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dolfandude

Royal Caribbean secrets (merged)

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I normally cruise on Princess and have to pay a percentage surcharge when I get cash placed onto my seapass account at the casino. It was nice not having to pay any extra when I did this a few weeks ago on the Rhapsody. Let's hope this lasts !! (but I doubt it will)

 

They're definitely "on" to us on the Explorer. Both my father and DH had to pull teeth to let them do this, when normally every other time we had done it in the past it was no problemo! :p

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We sailed on Mariner during Thanksgiving week, and I have some tips concerning things I didn't know before the trip:

 

I'm embarassed that I have multiple beer tips -- and I don't even drink beer!

 

If you're a cheapskate beer drinker (like my husband), you'll like this tip: A 12 oz bottled beer at most bars runs $4.25. A take-out draft beer from Johnny Rocket's is $4.05 for 20 oz. (including tip!). They don't have a great selection (Bud or Miller Lite), but he isn't picky. He made many quick trips into Johnny Rockets!

 

This isn't much of a tip, but my husband didn't notice it until the 2nd or 3rd day of the cruise: The bars automatically add a 15% gratuity to all drinks. He was tipping an extra dollar each time he bought a drink, which was a very generous tip for simply handing over a bottle of beer.

 

On the first day on the Mariner, he bought a bucket of beer from the Pool Bar and was disappointed to learn that the buy-5-get-6 deal is no more. He was pleased at least to have the bucket. He liked that plastic bucket and talked about putting it in his office at home for storage . . . but then a couple days later we couldn't find it! We figured out that the cabin steward took it away! We thought we bought it and it was our property -- guess we were wrong! DH was disappointed. Next time I'll hide it in the closet!

 

Not all my tips deal with beer . . .

 

This is more of a warning: We went into the dining room early to look for our table. We walked around and around and around -- finally we had to ask for help! Turns out our table wasn't even in the dining room! We were in a room off to the side; it looked like a room that might've been designed for large private parties. To make matters worse, we were way at the back of the room so that our view was a wall. It lacked all the grandeur of the dining room. Yuck. We went to trouble to bring nice dinner clothes, and we felt like we were stuck at the kids' table -- what a disappointment! My luck: I always get the best hotel room/cabin, but I can't get a good dinner table to save my life! Knowing that it was Thanksgiving week and the ship was packed full, we didn't bother to try to change. It's official: We are "over" the dining room. Next time we'll have breakfast/lunch in the dining room, but we will not bother with dinner clothes and dinner times.

 

Another dining room tip: Don't pay much attention to the chef's recommendation for dinner. Several times we noticed that the "recommended" dinner was the least expensive item on the menu. Most notably, on lobster night, we noticed that the recommended dinner was chicken, while the lobster was "hidden" under the title of Fisherman's Dinner (or something like that). Everyone at our table for 13 (except one child) ordered the lobster anyway. Another night I ordered the "recommended" Baked Alaska dessert; it was a thin slice of Neopolitan ice cream with some whipped cream around the edge. Of course, we were not dissuaded from ordering what we wanted -- don't get me wrong about that! -- but the least expensive items were showcased most heavily.

 

And a question about the buffet: Why do people line up at the Jade area when the same food's available further along in the Windjammer? Seriously, the line for Jade was always long -- but you could walk right up to the serving areas at the Windjammer! We noticed it on the first day, and we figured people would figure it out as the week went by. Nope. Be sure to walk around and check out the whole buffet area early in the cruise; we didn't figure out where people were getting cooked-to-order eggs and omlets until a couple days into the cruise!

 

Being a Southern girl, my blood type is Sweet Tea. The brown stuff they serve onboard is in no way tea. Not what we Southerners call tea anyway! However, you can go down to the Promenade Cafe (a great place), and you can brew yourself a cup (there's sugar). If you bring a big insulated mug, you can make enough to last the day.

 

And a tip dealing with ship excursions (though personally I'm a big fan of independent excursions): I wasn't aware until we got on the ship that the FIRST excursion of the day sometimes gets a "freebie". For example, we considered doing the waverunners on Labadee, but having just bought a new car, we were feeling frugal and opted for a simple beach day. Once we were on the ship, we saw that the earliest time slot (probably the most difficult one to fill) gets a free passenger ride for every paid driver. If we'd realized this earlier, we might've been willing to pony up the money!

