming they don't run out 🙁
  8. Sorry to hear this. Stocking adequate quantities of wine seems to be a recurring problem for Oceania. It happened to us on an Australian cruise a couple of years ago and again on Nautica in June this year. And I have read a number of similar reports over the last couple of years. The logistics of purchasing and shipping wine and other commodities to meet up with ships all over the world is an awesome challenge. Even more intimidating is the challenge of predicting months ahead the rate of consumption of those goods. Nevertheless, that is their job and, apparently, they have not been doing it very consistently for some time. The only good news is that Oceania permits you to bring wine aboard at every port. Perhaps when they are completely out of a category of wine they might consider waving the corkage fee. Robbie
  9. A specific answer - Oceania is not strict on boarding times. You may have to wait a bit only if there is a rush of "official" early boarders. This happened to us only once in Miami and I think that was right around 11 AM. Five other times we checked our baggage and got right in line to board.
  10. Not previously mentioned - they usually have most of the entrees that are being served in the GDR as well as soups, salads and deserts. We sometimes cruise the buffet to see what the offerings look like before we go to the GDR 😀 Note that the lobster tails are pretty small but you can get as many as you want; like 3 or 4 and you can go back for more. They are fresh cooked and pretty good. Also, do get your table and drinks before food. Wine service is often very, very slow. That said, the buffet is a lot faster than the dining room especially after the 6:30 rush clears out. 7:30 or 8 is nearly always quiet.
  11. Not previously mentioned is the option of booking the best times you can find on line and THEN trying to change them as soon as you get on board. Oceania holds back a portion of the reservations for folks who don't plan ahead (and for VIP's). Last time we were on Nautica (May 2019) they had a staffer taking and modifying reservations on Deck 5 at the Oceania Travel advisors desk. You can also check every day at breakfast at the Terrace for cancellations. We have always found the staff to be very helpful in dealing with groups trying to dine together.
  12. We did the same. Really the best way to see the place. I recall we were at the top around 9 or 9:30 - well before the mobs of day trippers. When I asked our guide about all the ticky tacky tourist shops he replied that there was a 1500 year tradition of ripping off tourists (and pilgrims). Even with the crowds it is well worth visiting. Robbie
  13. Well, I agree with you that Oceania pays its staff better than, say, Carnival. And although I was unable to find a specific reference to Oceania's policy on distribution of gratuities I am still certain that a significant portion of Oceania's service staff income is from the gratuity pool. It is the way the business works. Yes, their base pay is set by contract and does not vary as you say. But gratuities are distributed in addition to that contractual amount. I think that if the gratuities were "just another income stream for Oceania" as you stated and if employees were not paid any of the gratuities, as you suggested, well then some smart lawyer would have sued the hell out of them for, at least, false advertising. I suspect the tax collectors would also be interested in getting their cut. I did find that non service staff such as engineers, deck hands, etc. - basically below decks staff are not part of the gratuity pool and are paid per contract. I understand that some of these categories are members of unions/associations that negotiate their pay scale.
  14. After reading pinotlovers comments above I did a web search on the question, "Do cruise ship staff actually receive automatic gratuities?". Multiple sources including several cruise critic articles, USA Today, various travel blogs, etc. indicate that they do indeed receive the gratuities. Further, it is reported that salaries (contracts) are set so low that gratuities can amount to as much as 95% of income. If interested you can do your own web research. So, it appears that the cruise industry does, in fact, operate exactly like a restaurant in Omaha or NYC. I also picked up the notion that cruisers from countries that do not have a tipping culture should think of the gratuities as "Service Charges". Service charges are fairly common in my experience in restaurants in Europe and they are not optional.
  15. nigelc - basically we have a definition issue. In America and in American run businesses (like Oceania, etc.) recommended gratuities are not tips. Sounds silly but that's the way it is. "Recommended" gratuities are part of the base salary. This silly system allows the cruise line to advertise fares that are lower than they would be if they did as you say they should and "paid a fair wage". But they don't. There are also tax advantages for the cruise line under American law. On a 10 day cruise Oceania R ships generates roughly $100,000 in gratuities which are not taxable income to the cruise line. If they raised wages and raised fares to compensate they would pay a considerable corporate income tax. I know this is not entirely logical but that's the way it is. FYI - base server salary in American fine restaruants is often $3+5.00 per hour which is well below the legal minimum wage. With tips they might net $40 or maybe a lot more per hour. That income is taxable at their individual rate which is usually lower than the corporate rate. And, of course, cash tips are often not reported 😊. Generally servers are not at all unhappy with this system. So, as I said previously pay the full fare including the gratuities and reward or penalize individual performance as previously recommended. In this crazy business recommended gratuities are part of the fare. And please do not penalize those in the tip pool that did not even see you. As you note, some of my countrymen tip reflexively. Some of your countrymen reflexively fail to tip even though custom dictates that they do. Many travelers from all countries, perhaps most, do as I do and conform to the cultural norms of the country/area we are traveling too. Robbie
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