Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reader's Questions Answered About Cruises

Thanks for tuning in to trumpettravels.  This is an experiment I started in reminiscing about my 11 year career working on cruise ships.  Previously I've explained how I got my first job on a ship and what some of the positions are like on the ship.  I've always had a lot to say about the industry, mostly good, but felt while I was employed by the cruise line it would be unethical to say something bad and without credit if I said something good.  Now, I work in an unrelated industry.  I know how passengers can drive the crew crazy.  I know how the crew can lose touch with the passengers.  But, overall, I've seen how millions of people in the world BOTH passengers and crew have delighted in the chance to eat, drink, travel, and meet new people and experience new things.  Some do it for a week, and some for 8 months.

"Dobie" asked me about tipping on the ship and if cash tips were supposed to be split.  Well, I think technically all tips are supposed to be reported (officially) but much like a waiter making tips in the states very little gets "declared." Once you have the cash in your hands you'd have to be pretty thick to turn it in to have it split 200 times and then returned.  It is accepted not in policy but in practice that all cash tips are property of the recipient.

Someone asked me what I like to bring on a cruise.  Well, I can't pack for you, but my advice: Pack your suitcase half full.  Crazy? NOPE.  You'll buy "cruisewear" and tee shirts in ports.  Why not wear them once while your there?  Most people STUFF their luggange and then they don't know what to do withb all their extra souvenirs on the way home.  Another thing that I really believe in is a pair of high quality sunglasses like Maui Jim or Revo.  They actually brighten up your days while relaxing your eyes and it is nice to distinguish yourself from the dollar store glasses most cruisers bring.

Bonnie wants to know about the different cruise lines and mentioned it was difficult to post a comment.  I've attempted a correction by allowing anyone to comment even anonymous comments.  I thought by having registered bloggers only it would discourage alot of garbage but all comments so far have been really "+."  Bonnie every line is different and I have some words on the lines I personally worked with.  I would do what you're doing - ask around, but also

Royal Caribbean is great an caters to families, plus the young and old.  Know if you're going there for a romantic couples getaway when you get in elevator a kid probably has pushed all the buttons and the hot tub might be filled with pee.  That being said, those ships are really fun and they have great gimics on all the ships.  The older ships have great discounts and the newer ships might blow you away with entertainment.  They do cater to a large Latin American crowd so practice your salsa dancing and brush up on your Spanish.

Carnival is the cruise line where I went the elevator and on the way stepped in a piece of pizza in the hallway.  When I got to the elevator the doors opened and a teenager wearing a bikini fell out on her back and rested a can of Bud Light on her stomach laughing uncontrollably. It's a party ship.  Everyone will be quite drunk and it is pretty much a "WALMART" hang.  That being said, the "supper club" specialty restaurant on the SPIRIT and I imagine all the new Carnival ships was seriously the best food I've eaten on any ship.  I made some huge sales to very successful people on Carnival so it isn't 100% WALMART, but for sure it is at least 80%.  It had a $30 charge pp. Better than QM2, better than Princess.  Crazy, huh?  Another thing, the company is so terrible to their employees on the ship it filters down through the crew.  I worked on the Spirit and one lunch in the staff mess they served us TRIPE SOUP.  I'm not kidding.  They took a big box of cow stomach that you wouldn't feed your pig and boiled it and served it to us. 

Princess Cruise Lines is my favorite cruise line.  I worked for them for about 6 years and they treated all the crew so well. In turn, you will always get a smile and great service from crew members how are genuinely happy to serve you.  Princess does see a lot of familes with 5-18 yr olds and the kids program is great.  I took my son there and he was only 2.  The rule was I had to be there because he had to be three to be left there.  After watching the youth staff for hours and hours on three different cruises I can say they are amazing.  Some kids cried when it was time to leave - EVERY DAY.  Towards the end of the cruise the parents would have no problem going to dinner and a show and leaving the kids there for 2-3 hours.  I think Princess gets a B+ or higher for everything they do, instead of other lines who are good at some things but not good in others.