 

If you can't get tickets to the Ice Show of your choice, don't worry too much. In the elevator on the way to the show, we struck up a conversation with a family who had lost their tickets -- they were heading to Studio B in hopes that there'd be space for them. My family walked in and no one took our tickets, and the other family walked right in behind us -- no one even questioned them. Of course, we were all arriving rather late; that might've had something to do with it. The Ice Show is NOT to be missed! My 13- year old begged to attend a second showing, and she was thrilled to see that it was re-running on TV.

 

Turn your TV to channel 13 at bedtime. It'll show a big clock, which is perfect for a nightlight.

 

Checking your SeaPass bill on the TV is quick and easy. Be sure to have your children's SeaPasses punched during boarding (assuming you don't want to give them charging passes).

 

Take your children up to the Sports Deck early in the cruise and sign the paperwork for them to rock climb /inline skate. Once they have a star punch on their SeaPass, they can return to these activities without you.

 

Skip the kids' club "showcase" on the first night. It's a show intended to pump up enthusiasm for the kids' programs, but there's no information you can't get from reading the materials that they give out when you board.

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You have greater savings by using the Wine & Dine package on board. The wine cellar gift selection has higher prices than the onboard prices without gratuity by about $2 a bottle. We did the Gold Wine & Dine on our last cruise and for example a bottle of Danzante Italian pinot grinio was $26 (avg. price inc. gratuity) with the W&D pkg, $35 to prebuy as gift and $38 with gratuity to buy separately onboard. The W&D pkg have 5,7,10 and 12 bottles options and all average out at $22.50 per bottle plus the 15% gratuity or about $26 total. You must prepurchase it or buy it on embarkation day as it isn't available after the first day onboard.

Also you don't need to have the wine cellar gift selection delivered to your room, you can have the wine celler gifts delivered to the dining room without corkage added according to RC web site. I agree that this offers a small savings ($3 per bottle) if one or a few bottles only are wanted but the greatest saving is with the above package or not ordering wine onboard at all.

 

I have a question about that program - we are traveling with two young adults that are not yet 21 - if we have wine delivered to our table - would they be able to have wine with dinner also?

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yeah, I didn't think so either.

 

Last month (:( ) on Mariner we were at the pursers desk trying to add grats to our sea pass...last minute...and were too late. They TOLD us to go to the casino to get cash, just don't tell them why!

 

 

 

My secret: Stairs are WAY faster than the elevator if you can do them, however going from deck 3 to 11 in high heels is not recommended!

 

Each Deck has it's own art theme if you get lost (I just realized that on Mariner...may not be a secret though!)

 

No one I ever know wins bingo! (maybe they are people that work for the ship and its all a conspiracy??? LOL)

 

My hair dresser won a cruise at Bingo !!!!

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On our last cruise my 17 y.o. son won 3 out of the 5 bingo games on one day for a total of over $600. He became a mini-celebrity of sorts, because afterwards a lot of people who had played that day would recognize him around the ship. He loved the attention!

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Thanks for all the tips!! I joined this site last year, because we were planning on going to Alaska and found a ton of info on it; unfortunately we had to cancel the trip, but find all the information on her extremely helpful!!

C

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Knowing that it was Thanksgiving week and the ship was packed full, we didn't bother to try to change. It's official: We are "over" the dining room.

Most ships are full, but you can still request a change. They would have switched you with someone who did not come into the dining room to check out their table yet.

 

Next time we'll have breakfast/lunch in the dining room, but we will not bother with dinner clothes and dinner times.

Why wouldn't you dress nicely for dinner anyway? I don't dress for the dining room, I dress for me and the fact that I am having a really nice dinner.

 

Several times we noticed that the "recommended" dinner was the least expensive item on the menu.

I doubt the waiter cares what the food costs are - they aren't paying the bills. However, I would think he/she is more interested in making you happy so you will tip more.

As for the Fisherman's plate, I'm glad you found it since it is a combo, hence the name.

I never thought that lower costed items were "showcased", in fact, nothing was "showcased" on our cruise on FOS. We read the menu and ordered what and as much as we wanted.

 

Baked Alaska and Desserts - You can order more than one dessert, and two of the same dessert if they are small sizes.

 

Buffet - The Jade and Windjammer are considered two different restaurants. Many times, if we went early or late, the back (Windjammer) wasn't open or an entire side of Jade and Windjammer were closed.

