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Everything posted by ccotting

  1. I lived on the Island for many years. I agree Butchart Gardens is worth seeing. They have great afternoon teas if you enjoy that. The museum has lots to see, presented in an experiential format in parts so not too dry, really more fun. Weather permitting, sometimes outside there is a first nation carver making a totem pole. Government street runs down from the very Victorian provincial legislature (tours may be available depending on whether it is in session). Must see is The art deco Roger’s chocolate store. The chocolates are amazing. Visit ‘Old Morris tobacconist to see the pedestal cigar lighter from the same era. Munro’s books is excellent, formerly owned by famous Canadian author Alice Munro and her husband. It’s very walkable, lots of good restaurants. Enjoy!
  2. Vancouver Marathon has a web page, check the page, from what I can see it is some distance from the cruise port. Sail in looks like it may be tide dependant, the larger ships come in early to meet the tide and get under the bridge. It's a bit of a challenge but getting up early and going up high to watch the sail in is lovely. Get early debarkation and go up to the street level from the terminal and cross over the street to the Fairmont Waterfront hotel to get the fastest cab, the line up from the terminal is usually awful. If you get first debark you should be fine for your train but so sorry you are not staying to visit us!
  3. Lived in NS for 16 years. Always loved Peggy's Cove. Walking over the rock to the lighthouse might not be for her but the view is lovely. The restaurant has great gingerbread (more like a spice cake, not cookies) and good coffee. The shop attached to the "Souwester" restaurant has a great selection of the usual souvenirs. There are other smaller shops and things but the main thing is the view to the lighthouse. Take a tour, it is busy and the parking is the "pits" and just relax and enjoy the view. I used to like to go when it was raining and the tourist traffic was low.
  4. We've had variations of this issue over many years of cruising. The folks who never showed at all. The folks who came a night or two and said " we're eating with friends" etc. We look for a small table of 4 or 6 and it can be challenging when the others don't turn up. One cruise our table was near the Captains table (Royal) and he came and asked us where the others were. Quick as a flash hubby said " I ate them". Non plussed, the Captain retreated without comment... I think if it troubles you, wait a night or two and then follow up with the Maitre. You can choose to move or to stay. If they say there is no room to move, follow up with guest services. We wait it out. Often folks will turn up only for formal night ( Chic night) and disappear again. Don't take it personally. Sometimes folks develop agendas like Casino or swimming or early show so they can disco or ballroom dance. It's hard when you hope to meet someone but it can be hard when someone turns up all the time when you would like to have a change. A recent cruise we had someone with dementia. I admire the spouse soldiering on but dinner could be an ordeal and they were not often missing in action. We live, we learn.
  5. We were on that cruise too and we loved it. Very sorry to hear about your bar experience. We had a favourite bar and the staff were great to us (Ensemble) but we went to the bar for service because table service was always busy and so took longer. I didn't see the Nikki Bennett main show, we are not keen on yet another person doing covers of pop or Broadway but her Helen Reddy matinee show (the story of Helen Reddy in song and commentary) was excellent. We thought there were a lot of Kiwis and hardly any Americans (OMG if you thought that was a lot of Americans!!). So much of what we look for in a cruise is personal. We love sea days, we meet so many who can't abide them. We enjoy fixed dining, so many don't etc etc. Your review was very nice and thank you for posting.
  6. Of our 3 btob ending earlier this month we got them for the legs where we had a balance and none for the one we didn't.
  7. I'm not watching the fares from that nation, it isn't mine. I'm in Canada and fares have risen but tips are still billing separately.
  8. Basically what was happening as it was explained to us was that a large majority refused to pay the service charge. The service charge is now included in the fares for that nation. The company has established a compensation system based on 'tipping' following the American restaurant system of payment to servers etc. For the employees to receive a competitive compensation, the tipping must be included. As many have commented it is really just another way of increasing the fare and promoting a lower base price. I have not heard that employee compensation systems have changed, just how the passengers are charged. It's a difference in national cultures and RCI has moved to mitigate employee impact.
  9. Point to note, the circumstances are different if you have a Canadian card. We were never able to combine perks and, were offered different ones from those with US cards.
  10. We just did 3 BtoB including NZ, transpacific and Hawaii disembarking May12. We enjoyed Solstice very much. The South Pacific leg was great and on a par with NZ in all aspects. Weakest leg was Hawaii more due to entertainment than anything else. Don't stress. Enjoy Alaska. Take some woolies though....
  11. They have lovely orange flavoured butter to have with the pancakes and waffles in the buffet
  12. Markeb your point about the standard tipping pools is entirely fair. However, in a restaurant we choose to tip, on the cruise lines we are now being told we have to, we are billed where in the 'not so old' days, tipping was discretionary and we were given envelopes we filled at our own decision. Folks want to know where their money is allocated given that and that the funds are going to the staff they feel did the best. I am with the respondent who said mandatory tipping billing is a way to maintain apparently lower cruise prices. It is also a way to maintain lower base pay rates and the distribution by performance is intended to motivate staff to provide the best service. Whether it is equitable or fair as a compensation construct is something for a beer night discussion, there will be many different opinions, lots of air and no resolution. As for the folks who don't understand why it keeps coming up, well, new or neophyte cruisers keep coming up. Cruise critic is here to share.
  13. I was sorry to miss that show but we had a luau booked. Drums of Polynesia used to be a luau excursion too.
  14. We were on the 2 cruises prior to this one as well as this cruise. So 3 BtoB, of the 3, this cruise had the weakest entertainment. However, the folks who did the entertainment in the bar/lounges were great, especially the Lighthouse String Duo. Casino "hopped" the 2 previous cruises as well. We met a lot of cruisers on this leg who were new to ocean cruising (Caribbean only) and found the seas rough even though as an experienced cruiser we knew they weren't (Although we had one tough evening). It really depends on the mix of people.
  15. Thank you Hank for providing the detailed response. Basically the cruise lines have turned the tip portion of the pay into what in HR speak is called Variable compensation or 'pay for performance'. Their rationale is that cash tipping would have been allocated on performance with high performers receiving more tips. We rate more people 'excellent' than we might otherwise because of this system and we do confidential cash tips to anyone we consider special.
  16. Regardless, my understanding is that tips are distributed according to performance measures. So the reason staff are so anxious for you to rate an excellent on the survey is that the rating is how the tips are distributed. If you are a "5" average, you do not get the full amount. The distribution takes account of performance.
  17. No. Just finished 3 BtoB and waiting to disembark
  18. It’s the cold water kind. Posting from Solstice now. Tasted just fine and I speak with years of experience from life in Nova Scotia
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