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madjam81

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About madjam81

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    Melbourne, Australia
  1. madjam81

    Smile tour in vietnam with thi

    We just completed a 16 night cruise on Diamond Princess disembarking in Singapore on 18/4/12. In VIETNAM Phu My (Saigon) we had pre-arranged a private tour for 20 persons with Thi at Smile tours based on positove reviews I had read on cruise critic and trip advisor. Our ship was supposed to dock at 7am but due to a container ship sinking at Phu My port the ship was not able to dock until 12.pm. Thi had left HCMC at 4.30am to reach the port at 7am and then waited for us until 12.00pm to disembark. If that is not AMAZING service I don't know what is. Due to the delay caused by the unfortunate accident at the port (even though the captain allowed us more time on shore), we didn't have as much time as originally planned, but Thi managed to fit everything in as planned, including a stop at Notre Dame church and post office (was supposed to be a drive by only). We gave lunch a miss (which made sense given the time we got into HCMC) and this was not a problem as lunch was not included in the tour cost of $65 (for a group of 20). We also missed the war museum so we could fit everything else in. Also our group decided we preferred to spend more time at the market and skip the laquerware factory. Thi was exceptional in every way under very difficult circumstances for all. She gave us a great tour and got us back to the ship on time and never once did she complain about the hours she had to wait, the total length of her day or the money she lost as a result of over 10 persons not showing up (she had to pay the port fees for these people as well as losing their payment). Her english is outstanding. She is a lovely person. Her communication skills prior to the day were amazing. She responded to emails very quickly and nothing was a problem. She allows flexibility in the itinerary. In short, she was a consummate professional and a pleasure to deal with. I highly recommend her. We paid cash on completion of the tour. thi_travel@yahoo.com
  2. madjam81

    Private Tours in Vietnam and Bangkok

    We just did 16 nights on Diamond Princess. VIETNAM Phu My (Saigon) - Ship was supposed to dock at 7am but due to a container ship sinking at Phu My port the ship was not able to dock until 12.pm. Our private tour guide Thi from Smile Tours had left HCMC at 4.30am to reach the port at 7am and then waited for us until 12.00pm to disembark. If that is not AMAZING service I don't know what is. Due to the delay caused the unfortunate accident at the port (even though the cptain allowed us more time on shore), we didn't have as much time as originally planned, but Thi managed to fit everything in as planned, including a stop at Notre Dame church and post office (was supposed to be a drive by only). We gave lunch a miss (which made sense given the time we got into HCMC) and this was not a problem as lunch was not included in the tour cost of $65 (for a group of 20). We also missed the war museum so we could fit everything else in. Also our group decided we preferred to spend more time at the market and skip the laquerware factory. Thi was exceptional in every way under very difficult circumstances for all. She gave us a great tour an got us back to the ship on time and never once did she complain about the hours she had to wait or the money she lost as a result of over 10 persons not showing up (she had to pay the port fees for these people as well as losing their payment). Her english is outstanding. She is a lovely person. Her communication skills prior to the day were amazing. She responded to emails very quickly and nothing was a problem. She allows flexibility in the itinerary. In short, she was a consummate professional and a pleasure to deal with. I highly recommend her. We pid cash on completion of the tour. thi_travel@yahoo(dot)com SHANGHAI Private tour SAT China Tour (Minmin) *Guide Olivia spoke good english and was a lovely person. She was very good although not as informative as Thi from Smile Tours. We went to a great park in the morning where the local elderly people dance and exercise and I got to dance with a Chinese man - fantastic! *French Quarter - gorgeous *the Bund *Lunch in a 'locals' restaurant *Old town *Yu Gardens Min Min was fantastic to deal with when planning the tour. Very prompt in her responses and very friendly. I recommend this company. Paid cash on completion of the tour. alexialsk@gmail(dot)com
  3. madjam81