And people will always follow eachother into a line - it's human nature.

:)

 

Ice Show - we went to the last show of the cruise and it was only 1/2 full. Anyone who wants to go to the show again, go then. You can get in without tickets 10 minutes before it starts.

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Here is something that others might find useful. On the Explorer, we discovered that if you are not eating dinner, you don't have to pay the cover charge at Johnny Rockets. For example, if you simply wanted one of their great desserts or a chocolate malt, you can go there and have them without paying the cover. Now you still have to pay for the dessert or malt, but don't have to add the cover. I personally preferred the ice cream sunday better than what we got at Ben & Jerry's.

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The casino pays out more money on the first night of a cruise, then the winners slow down on subsequent nights. This gives people a false sense of how "easy" it is to win money. Folks win a bit on the first night, then lose it and more by the end of the cruise.

 

This is suppose to be kept a secret :D . Now, thanks to you, I probably won't be able to find a seat at my slot machine(s).

 

Don't take this personal Silque just kidding you. :rolleyes:

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Why wouldn't you dress nicely for dinner anyway? I don't dress for the dining room, I dress for me and the fact that I am having a really nice dinner.
Speaking only for myself, I found it disappointing to go to the trouble to buy/pack dinner clothing for my whole family (it might be different if it were only DH and myself), then find ourselves sitting in the back room facing the wall -- not the nice dinner I'd envisioned.
I doubt the waiter cares what the food costs are - they aren't paying the bills . . . I never thought that lower costed items were "showcased", in fact, nothing was "showcased" on our cruise on FOS. We read the menu and ordered what and as much as we wanted.
No, the waiters don't care, but the chef and the accountants do care. They're the ones who print out the menus, and they're the ones who instruct the waiters to read the suggestions and point out that they're printed at the top of the menus to imply that they are the best items available that night.
Buffet - The Jade and Windjammer are considered two different restaurants. Many times, if we went early or late, the back (Windjammer) wasn't open or an entire side of Jade and Windjammer were closed.
Perhaps it's different on other ships, but on Mariner the food was identical in the two spots. I had expected more Asian foods in the Jade area, but that was not true. Windjammer had all the same food PLUS more selections.

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Here is something that others might find useful. On the Explorer, we discovered that if you are not eating dinner, you don't have to pay the cover charge at Johnny Rockets. For example, if you simply wanted one of their great desserts or a chocolate malt, you can go there and have them without paying the cover. Now you still have to pay for the dessert or malt, but don't have to add the cover. I personally preferred the ice cream sunday better than what we got at Ben & Jerry's.
My husband went into JR's to pick up a take-out beer numerous times, but we never even considered getting dessert. Since we didn't enjoy the desserts in the buffet or the dining room, we would've enjoyed this tip!

 

What do they serve? All I can think of is ice cream sundaes and apple pie.

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On our last cruise my 17 y.o. son won 3 out of the 5 bingo games on one day for a total of over $600. He became a mini-celebrity of sorts, because afterwards a lot of people who had played that day would recognize him around the ship. He loved the attention!

We're not typically bingo players, but DH and I wandered in thinking we'd play the win-a-cruise bingo game -- I mean, who wouldn't love to WIN a cruise! He went to get cards for us, and he said they were $35 -- wow, what a huge price! Are ALL the bingo games this expensive? I'd like to hear details about costs for all bingo games.

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Strong-arm your SIL (after first asking politely) into accepting $20.00 for him to enter the BlackJack Tournament. Then, after he wins it and uses the money to buy a nice laptop for my lovely DD, don't make him reimburse the $20.00! (Which I didn't, BTW)

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My DD was married on Majesty 5 years ago. Now she is expecting twins. Can't wait to take them all on a cruise.

 

Enjoy your upcoming cruise. You'll love it. We love cruising Majesty because there is a port every day. When you dock in Nassau, walk down the pier to the water shuttle to Atlantis on Paradise Island instead of taking a cab (same price). You can walk to the public beach near the Atlantis or stop at one of the island hotel bars on the beach.

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[quote name='cruise_lover']This is suppose to be kept a secret :D . Now, thanks to you, I probably won't be able to find a seat at my slot machine(s).[/QUOTE]

This didn't work for me. I lost too much the first day at the slots.

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mentioned before but worth repeating:
egg crate mattresses available upon request
Robes available upon request
Cash from Casino

some others:
-Apple pie ala mode in Johnny Rockets is wonderful...not the same as the blah one in the dining room.

