Jan 20th, 1999, 04:21 AM
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Hello there. We will be departing for our first cruise in just over two weeks and are looking for any last minute hints on what to bring and what to see. We will be taking the RCCL Grandeur of the Seas to the Caribbean, stops in Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas and Cococay on February 6th. How fancy are the formal nights? Is the captains dinner worth spending the money on? Thanks.
Jan 20th, 1999, 05:29 AM
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I have taken the same cruise a couple of years ago, only it was on Sovereign of the Seas. I don't know what you mean by spending money on the Captain's Dinner (all meals are free), but I can answer the rest of your questions. My husband and I have learned that cruises are more fun if you PACK LIGHT! So on formal nights he wears a suit or just a sport coat and I wear a pantsuit or easy-to-pack light dress. You will see a few tuxes, a lot of suits, and cocktail dresses from minis to floor length. You will also see people who ignore the dress code all together, but be prepared to be snubbed by your wait staff if you do that.

As for last minute suggestions, take lots of one-dollar-bills for tipping. We usually take at least 50 ones, and keep them in our safe. You will need them when you order room service (for coffee in the mornings we usually tip a couple of bucks, etc.) and for shore excursions. The guides, boat crews, bus drivers on shore excursions, usually deserve a few bucks. Also, when you shop on the islands, you should have small bills and correct change for the little island vendors.

Pack a carry-on bag for the first day of your cruise with swimsuit, change of clothes, cosmetics, etc., and don't give it to the luggage carriers when you are getting on the ship. You may not get your luggage until late in the evening on the first day, and you want to be prepared for the first afternoon of exploring the ship or relaxing by the pool.

If you like to drink, you may want to bring some liquor on with you (we pour vodka into 16-oz. plastic water bottles for ease of transport). Also if you like sodas you may want to bring on a 12-pack of your favorite. Can't remember how much they are on board, but they are definitely more expensive than here.

Keep close track of your charges to your ship's charge card during your cruise (we save receipts and do an inventory every night) so you won't have any surprises at the end of the cruise (and to catch any mistakes the cruise line may make).

Carry one empty bag with you for bringing souvenirs home with you.

DON'T pack the kitchen sink. Everything you bring with you has to be repacked on the last night to go home. We travel light (you will be living in your swimsuit and cover-up most of the time) and instead of spending that last night trying to stuff everything back into suitcases, we are enjoying the disco or the casino one last time. You can have clothes cleaned on the cruise, so don't worry about running out of clean things. We find that khaki shorts and mix and match shirts work great. You probably will not go to the dining room every night for dinner (there are other options, such as room service), so you don't need to bring a different outfit for every night.

Pack some Advil, Immodium, Tums or Zantac, lots of sunscreen and have a blast. It should be the best vacation you have ever had. Feel free to email me for more info.
Jan 21st, 1999, 11:38 AM
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Jan 22nd, 1999, 08:18 AM
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Rachel had excellent advice - I would just add 1 more idea regarding tips. You already know what the recommendations are regarding tips. I set this money aside before I ever leave home and carry it separately from my other money. That way I'm sure I won't run out of cash at the end of the week for the mandatory tips of the waiter, busboy, and cabin steward. It is important that you tip these 3 people - they get NO salary on most ships and live on tips alone. The recommendations are PER PERSON (2 people in a cabin - double these) - $25-26 for waiter and cabin steward for a week, $15-16 for busboy. Headwaiter, Maitre D' etc tip only if they do something special for you.

I also agree with Paul - go ahead and knock yourself out dressing for the formal nights. It's fun, and you won't be sorry that you did, because you'll fit right in.
Jan 22nd, 1999, 06:08 PM
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We have been on 3 cruises-all on Celebrity line. Their cabins are great, but on the last one I brought a small travel iron (they didn't provide one) AND an outlet plug strip (there was only one outlet in the room).

We also brought large, insulated mugs to fill up and use by the pool. (Brought our own booze and mixers on board). But, even if you don't do your own liquor, etc., the mugs are great for filling up on lemonade, tea, etc. to drink by the pool. Bring sunhats and sunscreen.

My husband wore a casual golf shirt, slacks and a sport jacket on informal nights, but on formal nights I would recommend dressing up a bit. He actually suffered a wore a suit and tie for nights!

Envy you your upcoming trip...ENJOY!!!
Jan 23rd, 1999, 01:24 PM
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Good Tips so far. There was a liquor store right a the terminal we stocked up on liquor and mix. When you get on board or even before you go, decide what shore excursion you want to go on. As soon as you get on the ship fill out your requests for them, they do sell out. Make sure your dining room arrangements are what you wanted if not straighten them out right away also. Have fun.
Jan 26th, 1999, 04:06 PM
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Good advice from fellow travelers. Here are a few more tips: 1) You and
hubby should share suitcases, you each pack a few items (shorts, dress up
outfit, undergarments, socks, pair of shoes) in your suitcases because
people have gotten on cruises (just like traveling anywhere else) and some
or all of their luggage did not arrive. If you share suitcases and only
one gets lost, you'll still have things to wear. 2) Pack empty or filled
sport bottles or buy a few small bottles of water to take on the plane and
then refill them on the ship at the water fountains or at the gym. The
cruises charge $2.50/litre of water to take on excursions or for cabin use.
You can buy bottles of water for less than $1.00 at home and refill on the
ship, then throw away empties before returning home. Also, you can get
these neat bottle carriers that can be worn as a fanny pack that are nice
to take along on excursions. Also, pack your fanny pack or wallet belt.
3) Buy your disposable cameras at home, especially if you are planning any
snorkeling trips and will want to take underwater pics. You can drop as
much as $20 on one buying it on the cruise. 4) Pack light (I never do
this) by packing one pair of pants or skirt, such as black, and mixing
different dressy tops for dinner. This can save you packing several
outfits. 5) For easy unpacking, pack your dressy or hang-up items right on
the hangers, that way you can take them right from suitcase to closet in no
time. The cruise lines provide some hangers, but rehanging all the clothes
is a pain (for me, anyway). 6) You may not need to pack shampoo or
conditioner, as most lines today now provide shampoo/conditioner, even
mouthwash in the bath, as well as a hair dryer (which is powerless and
awful, in my opinion). If you have carefree hair that doesn't need a lot
of work, leave the blow dryer at home, otherwise, pack your own.

Have a great time
Jan 27th, 1999, 02:03 PM
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We would like to thank everyone for their tips and suggestions. We will definately be putting them into action this trip. Thanks again for the help!!

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