    Princess Secrets they Don't Tell You

    [quote name='IECalCruiser']There have been many discussions regarding the Hotel Charge (Auto-tip). I would recommend just leaving the Hotel Charge on your bill and don't worry about other tipping on board during your cruise. You should receive a Welcome aboard! flyer that discusses the discretionary Hotel Charge and states that it will be shared amongst those staff that help provide and support your cruise experience, including the wait staff, stateroom stewards and housekeeping staff, buffet stewards, food production staff, galley staff and others. [LIST] [*]The only exception for Princess Staff would be to tip the delivery person a couple of $$ if you order from Room Service. [*]The Spa is a contract service on board and does not share the Hotel Charge. If you visit the Spa they should put a gratuity on your bill and that should be sufficient. [*]If you order any extra charge drinks (soft drink, specialty coffee, wine, beer, etc.) there will be a 15% mandatory service charge added. [*]If you go to a specialty restaurant with a cover charge such a Sabatini's no additional tip is required. This has been confirmed by Cruise Critic in discussion with the cruise lines (not by posts on threads). [*]We have not tipped our room steward in advance and have received good service on every one of our nine prior Princess Cruises. This might be different if we would be the "Passengers from H***!" and demand who knows what extra service. [*]Any cash given to your room steward or your wait staff must be turned in to the Purser identified by name and cabin number. If you have removed or reduced the Hotel Charge, the amount less than or equal to their share of the Hotel Charge will go into the "Pool" and not to them individually. When we have tipped at the end of the cruise the staff has made certain that they have our names and cabin numbers. Staff who do not follow the rules regarding tips are subject to be fired. [*]If you have left the Hotel Charge on you bill, but have received exceptional service and want to reward the staff you can still provide an additional small tip at the end of the cruise. If we are in traditional dining we will often tip the two wait staff a total of $30-$40/week and the room steward $20-$30/week depending upon service level and special requests. [*]Another method to rewarding the staff is to fill out a "You Make a Difference" card available at the Passenger Services Desk. These comments are taken into account when reviewing staff performance and we usually submit several each cruise for staff who have gone beyond. [/LIST] The bottom line is just leave the full Hotel Charge on you bill, don't worry about further tipping and Enjoy Your Cruise![/QUOTE] I have now read probably every post every written on this site on tipping and feel much more educated. IECalcruiser, what a great summary - much appreciated. We'll leave the auto-tip on, not "pre-tip" and tip our room steward at the end if we get great service. As we are Anytime Dining I'll work out what extra tip if any we pay anyone else who has gone above and beyond once the cruise is nearly over! No more tip questions from me. Onto the next research topic!
  4. madjam81

    Tip's advice please

    We are first time cruisers and will be doing a 16 night Asia cruise. There will be 4 of us including 2 kids aged 3 and 7. Coming from a country where its not customary to tip, I would appreciate some guidanance. Would be doing the wrong thing, in your expert views, if we were to halve the auto tip (i.e reduce it from $11 per day x 4 persons ($704) to $11 per day x 2 persons i.e for my husband and I ($352) and then tip extra for special service?
  5. madjam81

    Princess Secrets they Don't Tell You

    [quote name='Nan-L']Tip your steward when boarding: We leave a list of things we need,feather pillows, egg crate, wine glasses, robes etc..on our bed,with a note when you have a chance and most importanly a nice tip, we do not except them to go the extra miles w/o getting something for it!! Please give them time to bring what you have asked for, as the 1st day onboard is their busiest and everyone is asking for something!!!!! If you bring wine onboard that they sell on ship: when you bring it to dinning room, if asked tell them it was purchased onboard and you will not have to pay corkage fee.. Also we have paid corkage fees and sometimes they charge once then not again for rest of cruise..just depends on staff on ship. Most of ther time we just buy our wine onbsord unless they don't carry something we like and then of course we pay the corkage fee.. Princess has one of the most reasonably priced wine lists of any other cruise line we have been on. It is one of the reasons we love this line and we can bring our own wine onboard also![/QUOTE] Coming from a country where its not customary or expected to tip, the whole tipping thing is freaking me out a bit...assuming re removed or reduced auto tip, how much should we tip our steward when we first meet him and then how much at the ned of the cruise? I'll search other thrads too for tipping advice...Thanks
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