Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this one, so here is mine.
Would You Do It In A Hotel or Restaurant?
Would you? So why would you do it on a ship? Can you imagine calling a restaurant to make a reservation and they ask if you would like to prepay your gratuities? The same goes for a holiday booking. You wouldn’t pay extra if you were booking an all-inclusive holiday, would you? So why is it any different on a cruise ship?
Is It Cheaper To Prepay Gratuities or Give Cash Directly?
This depends on how many people are in your cabin and how old they are. If I am travelling with both of my kids, pre-paying gratuities seems like quite a lot of money for one adult and two children. In this case, I prefer to tip the stateroom attendant and waiters myself. Also, my kids won’t eat with me in the main dining room and there is a lot more work for the stateroom attendant with three of us in a room.
When I am travelling with just my son I tend to pre-pay gratuities, because I will use the dining room a lot more with him when it is just the two of us as I don’t have someone to help me watch him in the buffet area. I need to be able to sit down and watch him while the food is brought to us. I think generally when travelling as a single parent, you rely much more on the staff in all areas of the ship.
Who Gets The Tips?
Who knows! The staff aren’t allowed to talk about it, the cruise lines say it is shared out equally among the staff but I had one stateroom attendant tell me something quite interesting. He said that when they are guaranteed a minimum wage which factors in the anticipated prepaid gratuities. If that minimum is not met, then the cruise line has to make up the difference.
So, let’s suppose that no-one prepaid their gratuities, would the cruise line then have to dig deep and make up the wages? Would that then mean that the cash received directly by the staff would be extra money? I don’t know. I guess they have to declare it. But the truth is, the staff risk losing their jobs if they talk about it so I say that gratuities should be included in the price and we have the option of leaving an additional tip onboard if we wish.
Iain Bruce-Low and his partner Anne-Marie own an award-winning hair salon in the scenic Scottish seaside town of Oban. With their three lovely children, they find family cruising is the perfect solution to meet their needs.
When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?
It was a Western Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Royal Caribbean onboard Adventure of the Seas.
What made you decide to book your first cruise?
Having 3 children all different ages 15, 12 and 3, we wanted to find a holiday that had something to keep everyone happy.
The Bruce-Low Family
What did you like about your first cruise?
The quality, the service and the number of things to do for everyone.
What is the best cruise you have been on, and why?
We cruised on Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and the ship is incredible! It is so modern and new, with a lot more dining options, much more our style. There were an incredible amount of things for the kids to do, they were never bored!
The Bruce-Low’s prefer the larger cruise ships
What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
I love the freedom and choices, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. It is by far the most you can ever do on holiday as well as being the most relaxing holiday you’ll ever have.
How do you decide which cruises to take?
For me, it’s about the ship. It has to be a good enough size, we have learnt the bigger the better. Smaller ships tend to get more overcrowded where bigger ships people spread out more. Having plenty for the kids means they are happy – meaning we are even happier.
So much to do for families. Anthem of the Sea’s North Star takes you high above the ocean waves.
What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?
We go to the Champagne Bar to pick up a drink, then go off exploring.
What was your last cruise? What did you like/dislike about it?
It was a Venice and Greek Isle cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas. As it was out of season, we found it was more family cruising for adults and their parents, rather than small children. Also, the ship was probably too small for our liking. However, the smaller ship did allow us to explore a new area of the world, which we loved.
What would be your dream cruise if you could create your own?
For me, it would be from Greenock/Glasgow and all around the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and on to Dubai and Asia. At least a couple of months, please?
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?
I would always recommend staying the night before the cruise, in a hotel nearby. It takes out the stress of arriving at the same time as everyone else. Also, you can tip the members of staff directly when you are onboard, then you don’t have to prepay gratuities.
Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?
Eat drink as much as you want and remember there is a gym, although I’ve still not seen it.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?
I’ve heard it all before and best thing I could say is book it because you’ll never know until you try it.
After their first cruise on Grandeur of the Seas in 2011, they were hooked.
James Manson is a retired Police Officer and lives with his wife Pamela in South Ayrshire. I was keen to find out what it was that appealed to them about cruising, and what makes them take two or more cruises every year.
What brought you to the decision to book your first cruise?
Our first cruise was booked after lengthy discussions with friends who are to say the least regular cruisers. My wife and i gave it some thought, and we decided to give it a try. I personally thought that in 2011 cruises were like going on a OAP holiday, stripped deck chairs, knotted handkerchiefs and tea dances. However, after several more discussions I was ordered to go to a travel agent and book.
What was your first cruise like?
Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, which departed from Palma. On arrival at the port we were in awe at the sight of this magnificent ship. We had booked an oceanview stateroom which was very comfortable, but couldn’t really see much due to the height of the porthole. We cruised the Spanish Mediterranean and return to Palma. It was a very enjoyable experience.
We could not fault anything regarding the cruise. Every aspect of the cruise was tremendous. On return we called RCCL and booked another for 2012.
Since then, you have cruised many times. What are your favourite destinations to visit and why?
The Cruise we favour most is the Greek Isles and Turkey /Greek Isles and Croatia which now we have done 8 times 14 days at a time. We love the ports of call and the people and excursions in those ports are wonderful.
Can you tell me what it is about cruising that attracts you?
We love the totally relaxed atmosphere that cruises give and being spoiled with the attentive staff on board. We also love the varied choice of food in the many restaurants. It is just wonderful rising from the table and not having dishes to do or house work each day.
How do you decide which cruise you are going to book next?
We always listen to others experiences while on board, and then choose a different itinerary. We have never set out certain destinations, we just peruse the detailed information outside the sales office on board and go from there.
What is the first thing you do when you get onboard?
When we arrive on the ship we always check in detail the ships’ emergency procedures, and encourage others to do so as well. However, I have a pet hate of those people who turn up late, or stand there and yawn when the crucial speech is delivered by the safety officers on board. It should be recognised by everyone, PERSONAL SAFETY is of paramount importance.
Are there any special items that you always take on a cruise?
The only special item we always carry is my wife’s Clarins, as use of this maintains her youthful looks.
What was your last cruise?
Our last Cruise was 17 June 2017 on the Independence of the Seas, and to our surprise we met Captain Iv, whom we had sailed with 8 times while he was the Captain of the Splendour of the Seas. This is a tremendous cruise with great ports of call.
We have also cruised on the Allure of the Seas on two occasions and the Vision of the Seas.
Do you have another cruise planned?
We have re booked again for June 2018 for 14 night Mediterranean Cities and a 14 night Southern Caribbean.
What would be your ‘dream cruise’?
We have one special cruise that someday we will go on and that is the Panama Canal. It is our lifelong ambition and will take the opportunity when Royal Caribbean have an itinerary. The other is the Far East.
Photo By Stan Shebs
Can you offer any tips when it comes to booking a cruise?
In 2012 we booked a cruise on the Splendour of the Seas. We were about to leave when we had a call to get an upgrade to a Family Junior Suite. The agent sewed the seed as we took up this offer, and now we always have a Junior Suite at the aft of the ship. We now only book when one of the 6 Junior Suites are available.
Again, through our experience we use the same agent as to us loyalty is important. The advantage of booking on board is that the staff in that office have all availability on a screen in front of you.
As we have been loyal to Royal Caribbean we have made many good friends in the staff and some lifelong friend from fellow travellers. We could spend all day naming Crew members who have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure your cruise has been enjoyed.
What advice would you give to people thinking about booking their first cruise?
From a personal point of view, I would encourage any intending cruisers to try a four or five night cruise first, to gain an unforgettable experience and to allay any fears of being crowded and feeling trapped. You will have a different perspective.
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