While I wait for this next set of picture to upload, here is a little bit about my thoughts on cruising....
Cruising can be spendy. Yes, your meals are all included in you fare.....but that is about it. Drinks (alcoholic, carbonated and juices) are not included. All those fancy pictures they take of you when you get off the ship?? Not included (but you don't have to pay to have the picture taken--just if you want to take it home when you see it later). The fancy steak restaurant on board?? Costs extra. They also try to entice you with art auctions and a casino.
There are exceptions to the charges above. At breakfast, you can get as much juice as you like for no charge. They had tons of different kinds of fruit juices in the main Lido buffet, and we also had several choices for room service. Room service is also free. They put a big card in your room at night with a list of breakfast choices, and you check the ones that you want, and pick what time you want your breakfast to be delivered. Ethan and I had Eggbeater ham and cheese omelets and OJ and bagels and cream cheese and English muffins and sausage and potatoes. Not all in the same breakfast, of course. Throughout our stay. Good food, delivered at a time
convenient to us.
If you drink alcohol, you can save some money in a few ways. HAL allows you to bring aboard as much wine or champagne as you want. If you drink it in your room (they provide wineglasses), there is no charge. If you want to bring a bottle to dinner, there is an $18 corkage fee. A few times on our trip, the corkage fee was changed to
a 'purchase' of some Holland America shot glasses, so we essentially were not charged.
Another money saving idea for alcohol is to pre-purchase a bottle of alcohol on board. We bought a bottle of Vodka for I think $27 for a 1L bottle-not a bad deal! We purchased a 50% discounted soda card (paid $25 for $50 worth of beverages), and bought sodas along the trip as mixers.
Probably the best money saving idea is not to drink alcohol at all. That is my plan for the next trip. I have offically stopped drinking alcohol. Forever. For a wide variety of reasons. It will definitely make vacationing cheaper.
One of the drawbacks (in my opinion) of cruising is the dress code. On a 7 night cruise, there are two formal nights. To eat in the main dining room, men must have on a jacket of some sorts. Many have tuxes and go all out. Women wear formal dresses. Well, most women. Ethan and I winged it as best we could. I really don't like the idea of being forced into fancy clothes. We don't own fancy clothes. We have to buy fancy clothes. And that gets spendy. Yes, you can get
around it by eating at the buffet instead, but I would much rather have the clothing relaxed. I am OK with the 'smart casual' nights (every night that is not formal), where men must wear long pants, and women are just forbidden from shorts. I have capris galore, and Ethan has a wide variety of short sleeved silk button down shirts (I love shopping at Coscto!!)
Ahh...the pictures are ready.
Justin and Kim and a bucket of Coronas as we leave San Diego. The waiters get your name that first day, and they will remember your name AND your preferred beverages the entire trip. They also come around and open the beers for you as you need them. Excellent service.
Ethan and I as we leave San Diego
A skywriter plane was writing a message as we left. I think it ended up as 'we love you XXX Love XXX'. I don't remember the exact names. It was cool to watch the plane, though!
The Lido pool midships (kiddie pool). We used the aft pool (adult pool) instead...
Ethan and I with beverages in hand....