-I have always been able to bring water and sodas on board in an extra suitcase. I even saw a case of water delivered to a state room with a boarding sticker slapped on it (Mariner)

-Upon request your state room attendant will empty your 'fridge' taking away temptation and making room for your own drinks and snacks.

- Here's a biggy...I said 'fridge' but the ones in the rooms are more of a cooler. Don't get all upset that they are not very cold, they aren't supposed to be. Over time they do cool down drinks, but it is mainly keep things fresh, but not per se cold.

- If you like Mr Pibb it is available at Johnny Rockets.

- The absolute best time to go to the hot tubs is between 6-8pm. There is usually NO ONE out there during this time as most are busy getting ready for or having dinner. We always have late seating at 8:30 so 6pm is the perfect time to wind down in the hot tub. (If you don't want to go to the show) It's as if there's no one on the ship but you.

- If you like high octane Belgium beer try the Royal Caribbean brand beer (I think it's called Royal?). Don't know if all the ships have it or not. I know it's available in the english style pub and Scooner bar. This beer is NOT for everyone but for those of you that enjoy thick trappist beers, you won't be disappointed.

- This one may be subjective but..get to know your bartender, give him an extra tip..you might get heavier pours and sometimes free drinks.

- IMO never rent cars or scooters on the islands. Steep Mountainous islands, lots of blind curves, left hand driving on some islands, and so much driving anarchy by locals, leave it to the taxi driver to get you there and back.

- If you cruise an eastern Carib route, the alcohol and cigs are cheaper in St Maarten than St Thomas or ship!

- My mother recommends that if you go to Vintages bar order a wine flight instead of a single glass...you get alot of wine for just one price, that way you also get to experience four different wines for around $10 or so.

- For those of you that gamble, you know this, but if you are like me I just found out there is a machine in the casino that will break large bills for you and gives different options for how you'd like it broken down. It's better than waiting in the guest relations line.

- Many of the ships now have a cell tower or booster...something like that, which will provide you with cell phone service for most of the cruise. Check with your carrier before the cruise to find out international rates first..usually it's 2.00+ a minute, which isn't bad compared to the ship's 'ship to shore' phone at 8.00 +/- per minute. It you have a nationwide calling plan it *might* include Puerto Rico and St Thomas. Don't get confused that if you've got reception that it's in your network. I tried really hard to explain this to the inebreated man in the bar that chatted for over an hour to friends back home about how great it was to have cell reception in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, don't sweat the small stuff. I know that sounds so simpleton but really don't center your entire vacation about that one thing, that one little thing..a pool chair, a less than gourmet meal, a crowded elevator, a child being a child. There is so much that every cruise offers. Quality time with your companion or family. Time to watch the sun rise and set. A time to socialize with your neighbor around a dinner table with no TV or phone ringing. No dishes, no errands, no homework, no cleaning. A time to stroll, to breath the cleanest air, to get lost in the endless horizon that contains no smog, no office buildings or strip malls. All that and a chocolate on your pillow every night. This is why I cruise.

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[quote name='MamaNeedsACruise']


Finally, don't sweat the small stuff. I know that sounds so simpleton but really don't center your entire vacation about that one thing, that one little thing..a pool chair, a less than gourmet meal, a crowded elevator, a child being a child. There is so much that every cruise offers. Quality time with your companion or family. Time to watch the sun rise and set. A time to socialize with your neighbor around a dinner table with no TV or phone ringing. No dishes, no errands, no homework, no cleaning. A time to stroll, to breath the cleanest air, to get lost in the endless horizon that contains no smog, no office buildings or strip malls. All that and a chocolate on your pillow every night. This is why I cruise.[/quote]

Very well said. Too many times people let one thing (even small things) turn their vacation into a disaster and we all hear about how bad their disaster was on CC. Not everything in life can be perfect; it is this that actually makes me appreciate the good even more so.

