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Help me! I'm a noob and don't know what I'm doing.

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Help me! I'm a noob and looking to get the best out of my next cruise. Technically this is not my first cruise but my first one was when I was 8 and my 2nd was a honeymoon cruise 10 years ago on the Freedom of the Seas. With wedding plans and everything I never really researched our honeymoon cruise. We booked everything onboard and although we had a blast we didn't really feel we had made the most out of the cruise.

 

Fast forward to now and we are returning for our 10 year anniversary and bringing our 8 year old with us.

 

When researching our cruise I started to feel a bit overwhelmed as a lot has changed in 10 years but I came across Cruise Critic and have been reading up on everything I can think of but I still have questions so I have now joined.

 

We are sailing on the Allure of the Seas on April 21st. Thanks to all the wonderful threads full of advice on here we have done online check in and booked our entertainment events and opted for just the 1 excursion this time round. We booked a package that includes the deluxe drinks package and for now that is where I have the most questions and maybe a few at the end about food. These have all probably been asked before and countless times so I apologise in advance but here goes

 

1. What are the does and don'ts of the drink package?

2. How does it work? Do I order a drink and they scan my seapass and then my wife orders her's and has her seapass scanned or can I order for all 3 of us and just scan the one seapass?

3. Are tips automatically added to my account and paid at the end of the cruise or do we specify a tip for each order?

4. I understand it doesn't include bottles of wine but can we order wine by the glass in the MDR for dinner and/or can we bring a glass of wine with us to the MDR?

5. Specific to the Allure, where are the best places to get a cocktail?

6. Where do we get the premium coffees that are included?

 

We have looked at dining packages but decided this time round we will stick with the included options and do the specialty options when it's just me and the Mrs. We are not fussy eaters so will try any and all options. So a few food questions:

 

1. What is the best option for a cooked breakfast (Bacon, eggs etc.) and is it a buffet or made to order?

2. Any other recommendations for breakfast?

3. I know most people dislike the Windjammer but we still want to lunch there a few times. When does it usually start to get busy for lunch and is there any strategy for making it as painless as possible?

4. Any other tips/guides/advice for getting the most out of the included options for food on the Allure?

 

Please don't feel you need to answer every question and I'll maybe have some follow up questions. Any advice is very much appreciated. Thanks in Advance.

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With regard to the drink package, you need to present one SeaPass card for each drink ordered.

 

I like Johnny Rockets for made-to-order "free" breakfast.

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Thanks Clarea.

 

I also came across one of your other posts with JR's breakfast menu. That looks appealing.

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#3. The automatic gratuities will be added to your account and paid at the end of the week, unless you pre-pay them. You can give extra tips to your waiters and cabin steward at the end for outstanding service. Some people tip bartenders a bit extra as they go.

 

#4. You will get a discount on bottles of wine with the deluxe beverage package. 40% off of bottles up to $100, and 20% off of bottles over $100. You can always order wine by the glass in the MDR. Bar service is sometimes slow in the MDR so we usually bring our first drink in with us. 

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Welcome to CC, to determine if you will need to buy the drink packages, first ask yourself, what your normal consumption is at home. Prices are similar to a Hotel. My husband drank only Beer so based on what he drank at home it was worth it to buy him the package. I like to pre pay the Gratuities then it is covered except what I pay extra to our cabin steward, & Wait Staff. The Gratuities can be added to your booking price.

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57 minutes ago, mcdni said:

Help me! I'm a noob and looking to get the best out of my next cruise. Technically this is not my first cruise but my first one was when I was 8 and my 2nd was a honeymoon cruise 10 years ago on the Freedom of the Seas. With wedding plans and everything I never really researched our honeymoon cruise. We booked everything onboard and although we had a blast we didn't really feel we had made the most out of the cruise.

 

Fast forward to now and we are returning for our 10 year anniversary and bringing our 8 year old with us.

 

When researching our cruise I started to feel a bit overwhelmed as a lot has changed in 10 years but I came across Cruise Critic and have been reading up on everything I can think of but I still have questions so I have now joined.

 

We are sailing on the Allure of the Seas on April 21st. Thanks to all the wonderful threads full of advice on here we have done online check in and booked our entertainment events and opted for just the 1 excursion this time round. We booked a package that includes the deluxe drinks package and for now that is where I have the most questions and maybe a few at the end about food. These have all probably been asked before and countless times so I apologise in advance but here goes

 

1. What are the does and don'ts of the drink package? Don't go over the individual drink price or you will have to pay the difference.

2. How does it work? Do I order a drink and they scan my seapass and then my wife orders her's and has her seapass scanned or can I order for all 3 of us and just scan the one seapass? I have always been able to take both sea passes to the bar and order drinks for us both YMMV.

