Let’s talk Gratuities

The idea of paying someone for the service we expect is foreign to Australians. This practice is very common and expected in most parts of the world. Cruises are no exception; crew members expect a gratuity payment for their service. The reason for this expectation is they are paid a minimal monthly wage from the cruise line. Some crew work more than 10hours each day of your cruise to ensure that it is an extraordinary experience for you.

As someone who has worked on a cruise line I would not have survived, or even worked, without a gratuity income. My wage from the cruise line was $500 per month for working 6 days a week and up to 12hours a day. Don’t get me wrong it was a wonderful experience, but I would not work for 72 hours a week for a weekly pay of $125 (which is about $1.75 an hour.) How many of us would?

So why should we as Australians pay gratuities on a cruise?

Most cruise lines in Australia incorporate the gratuities within the fare. They do this for two main reasons:

  1. This is to ensure the crew members are financially rewarded for the amazing cruise experience they provide. If no one paid gratuities, the cruise line would find it difficult to entice the best crew members to work on ships visiting Australia. Crew members will take contracts on ships where they can receive an income based on the service they provide.
    Lack of quality crew members became an issue for the cruise lines prior to gratuities being incorporated in the cruise fare.
  2. To keep cruising an affordable holiday option for most Australians. Without this affordability the cruise market in Australia would reduce, and Australians would not have the choice of cruise line and ships that currently visit our waters. A thriving market has meant that the Australian cruising public are enjoying new ships visiting our waters, ships such as the Majestic Princess, Ovation of the Seas and the Viking Sun.

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara, Silverseas, Seabourn, Carnival Australia and P&O Australia are just a few cruise lines who include gratuities in your fare. Everyone is a winner! The crew are happy, which filters to a better experience for you, the guest. It also ensures you do not have to worry about tipping. Let’s be honest, it is not in our culture and we can find it daunting.

Princess Cruise Lines has the gratuities included in the fare if the cruise starts and ends in Australian ports.

When you ask your cabin steward to deliver breakfast to your cabin, or bring you a second helping of your favourite desert, think to yourself, would I do that for $1.75 an hour?

You may be able to find a low price for your cruise by purchasing through a non-Australian website; however you will be charged gratuities on board the ship. The standard gratuity is from US$13.00pp per day. You will need to factor this in when looking for that extra low price on a foreign cruise website. Are you really getting a good deal from these websites?

When you are comparing price, also check your vulnerability. Are you covered for insolvency when booking on a foreign website?  If they are not an AFTA or ATAS Australian Accredited Agent, how safe is your money?

Let’s talk Drink Packages!

At Cruise Offers we are often asked about drink packages aboard the ships. The questions are:

1. Which cruise lines have drinks packages?
2. And, are these drinks packages really worth the money?

When we talk drink packages we are talking here about the alcohol packages, because what is a cruise for, if not sitting back and enjoying a cocktail or two as the world sails by. Here we are going to discuss the four most common cruise lines in Australia; P&O, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines.

Buy a Drinks Package – Yes or No? The approximate cost of the package for each cruise line is below. The price is per person for each day of your cruise. The package allows for unlimited (*Subject to the responsible service of alcohol) drinks for any drink of $14 or less including gratuities. This means you would need to drink at a minimum of 5 drinks per day for each day of the cruise. Most cruises include days ashore in port.

So you need to ask am I going to drink about 5 drinks each day including port days?

Below is a list of the cruise lines and their drinks packages:

P&O Australia – Included in the Value Plus Fare or for sale via Cruise Personaliser on cruises 7 nights or longer. The drinks package is approximately $69 per person per day.

Carnival Cruise Lines – No drinks packages available for purchase.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – Purchased via Cruise Personaliser prior to cruise in Australian dollars or on board in US dollars. The costs is somewhere between $60AUD-$90AUD per person per day approximately.

Princess Cruise Lines – In the process of changing their process. They can be purchased via the Cruise Personaliser for $87AUD per person per day on cruises of 7 nights duration or longer.

Each cruise line has their own set of rules and offers around drink packages, hopefully this has helped clear some of the confusion.

Time Lapse videos of World’s Largest Cruise Ship Harmony of the Seas

Timelapse of the world’s largest crew gathering on the world’s largest ship, Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is abuzz with excitement as Royal Caribbean takes delivery of the 25th ship in its fleet. The world’s largest and most innovative ship is the new home to 2,100 crew from 77 nationalities after 32 months of construction in Saint Nazaire, France.

Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of experiences found nowhere else on land or sea. An architectural marvel, Harmony of the Seas combines the distinct seven neighborhood concept that Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships are known for with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities. Innovative features include The Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling slide 10 stories high – the tallest at sea, robot bartenders, virtual balconies with real-time views of the destination for interior rooms, and VOOM – the fastest internet at sea – so that guests can stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment and share their adventures.

Top 10 Cruising Innovations for 2016

From the bionic bartenders to bumper cars at sea, cruise ship innovations have reached new heights. These are our favourites that will be making waves in 2016.