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[quote name='MamaNeedsACruise']

Finally, don't sweat the small stuff. I know that sounds so simpleton but really don't center your entire vacation about that one thing, that one little thing..a pool chair, a less than gourmet meal, a crowded elevator, a child being a child. There is so much that every cruise offers. Quality time with your companion or family. Time to watch the sun rise and set. A time to socialize with your neighbor around a dinner table with no TV or phone ringing. No dishes, no errands, no homework, no cleaning. A time to stroll, to breath the cleanest air, to get lost in the endless horizon that contains no smog, no office buildings or strip malls. All that and a chocolate on your pillow every night. This is why I cruise.[/QUOTE]

I couldn't agree more. DH was asking were I wanted to go on my next cruise and I sais, "It doesn't matter, we could sit in the middle of the Atlantic and I'd be as happy as a clam."

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Hot food on room service is my favorite RCCL surprise. We were delighted to find the room service dinner menu on our cabin tv.

If DH doesn't want to dress up on formal night, we often order room service and dine on our balcony.

Since RCCL doesn't have small dining tables on their balconies (like Princess), we bought a collapsable table online for $20 and use it on all our RCCL cruises--at least when we have a balcony. The table comes with a canvas over-the-shoulder carrying bag. Someone on CC told me about these tables, and I'm so glad I bought one. We keep it in our car trunk because we never know where we are going to need it--nice as an extra table for a party.

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[quote name='Born2Shop']Here is a great tip for any tip to make your luggage easy to id. I just used it on my past cruise on AOS . Prior to packing the luggage we went to a craft store and bought several rolls of neon colored duct tape. I made stripes drown the side of the luggage and different patterns on the front. You could say I went all out. The luggage could probably be seen from space. In fact I even spotted it being taken off the ship from my balcony! [/quote]
Just a note: I wouldn't make the colors RED/WHITE/BLUE. It's not that I'm ashamed of my Country, but there are those who would love to do something bad to Americans'. This is the same reason as a police officer, you never ID your car, or yourself when in public.

BTW, we do the same thing with taping our luggage handles and sides but we use yellows, reds, blues, & greens. It does make it easier to find.

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[quote name='mamaza']Just a note: I wouldn't make the colors RED/WHITE/BLUE. It's not that I'm ashamed of my Country, but there are those who would love to do something bad to Americans'. This is the same reason as a police officer, you never ID your car, or yourself when in public.

BTW, we do the same thing with taping our luggage handles and sides but we use yellows, reds, blues, & greens. It does make it easier to find.[/quote]I did something simliar: I took neon orange paper and typed up large trip-specific luggage tags for my family:

[CENTER]_______ Family
Deck 10, Room 1388
Reservation # _______
Cell phone #s _______[/CENTER]

I printed this information on both sides of the tag, then I laminated them twice (for extra thickness) and attached TWO per suitcase with cable ties. I really did it so we'd be SURE that our luggage would make it to our room, but those orange tags were SO EASY to spot as they came off the conveyor belt!

I saw a couple other families who'd done the same thing, though their color choices were different. One large family (or maybe a small family that packs awfully heavy!) had even cut theirs into a wave shape, which made it extra-easy to see their stuff.

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[quote name='Dr_DNA']Very well said. Too many times people let one thing (even small things) turn their vacation into a disaster and we all hear about how bad their disaster was on CC. Not everything in life can be perfect; it is this that actually makes me appreciate the good even more so.[/quote]Isn't that the truth! I can't believe it when I read how one negative interaction with a grumpy crew member or one bad meal "ruined" someone's cruise! As if lack of a towel animal, a surly bartender, or late luggage could ruin my vacation!

On my recent one-week cruise, I had two disappointments; still, when people back at home asked how it was, I told them it was a PERFECT WEEK! Those two minor things paled in comparison to the wonderful fun we had the rest of the week, and -- in time -- I bet I won't even remember them, but I sure will remember the rest of the week!

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[quote name='Javadelcamp']Sonny, I don't have 40 cruises under my belt with RCL, but I do have three. Everytime we've been onboard by noon. We definitely aren't Platinum or Diamond yet, but we have always been to the terminal at about 11:30, and been on by noon.

This time we're planning a 10:30 a.m. arrival at the pier since we're bringing new cruisers and want them to enjoy every possible moment that they can on the beautiful Mariner!

Java[/quote]We left Country Inns & Suites around 11:00, and by 11:45 we'd parked the car, deposited our luggage, gone through security and check-in, and we were waiting in line for the door to open! We were among the first people to board the ship, and I believe we walked through the doors 12:00-12:10ish. (Note: we are not Plat/Diamond, nor were we in a suite.)

I agree that getting to the port early is the best! I want my vacation to start SOONER rather than later.

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