3. Are tips automatically added to my account and paid at the end of the cruise or do we specify a tip for each order? We elect to prepay tips (if you get the drink package the tips are already added in).

4. I understand it doesn't include bottles of wine but can we order wine by the glass in the MDR for dinner and/or can we bring a glass of wine with us to the MDR? With the package you can order most wines by the glass in the MDR, just ask for a wine menu.

5. Specific to the Allure, where are the best places to get a cocktail? Any bar but we love the Schooner.

6. Where do we get the premium coffees that are included? I think it is called Cafe Lattetudes?  Someone will correct me if I am wrong, I'm sure, lol.

 

We have looked at dining packages but decided this time round we will stick with the included options and do the specialty options when it's just me and the Mrs. We are not fussy eaters so will try any and all options. So a few food questions:

 

1. What is the best option for a cooked breakfast (Bacon, eggs etc.) and is it a buffet or made to order? My favorite breakfast is Johnny Rockets.

2. Any other recommendations for breakfast? The MDR has a nice breakfast also.

3. I know most people dislike the Windjammer but we still want to lunch there a few times. When does it usually start to get busy for lunch and is there any strategy for making it as painless as possible? We go early or late if we plan to eat in the WJ.

4. Any other tips/guides/advice for getting the most out of the included options for food on the Allure?  There is plenty, you won't go hungry!

 

Please don't feel you need to answer every question and I'll maybe have some follow up questions. Any advice is very much appreciated. Thanks in Advance.

 

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Just got off Allure yesterday.    You're getting a lot of good comments.   My 2 cents....

 

So much to do.    Be sure to book shows early.   It's the safest way to do it, ensuring a seat.    You can use the standby line and will probably get in but not always the greatest seats.  

 

Book Ocean Aria early in the cruise.   It does get cancelled sometimes due to seas or weather.   It is a great show.  Very much worth seeing.

 

Mama Mia is a GREAT show.    A tad raunchy and 2.5 hours with a 15 min intermission.    Judge whether your child can handle the length of the show and some of the content.

 

Best bar???...….the one that suits you.    The Schooner was mentioned earlier.   A great bar.   Our absolute favorite was the Solarium bar, with Kareme bartending.    Fun, friendly, full of energy, and he makes a mean Blue Hawaiian.   The pub on the Promenade is a god place for a drink and people watching.    The bar in Central Park is fantastic in the evenings.   Calm, open air but not windy (usually), live music in the evenings.

 

Activities for an 8 year old abound.    I can't discuss the kids programs as I have no experience there, but the Boardwalk area has some cool stuff.   Youngsters love the rock climbing wall.  There's a Merry go round.    And the Hot Dog Shop there is free and very tasty.

 

For a very good cooked breakfast, go to the Main Dining Room.    Quieter, and tasty food stations.   On sea days, they are open for lunch as well.

 

I recommend avoiding the Windjammer at all cost.   It food is ok, but the place is hectic and very nuts.    Plenty of other places to eat.    If you're looking for a nice buffet breakfast, go to the Solarium Restaurant.   Kids are allowed in the restaurant.   Windjammer style food, without the madness.

Edited by zdad59

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Thanks zdad. We’ve got Ocean Aria booked for the 3rd night. It was the earliest available when I realised I could book online. 

 

We we decided against Mama Mia. My better half wasn’t interested so I’m happy to give it a miss. I think we’ve got everything booked now that we want to do. 

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Go to the MDR for lunch.  It is less crowded, and you can be in and out as quick, or quicker than Windjammer.  I think the food is better, and they do have a good buffet selection and deserts.

 

Wipeout cafe on deck fifteen also has cooked to order omelettes for breakfast, but their hours are a little later than Windjammer. 

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I'm pretty sure you were asking about drink tips in your question. When you buy the drink package, 18% is added at that time and that covers your tips for all your drinks. What a lot of people were replying with is about the gratuities for the wait staff at restaurants and for your cabin stewards, etc. Those are added daily to your account unless you pre-pay. 

 

They do scan the card for each drink, but one person can take all of the cards up and get the drinks themselves. Each person doesn't have to be physically at the bar. 

 

Which bar depends on your mood and style. I'm more of a sit at a bar on deck and drink guy, so we'd end up at the pool or sky bar. But a lot of nights we'd end up at the English Pub. The good thing about the drink package is its a lot easier to bar hop. Find a bar that suits you, and, probably more importantly, a bartender that you like. A good bartender can be the difference between a good and a just ok cruise.  

 

As for the Windjammer, I never had any problem with eating there. We'd go at least once a day. Food was fine and crowds aren't really that hard to move through, but YMMV

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One thing I like to do before sailing is to watch some of the videos that you find of the ship and to study the deck plans so you have an idea where everything is.  This will save you from wandering the ship feeling lost. 