The SeaWalk on Regal Princess

At 60 feet long and hovering 128 feet above the ocean, the Princess SeaWalk offers an exciting experience for both kids and adults. Featuring a dramatic glass-bottomed walkway, the SeaWalk provides passengers with unparalleled views of the sea below.

The SeaWalk on Regal Princess

iFLY Skydiving on Ovation of the Seas

RipCord by iFLY is the first ever skydiving simulator at sea. Discover the thrill of skydiving in a completely safe and controlled environment without ever leaving the deck.

iFLY Skydiving on Ovation of the Seas

Robotic bartenders on Ovation of the Seas

These robots can muddle, stir, shake, and strain a drink to perfection. The cocktail combinations are endless with 30 different spirits and 20 different mixers. The robots can mix up to two cocktails a minute with laser precision and thirst-quenching results. Also available on Quantum of the Seas

Robotic bartenders on Ovation of the Seas

Chef’s Table on P&O’s Pacific Eden

An exclusive and private dining experience hosted by the ship’s Executive Chef. Includes a welcome reception with a glass of sparkling wine and canapés, a seven course degustation menu with matching wines, a tour of the ships galley, and professional photograph of the evening. Also available on Pacific Aria, Jewel, Dawn and Pearl

Chef’s Table on P&O’s Pacific Eden

Virtual Balcony on Ovation of the Seas

Ocean views are now available to every interior stateroom with the cutting-edge technology of virtual balconies. A Virtual Balcony is an 80-inch high-definition screen inside interior staterooms that spans nearly floor to ceiling. They offer digital real-time views of the ocean and destinations visible from the ship’s exterior. Also available on Voyager, Explorer, Quantum and Harmony of the Seas

Virtual Balcony on Ovation of the Seas

Wraparound Promenade on Norwegian Escape

An industry-first, quarter-mile wraparound oceanfront promenade featuring the Waterfront, a wine and dining experience connecting you with the ocean while enjoying some of Norwegian’s signature dining venues, Restaurants, bars and stunning views

Wraparound Promenade on Norwegian Escape

Qsine iPad menus on Celebrity Silhouette

iPad menus create a new dining experience that’s fun and interactive. Expect to find some twists on familiar favourites, including sushi lollipops, lobster escargot, popcorn fish and chips, and much more. Also available on Celebrity Eclipse, Millennium, Summit and Infinity

Qsine iPad menus on Celebrity Silhouette

North Star on Ovation of the Seas

A jewel-like observation capsule the offers guests the ability to see the world from a breathtaking 90 metres above sea-level. This innovation will provide unprecedented 360-degree breathtaking views never before seen at sea.

North Star on Ovation of the Seas

Bumper Cars on Ovation of of the Seas

An innovation for adults and children alike, the Royal Caribbean bumper cars are the first at sea. They are part of the largest indoor active space at sea, with 30 bumper cars, a roller rink, full-size basketball court, a circus school, floating DJ booth and a resident food truck. Also available on Harmony of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas

Bumper Cars on Ovation of of the Seas

10 Story Slide on Harmony of the Seas

At 10 stories high, Harmony of the Seas’ Ultimate Abyss is not only the tallest slide at sea but also an amazing engineering feat. The new mega ship will be arriving in Europe in May 2016.

10 Story Slide on Harmony of the Seas

And for 2017?

A two-level floating race track on new Norwegian Cruise Lines ship. Its next luxury ship will include the world’s first two-level floating race track. The ship will travel a China-based route that sails from Beijing and Shanghai. launching in 2017.

Norwegian Cruise Lines  Racetrack

Cruise Offers awarded Bronze cruise agency of the year at CLIA Awards

Cruise Agency of the Year

Cruise Offers are very proud to have won the Bronze Award for Cruise Agency of the Year 2015 for the CLIA Cruise Industry Awards.

CLIA Awards recognise and reward outstanding achievements from CLIA Travel Agent members during the previous year.

Cruise Offers (Travelrite International) is the largest seller of Cunard Cruises and Princess Cruises in Australasia (Diamond Agent) and top sellers of Royal Carribean Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.

We are a family business that values integrity, quality and providing customers with the best value cruise holidays. Our combined experience in travelling the world as well as our extensive global contacts in the cruising sector enable us to provide the cruise experience of a lifetime!

Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden launching November 2015!

Excitement is building for the launch of P&O’s brand new ships Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden on November 25th 2015. Each ship is being hailed as a floating oasis – this is how to cruise in state of the art luxury!

Some of the amazing new features onboard are:

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan

Sure to be a highlight of your holiday and the only Australian celebrity chef restaurant at sea, Salt grill is a truly unforgettable dining experience. From the signature crab omelette to the famous liquorice parfait with lime syrup, Salt grill will be a truly unforgettable dining experience.

Salt Grill Luke Mangan salt-grill3

Top Deck Pools

Enjoy the climate controlled haven of the top deck pool. With understated decor and high end furnishings in a relaxed setting, the design brings the indoors, outdoors. And the retractable roof lets you relax during the day or enjoy live music and cocktails in the evening, no matter the weather.

