Hello - two big topics for you as we're 45 days away! 1) Check in Check in is OPEN. You can check in on their website (just log in at royalcaribbean.com) or with the app. I've done both, and it's actually easier to use the app. Also, if you check in on the website they will tell you that YOU ARE REQUIRED TO DOWNLOAD THE APP. Rawr! But actually, you're not. I've called them and verified this. The app does make a lot of things easier, but it is not required. My recommendation is to embrace it, but you should travel the way you're comfortable. You do not need an Internet connection to use the app on board (but you do at home.) For Check in, you'll need your passport handy, your face (the app takes a picture, the website lets you upload one), a credit card (for onboard charges) and a contact who is NOT going on the cruise. ARRIVAL TIMES - Currently, they're not available. They should be in the next few days. They ask you to pick an arrival time. Do NOT think you need to get on the ship as soon as possible. I will be, as I have stuff to do, but you can pick any time you'd like and it's fine. In fact, folks who get on the ship early may have to wait a couple of hours before they can access their stateroom, so it makes some sense to wait sometimes. Health questions can only be done right before the cruise. We'll talk about boarding and luggage later, but it's been very easy lately. 2) Tips, Gratuities, service charges, etc. This has become a big and confusing topic, and I'm going to try to spell it out as best I can. On this cruise, "Gratuities" are not included. You will be charged $16 per person, per day, as the cruise progresses. This charge is applied to your card on file, and you don't need to do anything at all. These gratuities are to cover your Stateroom Attendant and Dining Staff. This is a standard part of cruising that's been the custom for years now, though some lines do include them in the (higher) fare. You'll also be charged an 18% gratuity for drinks and paid dining on board, and that includes drink packages. If you already bought a drink package, you were charged 18% on top of the price. EXTRA TIPS: And here's where things get tricky. The "custom" of tipping has been thrown out of whack of late. Some people just pay the required gratuity and that's it. And that's FINE. Others tip their stateroom attendant a bit extra, and some tip bar staff and waiters a bit extra as well. Spa services often receive tips, and it's customary to tip room service people a couple of dollars cash each time they deliver. Some folks actually pay twice—they pay the required gratuities and ALSO pay the staff an additional $16 a day cash. As bullet points, here are optional tips you MAY wish to consider:
• Luggage Handlers: $5 cash per bag (this varies greatly by port). • *Bar Staff: $1 per drink (there's a place to add this on the slip, no need for cash). • *Waiters: $10-20 cash at end of cruise. • *Maitre D': $10-20 cash if they provide a special service of some sort. • Room Service: $2 cash or so is customary. • Spa staff: Whatever you'd tip at home. Check to see if a gratuity is added to bill. • Casino tables: tip as you would at any casino • Other staff: if other staff goes out of their way for you, a tip is appreciated, but not expected.
*These staff members are receive tips already from your included gratuities
It adds up quick! And yes, there is a US dollar ATM onboard and Guest Services can make change. So what should you do? The answer is: whatever you're comfortable with. The crew works hard for relatively low wages. The bulk of their pay comes from tips. This video shows one approach to tipping, and there are many others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrJqJ-pc798 Also, instead of or in addition to a tip, the crew really appreciate you mentioning their names on the survey you'll receive at the end of the voyage. It's a pretty big deal for them. What I do: I always tip the stateroom attendant a bit extra. On this cruise, the attendant only comes once a day, so keep that in mind. I will sometimes tip bar staff a bit if I frequent the same bar regularly, and if the dining room staff is excellent, I'll give them a little too. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Jeff +1 802-734-0662