Edited by WVHillbilly

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As others have noted, tips are automatically added to the drink package.  However, you may still be given a receipt to sign for each of your drink orders, and the receipt will have a place to include a tip.  This would be in addition to the tip that is already included in the drink package.  Some people believe that adding an extra dollar/euro on the receipt will result in better service.  You are under no obligation to tip beyond what is included in the drink package.  Do so if you want to reward exceptional service, but it would not be a faux pas to leave the tip line empty on the receipt.

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Sea days will have lunch available in the MDR (not at your regular table, though).  They have a menu for table service, they have a smaller (but still adequate) buffet, and they have my favorite salad bar -- Tutti Salad -- where you point to all the ingredients you want, and they add the dressing of your choice and chop/toss the whole thing together.  Tutti Salad is a legit highlight of my cruises!

 

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On 2/25/2019 at 7:13 PM, brillohead said:

Sea days will have lunch available in the MDR (not at your regular table, though).  They have a menu for table service, they have a smaller (but still adequate) buffet, and they have my favorite salad bar -- Tutti Salad -- where you point to all the ingredients you want, and they add the dressing of your choice and chop/toss the whole thing together.  Tutti Salad is a legit highlight of my cruises!

 

I LOVE the Tutti salad too! It's a must for lunch! 30 day countdown for me til Harmony!

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Agree with Bob, Johnny Rockets is good for breakfast, so is Solarium.

 

Best place to drink?  Champagne Bar or Rising Tide!

 

Premium coffee is not the Starbucks kiosk but available at Cafe Promenade, Park Cafe, Windjammer and MDR. I think the spa restaurant has it too?  It includes latte, teas, espresso, cupachino etc.   The Starbucks on board does accept Starbucks gift cards too if you have to have your Starbucks.

 

Wine can be purchased by the glass in MDR. You can bring a glass in usually. We liked to stop at Vintages and grab a glass for dinner.

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In regards to the tip question.  I am not sure if you are referencing tips in regards the drink's package or the tips that go to the room steward/dining room staff.

 

If it is in regards to the drinks package, when you purchase it, you will be charged and additional 18% as a service charge.  This is the tip that would go to the bar staff.  Once on board if you have the unlimited drinks package don't feel obligated to tip additional money.  However some people will (including myself) if I get really good service.  Your choice.

 

In regards to the cabin steward etc.  You were either pre-charged for the tips or will have a daily charge on your account.  If you want to give an additional tip to staff that is also your pergorative.

 

I would recommend to bring a glass of wine with you into MDR and let the server/assistant know you will want another glass of wine upon seating.  This will get you over the "rush".   If you want a bottle of wine and have the drink's package you will get it at a discount.  They will store the bottle of wine between meals if it is unfinished or you can take it with you.

 

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Grab a hot dog at the hot dog place to hold you over until the WJ is less crowded. There's also a buffet of sorts in the MDR for lunch. Dont limit yourself to just the wh buffet. 

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Other good Breakfast Locations:

Johnny Rockets - as mentioned above (very good)

Main Dining Room - can order from menu or small buffet

Wipeout Cafe - small buffet with made to order omelets (usually never crowded)

Solarium Bistro - has a nice buffet (not as crowded as WJ, but does get crowded later)

Park Cafe - has breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, fruit, oatmeal, bagels, cereal

 

Lots of good options, we hit the Wipeout Cafe most mornings because it wasn't crowded and was just 2 decks up from our room.

 

Edited by WarGuyEd

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Thanks everyone. All those hints and tips are exactly what I was looking for. 

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5 hours ago, Foodluvr said:

 The Starbucks on board does accept Starbucks gift cards too if you have to have your Starbucks.

 

Oh interesting. Do we also get to accumulate stars with our Starbucks purchases? 

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45 minutes ago, JayTee1 said:

Oh interesting. Do we also get to accumulate stars with our Starbucks purchases? 

Yes, you do, however you can not redeem your stars even if you have enough for a reward.  You can use the Starbucks app on your phone to pay.

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10 minutes ago, sunnyv said:

Yes, you do, however you can not redeem your stars even if you have enough for a reward.  You can use the Starbucks app on your phone to pay.

Thanks. Just a quick follow up question. If I don't have the internet package, do you think my transaction will still go through? Since I assume it's their system that needs to do the processing. 

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3 minutes ago, JayTee1 said:

Thanks. Just a quick follow up question. If I don't have the internet package, do you think my transaction will still go through? Since I assume it's their system that needs to do the processing. 

 

People have reported being able to use their phone to pay, even without internet access.

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27 minutes ago, JayTee1 said:

Thanks. Just a quick follow up question. If I don't have the internet package, do you think my transaction will still go through? Since I assume it's their system that needs to do the processing. 

If you don’t have the internet, the phone app probably won’t work.  If you use your Starbucks card stars will still accumulate.

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