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lindyf

how much extra cash to take

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We are booked on the RCCI Radiance for Nov, 20, 05 to the eastern carribean. We will pay airfare and maybe tips upfront. My 21 yr old son and his GF are going also. I am concerned that they will not be able to afford to do much. I want them to have a good time, but cannot afford to supplement their trip too much. I have offered to pay for one shore excursion each of them . Any tips on what they should do or not do? I know the casino is a no no as far as saving money goes. But, what excursions or shipboard extras are good value for the money. The ports are Co Co Cay, st thomas and st maarten. Thanks. I am a first time cruiser and hate to get them into to more than they can afford.

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lindyf,

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It's hard to say how much extra $$ you will need. Just about everything on the ship can be put on your sign & sail card. Alcoholic drinks, cokes, etc., photos, gift shop, excursions, and even tips. They can all add up to quite a lot when you get you final bill. We allow about $100 per day for all these for the two of use. That generally covers us. If you drink a lot of soft drinks, most ships now have unlimited specials which can save you a little money.

As far as actual cash goes, you will need some for tipping the baggage handlers, (about a buck per bag), and may need some cash at the ports, food, taxis, etc.

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To save money you can skip the ship's excursions and arrange some of your own. You'll get lots of help here at crazies, just ask. Decide what looks interesting to all of you, you can even use the cruiseline list of excursions, and then just let us know what you want to do and which island so we can help.

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Hi lindyf,

Just like Keith & Rita and sailingrose suggest you can make and enjoy your own cruise.

Of course some of it depends on your financial resources but it doesn't have to hurt that much.

I'm not sure about RCCL, but Carnival takes out the tip from what they call a Sign and Sail Card at $10 per day per person per day. The recommended breakdown of that $10 is $3.50 per day for the cabin stewart, $5.50 per day for the dining room team and $1 per day for the Bistro waiters and cooks. So if you are taking a seven day cruise and there are four people, that would come out to $70 per person times 4 equalling $280. Depending on your financial resources, if you feel your service received was extraordinary, you may tip a little more. Of course, if you feel the service was horrendous, you may ask for the tip to be adjusted downward, but have a legitimate reason.

You may want to discuss and agree upon how the tips are going to be paid before you sail so that everyone has an understanding that tips are proper protocol and most of the crew depend on them to eck out a living.

Other than that, there are only optional expenses like shore excursions, alcoholic beverages, sodas, bottled water, some reservation restaurants, casino, bingo, photos, onboard shops and spa treatments. You don't have to buy any of them. Unless you make friends with someone who shares a bottle of wine or champagne with your party for some reason. Etiquette says you should reciprocate.

Regarding photos and videos, you will have shots taken of you when you board, when you go ashore, and even on some shore excursions. You can opt not to buy any of them or purchase those that have your whole family in them or individual poses. It's up to you. They don't even pressure you to buy the photos. They just line them up in the photo shop and you'll have to search for them if you think you might want them or discard them. It cost you nothing to discard them.

Make sure you take a nice dress or evening gown for formal evening and gentleman take a tuxedo, suit, or sports jacket. That is if you are going to dine in the dining room during formal evening. This will save you from having to rent formal wear. If you forget your formal wear you can always rent it or not rent it and eat at the informal Bistro located on the Lido deck. This is cafeteria style dining that will have the same menu but you mostly serve yourself and find your own table.

I usually take four 1.5 liter bottles of drinking water with me. Each bottle usually costs under one dollar. When I go ashore I can usually find the same size bottle for under $2. The ship may charge you $3.50 or more per bottle. You can even bring on a small quantity of sodas. Of course, the preceding is what I did on Carnival. I'm not sure what will happen on RCCL.

On Carnival there is usually a captain's reception where they serve free drinks and hors d'oeuvres. The types of drinks may be limited but they are well made and they are free. People who sail RCCL can let you know if they have a captain's reception on that line.

I don't know if you want to hear this, but using the gym equipment is free. Just try to avoid the spa treatment folks if you're not into a hard sell for a massage. I have done a spa treatement massage with hot stones once. It was wonderful but I don't have to have it anymore.

You will find that many veteran cruisers enjoy the cruising experience so much that they skip the shore excursions and take a cab or walk to the downtown area to get the basic flavor of the country they are visiting. You will even find inexpensive transportation to a nearby beach if you are a beach person.

Because ALL of your meals are provided for by the ship, if it's not too expensive, you can return to the ship for your lunch and dinner. Of course that is after having a hearty breakfast.

I know some people who stay on the ship on shore days because they practically have the whole ship to themselves.

I, on the other hand, at least want to step in a foreign country.

Sometimes you can check the shore excursions and fees on the cruise lines website. You can check to see if there is something you absolutely must do, like take a trip to an ancient city like ruins of Tulum in Mexico or Pompeii in Italy. When you're so far away you may want to miss out on such adventures because you don't know when you'll be back.

Your experience can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want. If you work with a limited budget like me, planning is key. There are things that I must do or I'll be disappointed so I anticipate that expense.

Whatever you decide to do, there is so much activity on the ship that you will have to work on a schedule to do most of it and fit in you free meals and free entertainment. There is always free food on the ship, 24 hours per day.

I hope this has helped you and let the CruiseCrazies folks know what ports you are going to so they can make some inexpensive or free suggestions. I love suggestions that are free.

So far I have not been on a cruise that I didn't like. Believe me, I don't spend a whole lot on the optional things. I can't afford it.

You have a lot of time to search the web to research your ports and read cruise reviews.

Most of all, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy YOUR cruise experience.

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Thanks to all who replied. I am already getting excited. They are aware of the neccesity of tips and are thinking of paying them upfront. I know that some think that is not a good idea, but with their cash situation it seems like it may be the best. I am sure I will have other questions. I am glad to have found such a great group of people to help me with this new experience... CRUISING!

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