What is and is NOT included

Trip Start Feb 04, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Where I stayed
Island Princess

Flag of Cuba  ,
Friday, February 8, 2008

A cruise offers plenty to eat, that's for sure. Big breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, plus afternoon tea and room service. You could eat round the clock if you wanted. And most, but not all, of it is included in what we paid for the cruise. For "specialty dining" (like the Italian restaurant or the steakhouse), you'll pay a cover charge of $15-20 per person.

As for beverages, of course they charge for alcoholic drinks (although the Captain did host one cocktail party). But one thing that came as a shock was that they also charge for sodas and most other soft drinks. Not that we really need lots of Coke to contribute to the 10 pounds they estimate we'll gain, but we sort of resented the efforts to sell us unlimited refillable cups for over $60 as soon as we boarded the ship. Of course when a can of soda is $2, you could easily spend that in 14 days, but we've been trying to stick to water and iced tea instead. (Bad for Max, but for us, the biggest nuisance is lack of mixers for the gin and vodka we snuck on board.)

Harsher still was the first morning Allen ordered a coffee at the Patisserie and found that even that costs money unless you get it in one of the main dining rooms. So he told them to keep the freshly brewed coffee and went upstairs, to their frowns.

The one show we've seen so far was good, and it's fun that evening entertainment is free (as well as lots of day time activities we're mostly uninterested in, as they cater to what is definately an older crowd). There are many options to purchase things like spa treatments and ceramics classes, though. (Not to mention all the onboard shops, which we mostly avoid.) And of course we expected shore excursions to cost extra and varying amounts, which we factored into our planning.

Internet access costs 50 cents a minute if you have your own computer, or more if you use theirs. (In case you wondered why we're batching blog uploads.)

Except for the (resonably priced) coin operated laundry, you're not allowed to spend cash on the ship--everything gets charged on the same card that opens your cabin and gets you on and off the ship. They bill this "cashless" experience as a feature, but it also makes it more difficult to keep track of how much you're spending.

Oh, and then there's tipping. "For your convenience, a discretionary Hotel and Dining charge of $11 per person for mini-suites and suites, and $10.50 per passenger in all other staterooms per day (including children) will be added to your shipboard account on a daily basis." What got to me the most was not that the waitstaff, stateroom stewards, etc. are hopefully well compensated (they work very hard and do a great job), but that they had the hutzpah to call this a "discretionary" charge.

All in all, there are a lot of opportunities to spend more money on this cruise.

They even nickle and dime the staff, charging them $1 a day to clean their uniforms!
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