Top Deck Pool Top Deck pool

Chef’s Table

The best seat in the house has had an upgrade. With plush, luxurious furnishings and an exclusive, private setting, this is the Chef’s Table experience guests know and love, only better. Enjoy your night of cocktails, canapés, wine pairings and a degustation menu that will completely blow you away. Hosted by the Executive Chef, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Chef's table

Spa

Treat yourself at the onboard day spa. Unwind in the steam rooms, relax while getting a hot stone massage.

Spa

Adult’s only Oasis

This gorgeous adults-only Oasis is complete, with hanging chairs, cushioned cabanas and of course, the stunning ship’s wake. At The Oasis you can treat yourself to a fancy cocktail or get our bartenders to recommend a glass of something special.

Oasis

Take a virtual tour of the new ships here

Ovation of the Seas has launched! Awaken to a whole new level of cruising.

Ovation of the Seas offers state of the art cruising experience to Australian and New Zealand passengers from today! Based in Sydney, Australia, Ovation of the Seas will be sailing to New Zealand and Asia in her debut months. The entertainment, dining, shopping, relaxation and staterooms are like nothing we have seen before.

Capsule

Exciting new features include

  • A jewel-like observation capsule suspended from the ship allowing passengers to see the world from a breathtaking 90 metres above sea-level.
  • The first ever skydiving simulator at sea. Discover the thrill of skydiving in a completely safe and controlled environment with RipCord by iFLY,
  • The largest indoor active space at sea. With 30 bumper cars, a roller rink, full-size basketball court, a circus school, floating DJ booth and a resident food truck.
  • Robotic barmen! Designed to energise and enthral, robots can mix up to two cocktails a minute with laser precision and thirst-quenching results.
  • FlowRider® Surf Simulator
    Surf your way across the Pacific on the, our 40-foot-long on-board surf simulator.

A new approach to dining at Sea

Dining

No Set Meal Times. No Set Tables. It’s Dynamic Dining

There are two ways to experience Dynamic Dining. Dynamic Dining Choice gives you the freedom to pick and choose your restaurants and dining times. Dynamic Dining Classic is a new option for those who prefer the traditional main dining style with the same dining time each night. Dynamic Dining Classic is available on a first come, first serve basis.

18 Restarants including Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant

Embark on a journey of culinary exploration that is as vast and varied as any great city in the world. Experience the diversity and cutting edge of the latest in dining with restaurants including Wonderland (imaginative cuisine) Jamie Oliver’s (Italian) devinly decadence (healthy alternatives), Silk (Pan-Asia flavours), Michael’s Genuine Pub (Michael Schwartz’s simple & superb food) and American Icon Grill (gastronomic America).

Dining Options

Retail therapy finest brands

Shop onboard for jewellery, fashion, luxury watches and beauty with celebrated brands including Bvglari, Regalia and Hublot.. What holiday wouldn’t be complete without a little retail therapy?

Relax with Vitality Spa & Fitness Center

Use your time onboard to revitalise and relax. The Vitality Spa and Fitness Center is a relaxation and wellness retreat to help you relax, rebalance and re-energize mind and body during your cruise.

Visit cruisoffers.com.au to book a cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.

Queen Elizabeth Maiden Voyage

Sandra and I have just returned to the new Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth, after attending the naming ceremony at Ocean Terminal in Southampton, UK.

The new Queen Elizabeth was named by HRH Queen Elizabeth in an impressive ceremony late on a sunny Monday afternoon. Almost 2000 guests from all over the world cheered as the Queen released a bottle of champagne which hit the ship with a loud bang and set of fireworks and a celebratory display of streamers. During the ceremony we were entertained by the massed bands of the Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus. Lesley Garrett, Britain’s most popular soprano sang, had everybody on their feet as she sang Amazing Grace. It was a great British event!

Queen Elizabeth is sister ship to Cunard’s Queen Victoria with gross tonnage of 90,000 tons, passenger capacity of 2068 and 1005 crew. The decoration is more subdued that Queen Victoria with a concentration on mellow timber colours. The aft sun deck and pool area has been enlarged, a Midships bar has been added on Deck 3, and the popular Cafe Carinthia has been extended. The Queen’s Room remains the central focus of the ship. The Queen checked out a gold bust of herself and a specially commissioned portrait in the Queen’ Room this afternoon Queen Elizabeth sets sail tomorrow on her maiden cruise to the Canary Islands. She will land in Australian ports in February 2011 during her first world cruise. She will deliver a wonderfully elegant travel experience to everybody who loves the Cunard style of cruising.

Filed by Travelrite International’s Neville Walliss from Queen Elizabeth in port at Southampton, Monday 11 October 2010.

Travelrite have a range of specials Queen Elizabeth escorted cruises sailing from Australia. Visit  http://www.travelrite.com.au/escorted_cruises.shtml for details.