Cunard, QM2 - I only mention the QM2 because I feel Victoria and QE are unremarkable. They are basically P&O cruise ships run by the P&O cruise division borrowing some Cunard officers and of course that valuable Cunard brand, purchased by the Carnival corporation.  If you like to wear a tux and love fine dining and a traditional British experience, you HAVE to try Cunard.  They have long voyages and small cruises.  If you go do yourself a favor and bring LOTS of formal clothes.  The point of sailing Cunard is to dress up and hob-nob with the elite.  Dress code is strict and you have a lot of Brits so prepare to have lots of conversations about the "currency exchange" and why the "World" Series is silly because it is American and why American Football players are wimps because they wear pads.  Sorry, Brits, I've heard it all before.

Costa - don't do it.  I know you are looking at expedia and it is cheaper then the next option, but don't do it.  I've worked for that company and it is run by the most incompetant officers and shoreside department I've ever worked for.  I don't hold a grudge, but I can tell you they were utterly useless.

Celebrity - never worked on one.  I heard the food was good and a lot of people who sail Celebrity love it.  I've never heard a complaint about one.  Alot of older people.  Celebrity is bad to the crew because they use Greek officers who are the worst.  They work everyone to the bone with no over time and Greeks are usually borderline abusive to the crew.  I never worked for Celebrity but I did work for the Premier Oceanbreeze which was Greek.  Also, the stories I heard from other crew about Greeks were ridiculous. (See my post below about officers.)

Norwegian - never been on one, either.  Everyone I've met have either LOVED or HATED Norwegian cruises so I can't tell you one way or the other to take one.  I guess you could say it is a gamble where Princess is a sure thing.  But people who love Norwegian like it better than Princess so who knows.

Holland America - if you lost a fortune in the Great Depression or are a member of Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" then Holland America is for you.  FREE fresh squeezed orange juice every day on the + side. Many free activities.  The cruisers are a little bit wacko, though. Like SERIOUS cruisers who took Holland America tote bags and made matching his-and-hers vests.  If you like a battalion or geriatric ice-cream eaters, God bless ya.  Go on a cruise with Holland America.  They do interesting activities there, though, such as a Culinary Arts Center where you can taste recipes from Executive Chef Rudi Sodamin and, of course, buy his cookbooks for a fee.  Overall, a professional line for older folks who like such hobbies as Mah Jong or crocheting.

Well, that is it for my synopsis.  I didn't work on any other lines so I couldn't comment on others. I did Ocean Village, but I don't think they are around any more, are they?  Who knows.

Floridarob - you want to be a FCC?  Why not try Captains Circle host?  They use the same computer program and while they are full of FCCs sometimes they have openings of the other job.  You can switch jobs on Princess by using a "career path transfer."  Personally, I would go for the Port and Shopping job or Art Auctioneer.  You have to be very outgoing, but you can do better in those jobs than the FCC job.

Well, bloggets and bloggudes, that is it for now.  Thank you for your encouraging comments, please keep them coming.  It is my first Blog and I've found it is kind of addicting.  I hope you have enjoyed my entries. If you want more, why not leave me a comment or question and then click on an ad on this page?  It will encourage me to keep going.


  1. GREAT blog....can you tell I am enjoying? So glad you changed the requirements to post a comment because I couldn't even though you wanted me to. Keep up the great work! Barbara

  2. Nice blog and interesting. Do you miss the life at sea?

  3. Found your link on the cc Princess Secrets thread. Thank you, I enjoyed reading and am looking forward to more.

  4. Thanks! Enjoying the blog....sure do agree with you on Costa...after 40 cruises Costa, Carnival, and HA are ones we won't repeat.
    Thanks for your answer about the tipping....I guess we just have to make sure it is hidden so the maitre'd doesn't see the hand off!

  5. Love the blog - I've been cruising for years and have always been interested in the "inside story," but am never sure I'm getting anything but propaganda when I ask onboard. Even late late at night with a willing bartender (although I do get some interesting stories that way).

    Great advice on the casino! I don't play a lot, but will definitely try my luck on the first night (and take the cash back, win or lose, with no fee for tips onboard!)


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